Category: Coal


North Carolina riverbed coated by toxic coal ash, officials say

Fish and other aquatic life at risk in Dan river, about 70 miles from where massive Duke Energy spill occurred two weeks ago

  • theguardian.com, Tuesday 18 February 2014 15.37 EST
Duke ash spill
Officials said the coal ash is burying aquatic animals and their food. Photograph: Gerry Broome/AP

Federal officials said Tuesday that toxic coal ash has coated the bottom of a North Carolina river as many as 70 miles downstream of a Duke Energy dump where a massive spill occurred two weeks ago.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service advised that a massive pile of coal ash about 75ft long and as much as 5ft deep has been detected on the bottom of the Dan river near the site of the February 2 spill. Deposits varying from 5in deep to less than 1in coated the river bottom across the state line into Virginia and to Kerr Lake, a major reservoir.

Federal authorities expressed concern for what long-term effect the contaminants will have on fish, mussels and other aquatic life. Public health officials have advised people to avoid contact with the water and not eat the fish.

“The deposits vary with the river characteristics, but the short- and long-term physical and chemical impacts from the ash will need to be investigated more thoroughly, especially with regard to mussels and fish associated with the stream bottom and wildlife that feed on benthic invertebrates,” said Tom Augspurger, a contaminants specialist at the federal wildlife agency. Benthic invertebrates are small animals that live in the sediments of rivers and lakes, such as clams, worms and crustaceans.

 

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SFGate

Toxins leaking from 2nd pipe at NC coal ash dump

Updated 6:33 pm, Tuesday, February 18, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina officials said Tuesday that groundwater containing unsafe levels of arsenic apparently leaching from a Duke Energy coal ash dump is still pouring into the Dan River, which is already contaminated from a massive Feb. 2 spill.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered Duke to stop the flow of contaminated water coming out a pipe that runs under a huge coal ash dump at its Eden power plant. A nearby pipe at the same dump collapsed without warning two weeks ago, coating the bottom of the Dan River with toxic ash as far as 70 miles downstream.

State regulators expressed concern five days ago that the second pipe could fail, triggering a new spill. The water coming out of that pipe contains poisonous arsenic at 14 times the level considered safe for human contact, according to test results released by the state on Tuesday.

“We are ordering Duke Energy to eliminate this unauthorized discharge immediately,” said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources.

Video taken last week by a robot sent inside the 36-inch-wide concrete pipe showed wide gaps between seams through which groundwater is gushing in, likely from the toxic dump above.

Tests on water from the pipe before it goes under the dump showed none of the dangerous contamination detected at the other end. The concrete inside the pipe is heavily stained around the numerous leaks, suggesting the contamination is likely not new.

A state inspector received the video recorded by Duke during a Feb. 11 visit to the site, but did not review it until Thursday. On Friday night, the state agency went public with concerns about the pipe’s structural integrity.

Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan quickly issued a statement, downplaying the risk.

“After reviewing the videotape, we determined that no immediate action was necessary,” it said.

In the wake of the initial spill, public health officials issued advisories telling people to avoid contact with the river water and not eat the fish.

Authorities said public drinking water in Danville, Va., and other communities downstream of the Duke plant remain safe. Heavy metals detected in the river at levels exceeding state and federal safety standards — including arsenic, lead and selenium — are being successfully filtered out of water drawn from the river at municipal treatment plants, they said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday a massive pile of coal ash about 75 feet long and as much as 5 feet deep has been detected in the river by the site of the Feb. 2 spill. Deposits varying from 5 inches deep to less than 1 inch coated the river bottom across the state line into Virginia and to Kerr Lake, a major reservoir.

Federal authorities expressed concern for what long-term effect the contaminants will have on fish, mussels and other aquatic life.

“The deposits vary with the river characteristics, but the short- and long-term physical and chemical impacts from the ash will need to be investigated more thoroughly, especially with regard to mussels and fish associated with the stream bottom and wildlife that feed on benthic invertebrates,” said Tom Augspurger, a contaminants specialist at the federal wildlife agency.

 

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- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin speaking at a press conference following the Jan. 9 Elk River spill. (Photo via The Lincoln Journal)Seeking the opinions of ‘stakeholders’ for new proposed legislation meant to prevent future toxic chemical leaks like the January 9 Elk River spill, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin invited a host of industry leaders and trade associations to weigh in.

However, notably absent from the talks were any environmentalists or public health officials, according to an investigative report by the Charleston Gazette published Tuesday.

West Virginia journalist Ken Ward Jr. reports:

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce was invited. So were the Oil and Gas Association and the Coal Association. Trade associations representing grocers, manufacturers, trucking firms and energy companies were included, according to the Governor’s Office.

But the chief lobbyist for the West Virginia Environmental Council — the environmental community’s umbrella lobby group at the Capitol — said that his organization wasn’t included in the governor’s meeting.

“Neither I nor anyone else I know of in the environmental community knew about that meeting,” Garvin said Monday. “You telling me about it is the first I’ve heard about that meeting.”

“If you want a bill that protects clean water, you should probably listen to people who advocate for clean water, not the polluters,” said West Virginia Sierra Club leader Jim Kotcon at a public hearing Monday night.

At the same meeting, West Virginia Coal Association Vice President Chris Hamilton said that he and other industry leaders “stand ready to offer our resources and expertise” in crafting the legislation.

The Gazette learned of the Jan. 20 closed-door meeting through documents released in a Freedom of Information Act Request about the proposed legislation.

The bill reportedly creates a new regulatory program for aboveground chemical storage tanks—such as the Freedom Industries tanks from which 10,000 gallons of coal cleaning chemicals spilled into the regional water supply.

Also included in the documents were “email messages in which several prominent industry lawyers and lobbyists offered suggestions for the governor’s legislation,” Ward reports.

Both the governor’s bill, introduced on Jan. 22, and one passed a week later by the state Senate included versions of those recommendations.

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February 4, 2014

Tomblin meeting on chemical tank bill excluded environmentalists

By Ken Ward Jr.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two weeks ago, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin held a news conference to announce his legislative response to the Elk River chemical leak. The governor unveiled proposed legislation aimed at creating a new regulatory program for aboveground chemical storage tanks.

“This proposed legislation includes reasonable, commonsense provisions to regulate aboveground storage tanks across the state, including those located in areas of critical concern near our public water supply and distribution systems,” the governor said at the Jan. 20 news conference.

A day earlier, a select group of business lawyers and industry lobbyists met with the governor’s staff and officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection to go over the governor’s bill.

“See everyone there and please be prepared to discuss the bill section by section,” Jason Pizatella wrote in an email message announcing the meeting.

Pizatella called the event a meeting “with the stakeholders.”

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce was invited. So were the Oil and Gas Association and the Coal Association. Trade associations representing grocers, manufacturers, trucking firms and energy companies were included, according to the Governor’s Office.

But the chief lobbyist for the West Virginia Environmental Council — the environmental community’s umbrella lobby group at the Capitol — said that his organization wasn’t included in the governor’s meeting.

“Neither I nor anyone else I know of in the environmental community knew about that meeting,” Garvin said Monday. “You telling me about it is the first I’ve heard about that meeting.”

Asked what discussions the environmental council had about the governor’s bill prior to its unveiling at that news conference, Garvin said, “There were none.”

Garvin said that environmental group lobbyists weren’t asked by the Governor’s Office for their input as the bill was developed, and had only brief, informal discussions with DEP officials prior to the legislation being introduced.

“I’ve had some just offhand discussions with DEP,” Garvin said. “Other than that, we really weren’t given an opportunity to just sit down and tell the DEP or the governor what we thought.”

Pizatella’s announcement of the “stakeholders” meeting, held at the state Lottery Commission building on Pennsylvania Avenue on a Sunday afternoon, was among the records released by the Governor’s Office in response to a Freedom of Information Act request about the chemical tank legislation.

Also included were email messages in which several prominent industry lawyers and lobbyists offered suggestions for the governor’s legislation — before the bill was finalized Jan. 20 or introduced Jan. 22.

Read More Here

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Dan River Coal Ash Spill Pollutes Waterway Near Retired Duke Energy Plant (PHOTOS)

Posted: 02/04/2014 11:53 am EST Updated: 02/05/2014 11:59 am EST

Photo courtesy of Appalachian Voices.

EDEN, N.C. (AP) — A pipe under a coal ash pond broke in northern North Carolina, releasing an unknown amount of coal ash into the Dan River, Duke Energy Corp. said Monday.

The pipe broke Sunday afternoon at the now-closed Dan River Steam Station in Eden, the utility said. The ash pond covers about 27 acres, and the dam holding the water in was not affected by the leak, officials said.

A water quality-monitoring team is checking the river, but Duke Energy said downstream water supplies have not been affected.

Photo courtesy of Appalachian Voices.

Officials in Danville, Va., which draws its water from the Dan River downstream from the ash pond, said the spill did not affect the quality of the city’s water supply.

“All water leaving our treatment facility has met public health standards. We do not anticipate any problems going forward in treating the water we draw from the Dan River,” said Barry Dunkley, division director of water and wastewater treatment for Danville Utilities.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources said in a statement that it is investigating, as well as helping to monitor water quality and work with Duke energy to clean up the spill.

Photo courtesy of Appalachian Voices.

Engineers have not figured out exactly how much ash and water made it into the Dan River in Rockingham County, although Duke Energy promised to make that figure public as soon as calculations are complete.

Read More  and See Additional Photos Here

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INSTITUTE INDEX: Duke Energy coal ash spill latest in ongoing regulatory disaster

Date on which a break in a stormwater pipe beneath a coal ash disposal pit at a shuttered Duke Energy power plant near Eden, N.C. contaminated the Dan River with toxic coal ash: 2/2/2014

Estimated tons of coal ash — which contains toxins including arsenic, lead, mercury,  and radioactive elements — that were released to the river: 50,000 to 82,000

Number of Olympic-size swimming pools that amount of coal ash would fill: 20 to 32

Estimated gallons of coal ash-contaminated water from the storage pit that also reached the river: 24 million to 27 million

Number of rail cars the toxic pollution could fill: 413 to 677

Rank of the spill among the largest coal ash spills in U.S. history: 3

Hours that Duke Energy waited from the time it discovered the spill to report it to the public: 26

Miles downstream of the spill site that Danville, Va. draws its drinking water: 6

Age in years of Duke Energy’s Dan River ash pits: 53

Year in which Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspections found problems with leakage at the plant’s coal ash dam as well as dilapidated and poorly maintained stormwater pipes: 2009

Number of coal-fired power plants that Duke Energy owns across North Carolina: 14

Percent of those plants where there have been unpermitted discharges of coal ash to the environment: 100

Amount that is being spent to run a municipal water line to the North Carolina community of Flemington because a leaky Duke Energy coal ash pit contaminated the local groundwater supply: $2.25 million

Read More Here

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Breaking: Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill Pollutes River and Threatens Drinking Water

| February 4, 2014 10:50 am

[This is the first article in a two-part series. Read part two.]

dlisenbyYesterday afternoon, Duke Energy reported that it spilled between 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River near Eden, NC. To put the volume in perspective, the spill is the equivalent of 413 to 677 rail cars of wet coal ash poured into a public drinking water source. The spill is located on a stretch of the Dan River between Eden, NC and Danville, VA. An estimated 22 million gallons of coal ash could already be in the Dan River moving downstream.

Equally disturbing is that neither Duke Energy nor any of the government regulators issued a press release and informed the public about this massive spill until 24 hours after it was discovered. If a freight train full of this toxic waste had derailed, there would have been immediate notification and quick news coverage in order to inform and protect the public. The delay in reporting this spill is inexcusable.

A security guard who noticed unusually low water in the ash pond at the shuttered coal plant led to the discovery of the spill.  This means most of the water had escaped and contaminated the river before anyone at Duke noticed.

Upon investigation, Duke discovered that a 48-inch stormwater pipe underneath the unlined 27-acre, 155-million-gallon ash pond broke Sunday afternoon and drained tens of thousands of tons of coal ash and water into the Dan River.

Read More Here

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MOXNEWSd0tC0M MOXNEWSd0tC0M

 

Published on Jan 23, 2014

January 23, 2014 CNN http://MOXNews.com

 

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Company in West Virginia spill failed to disclose second chemical

 

Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:16pm EST

 

Freedom Industries is pictured in Charleston, West Virginia, January 10, 2014. REUTERS/Lisa Hechesky

Freedom Industries is pictured in Charleston, West Virginia, January 10, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Lisa Hechesky

 

 

 

The company behind a chemical spill that left about 300,000 people in West Virginia without tap water failed to disclose a second chemical in the leak, state officials said on Wednesday.

The company, Freedom Industries, had previously said that only one chemical, crude MCHM, had spilled from one of its storage tanks into the Elk River at Charleston on January 9.

Freedom Industries told the state Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday that a second chemical, PPH, was in the above-ground tank despite an order immediately after the spill to disclose what was in it, the department said in a statement.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said he was “very disappointed” that it took Freedom Industries, a maker of specialty chemicals, 12 days to disclose the presence of PPH.

“You know, once again it’s another one of those chemicals that very few people knew anything about,” he told a news conference.

“When I first heard about it yesterday the first thing we tried to do with my internal team is find out, what is PPH? And then why it was not revealed.”

 

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  • More than 300,000 people haven’t had water to drink or wash in West Virginia since Thursday
  • Chemical company Freedom Industries are to blame for the spillage which has polluted the local water supply
  • Company president Gary Southern appeared before cameras on Friday evening to apologize but he failed to convince
  • He tried to cut short his press conference by complaining to reporters that he had had a long day
  • He foolishly drank from a bottle of water throughout the interview, despite the fact that his company was preventing others from that very luxury
  • When he turned his back to finish the interview, local reporter Kallie Cart demanded he come back because they weren’t finished
  • South Industries and their local PR agency parted ways on Sunday following the media relations disaster for the chemical company
  • It could be days before the residents of nine counties in W Virginia can drink or wash in the tap water again

By David Mccormack

|

The CEO of the company at the center of a chemical leak in West Virginia that has left more than 300,000 people without drinking water for four days is facing mounting criticism following his arrogant display before the television cameras on Friday night.

Freedom Industries President Gary Southern sounded rude and aloof as he attempted to cut short his press conference in Charleston after complaining to reporters that he had had a long day.

To make matters worse Southern repeatedly swigged from a water of bottle, seemingly impervious to the fact that his company had disrupted water services in nine counties, depriving 300,000 people of tap water to drink or even wash themselves.

 

Thirsty work: Freedom Industries President Gary Southern repeatedly swigged from a water of bottle on Friday, seemingly impervious to the fact that his company had depriving 300,000 people of tap water to drink or even wash themselves

Thirsty work: Freedom Industries President Gary Southern repeatedly swigged from a water of bottle on Friday, seemingly impervious to the fact that his company had depriving 300,000 people of tap water to drink or even wash themselves

Beware: More than 300,000 people have been told to indefinitely avoid drinking or even touching tap water following Thursday's chemical spill in Charleston, West Virgina

Beware: More than 300,000 people have been told to indefinitely avoid drinking or even touching tap water following Thursday’s chemical spill in Charleston, West Virgina

During his abbreviated press conference, Southern issued an apology for the chemical spill, but he quickly turned terse when it came times for questions.

‘Look guys, it’s been an extremely long day. I’m having a lot of trouble talking at the moment. I’d appreciate it if we could wrap this thing up,’ he complained.

But before Southern could walk away, he was quickly interrupted by local news anchor/reporter Kallie Cart from WCHS8.

‘We actually have a lot of questions,’ said the persistent reporter. ‘It’s been a long day for a lot of people who don’t have water.’

Local news anchor/reporter Kallie Cart from WCHS8 has won plaudits for her dogged interview style

Local news anchor/reporter Kallie Cart from WCHS8 has won plaudits for her dogged interview style

 

When her line of questioning started to get a little awkward for Southern, he made another ill-judged attempt to wrap things up by saying ‘that’s all we have time for.’

Once again Cart was quick to stop Southern in his tracks.

‘We’re not done!’ she shouted as Southern turned his back on the cameras.

The look he gives her as he realizes that he is going to have to take another question is priceless.

Cart has received praise for her handling of the water crisis and for her dogged interview style on both Facebook and Twitter, while Southern’s ill-judged lack of compassion has been compared to Tony Hayward, the disgraced former boss of BP.

In the wake of Southern’s disastrous TV appearance, Freedom Industries’ local public relations firm Charleston Ryan Associates announced on Sunday that it has decided it will no longer represent the chemicals company, reports WCHS.

Video: Watch Gary Southern’s disastrous press conference

Read More Here

 

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RT America RT America

Published on Jan 10, 2014

Thousands of gallons of dangerous chemicals have been leaking from a facility managed by Freedom Industries in Charleston, West Virginia, and hundreds of thousands of people in the vicinity are being impacted as a result. The governor has declared a state of emergency in nine counties there, and federal agencies have since been dispatched to help make sense of the accident. RT’s Meghan Lopez reports live from West Virginia to weigh in on the status of the chemical leak hours after it was first discovered.

Find RT America in your area: http://rt.com/where-to-watch/
Or watch us online: http://rt.com/on-air/rt-america-air/

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Examiner.com

Chemical leak threatens 100,000 in West Virginia

 

A family shops for bottled water at a supermarket, as many in West Virginia are doing after a chemical spill in the Elk River.

 

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency in several West Virginia counties Jan. 9, after a chemical leak contaminated the drinking water supply for about 100,000 in the Charleston area. West Virginia American Water was notified that a chemical used in coal mining had leaked into the Elk River upstream from its main water intake. The water supply feed all or parts of nine West Virginia counties.

The Charleston Daily Mail reports that county officials began tracking a strong licorice smell early Thursday morning. It was traced to a facility owned by Freedom Industries, the Etowah River Terminal. A storage tank was leaking and the containment system around the tank failed to hold the chemical. It leaked into the Elk River, the source of drinking water for many West Virginians. The Daily Mail says that the leak was stopped about two hours after it was discovered.

 

Read More Here

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Citizens in Berlin are fighting to democratize and decentralize the city’s energy system, and they’ve found an unlikely model—in Sacramento, Calif.

Dec 12, 2013

"Pull the plug on Vatenfall."Activists from Energietisch, the organization leading the push to get Berlin to bid for the city’s grid, protest in front of Berlin’s famous Brandenburg Gate. The large yellow sign reads, “Referendum. New Energy for Berlin. Democratic, Ecological, Social.” The small black sign reads, “Pull the Plug on Vatenfall.” Credit: UweHiksch, flickr

BERLIN, Germany—A decision 90 years ago by the people of Sacramento, Calif. to oust a private electric company and start a government-owned utility has been the unlikely inspiration for Berliners trying to wrest control of Germany’s largest grid from a coal-fired utility.

While little known in America, the creation of Sacramento’s Municipal Utility District was the model for a November referendum to give Berlin a municipal utility that would pump more clean energy into the grid. The 1923 vote in Sacramento helped the California city build a rare, green record—constructing the nation’s first big solar plant, voting to shut down a nuclear reactor and approving a goal of slashing climate-changing emissions by 90 percent by 2050.

“Sacramento stopped nuclear with direct elections,” said Stefan Taschner, spokesperson for Energietisch, the group behind the push to take over Berlin’s grid. It provides the “best example of democratic control.”

Berlin’s referendum failed by a tiny margin—but it’s not the end of the story. The contract to operate the grid expires at the end of next year, and the near-approval sent a strong message to the mayor and other officials that the city should buy the contract. The referendum needed 25 percent of Berlin’s 2.5 million registered voters to pass; it missed that mark by less than 1 percent.

It seems unlikely that Berliners would look to Sacramento, or anywhere but their own country, for a model on how to build a greener grid—given that Germany is driving the world’s most aggressive clean energy transformation. But Berlin has been largely left out of the shift, and activists here have been scrambling for tactics to limit influence of corporate fossil fuel interests. Less than 2 percent of the electricity produced in Berlin comes from renewables, compared to 25 percent in Germany overall.

The vast majority of Berlin’s electricity is coal-fired and generated by energy giant Vattenfall, whose parent company won a contract in 1994 to operate the grid for 20 years.

Ending the privatization of energy is a major part of the Energiewende, Germany’s plan to transition to renewables from fossil fuels and nuclear. A 2000 law gave citizens incentives to produce their own clean power and compete with utilities. As a result, 51 percent of the country’s renewable power capacity is now owned by individuals who have built solar on rooftops and wind turbines on farms. That has left Germany’s “Big Four” utilities, including Vattenfall, with just a sliver—6.5 percent—of this burgeoning sector.

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Originally posted on Socio-Economics History Blog:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2301757/Governments-climate-watchdog-launches-astonishing-attack-Mail-Sunday--revealing-global-warming-science-wrong.html

Click on image for article!

  • Government’s climate watchdog launches astonishing attack on the Mail on  Sunday… for revealing global warming science is wrong! 
    by David Rose, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ 
    The official watchdog that advises the  Government on greenhouse gas emissions targets has launched an astonishing  attack on The Mail on Sunday – for accurately reporting that alarming  predictions of global warming are wrong.
    -
    We disclosed that although highly influential  computer models are still estimating huge rises in world temperatures, there has  been no statistically significant increase for more than 16  years.
    -
    Despite our revelation earlier this month,  backed up by a scientifically researched graph, the Committee on Climate Change  still clings to flawed predictions.
    -
    Leading the attack is committee member Sir  Brian Hoskins, who is also director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change  at Imperial College, London. In a blog on the Committee on Climate…

View original 115 more words

Published on Mar 16, 2012

Every day, we use materials from the earth without thinking, for free. But what if we had to pay for their true value: would it make us more careful about what we use and what we waste? Think of Pavan Sukhdev as nature’s banker — assessing the value of the Earth’s assets. Eye-opening charts will make you think differently about the cost of air, water, trees. teebweb.org
TED Talk at TED Global 2011 – Filmed July 2011

Sierra Club

Today, the Sierra Club and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Company announced a landmark settlement that requires the Iowa utility to phase out coal burning at seven coal-fired boilers, clean up another two coal-fired boilers and build a large solar installation at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The announcement also pushes the total amount of coal generation retired or announced to retire since 2010 to more than 50,000 megawatts, almost one-sixth of the nation’s coal fleet.

In 2012, the Sierra Club notified MidAmerican that it was violating the federal Clean Air Act at its Walter Scott, Riverside and George Neal coal plants, by emitting more pollution than allowed by its permits. Today’s settlement filed in federal court in Iowa resolves those allegations. According to the Clean Air Task Force air pollution from these three plants contributes to 45 deaths and 760 asthma attacks annually.

“Clean air, clean water and a booming clean energy economy are part of an Iowa legacy that I am proud to leave for my children and grandchildren,” said Pam Mackey Taylor, chapter energy chair of the Sierra Club in Iowa. “Coal’s days are numbered here in Iowa. Pollution from MidAmerican’s coal-fired power plants causes major health problems in communities across Iowa. Retiring units at these coal plants and installing vital pollution controls at the remaining units will help Iowans breathe easier.”

Today’s announcement brings the total number of coal plants retired or announced to retire since 2010 to 130 plants and 50,717 megawatts, almost one sixth of the nation’s entire coal fleet. In 2009 these coal plants emitted more than 188 million metric tons of carbon pollution, the equivalent annual emissions of more than 39 million passenger vehicles. These plants also emitted more than 7,600 pounds of mercury, a potent neurotoxin, and caused 6,000 heart attacks, 60,000 asthma attacks and 3,600 premature lives annually.

Meanwhile, as coal plants are retired and only one new coal plant has broken ground since November 2008, the U.S. is also installing record amounts of clean energy. During President’s Obama’s first term the nation doubled its installations of wind and solar, and in 2012 the U.S. installed more wind and solar than coal, gas or nuclear power, with both wind and solar having their best year ever. In mid-2012 the U.S. hit the milestone of 50,000 megawatts of wind generation installed, producing enough electricity for 13 million American homes.

 

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