Monday, February 16, 2009

Today's Must Reads: Coal trains are death trains & other climate change joys

One of the nation's leading climate scientists, James Hansen, is not a happy camper. Read why in this op-ed he just submitted to a British newspaper.
Coal is not only the largest fossil fuel reservoir of carbon dioxide, it is the dirtiest fuel. Coal is polluting the world’s oceans and streams with mercury, arsenic and other dangerous chemicals. The dirtiest trick that governments play on their citizens is the pretense that they are working on “clean coal” or that they will build power plants that are “capture ready” in case technology is ever developed to capture all pollutants. The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains
We all remember "clean coal," right?

The scientist who coordinated the UN's most recent report on climate change says the situation is far worse than they had thought. That last report failed to take a few, key factors into account, he says. Uh oh...


Anonymous said...

Support H Sub for HB 2014 and save jobs. Kansas families are counting on you.

Diane Silver said...

H Sub for HB 2014 would force coal plants on a state that doesn't want them. This is NOT a good bill. Coal fired plants pollute the air, cause global warming and, given the current regulatory climate, may well be a financial albatross around the neck of state government and the taxpayers of Kansas. This is not a simple jobs bill.

For me, see the latest AP story and the Climate and Energy blog.

Anonymous said...

No it is not just about jobs but it is about fairness. Why should Kansas have more stringent rules and regulations than the Federal Government? That puts Kansas at a disadvantage by over-regulation and that translates into a job issue and a power issue for 500,000 people in Western Kansas. I work in local government and I will tell you one thing for certain, let people's power go out for an hour and the calls come pouring in. Nothing, and I mena nothing, makes people angrier than losing their electricity. So say what you will but until this perfect solution to producing energy arrives, people want their lights on.

Diane Silver said...

If the choice were between power or no power for 500,000 people, I would agree with you. But that isn't the situation. There are other options.

Anonymous said...

There are several options but there is only one reliable source. I want to address these issues as much as you do in a responsible manner. There is no greater disruption to a person's life than to lose power. After numerous calls and experiences with this problem I know that there is no silver bullet just around the corner so we must continue to allow coal as one of the solutions.

Diane Silver said...

Dear Anonymous, why are you anonymous? Do you work for one of the companies that will profit from these plants? Why not tell everyone who you are.

Also, you are putting up a straw man, so that it is easy to knock it down. The choices aren't no power vs. coal power. The choices are alternative power or even limited coal usage vs destroying our own lives. Have you read the James Hansen paper I linked to in this post? Are you aware of the serious danger we face from coal-created pollution and from climate change? Are you aware that many investors now rate coal-fired plants as being too expensive just from a financial point of view? Are you aware of the danger of Kansas taxpayers having to foot the ball for these extremely costly plants? Have you been paying any attention to the Obama Administration's moves to regulate coal? Do you have anything to say that ISN'T a coal or utility company talking point?

Anonymous said...

Dear Diane,

I do not and have not ever worked for a coal plant or neergy company of any kind. Is it so hard for you to believe that I am just a person who feels this issue has a negative impact on people if it is not done with care and concern? I am a person who has been without power for weeks at a time because of weather or strain on the system and I didn't enjoy having to ship my kids away to relatives to keep them warm while I froze myself trying to keep the house pipes from freezing. Ever have to drive to a Fast Stop to get something to eat because even the fast food places were closed? Ever not be able to take a shower with warm water? Ever have to sit in the dark all evening? These things we take for granted until we lose them. Talking points for Coal companies? You are kidding me right? I told you who I work for and that should explain why I don't post my name. I am a city employee.

Diane Silver said...

Do you live in the area the coal plants will serve? You don't have to post your name to give us some detail about yourself. And why would you be fired from a city for simply saying you support the coal plants? Most cities in western Kansas are on the record as being for the coal plants.

Also, I hate to have to say this again, but you are spouting coal company talking points. You may well agree with them, but these are still the talking points of the companies.

Also, are you honestly trying to argue that the two coal plants as proposed for western Kansas ARE THE ONLY FORM OF ENERGY available to that region? Why not build only one plant? Why not do a combination of coal and alternative sources? Are you not aware of the fact that the vast majority of the energy from those plants isn't even intended for Kansas?

I have been without power many times, and I live in Lawrence. I know exactly what it is like to sit shivering for days. I know what it is like to have to go to a hotel because I'm without power, and I know what it's like to worry about the health of my mother, who is 82, and lives with me. I worry quite a bit when we lose power, as we do frequently in the winter.

I also know that my son will have a horrible future if we do not limit carbon emissions. I also know that no matter what claims coal companies make about the cleanliness of their plants, coal-fired plants still pollute the air and cause many other environmental problems.

Bottom line: It is an outright lie to claim that the issue comes down to a choice between these particular coal plants and power for western Kansas.