Friday, July 29, 2011

A Community Who Is Taking Action Against Coal

A Community Who Is Taking Action Against Coal


I just came across a documentary called Burning The Future: Coal in America by David Novak. The documentary gives a look into how communities live around coal mines that are being mined, blasted and how communities face devastating health risks in addition to environmental challenges. The community in West Virgina show how dirty their drinking water is in the video, how their children are effected and how people need to get involved to fight for justice. This inspirational video is amazing, and below is just a glimpse of the the documentary that I found from a website. 

Brief Video: http://www.takepart.com/news/tag/coal-communities


For more information please see the following website: http://www.takepart.com/news/tag/coal-communities

By Rebeca Petean






 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wind farms in the UK face challenges



The UK Government has set a target to be 15% reliant on renewable energy by 2020, but there are challenges to this goal. Those challenges range from financial, technological and political, but another challenge is local – the residents of England and Wales.

The opposition has resulted in half of all applications asking to build wind farms to be rejected in England. In an 18 minute podcast (See below for link), a reporter interviews an environmental minister and asks about the local opposition to an economy with lower carbon emissions. There is also a visit to Morocco, which is expanding their wind power with far less opposition.


There are many hurdles towards alternative or renewable energies, one of which is the comfort of the  familiar (like coal energy), but in order to move forward into a world with cleaner energy, innovations have to be embraced, especially ones that don't pollute and are renewable and free (like wind). Of course, there are other alternatives out there, and each new innovative, clean energy source is another step way from dirty fossil fuels. 


Listen to the podcast here (opens in new window): http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p00hxp16


-Wallace Chan

Incentives for renewable energy in Turkey


Greenhouse emissions are increasing rapidly in Turkey. The solution seems to be a focus on developing clean energy in areas such as domestic renewable sources. The incentive is that a guaranteed price for power produced by these methods may be offered, especially if the equipment used to develop clean energy is locally produced.

Source: Lonelyplanet.com


The proposed rates for the powered generated is seven euro cents a kilowatt hour for hydroelectric produced energy and 16 euro cents for tidal power. People who use turbines from local materials can see an additional 3 euro per kilowatt hour.

$600 millon has already been approved for the Project in Turkey.


Monetary incentives sure are a great way to get people involved in clean energy, but the local aspect of what Turkey has proposed is great in gaining interest of the locals. The materials are local and the jobs in building those materials probably are as well.


While this article focuses on Turkey, you can also do part by seeing if there is any alternative energy programs in your area. An example of one such program can be found in Portland, Oregon. You can learn about the renewable energy option here: http://www.portlandgeneral.com/renewables_efficiency/renewable_energy/default.aspx 

 
-Wallace Chan

Lots of power in a small package


Getting energy from a source that doesn’t require the construction of a large structure is entirely possible. Micro hydro electric generators are different from traditional hydroelectric dams in that they don’t need to be placed near a reservoir and are small and require little space to operate. They are placed near streams and can generate lots of energy without damaging the surrounding environment.

One of the kinds of micro hydro electric generator

The small nature of the generator means that less cost goes into the implementation of such as device. Benefits can be seen in many countries including the United States to small regions such as Nepal and Malaysia. In fact, those countries have used hydro-powered systems and are benefiting from the use of the smaller, inexpensive version. The renewable nature of running streams makes this an appealing energy source.

It looks as if this is a viable and low cost solution to more damaging (and high cost) methods of power such as coal. The bonus is how it doesn't seem to have an effect on the environment or to wildlife such as migrating salmon something that can't be said for more traditional hydroelectric dams (a story often repeated, especially here in the Pacific Northwest).

There are actually three different kinds of micro hydro electric generators. To read more on how each works go to http://homepower.com/basics/hydro/


-Wallace Chan

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

50 Million Reasons



New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s organization Bloomberg Philanthropies (who focus on donations to areas such as health, sustainability, literacy, social welfare and the arts), donated $50 million to the Siera Club’s Beyond Coal campaign which is trying to fight new coal fired plants from being built and to phase out old outdated coal plants and replace them with cleaner alternatives, like solar and wind energy.

Mayor Bloomberg has his own reasons for donating to Beyond Coal, which he expresses in this video of the announcement he made on Thursday, July, 21, 2011.




To learn more about Beyond Coal and to get involved with their campaign please visit there website. 



For further reading... 







~*~ Julia M. Fletcher

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Renewable Energy Company Eager to move to Portland

Vestas, which is a worldwide wind energy company is opening up its US headquarters in Portland, OR.  In addition, the company will be installing the city's largest rooftop solar power system.  The system will be built on top of the 102-year-old Meier & Frank Depot building.  Oregon based SolarWorld will team up with Vestas to provide the solar panels for the 112 (KW) photovoltaic system.  The panels will provide 12 percent of the building's electricity. 


The city's mayor welcomes the venture and hopes that this adds to the city's goal of being the renewable energy hub of the United States.  I feel extremely lucky to live in a city that encourages renewable energy.  Portland is a great model that many other cities across the country can learn from.  I hope that eventually news like this is not news at all.  Instead, it should be a common occurrence moving us closer to a unified worldwide stance toward renewable energy. 
-Robert Beech

http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=1656

Monday, July 25, 2011

United States Map Of Coal Ash Waste

United States Map Of Coal Ash Waste 

Please view the link: http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/coalash/map.aspx

The link provides an alternative perspective of how coal ash waste effects human life and how coal ash is generated. There are 600 EPA that are identified as coal ash waste locations within the United States

When you click on the map you have the options to view which states have the following:

*Coal ash waste ponds; where water is mixed and stored near a power plant
*High Hazard coal ash ponds; where dams failed
*Coal ash disaster sites; toxins possibly contaminated groundwater, streams or lakes

Furthermore,  Coal ash is produced from coal being burned for energy, the coal itself contains hazardous metals and chemicals such selenium, arsenic and lead. The coal ash is then stored in landfills, coal mines and with little to no federal regulation against such practices - such coal ash toxins and many other contamination's affects our drinking water.

For more information please visit: http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/coalash/map.aspx  

By Rebeca Petean

United States Map Of Polluting Coal Plants


United States Map Of Polluting Coal Plants

Try out this map http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/map/


The link above is to a map that shows polluting coal plants accordingly to zip codes within the United States.

When you click on a given city, there will be a short diagram to the right of your screen. On that screen you will have the opportunity to view the Plants Name, Location, how many Mercury per year it produces, along with how many other pollutions such as Carbon Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Hydrochloric Acid and Sulfuric Acid it produces per year. Also, the map states how many people live within 5 miles of the given plant.

Furthermore, the map was created by Sierra Club Environmental Law Program, their goal was to demonstrate to the public how coal plants create Toxic Mercury. Over 300,000 infants are exposed to toxic mercury pollution and nearly 2/3 of coal-fired plants are lacking the proper safety measures and controls to keep mercury, arsenic, air pollution, and acid gases from the water we drink and the air we breath

For more information please visit the following link: http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/map/

By Rebeca Petean

Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining


Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining




Check out this video on how mountaintop removal coal mining is destructive to our mountains, ecosystem, landscape, drinking water, wildlife habitat and how communities are wiped out due to this destructive practice.


Video Link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7E-req8lHQ&feature=player_embedded


For more information please see website link below:
http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/mtr/

By Rebeca Petean
 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tax on Polluters Isn't Changing Outlook on Coal



Should polluters pay for the carbon emissions that they put into the air? The answer seems obvious, but big industries continue to fight against government regulations, insisting that the costs to them will be passed on to consumers. Recently Australia joined government agencies like the European Union, certain U.S. states and New Zealand in an effort to tax big polluters. The response from the executive director of the Australian Coal Association was to give figures on the taxes implications of the economic side effects. Ralph Hillman outlined to reporters that the tax is expected to result in the closure of 18 minutes in Queensland and New South Wales states, cost 4,700 jobs and lead to $22 billion in lost revenue. Indeed, these proposals make even the consumers wary of rising costs but the government is responding with a $1.3 billion assistance package to keep jobs within the industry secure. Further the government has promised tax cuts and payments to most Australians, saying that two-thirds of all households will receive enough assistance to cover the entire financial impact of the tax.
 What these taxes are on industry are, aside from the economics, is the governmental push toward cleaner energy. Rather than developing new innovations, opponents to any governmental tax appeal to the consumer by touting that they are fighting for them. But taking into account the environmental impacts of coal, are they really? Australia is one of the worst greenhouse gas polluters in the world due to their extensive reliance on coal for power. In addition to coal providing 85 percent of their electricity production, they export nearly 75 percent of their coal mined. The new Australian tax has not shied companies away from what may be the largest takeover bid in Australian history for a coal company. U.S. coal company Peabody Energy Corp and steelmaker ArcelorMIttal’s joint bid for Queensland State’s Macarthur Coal Ltd. is an indication that lucrative coal production in Australia is, unfortunately, not waning.


Peter Browning

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Cost of Clean Air is Too Much?






American Electric Power (AEP) who was chosen several years ago by the Department of Energy to use and test the carbon capture and storage (CCS), has decided that high costs will cause it to stop the project for the foreseeable future. 



Here are a few facts about AEP:
  1. They are the largest supplier of electricity in the nation
  2. They have 80 generating stations in 11 states, serving over 5 million customers
  3. Last year they made $14.4 BILLION dollars in revenue
AEP's John E. Amos power plant, located in West Virginia. 
 It is one of the largest coal burning plants in the world

Here are a few facts about CCS:
  1. The technology enables the capture and storage of 90% of Co2 emissions that come from burning coal
  2. AEP’s Mountaineer plant located in New Haven, W.Va. was testing the technology successfully for 2 years, being the most advanced in the world
  3. By closing this project down it could set back the technology for years
Even with the Clean Coal Power Initiative giving up to $334 million to AEP for funding of the project (that is HALF the cost) the company still decided to put a stop to the program.
An article for the New York Times says that the company is not willing to go forward with the project because they “did not believe state regulators would let the company recover its costs by charging customers, thus leaving it no compelling regulatory or business reason to continue the program.” No compelling regulatory or business reason... How about the idea of helping the planet and those that inhabit it breathe clean air? 


For articles on this topic please click the links below:


AEP Places Carbon Capture Commercialization On Hold, Citing Uncertain Status Of Climate Policy, Weak Economy 


AEP Move to Stop Carbon Capture and Sequestration Project Shocks Utilities, Miners 


Utility Shelves Ambitious Plan to Limit Carbon 


AEP halts carbon capture technology advancement in US



~*~ Julia M. Fletcher

Monday, July 18, 2011

Harnessing the power of the currents



This rather strange picture is actually what some scientists think the future of energy will look like.  The rods depicted are slow moving pistons which harness the incredible power of currents and transform it into usable energy.  These pistons have as yet no negative environmental impact and could produce relatively inexpensive energy.
  
As Americans are realizing that coal is an unsustainable source of energy, we are eagerly searching for alternatives.  Wind, river, and sun power have all been explored, with varied results.  However, the power of the ocean currents, perhaps the most powerful force on earth has been strangely neglected.  The reason for this could be the enormous expense associated with marine research, although scientists believe that once created, marine energy producing tools could be highly cost effective. "If we could harness 0.1 per cent of the energy in the ocean, we could support the energy needs of 15 billion people", said Michael Bernitsas, a professor of naval architecture at the University of Michigan.  In a time when people are increasingly concerned for the future of energy, such a statement should inspire us to look deeper into marine current energy.  Below we can see an artist's representation of submarine turbines.







Further research can be done by going to the following websites.



Friday, July 15, 2011

An Inspirational Story About Change

An Inspirational Story About Change


Brief Summary: An inspirational story on how a group of people came together to change old ways of relying coal and charcoal as a cooking alternative in third world countries.

Goal Of This Blog And Video: The goal of this video and blog is to show how people can change each others minds by simply working together towards a common goal. If people were able to find alternatives for coal and charcoal when it came down to cooking foods in a third world country. Then there is hope towards developing strategies for a healthier public.
                                                  


PLAY VIDEO or CLICK ON LINK http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_smith_shares_simple_lifesaving_design.html





Summary:

       There is unquestionably a link between public health and the environment in which the cause and effect between the two affect the way people live, the air people breath as well as the overall illnesses due to an unhealthy environment. In other words, public health promotes awareness of problems that exist and influence the public’s health. This can include, informing the public of certain diseases, or illnesses and promoting different approaches that can become integrated or developed in order to promote action towards the safety, and health of the public. The environment in return contributes to the air people breath, the water people drink and the cause of illnesses, diseases that lead to the cause of death for people.
    Both, public health and the environment cannot be addressed without addressing the other because if the environment is unhealthy it can cause illnesses and diseases. Public health then steps in to address solutions,  with regards to the public health and the environment as well as integrates developments that help people all over the world, to have clean drinking water, or cleaner air to breathe. Also, with regards to Smith’s lecture, I found that the information she provided was realistic and inspirational because she addresses devastating issues that were impacting the environment, safety, health and well being of the community in Haiti and in India.
    Smith's lecture was inspiring because every year she gets a team of students and helps find ways to save the environment. As a result, of her actions people do not have to cut trees to make fire since Smith and her team helped develop innovative and cost effective cooking products. Smith and her team of students found an unusual plant that served no purpose that would be used as a cooking product. However, if the charcoal and coal becomes implemented the revenue would be 260 million dollars; for a population of 8 million in Haiti. Furthermore, Smith’s model of engagement is both a charity and a human rights model because her goal (along with the communities and the people she works with) is to address public health and environmental issues while developing strategies for a healthier public.

The following information and video was found on http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_smith_shares_simple_lifesaving_design.html

By Rebeca Petean






Cheap Coal = Huge Cost


(2006)  - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports that for the past four years coal use actually grew by 22%, which is the main contributor to the yearly 3% increase in CO2 worldwide. So called short-term economics towards cheap power is driving the increase in coal use. While it’s been labeled as cheap, electricity costs from a coal source is expected to double in price by the year 2030 (to $40-45 a mega-watt hour).

Lignite (coal) on a conveyor belt


The increase is mostly driven by use in China, India and Russia (where coal is used for power stations) and in the United States and European Union (looking for fresh supplies of coal). Keith Allot, the head of WWF in the UK says that “coal is an extremely dirty source of power, and imposes huge costs on people’s health, the environment and the economy." He continues further by saying that unless governments agree to clean up coal and support clean alternatives, coal will remain the fuel of choice for countries, especially those in Asia. He does note that those countries cannot single handedly blamed for their use of coal.

The impact on the climate is predicted to be a 37% decline in wheat, rice and corn yields along with a decrease in rainfall (bad for crops) in China. The climate change will result in China falling short of  up to 20 billion cubic meters (of water needed for crops) from 2010 to 2030. Water shortage can also be a result of melting glaciers on a plateau, which supplies much of the water for rivers. Other impacts include heat related deaths in India, which has been found to be increased due to coal use.

Alternative energies are said to be just as competitive in price by 2030. 

For more on this article visit: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070504151722.htm  
Also visit http://bw.china-embassy.org/eng/xwdt/t366585.htm, to look at the impact coal has on China's crops.

-Wallace Chan

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Clean Coal Technology? Or not?




Climate-change concerns represent a serious challenge. Today, energy companies are working with the federal government to develop, demonstrate and deploy the next generation of advanced technologies. These technologies will make it possible to reduce emissions to very low levels for traditional pollutant emissions, as well as capture and safely store carbon dioxide – while ensuring a reliable supply of affordable electricity to meet America’s growing energy needs using America’s most abundant, domestically produced fuel.

http://www.americaspower.org/carbon-capture-storage

This website explains how Carbon Capture Sequestration works. Whether or not it will be able to lower carbon emissions remains to be seen. But it is great to see how companies are trying to "clean" things up.
Cameron Jensen

Is Clean Coal Possible? How do we keep electric bills low while cutting coal usage?




 Olivia Albright is the owner of AOA Products in Toledo, Ohio, understands this from experience. She depends on affordable electricity to operate her packaging machines – and leave her with enough money to meet payroll. Without it, she might have to cut her employees’ hours or lay off some of her staff. Though this video is for clean coal it shows one side of the affordable electricy story that needs to be touched on. We have to address how to cut coal usage but at the same time not run up electricity bills that would effect both industry and families.

Cameron Jensen

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Plug It In.....Locally




The state of Washington announced that it will open nine roadside electric-car charging stations.  This could be the first sign that states are openly backing alternatives to gas powered cars.  The project will cost roughly 1 million dollars to construct.  Charging stations will be found from on the I-5 from Olympia to Oregon.  Perhaps Oregon will follow it's neighbor state to the north in installing similar stations.  It seems that the charging stations could be a trend that catches on quickly if the stations prove to be efficient.  Regardless, this is a step in the right direction.  All of us should emplore new technology that offers alternatives to fossil fuels.  By taking the time to research new fuel efficient and electric cars, we will see that there are several options besides our gasline dependent automobiles.  This is just one example of renewable energy technology that is coming to the forefront of every day life.
-Robert Beech

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/travel/2015595660_eleccars13.html


Thursday, July 7, 2011

EPA Capping Coal Plant Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency has just finalized a rule capping the emissions from certain pollutants from coal-fired power plants.  The new rule effects 27 states.  The rule would force reductions in the emissions of sulfer dioxide and nitrogen oxide that cross state lines.  This rule coule be the nail in the coffin leading ultility companies to close aging coal plants in search of cleaner energy. 



The rule will be a huge step forward in improving the health of millions of Americans by preventing smog and soot pollution.  In addition to this ruling, the EPA also issued a proposal requiring specific states to reduce nitrogen-oxide emissions during the summer.  It is about time that the Federal Government takes serious steps eliminating coal energy.  It is clear that the low cost of coal is not worth the environmental impact that it causes.  This is a small step but definitely a step in the right direction to move toward renewable energy as our main source of energy.  I encourage you to seek out renewable energy option to replace our dependence on fossil fuels.
-Robert Beech

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303365804576431892352096826.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining


Coal as an energy source is problematic.  Coal burning causes pollution, by nature coal mining damages the environment, and coal mining companies have a reputation for being money grubbers who care nothing about their workers or the ecosystems their mining sites are located in.  Each of these aspects should be enough to give our society pause when choosing energy sources.  Coal is simply an unsustainable and unethical industry and should be actively fazed out.

One very graphic example of the evils of coal can be found in a beautiful corner of the United States, the Appalachian Mountain Range which runs through Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.  Here we can find a coal mining method dubbed "mountaintop removal mining", surely one of the most thoughtless and irresponsible industries in the U.S. today.  Mountaintop removal mining (MRM) has done more damage to the environment in which in occurs than any logging or farming practices, and yet is completely legal.
 
 MRM begins with the clear-cutting of an entire mountaintop.  Top soil is disrupted and wild life is killed.  This form of logging also causes flooding and landslides.  Next, enormous amounts of explosives are set off, blasting chunks of rock long distances.  Because the Appalachians are fairly populated for a mountain range, such practices are often dangerous for the people living near by.  Mining companies own huge machines which scoop out the remaining mountaintop and push the soil into adjacent valleys.  By doing this they are burying the head waters to many of the area's important streams.

The enormous scale which these projects are run on completely overwhelms the environment in which they take place.  The practice of clear-cutting when done by loggers is strictly regulated, prompt replanted is enforced, and the result is a renewal of the decimated forest land.  This is not the case with MRM, however; few sites are replants and even then far from successfully.  MRM succeeds in turning a beautiful mountain forests, home to fragile ecosystem and major tourist attraction, into a waste of dirt.

Another element to all this is the people who live near these mining sites.  As the mining projects move into an area, the coal company will buy up all the existing houses and demolish them.  Traditionally coal miners themselves, these people often lose not only their homes to MRM, but also their jobs.  Because of the increased use of massive machines, the actual number of mining jobs have gone down; a small group of workers can clear an entire mountaintop.  The coal companies are brutally oblivious to the residents near their mining projects who are exposed to extreme pollution and very undesirable living conditions due to their irresponsible industry practices.

For further resource into this topic, there are many great websites available.   For a look at MRM from a regional perspective check out http://www.mountainjusticesummer.org/facts/steps.php.  For a good concise "myths and facts" analysis see http://www.mountainjusticesummer.org/facts/steps.php and to read National Geographic's take on the topic, visit http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/earth/surface-of-the-earth/when-mountains-move.html.

New Emissions Rulings Have Power Companies Scrambling


Emissions from coal producing plants are already being lowered.  In due time, the cost of reducing emissions from coal may be too great.  One such company AEP has already spent 7.2 billion dollars to reduce emissions from coal.  New EPA standards are forcing such companies to recuce emissions even further but are the new regulations unrealistic? 



New EPA regulations now require companies to lower emissions within 3 years from the current policy.  This creates an issue for several companies as the equipment takes roughly three years just to design.  In addition, the costs are roughly 6 to 8 billion to conform to the new regulations.  Could this be the beginning of the end for coal power in America.  Some say the costs are too high and that this could start a new wave of alternative energy inginuity in the United States.  Power companies are pushing for a ten year time frame to adhere to the new guidelines.  They say this will be more manageable finanically and will lead to extended jobs in the industry.  Regardless of the time frame, it is clear that the coal industry is definitely facing it's biggest challenge to date. 

-Robert Beech

http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20110703/NEWS05/107030309/A-smarter-way-improve-environment

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Electric cars: Contributing to the coal problem?

An alternative to the internal combustion engine is gaining in popularity, especially with rising gas prices. That alternative is the electric car.  Back in 2009, President Obama, along with Congress decided to include a $7500 tax credit to those that chose to purchase an electric vehicle. In Oregon, Governor Ted Kulongoski included a $1500 tax credit.

While the electric car seems like a practical alternative (other than say, public transportation and “human powered” bicycles), there may possibly be some downsides. While it’s convenient for an electric car owner to plug their car into an outlet in their garage at night, they would be less damaging to the environment if the energy used to charge them came from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric sources, but that’s not the case. In Oregon, home to a world-renown hydroelectric system, the electricity needed at night would most likely come from coal plants, which happens to be one of the dirtiest sources of energy.



There is debate on whether or not electric cars would be contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Some say that using an electric car, even while being charged by a coal powered source would reduce greenhouse gases by one quarter, but others say that unless coal gets cleaner the benefits are negligible.

There are more environmentally friendly alternatives out there, including cellulosic biofuel, which is made from garbage, switchgrass and wood waste and could cut greenhouse gas emission in half.  Another alternative is hydrogen fuel cells, which, depending on how it’s produced can cut greenhouse gases further.




-Wallace Chan            

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Movement for Tomorrow



When I was younger I remember going to the Bonneville dam, located on the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon. I used to always be fascinated by the large turbines and learning about how water was being used to generate the electricity for my home and thousands of others.  It had never occurred to me that coal was supplying over half of the nation with power and that one quarter of the world’s coal reserves are found within the United States. (Learn more about the Coal and the United States here at Energy.gov)


Unfortunately for the planet to use coal as an energy source we burn it. This releases sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, various particulates, and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is one of the main causes of global warming.  The more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere the worse it gets for plants, animals, and us. Author Bill McKibben founded the website 350.org, whose mission is to change the way we live and ultimately save us from the extinction. 


350 parts per million (ppm) is the number that many scientists have determined to be a safe level of carbon dioxide. With a level currently at 394 ppm and rising (according to co2now.org), something needs to be done to lower the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which includes reducing our use of coal as energy and turning to renewable sources.  Visit 350.org to learn more about what you can do to spread the word and help reduce our climate impact. 



~*~Julia M. Fletcher

The Alarming Facts About Coal And Solutions

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the United States produced 1.163 billion tons of coal during the year 2006 and is gradually increasing production by an estimated 2% each year. Since there is twice the amount of coal that can be recovered, used and produced than oil. This means that the growing demand of coal and the amount of energy used in consuming coal is dramatically and ominously increasing. By 2030, 28% of energy that is consumed by coal will increase, while coal consumption will increase to 74%.        
                                  
So, the question remains how does coal continue to be used? The answer is rather simple, electrical power plants immensely depend on coal consumption. A whopping 49% of coal is generated by electrical power plants, while Nuclear power comes in second to 20.2%, and natural gas comes in third at 18.8 percent. Sadly, solar and wind only account for 2.4%.
                                            
The dramatic impact of depending on coal affects the air we all breath and our ecosystem. According to the EIA, the following is just short list of environmental and health problems:

-Acid rain
-Polluted water systems
-Stripped forests
-Mining hazards
-Deaths/Respiratory deaths as a result of coal
-Coal pollution

As a result of consuming and producing coal, there have been some solutions to cleaning up coal. First, coal carries ash, sulfur, mercury and many other toxic pollutants. As a result, those pollutants get in the air we breath, the water we drink and the earth around us. So, in order to clean up coal, solutions have been proposed to remove water and coals toxic pollutants from coal itself. The company CoalTek and the state of Kentucky have already started removing water and coals toxic pollutants from coal and as a result, it has made coal more effective and thus allowing less coal to be burned, and less transportation required to transport coal.


Currently, the FutureGen project has received $1.5 billion in funds from the federal government to build a pollution-free coal plant that will produce power by viagasification and hydrogen. While, Fuel-Tech has been investing in creating better broilers that decrease the amount of coal pollutants and carbon dioxide from burning coal.

By: Rebeca Petean

For more information please view the URL provided
http://news.cnet.com/2300-11392_3-6220919.html?tag=mncol;txt

Friday, July 1, 2011

Oregon Closer to a Biomass Surge


Moving away from fossil fuels seems to be the goal of most in today's society.  Coal is at the forefront of the debate when discussing the effects of burning fossil fuels.  However, is there an alternative source of energy that is high in abundance and less harmful to the environment?  The state of Oregon believes biomass is the source of energy and if the state has it's way, Oregon would be at the forefront of the biomass push.  In January the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decided to defer regulating greenhouse gas emissions from biomass burning three years.  This pivotal decision could revive the state's efforts to burn wood for power.

Those that support biomass hope that the energy produced from wood-fired power plants and boilers have a dual effect.  The biomass movement will greatly effect Oregon's economy by providing labor for "thinning" projects in the national forests, reduce the risk of wild fire, and provide a local source of fuel that many believe is cleaner than coal.

Is wood burning really a form of green energy?  Many assume biomass is carbon neutral.  However, there are critics who say that wood burning could lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.  Some even say that the pollutants would be greater than burning coal.

A final decision related to the regulation of biomass has yet to be made.  However, the latest decision by the Environmental Protection Agency could mean that biomass will take off in Oregon and throughout the country sooner than expected.  This is great news for the local economy.  Regardless if biomass is a viable option in the future, it is great that we are looking at options to eliminate fossil fuels.  Experimenting with new techniques and technology allows us to explore our options when it comes to renwewable energy.  Hopefully, other states and regions will take the time to research alternatives the way that Oregon has taken the lead thus far.
-Rob Beech

To access the full article visit http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/01/oregon_biomass_ambitions_get_b.html