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The saga of mountaintop removal continues, and this time it's headed to Congress. Two proposed bills—one in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives—could curtail mountaintop removal mining by banning certain activities related to this destructive mining practice.

Appalachia's mountains never seem to get a break. First, back in 2007, a district court judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit we brought on behalf of some West Virginia groups that stopped five mountaintop removal mining permits from going forward because of the permanent destruction they would have done to Appalachian streams and headwaters.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a must-read LA Times articlethat explores the dramatic effects of climate disruption on Australia. In response to these worsening conditions, seven Australian climate scientists sent a letter to the owners of every coal-fired power plant in Australia. The letter carries a blunt message: no new coal-fired power plants, unless they are zero-emissions…and operated by unicorns (ok, I added the unicorn part).

But an outright ban on new coal-fired power plants isn't enough, as the authors of the letter indicate:

Genuine action on climate change will mean that coal-fired power stations cease to operate in the near future. [Read the whole letter]

As noted in both the letter and the aforementioned LA Times article, coal-fired power plants supply more than 80% of Australia’s electricity (compared to around 50% in the United States). Replacing coal-fired power in Australia and here at home with clean and safe energy sources will require a massive, coordinated (and very necessary) effort. But abandoning the dirty fuels of the past will help us ensure that our future is filled with opportunities.

(Update: check out the excellent editorial in the Durango Herald)

A significant number of Navajos were thrilled this week at the EPA’s decision to take back the permit it issued last year—under the Bush administration--for the massive coal-fired Desert Rock power plant.

The EPA said sufficient analysis had not been done to ensure protection of health and the environment.

John Kerry and Barbara Boxer are two of the greenest members of the Senate. Jim Inhofe is the Senate's chief global warming denier. But last week—on Earth Day, no less—they came together to introduce a bill requiring the EPA to look at ways to control a dangerous pollutant that kills millions worldwide and accelerates global warming, particularly in the Arctic.

One of the many dirty little secrets about oil shale is that it will take huge amounts of energy to turn rock into a product we can put in our cars and trucks.  That's because the currently proposed technology for producing oil shale involves using what amounts to glorified curling irons underground, heating them up to hundreds of degrees and melting the "kerogen" into something that can be sucked out of the ground and could be refined into a useable product.

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