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The Rising Price of Coal
Kelpie Wilson, truthout
As the global energy/climate crisis deepens, coal has become the starkest symbol and most telling measure of our predicament. Coal produces more carbon emissions than other energy sources - more than twice that of natural gas per unit of energy output. Consequently, coal-fired power plants are responsible for about one-third of US emissions of carbon dioxide. Despite this, we are mining and burning more coal than ever.
On March 18, the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) released an analysis of EPA data showing that carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power industry increased by 2.9 percent in 2007 and have risen 5.9 percent since 2002. Coal is the culprit.
According to an Associated Press report, the cause of last year's increase was a combination of three factors: increased electricity demand; a shortage of hydroelectric power, leading to greater reliance on coal, and the reduced efficiency of aging coal-burning power plants.
While utilities around the nation have plans to construct more than 100 new coal-fired power plants, public concern over global warming and toxic pollution has put the brakes on many of them. Last year in Texas, public interest groups prevented TXU Energy from going ahead on eight new coal-fired plants that would have increased the state's emissions by 24 percent, according to the EIP report.
But as demand for electricity rises and cleaner fuels like natural gas get scarcer and more expensive, the relentless pressure to burn coal fuels delusions such as "clean coal."
(21 March 2008)
Air Force prod aids coal-to-fuel plans
Matthew Brown, Associated Press
On a wind-swept air base near the Missouri River, the Air Force has launched an ambitious plan to wean itself from foreign oil by turning to a new and unlikely source: coal.
The Air Force wants to build at its Malmstrom base in central Montana the first piece of what it hopes will be a nationwide network of facilities that would convert domestic coal into cleaner-burning synthetic fuel.
Air Force officials said the plants could help neutralize a national security threat by tapping into the country's abundant coal reserves.
(22 March 2008)
Britain and France to take nuclear power to the world
Patrick Wintour, The Guardian
Britain and France are to sign a deal to construct a new generation of nuclear power stations and export the technology around the world in an effort to combat climate change.
The pact is to be announced at the "Arsenal summit" next week when prime ministers Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy will meet at the Emirates stadium in north London.
Britain hopes to take advantage of French expertise to build the power stations that do not rely on fossil fuels. Nearly 79% of France's electricity comes from its highly-developed nuclear power industry. The UK's ageing nuclear plants are ready for decommissioning and supply 20% of its energy needs.
Brown hopes the partnership will create a skilled British labour force who would then work in partnership with France to sell nuclear power stations to other countries over the next 15 years.
(22 March 2008)
Related from the Guardian: We need more nuclear plants to avoid blackouts, say German power chiefs.