December 5, 2012

Strange bedfellows

Staunch opponents of the EPA’s ‘War on Coal’ embrace environmental upgrades at Mill Creek plant

When LG&E announced last year that new EPA rules would force the company to make costly retrofits to their Mill Creek coal-fired power plant — paid for by consumers via a large rate hike — many in Frankfort labeled this as part of the federal government’s so-called “War on Coal.”

Gov. Steve Beshear immediately fired off a press release, stating, “We cannot sustain these unfair, unfunded mandates by a federal government intent on devastating Kentucky’s coal industry, and, in turn, on our economic recovery.”

But at the Mill Creek groundbreaking last Thursday, some of those same coal industry advocates were singing quite a different tune.

LG&E’s press conference heralded the beginning of construction on $940 million worth of upgrades to the plant, including new scrubbers that will remove 98 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions (up from 90 percent) and filters to limit the release of particulates such as mercury. Mayor Greg Fischer touted the fact that 700 local jobs would be created at the peak of construction.

But fierce critics of the EPA were there as well, applauding the EPA-mandated move as great for the state’s economy, especially the struggling coal industry.

Such a bizarre sight reflects both the challenges and narrow opportunities for Kentucky coal in this new era, as government officials walk the fine line of guarding a powerful industry from regulation, securing a dwindling market for coal, and protecting the public’s health.

Thursday’s event featured strong words of support from Attorney General Jack Conway’s chief of staff — an office more accustomed to suing the EPA — and Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters, speaking on behalf of the Beshear administration, who won re-election last year on a platform that unapologetically told the “job-killing” EPA to “get off our backs.”

“Clean coal technology investments such as these help secure jobs for the miners in Kentucky, and create economic development opportunities for the commonwealth,” Peters said.

Those miner jobs Peters referred to are specifically in western Kentucky, which will continue to supply 80 percent of the coal for Mill Creek.

Such a stable market for coal in the region is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Just a few years ago, more than 50 percent of the nation’s power supply came from burning coal, but that number recently dropped to as low as 34 percent.

A growing number of utility companies are retiring coal plants in favor of natural gas, largely because coal’s free market advantage as the cheapest source of energy is fading. This is due not just to stricter EPA regulations on burning coal, but also the nose-diving price of natural gas in recent years, as the new (and potentially dangerous) extraction method known as fracking has flooded the market with a cleaner burning and cheaper alternative.

Earlier this year, LG&E’s Cane Run plant, just up the road from Mill Creek, finalized plans to switch to natural gas, pronouncing this as the cheapest move for consumers.

State Rep. Jim Gooch (D-Providence) — perhaps the EPA’s biggest critic in Kentucky, and a global warming denier — tells LEO Weekly he spoke in favor of LG&E’s move last Thursday not because he had a change of heart, but because it ensured a market for coal from his western Kentucky district.

“We all need to work together to try to improve the environment,” Gooch says. “But at the same time, we need to use what’s here, what’s built this state, what’s affordable, what’s reliable.”

Gooch disputes the notion that natural gas — let alone renewable energy like wind or solar — is a cheaper alternative to coal, saying its price is volatile.

“We need to use whatever technologies are available that produce the most reliable, affordable, dependable electricity that we have, and if that’s something else, then we ought to be using something else,” Gooch says. “But they’re not here yet. And anyone who tries to say they are is selling the American people a bill of goods that is not right.”

As for Gov. Beshear’s opinion of LG&E’s latest move, it’s almost like his vociferous criticism from last year never existed.

“Gov. Beshear has never opposed federal regulations that are timely and fairly administered,” spokesman Terry Sebastian says. “The decision by LG&E to update their Mill Creek pollution control equipment is a positive move forward as we continue to ensure our air is cleaner while, at the same time, allowing the effective and efficient use of Kentucky coal.”

While some media outlets echoed LG&E’s press release by labeling the upgrade as “clean coal technology,” there remains a dusty cloud over residents near the plant.

Tom Fitzgerald of the Kentucky Resources Council notes that while local jobs will be created and air quality for most of Louisville will improve, burning coal can only get so “clean.”

“Even if you accept that there is a range of technologies out there that are ‘clean coal,’ this isn’t it,” Fitzgerald says. “This is simply retrofitting for basic pollution control at a traditional pulverized coal plant.”

Though the new scrubbers and filters will decrease emissions, the resulting waste will produce more coal ash with more toxins. Such waste will go into the nearby coal ash pond and landfill, which is already leaching into the Ohio River, is deemed “high-risk” for a breach, and is notorious for blowing ash onto nearby neighborhoods. It’s also running out of space and will soon require a new landfill.

Thomas Pearce of the Sierra Club says LG&E is making a mistake by not investing in renewable energies, adding, “If they had to factor the cost of health care to the public into the equation, this would not even be a question.”

Mark Romines, who complains that his property near Mill Creek is frequently covered by coal ash, says LG&E should have made the same switch as Cane Run.

“If anything, I would prefer to have natural gas to all of that coal ash coming out,” Romines says. “Because it’s causing nothing but health problems.”

LG&E spokesman Brian Phillips tells LEO they weighed the option of switching Mill Creek to natural gas, but found the financial costs for consumers would be exorbitant.

I really wish I hadn’t seen this as I really want one now!

By newbags
I recently came across your article and have been reading along. I want to express my admiration of your writing skill and ability to make readers read from the beginning to the end. I would like to read newer posts and to share my thoughts with you.I am a handbags maker,i am working in! Do you need handbags wholesale?

In a word, yacht charter

By imssol
In a word, yacht charter Trogir is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Croatia and along the Adriatic coast. In fact, it's listed in the UNESCO World Heritage as one of the best preserved medieval centers in Europe

that is a good article.

By daxiong22
that is a good article. video converter for Avchd mts, m2ts, mxf, ts video to avi, mpeg-2 conversion software free. ts converter | convert canon video e site afin d’éviter qu’il manque encore. avchd converter camcorder camra video transcode.

Green Power International

By Henry
Green Power International was established in early 2002 in close cooperation with MWM GmbH (formerly Deutz Power System GmbH).
Gas engine generator
wood gas
Uninterrupted power

A power plant, or power

By michaelbell
A power plant, or power station, is an important facility in the generation of electricity. Virtually all power stations consist of a generator, in which a rotating turbine converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. Most of them are fuelled by fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, while others depend on nuclear power. retractable screen doors


By luorui
If the device is not enough to limit someone of DUI, the financial obligation Galletto 1260 alone should be enough to deter any individual. At close to $1,000 annually, in addition to court charges, fees and penalties, an automotive breathalyzer is not an inexpensive requirement to be maintaining every month. And $1,000 is actually the minimum, if a man or woman frequently has problems with trying to start their vehicle after drinking alcohol a unit becomes locked and a service provider must be called to unlock the breathalyzer, now the added fees will be include a service call, unlocking the device, possibly being sent back to court, and being handed a extended Breath alcohol ignition interlock device restriction sentence (greater dues), and missed time away from work for the reason that there is no vehicle to get there.With many laws in place across the states pertaining to specific driver disturbances such as cell Vag Cables phones, GPS, In-Dash video displays, and so much more, it is no shocker that the auto breathalyzer is identified as an extra distraction to anyone who must have them put in. It is primarily seen as a distraction because the device will have to be provided rolling retest while the car or truck is in movement, but if these test are not given it is gathered by the service issuer and may be a violation of a drivers restriction conditions, as well as lock the unit out and not let a restart occur. The equipment lays loose in the car DS708 OBD 16 (passenger seat, center console, etc.), or positioned within close proximity of the driver, and very much like a cell phone a driver must have the device in their hands while presenting a breath test. Several may see the disturbance as searching for the unit when a test is required or actually delivering the test because the driver wants to focus to give a precise breath test.

ingiltere'ye gitmek artık

By jakosez
ingiltere'ye gitmek artık daha kolay! Sizde ingiltere vizesi sitesini ziyaret ederek, gerekli belgeleri tamamlayıp vizenizi en kısa süre içerisinde temin edin! Ayrıca.. Kktc'nin aktif alışveriş portalında sizde yerinizi alın. İlanlarınızı ekleyin ve kısa zamanda hedef kitlenize ulaşın. Kıbrıs'ta ilan farkı KKTC'de araba ilanı, ev ilanı, satılık daireler, kiralık daireler, ve ilan adına ne varsa bu sitede! kktc ilan ile! Otomobil, emlak, cep telefonu, elektronik... İster alın, ister satın.Binlerce ziyaretçiyle kktc ilan vermek ve hedef kitlenize ulaşmak çok kolay. İlanlarınızdan hızlı geri dönüş sağlamak istiyorsanız, doğru adrestesiniz.

Whose brilliant plan was

By jack11
Whose brilliant plan was this? I’d like to know so I can tell them it was a complete waste of money. If anything, traffic 70-487 has gotten worse since this “improvement” was completed! I travel this route to work on a daily basis, and most of the time now I take passguide 70-487

Whose brilliant plan was

By jack11
Thanks for sharing i really very enjoy

Good text. Thanks you

By magu
Good text. Thanks you Malarnia proszkowa Poznan Welcome you Blog motoryzacyjny and auto blog find some and.

When i desire to read even

By medhat
When i desire to read even more issues approximately the idea!2013 العاب طبخ

Must confess that you

By franklin56
Must confess that you present powerful steps on this blog, You definitely know what you were talking about and Your intelligence on the post could be giving us new knowledg. I am always using mrqe promo code I have found your post to be very rousing and full of good information. and usa promo code

can simply stumbled upon

By marycam
can simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have really loved browsing your blog posts.Simply wish to say your article is as astonishing. AutoPartsPromoCode The clarity in your post is simply great and i could assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. InkPromoCodeThanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.I was very encouraged to find this site. I am sure to all the commenters here! It's always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! I'm sure you had fun writing this article