Just 4 the planet has been very critical of the USA’s record on environmental issues – it is the worlds largest polluter with one of the worst reputations with regards green agendas. Regretably we can now report that utilities across the United States are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry’s standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come.
An Associated Press examination of Energy Department records and information provided by utilities and trade groups shows that more than 30 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction.
The construction wave stretches across the country and comes despite growing public wariness over the high environmental and social costs of fossil fuels, demonstrated by mine disasters in West Virginia and the gulf oil spill.
The expansion, the industry’s largest in two decades, represents an acknowledgment that highly touted “clean coal” technology is still a long way from becoming a reality and underscores a renewed confidence among utilities that proposals to regulate carbon emissions will fail. The Senate last month scrapped the leading bill to curb carbon emissions following opposition from Republicans and coal-state Democrats.
Utilities say they are clinging to coal because its abundance makes it cheaper than natural gas or nuclear power and more reliable than intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. Still, the price of coal plants is rising, and consumers in some areas served by the new facilities will see their electricity bills rise by up to 30 percent. Industry representatives say those increases would be even steeper if utilities switched to more expensive fuels or were forced to adopt emission-reduction measures
Sixteen large plants have fired up since 2008, and 16 more are under construction, according to records examined by the AP.
Combined, they will produce an estimated 17,900 megawatts of electricity, sufficient to power up to 15.6 million homes — about the number of homes in California and Arizona combined.
They also will generate about 125 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, according to emissions figures from utilities and the Center for Global Development. That’s the equivalent of putting 22 million additional automobiles on the road.
The new plants do not capture carbon dioxide. That’s despite the stimulus spending and an additional $687 million spent by the Energy Department on clean-coal programs.
At the end of the day the reason coal burns in the United States is not because anyone likes the smog. It’s the cost. Unfortunately – in the land of the free the mighty dollar seems to always win out over any concerns about the welfare of the planet.
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