NewEnergyNews: TENN COAL ASH SPILL, CHRISTMAS DAY AT GROUND ZERO

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The new challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A NEW WAY TO SEE CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU OCEAN WIND TO CUT COSTS, KEEP GROWING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-COST-COMPETIVE NEW ENERGY, GERMANY’S ‘GIFT TO THE WORLD’
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NEW ENERGY MATCHES COAL ON COST, CAPACITY IN TURKEY
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, November 20:

  • TTTA Thursday-TOP REPUBLICAN DROPS CLIMATE DENIAL
  • TTTA Thursday-FORD ELECTRIC CARS FOR ‘THE MASSES’
  • TTTA Thursday-MIDWEST SOLAR MAKES SENSE AND CENTS
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY JOBS BY THE BAY
  • -------------------

    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE MIDWEST GRID IS READY FOR 40% NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, November 19: OHIO NEW ENERGY JOBS REPORT SUPPRESSED; SOLAR GIANT BUYS WIND DEVELOPER; BUSINESS TO MAKE IT BIG IN SMART CITIES
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE NEW ENERGY LIFE-CYCLE CUTS EMISSIONS
  • QUICK NEWS, November 18: U.S. TAKES WORLD LEAD IN WIND; SOLAR TO SHOW MISSOURI JOBS; WAVE ENERGY ROLLING SLOWLY IN
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: A NEW TAKE ON THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF SOLAR
  • QUICK NEWS, November 17: BIG TEST FOR SOLAR ROADS KICKS OFF; FORD TURNS TO NEW ENERGY; ADVANCED BATTERY SUPPLY CHAIN TO TRIPLE
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Hearing From Idiotic Idiots And Others
  • Weekend Video: The Aussies Say It Plainly
  • Weekend Video: Living In The Wasteland Of The Free
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

    - -------------------

    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • Friday, December 26, 2008

    TENN COAL ASH SPILL, CHRISTMAS DAY AT GROUND ZERO

    Posted verbatim from a community organizer with Mountain Justice

    Dear folks,

    December 25, 2008

    (Please post to any and all websites, blogs, and online news sources. [Mountain Justice])

    For most of my life Christmas morning was a time of hanging out in my pajamas, opening presents, eating really good food, and spending time with my family. This year was a little different. I spent Christmas in the man-made disaster that used to surround TVA's Kingston Coal Burning Power Plant. Due to TVA's negligence a HUGE coal ash pond exploded into the surrounding countryside dumping HUGE amounts of toxins into the local environment. I awoke around 9am to begin the day's work. I was greeted by an online edition of a front page article in the New York Times which ran today covering this breaking news story. I was happy to see the article listed on the front page but I was dismayed to see that the writer had missed some of the most important information that we had offered. United Mountain Defense's Volunteer Co-ordinator had spent nearly an hour on the phone yesterday getting the NYT up to speed on the issue and when I read the article there was no mention of United Mountain Defense or our Volunteer Co-ordinator.

    From MountainJustice via YouTube

    The NYT got it wrong when they said, " On Swan Pond Road, home to the residences nearest the plant, a group of environmental advocates went door to door telling residents that boiling their water, as officials had suggested, would not remove heavy metals." At no time did we tell people that their water had heavy metals in it as we have not done any laboratory testing and have not seen any test results that claim otherwise. We merely suggested that other coal impacted citizens have had problems with their water and that heavy metals were found in other people's water. The info that we have been passing out to the people is pasted below and is found in the above attachments.

    *******Please we want national, international, and intergalactic media coverage on this issue, but we want to keep the facts straight and we want United Mountain Defense to get credit for the work that we are doing.***************

    Just think if the NYT called GreenPeace, Rainforest Action Network, or Coal River Mountain Watch don't you think the NYT would write the information correctly and give these groups written credit for their work. What is the difference here?

    So once I was able to lasso United Mountain Defense's volunteer force away from their families during this holiday season we headed down to ground zero, Harriman TN. The time was nearly 1pm. TVA had promised everyone that they were so on top of it that they would continue to work through this holiday in order to fix the problem. The work that we observed TVA doing today was continuing to work to clear the railroad track. This is a necessity to TVA because if they can't get more coal to the Kingston Coal Plant then they can't produce more coal ash to dump on people's front lawns. We also observed a trench being dug to place water pipes for a large water pump that was being brought in pump the Frost Hollow Spring water out of a local farmer’s backyard before it floods any more of his barn and threatens to flood his house. This farmer wanted to plant a garden in the fertile ground of the flood plain near the fresh water spring in about 4 months. After we gave him info about what may be in the coal waste he asked me if I would plant a garden on that coal waste floodplain. It was like a knife in my gut when I said I would not. He thanked me for my honesty.

    From nyprogressive via YouTube

    After the work of the past three days delivering info, water, friendly smiles, and handshakes we began receiving phone calls from local residents who were confused, had questions, concerns, and were very mad about the destruction and disruption of their lives. We had an hour long meeting with a resident who feared the impacts to the property value of her house and property. She was concerned about the fact that selling her house would become practically impossible because who wanted to buy a house next to an industrial superfund site. I think this was a valid concern. She also understood that this was not going to be a problem that would be over in 4-6 weeks as TVA had originally told the media. As we chatted, the bigger picture began to unfold before her eyes that this problem would most likely persist for a decade or longer. She also informed us that her cat had vomited after drinking the tap water. No one in her neighborhood had received any notices that their drinking water was impacted by the spill. They had not received any notices to boil their water. She and her cats were now drinking bottled water. She also informed us that TVA had lied when they stated," Every one of the affected residents has been contacted." She had not been contacted by anyone from TVA, the water department, or the sheriff's department. She lives within a mile radius of the disaster zone. As we continue to learn more we are seeing that this story is not an isolated one. TVA is a liar, liar with pants on fire!

    As we have been traveling within the disaster zone we have encountered some residents who are very mad about the continued police presence at the entrances to their homes. These residents are shocked to see Independent Media making it through the check points when locals can’t make it through without showing identification and being interrogated. At the same time some of these residents want the media to be allowed through to help get the story out. The media just hasn’t been there for them. I assured them that Independent Media was on their side and was sharing their stories without divulging their identities unless they gave permission. This is what media solidarity looks like!

    After our chat we set out to find the silt screens, Coast Guard, gravel berm, and live fish that TVA has been advertising as truths in the Emory River adjacent to the spill site. We launched a boat after witnessing three kayakers yesterday. To our surprise we were not chased down by the Coast Guard. We did not have to paddle over any silt fences. We did not have to portage over any gravel berms. We did not have to look hard to miss the fisherman or fish. Fortunately we took the digital video camera and captured almost an hour of spill footage from the river. The number of seagulls hanging out on the newly formed islands was incredible. Hopefully they were not scavenging any dead fish floating in the ash laden water. The water was very shallow in some parts. There was cream colored film floating on the water. At some times it looked like chocolate milk and may have been almost that thick. This ash was floating downstream unhindered as the current was strong enough to push our boat through the muck with some force at points. The flow was directed at the intake valves of the Kingston Water Utility. As we floated along we were trying to figure out where TVA would store all of this toxic waste. We figured out they were probably planning on storing a good portion of it in the bodies of Kingston residents. A few times while using the camera and framing the ash piles correctly it appeared as though we were looking at a twisted version grey version of the Bad Lands in South Dakota. While being surrounded by the oldest mountain range in the world we were floating amongst the youngest mountain range in the world. We named the highest peak Mt. Ash. We also gathered a sample of the ash using a paddle. As the sun set behind the Kingston Coal Plant Smoke Stacks we cleared the channel, packed up and headed home for the night.

    Today has been a Christmas that I am not likely to ever forget. I didn't get to stay in my pajamas but I got to help sharpen the stake that will non violently be driven through the heart of TVA. East Tennessee and Appalachia has always been a stronghold of revolutionary movements and I am proud to continue in that long history!!!!

    Hey want to help???

    1 You need to begin sending requests to the Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, TVA, State of TN, Congressional Hearings, and anyone else you can think of to request public hearings. United Mountain Defense is mobilizing people here and they are plenty mad. We are ground truthing to provide accurate info to inform you, the public. We need your help in bringing the TVA criminals and their crimes into the light.

    2 United Mountain Defense needs money to purchase water for these coal impacted residents. On Dec 24, 2008 United Mountain Defense Volunteers passed out over 50 gallons of water to 30 households. We are going to deliver more water tomorrow. We are buying water at $1.39 a gallon at the local Krogers.

    3 United Mountain Defense needs general support funds as we are an all volunteer run organization. We mainly get funds from bake sales, spaghetti dinners, and dance/ house parties. Any funds you could send would be used for our valuable work only. United Mountain Defense is a 501c3 non-profit. You can read what we spend money on and we keep all receipts.

    Alright, Thank you for your time.

    Till then, Matt Landon Full time volunteer staff person United Mountain Defense...

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