By Seth Richardson
Cutting-edge pollution control technology being tested at the Drake power plant is threatening the ecozealot Sierra Club’s political agenda to shut down all fossil fuel power production, so they are threatening to sue Colorado Springs for alleged unpermitted “major modifications” to the plant. Gazette reporter Daniel Chacon outlines the Sierra Club’s claims in today’s Gazette, quoting club organizer Bryce Carter as saying that the Neumann Systems Group technology being tested, and soon to be installed at Drake was “definitely a consideration” in the club’s lawsuit.
The last thing the Luddites at the Sierra Club want to see succeed is pollution control technology that far exceeds all federal limits because the organization is dedicated to eliminating the use of all fossil fuels, including coal, natural gas and oil. Ignoring the obvious facts of physics that “clean energy” like wind and solar power cannot possibly take over the load from coal and gas-fired power plants any time in the next couple of centuries, if ever, these ecozealots insist on raising energy costs for everyone by filing frivolous lawsuits all over the country.
The club jumped on the Drake controversy precisely because it fears what it calls “experimental and unproven NeuStream technology” will actually succeed in dramatically reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants, which it shows every sign of doing right now. Colorado Springs is today at the forefront of technological innovation that can keep coal a cheap and viable source of power for the next century or more.
Coal is one of the United States’ most abundant and energy-dense fuels, and our low-sulphur coal is the envy of the world. So much so that we exported 27 million tons of coal to countries like Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, India and China. Sixty-five percent of the exports were “metallurgic coal” used for steel-making, which makes it a valuable national strategic resource, or it would be if the U.S. was still a major producer of steel.
Because of the enormous cost of federal regulatory compliance, many power plants have switched over to natural gas, which is another abundant source of energy in the U.S. This has caused continuing declines in coal consumption of almost 19 percent in 2011. This switch-over has actually resulted in dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions. Reason.com reporter Ronald Bailey wrote, “In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.”
But even that’s not enough for the ecozealots at the Sierra Club. Carter is quoted as saying, “There are broader questions that tie to a broader dialog” and that the city could have “paved the way to retire these old, dangerous an financially risky coal plants and transition to clean energy.” This is of course not true. Coal power technology is very mature and it’s anything but dangerous or financially risky. Coal power plants fueled the economic and industrial expansion of the nation into the economic powerhouse that it became, and the technology is quite safe and mature. Rare indeed is the explosion of a power plant’s coal stacks. Not necessarily so for natural gas fired plants.
From a tactical and strategic perspective, coal-fired power plants are more reliable than natural gas plants because they usually stockpile days to weeks worth of coal in their yards, which allows continued electric production even if delivery of coal is temporarily disrupted. Gas-fired plants can be shut down immediately simply by damaging or destroying the natural gas distribution pipelines that feed the power plant. That’s something that any competent terrorist understands. Disrupt a few major gas distribution points that feed gas-fired plants at the same time and their failure can easily cause a cascade shutdown of the entire region’s electrical grid. We see these sort of disruptions during severe weather, and the panics and riots in New York during the brownouts and blackouts in the Seventies and Eighties lead to chaos and death. Combine a deliberate disruption of power plant fuel supplies with other coordinated terrorist activities in a major city, like a “dirty bomb” or dissemination of a biological agent like Anthrax in weaponized form and the human toll could be enormous.
Nor is it wise to allow our power grid to be dependent on only one source of fuel. Wind and solar and other renewables have their legitimate place in the hierarchy of electrical power production, but they will never replace the energy-dense, abundant resources of coal and natural gas, at least not in our or our grandchildren’s lifetimes. Besides, who wants to see 400 foot tall wind generators that kill eagles stretching from horizon to horizon everywhere in the U.S.? Certainly not the late Ted Kennedy, champion of the eco-left, who vigorously objected to a plan to install wind turbines off-shore of his family compound near Martha’s Vinyard.
If NeuStream technology is effective on a large scale, it paves the way for a resurgence of clean-burning coal-fired power plants. And that terrifies the Sierra Club because they are dedicated to having us all living in wattle-and-daub huts and grubbing in the ground with sharpened sticks just to suit their religious worship of nature. So, they file frivolous lawsuits and obstruct the advancement of clean coal technology and burden taxpayers with the costs of litigation in their quest for ecological purity at the expense of human lives, economic prosperity, and national sovereignty.
And all this obstructionism is perfectly in line with President Obama’s pledge that “under [his] plan, energy costs will necessarily skyrocket” and the Sierra Club, which used to be dedicated to the preservation of wilderness areas has become just another group of mindless proletarian drones in the left’s war on capitalism and prosperity.
© 2012 Altnews