90% of all U.S. coal plants are contaminating groundwater

More than 90 percent of the country’s coal plants are contaminating water across 43 states, according to a new report. And nearly half of them have no plans to clean up the mess.

The study, released on Thursday by the environmental watchdogs Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project, looked at 292 sites around the country, from the desert outside Las Vegas to the coast of Massachusetts. The researchers focused specifically on coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal to produce power. 

Failure to clean up coal ash violates a federal rule that was passed in 2015 after a stormwater pipe burst at the Duke Energy Dan River Steam Station in North Carolina, spilling 39,000 tons of the contaminant into the Dan River. Coal ash contains cancer-causing heavy metals such as arsenic and cobalt. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, toxic sludge from the spill stretched over 70 miles downstream, threatening the drinking water quality of thousands of residents. 

One of the goals of the 2015 rule was to halt the industry’s practice of dumping coal ash into unlined ponds that allow the material to seep into groundwater, creating an environmental hazard for nearby communities, and most companies are now required to send their waste to safer containment sites. However, the report found that utilities are

— source grist.org | Lylla Younes | Nov 04, 2022

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Portugal becomes the fourth EU country to stop coal plants

Portugal shut down its last remaining coal plant over the weekend, ending the use of the polluting material for electricity generation. It becomes the fourth country in the European Union to do so. Environmental group Zero said in a statement the Pego plant in central Portugal had been the country’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, adding that “freeing ourselves from the biggest source of greenhouse gases was a momentous day for Portugal”. Although a hefty 60 to 70 per cent of its electricity comes from renewable sources, Portugal still relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to meet overall energy needs.

— source euronews.com | 22/11/2021

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India’s coal power fleets under-utilised

As the Union government prepares to auction 41 coal blocks across India, data from a report has shown the country’s coal power fleets to be under-utilised, with the worst performance seen in the financial year ending March 2020. The performance of coal power fleets declined by 21 per cent from 78 per cent in 2010 — a historical low — according to the India’s Clean Power Revolution report published June 26, 2020 by BloombergNEF. “India’s coal power fleet delivered just over half its maximum generation output in the fiscal year ending March 2020,” said the report.

Renewable energy will displace coal in the future in terms of storage, the report pointed out. “New onshore wind and new solar combined with battery storage will out-compete new coal power plants on a levelised basis by 2023 and 2029 respectively,” the report said.

Source: BloombergNEF, Central Electricity Authority. FY2020 data is provisional

— source downtoearth.org.in | 26 Jun 2020

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Coal mine auction opens up vast stretches of forests in central India for mining

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched the auction of 41 coal mines for commercial mining, saying the market for the commodity is now open and the sales will help turn the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity. But the list of 41 mines showed several are located in biodiversity-rich forest areas in central India, including a few in one of the largest contiguous stretches of dense forest called Hasdeo Arand that spans 170,000 hectares. Brief descriptions of the mines up for auction on the website of state-run MSTC Limited showed several do not have the required forest clearance and are located amid protected forests.

— source hindustantimes.com | Jun 18, 2020

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Renewables surpass coal in US for first time in 130 years

Not since wood was the main source of American energy in the 19th century has a renewable resource been used more heavily than coal, but 2019 saw a historic reversal, according to U.S. government figures. Coal consumption fell by 15 percent, down for the sixth year in a row, while renewables edged up by 1 percent. This meant renewables surpassed coal for the first time since at least 1885. Electricity generation from coal fell to its lowest level in 42 years in 2019.

— source grist.org | Jun 7, 2020

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Coal Knew, Too

“Exxon knew.” Thanks to the work of activists and journalists, those two words have rocked the politics of climate change in recent years, as investigations revealed the extent to which giants like Exxon Mobil and Shell were aware of the danger of rising greenhouse gas emissions even as they undermined the work of scientists.

But the coal industry knew, too — as early as 1966, a newly unearthed journal shows.

In August, Chris Cherry, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, salvaged a large volume from a stack of vintage journals that a fellow faculty member was about to toss out. He was drawn to a 1966 copy of the industry publication Mining Congress Journal;his father-in-law had been in the industry and he thought it might be an interesting memento.

— source huffingtonpost.in | Élan Young | 22/11/2019