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March 07, 2011 02:06 AM UTC

Ending the Tyranny--King Coal should Go

  • by: Teeter

No disrespect to the brave individuals fighting for their freedoms in North Africa. I believe the Tyrant will fall but I worry of the damage which will come in the meanwhile.  My hopes are with the new generation.  

This got me thinking of an oppressive thumb we live under here. One I believe we too will shake, but that might cause much damage on its way out.  

Most of us are supplicants each time we flip a switch, to one of the dirtiest and most environmentally destructive forms of American energy–old King Coal. Its a suffocating regime to leave for the coming generations.  

The massive body of scientific evidence suggests strongly that we are in a dire global situation on our crowded quickly warming planet–the way ahead, should we not shake off our servitude–includes increasingly erratic and deadly weather, longer droughts and disappearing glaciers, more resilient pathogens and pests. And burning coal is not the only way it contributes to human-caused global warming.  As the coal is mined methane gas must be mitigated.  In Colorado-as in most places-this means venting it into the atmosphere, where it is more than 20 times as potent in trapping heat as CO2.  

Of course, getting the coal can also be terribly destructive. Mountains are blown apart in what’s left of some of the most biologically diverse forests in the United States, and then dumped into the valleys and streams below.  Where coal is accessed from underground (as is mostly the case in Colorado) problems are created on the surface-from blading new roads and wellpads into undeveloped national forest backcountry (to vent methane and build other surface facilities).  

Then there are the sludge pits, which–when they break (an ‘Act of God’ the company will assert, just as when miners are killed in a cave in)–they might befoul miles of streams and towns with toxic crap. Healthwise King Coal is also a brutal master, greatly contributing to asthma and other breathing problems.  

Half a globe away from the sands of Egypt, the Washington State legislature has apparently decided to break its sooty bonds: the question there is when (not if) to phase out all coal-fired electric plants within the next 13 years according to an article in the LA Times  

The last coal-fired power plant in the Pacific Northwest will shut down completely by 2025 under an agreement announced Saturday by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire. The first boiler of TransAlta’s 1,460-megawatt plant in Centralia, Wash., is set to go offline in 2020 and the second in 2025.

“This agreement is sending a message that states are getting serious about combating global-warming pollution and are taking steps to open up markets for home-grown clean energy,” said Bruce Nilles, deputy conservation director with the Sierra Club, whose Beyond Coal Campaign has been involved in the negotiations. Nilles hinted at the breakthrough during a keynote speech at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Eugene, Ore., but commented only after the announcement.

The only other such plant in the Pacific Northwest, the PG&E plant near Boardman, Ore., is already under an agreement to go offline in 2020.

In Colorado the agreement last year to phase out just a few of our coal-fired power plants has brought all manner of sturm und drang from the monarch’s frightened serfs and his loyal Marketeers, who have lashed out at all who supported this legislation, tossing one of their own henchmen–the former Sen. Penry-into the hopper for his traitorous ways.  

And one of the King Coal’s most faithful propagandist writes a regular column for another archaic relict, The Denver Post, and has seemingly made it part of his grumpy and bothered mission to blast the Public Utilities Commission, which is implementing the law mandating this partial switch in Colorado.

As would any good information minister, Mr. Carroll does not let consistency get in the way of his duty to protect the reign of his dirty majesty. In one recent column he suggests the disfavored PUC members have a conflict of some dubious interest–being once or future clean energy advocates.  Go read the column if you must, over at the Daily Rag, but pay attention to the comments:

Or Brian Macke, director of the COGCC for many years until he quit to go to work for Delta Petroleum. Another Carrol column I may have missed.

Is the ‘revolving door’ unseemly. I think so. Is Vince picking and choosing when to find it such based on his own agenda (and visceral dislike of some PUC members). Pretty obvious to me.

But then again it really is all about standing up for the old regime, pushing back against the Green Revolution.  

A stupid idea-And why Vince Carrol should like it

By reading a collection of his columns on energy-as painful as that was-a philosophy of sorts is left as residue from the produced musings, like a volatile sheen on a frack pond.  

In uncreative knee-jerk defense of some imaginary ‘free market,’ and a perennial waste of ink, he appears to believe that any attempt to be environmentally thoughtful in digging, drilling or burning energy minerals is a plot by dishonest anti-capitalist hacks from some Central Committee on Wynkoop or somewhere.  

In a nutshell, I surmise the ‘reasoning’ behind the throne is something like: Using the collective We (which some sheeple call ‘government’) to help benefit the general welfare of ourselves is suspect.  Instead we should burn whatever wise industry decrees, extracting it however in the their magnificence they see fit, content that they give us jobs. The Magic Invisible Hand ensures that all works out for the Common Good, even if the little people don’t quite see the grand plan (or grandiose profits).      

(Or something.  I readily admit I cannot usually understand more than about three sentences of what the hell Vince is babbling about in any given column.  And I would post the links to his ramblings, but y’all 1-know where to find  them and 2-have probably already read enough yourself to see I am right or,  3-you are Vince himself).  

Which gets me around to my idea, and one that I hope Mr. Carrol and others will support me in.  I would like to burn garbage to heat my home, in a big open pit in the back yard.  With the right piping and ambient floor units, I could heat a few of my neighbors’ too.  

With the money we saved, we could hire two people to drive around on a small weekly route and collect what people would very willingly donate, I am quite sure.  This would create jobs, provide several of us energy, and have the additional benefit of helping rid people of their refuse.    It is the obvious market solution, one that our nanny state with its green engineering should stand well back from.  

Or maybe, just maybe, we should care what companies inject deep underground, and what they do with the water produced from drilling; maybe it’s OK if the Public Utilities Commission helps move us toward a less toxic future-even if it requires that industry innovate and adapt.  And maybe Washington State is but the first domino to fall as the reigns of dirty energy come to an end, state by state and bit by bit.  


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