Archive for March, 2010

Coal critical for Colorado’s future

By now you’ve heard there is a bill moving through the Colorado legislature that calls for switching coal-generated power plants with natural gas-fired power plants to generate electricity. You might have also heard that the cost of natural gas for electricity is approximately three times the cost of coal.

From the standpoint of helping our economy or advancing environmental progress, using government incentives to increase natural gas demand in the electricity sector does not make sense.

Going forward, meeting our nation’s demand for affordable, reliable and clean electricity will require the use of all of our abundant domestic energy resources. That includes coal, which today and in the future should remain a fuel of choice for meeting America’s electricity needs because it is affordable, abundant, and, thanks to technology, able to meet increasingly stringent environmental standards.

If you support our position on this bill, we recommend you reach out to your Colorado legislators, write your Colorado newspapers, and take a stand for coal to remain a key part of Colorado’s energy future.

The Coal Wire: March 29, 2010

The Coal WireRep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), The News and Sentinel (3/29): "What's to stop the EPA from going after more permits that have already been issued and are fully operational? This action disregards the expertise of both the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) and puts all of West Virginia miners at risk of losing their jobs."

The Financial Times (3/29): "Even with all the investments in solar, wind and biomass, China will still get nearly two-thirds of its energy from coal in two decades time. As a result, for many observers, it is cleaner coal technologies – rather than renewables – that could provide the biggest benefits in terms of limiting the growth in emissions."

The Coal Wire: March 25, 2010

The Coal WireCalera Corp. CEO Brent Constantz, E&E News (3/23): “We believe that the CO2 used in our process for producing materials could exceed the current generation rate of CO2 from all global industrial and utility sources.”

New Energy Focus (3/24): "According to figures in the report [by the Scottish government], around 60,000 green jobs could be created by 2020 in low carbon industries, including an additional 26,000 jobs in renewables, 26,000 jobs in emerging low carbon technologies and a further 8,000 jobs in environmental management. It also noted that low carbon goods and services would be worth an estimated £12 billion by 2015."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), The State Journal (3/25):
“Coal has given the American people the highest standard of living in the world, and will continue to be a cornerstone of our energy policy…We cannot wait much longer to put the research and incentives out there for CCS technologies to thrive and clean coal’s future to be secure."

New study illuminates rising costs on family budgets

With the American middle class already struggling to make ends meet, our latest study, “Energy Cost Burdens on American Families”, provides compelling proof as to why American coal needs to remain a key component of America’s energy portfolio. As our report illustrates, energy costs will continue to take up a growing percentage of household budgets.

Eugene M. Trisko, an environmental attorney and energy economist and the author of this study, conducted the analysis for ACCCE. As the report shows, energy costs will continue to take up a growing percentage of household budgets. Energy costs now rival the amount that many American families typically spent on food, housing, or health care.

The most vulnerable families are the ones who can least afford it. Lower-income families are more at risk to energy cost increases than higher-income families because energy represents a larger portion of their household budgets. Approximately one-half of U.S. households have average pre-tax annual incomes less than $50,000. In 2010, these households are projected to spend 19% of their after-tax income of $22,711 on energy. Energy cost burdens are greatest on the poorest families, those earning less than $10,000. Their energy bills increased from 36% of estimated after-tax income in 2001 to 69% in 2010.

Across the board, costs are rising. So, it’s clear that access to affordable, reliable energy is more important than ever for America’s families. That is why affordable electricity from coal is so important. It provides about half of the electricity America depends upon every day, at one-third the cost of natural gas (one of the primary substitutes for coal).

Take a look at the full study and let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below.

Energy costs on a family budget

As anyone who has had to do it can tell you, managing a family budget is no easy task. But as the subject of one of our recent TV advertisements – Thunder Basin coal miner Shane Evans – can tell you, having affordable energy sure helps.
Shane’s story is a compelling one, and you can tell that he’s proud of his job and knows that the work he does every day makes it possible for Americans to use affordable, readily-available power.

Like heads of families across the country, Shane is also proud of being able to provide for his wife and son. As a working father, husband and second-generation coal miner, he understands the need for low-cost energy. According to the Energy Information Administration, coal is one-third the cost of most other fuels.

And as our latest study shows, energy costs continue to eat up a disproportionally large share of American family budgets, particularly for low and fixed-income families. So using coal-based electricity can lighten the load on the family budget – which is especially important in these unsteady economic times.

“If I’m able to knock $100 off my energy a month, that adds up to quite a bit for the average American,” Shane says. “If we can lower your energy costs, you might be able to keep another employee, you might be able to put food on somebody’s table.”

Shane couldn’t have said it better. Saving money on electricity means more money for other necessities – and when you’ve got a young family like Shane does, every dollar counts.

Enhanced oil recovery can secure energy independence

Photo courtesy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

According to an analysis released earlier this month by Advanced Resources International (ARI), enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology could significantly increase U.S. oil production, reports HazMat Management Magazine.

The technology – which has been around for decades – relies on captured carbon dioxide gases from various sources. The gas is then pumped into depleted U.S. oil reservoirs through a network of pipelines for EOR, bringing otherwise unusable oil resources to “life.”

This results in two serious benefits. Boosting our supply of domestic oil means our country won’t have to rely as much on foreign fuel, making us more energy independent. It also helps cut carbon dioxide emissions from the air, helping us continue the use of our nation’s most abundant, affordable energy resource.

The report, titled “U.S. Oil Production Potential from Accelerated Deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage,” says that these benefits would come through comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation.

But we don’t have to wait until a climate bill passes to get started on EOR.

During the 2009 Factuality Tour, our team learned that Tenaska Energy’s Trailblazer plant in West Texas, a carbon capture facility, has already begun its construction process. By 2014, it will be ready to pump carbon dioxide to the Permian Basin oil fields in West Texas for both oil recovery and geological storage.

Learn more about EOR at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fossil Energy Web site. EOR is a great technology and it’s clear that it will play a major role in securing America’s energy future.

ACCCE Statement: Energy Costs Hurting Already Strained Family Budgets

Click here to read a statement on behalf of ACCCE on its latest study, “Energy cost burdens on American families.”

The Coal Wire: March 22, 2010

The Coal Wire

Bloomberg (3/17): "CCS technology Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government said carbon-capture and storage projects may add 6.5 billion pounds ($10 billion) a year to the U.K. economy and create 100,000 jobs by 2030.”

The Globe and Mail (3/17): "Canada has more energy in its 'proven, recoverable' reserves of coal than it has in all of its oil, natural gas and oil sands combined: 10 billion tonnes. The world has 100 times more: one trillion tonnes. These reserves hold the energy equivalent of more than four trillion barrels of oil. They are scattered in 70 countries, mostly in relatively easy-to-mine locations and mostly in democratic countries."

The Globe and Mail
(3/17): "Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington announced last month that they have developed a clean way to turn the cheapest kind of coal – lignite, common in Texas – into synthetic crude. 'We go from that [lignite coal] to this really nice liquid,' Brian Dennis, a member of the research team, said in describing the synthetic crude that can be refined into gasoline."

E&E News (3/18): The work done by the state to develop areas like [carbon] storage facilities is being “aided by US Department of Energy grants and access to a new supercomputer being built in Cheyenne. Wyoming delegations have made two visits to China, which is helping them explore carbon capture technology and the use of so-called ‘mine mouth’ coal-fired plants.”

Desoto Times Tribune (3/19): "Gulf-coast based Mississippi Power Company that serves 23 counties has asked the state Public Service Commission for a construction permit to locate the facility in Kemper County and strip-mine 45 square miles of land to mine the lignite [coal]." (3/21): "Purdue University could soon make considerable reductions in air pollution if a state environmental agency approves changes to the campus power plant…If the permit is approved, a Purdue official said, it would lead to a 93 percent drop in soot emissions and 70 percent reduction in mercury emissions."

Sandra Osborn Scottish MP, Cumnock Chronicle (3/22): "After years of lacking a coherent policy on coal, indigenous UK/Scottish coal is now seen by the Government as being essential for the security of energy supply…Europe and the UK have woken up to the risks of reliance on imported energy, particularly from Russia. The UK is now a net importer of gas (from Russia) and over 50% of the coal imports have been coming from Russia. Indigenous coal reserves are now receiving the political focus that they deserve."