Latest Posts

An Associated Press examination of Energy Department records and information provided by utilities and trade groups shows that more than 30 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction. Coal is already used to generate 50% of the electricity in the United States. The expansion is the coal industry's largest in two decades. Proposals to regulate carbon emissions failed in Congress utilities are betting that building a coal-fired power plant attractive because Congress is probably not going to put a serious financial cost on emitting carbon dioxide.

Utilities stick with coal because it is abundant and cheaper than natural gas or nuclear power and more reliable than intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. Approval of the plants has come from state and federal agencies that do not factor in emissions of carbon dioxide, considered the leading culprit behind global warming. Lawsuits and other legal challenges led to the cancellation of numerous coal plants. Current construction is far more modest than projected a few years ago when 151 new plants were forecast by federal regulators.

Sixteen large plants have fired up since 2008, and 16 more are under construction, according to records examined by the AP. Combined, they will produce an estimated 17,900 megawatts of electricity, sufficient to power up to 15.6 million homes -- about the number of homes in California and Arizona combined. They also will generate about 125 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, according to emissions figures from utilities and the Center for Global Development. That's the equivalent of putting 22 million additional automobiles on the road. (Wash Post, 8/23/2010)