Clean Coal Is An Oxymoron!!!

Submitted by Charles Frost on Mon, 10/27/2008 - 18:28.

Blowing Smoke: Joe Camel And King Coal

coal by Greg Haegele, Sierra Club on 10.27.08You know how tobacco companies have fashioned their advertising pitches over the years to make smoking look cool and fun and like the popular thing to do -- even though it's a smelly, nasty habit that's likely to kill you? Who wouldn't like Joe Camel? Maybe smoking isn't so bad!

We got thinking about this and decided to launch a website called "Coal Is Not the Answer," where we've posted a video that counters the coal industry's happy claims. There are also foot-noted facts that shine a light on the industry's bogus information.

The coal industry's recent $40 million advertising campaign that touts coal as the next great thing to solve the energy crisis reminds me of Joe Camel and his ilk. King Coal is telling us that coal really is clean -- and abundant, and cheap, and the answer to the oil crisis. Well, it's also the source of 30% of our global warming pollution (and even our goofy cartoon character Stinky can see the downside of that). One method of mining coal rips the tops off mountains and dumps the dirt into rivers and valleys, leaving a moonscape where a spectacular ecosystem once thrived. And burning it produces mercury that is wreaking havoc on our waterways, fish populations, and our own bodies.

But the stories are my favorite part. In various discussion threads, people are talking about their personal experiences with coal mining and coal-fired power plants. There's some debate there, too, about just how much we can rely on renewables like wind and solar, and a few pro-nuke folks have weighed in. But check this out, from Doug:

"My mother remembers the days when houses were heated with coal. The air was so dirty that when people were outside for any length of time the soot would get on their skin and clothing. When she washed here hands she could see the skin on her hands was lighter then the skin above her wrists. It was also hard to wash it off the clothing. Why do we need to go back to that?"

I think L. Braverman hits the nail on the head with this comment:

"When you see an issue ad, notice who('s) behind the ad and ask yourselves if they could possibly have a financial interest in getting people to believe in what they're saying. Environmental groups don't get rich opposing coal and oil. Industry groups do."

Check out the website. Tell us what you think. And don't forget to check in with Stinky.

No new coal - Saboteur breezes in to shut 500MW turbine

No new coal - the calling card of the 'green Banksy' who breached fortress Kingsnorth

• Saboteur breezes in to shut 500MW turbine
• Act single-handedly cuts UK carbon output by 2%

The £12m defences of the most heavily guarded power station in Britain have been breached by a single person who, under the eyes of CCTV cameras, climbed two three-metre (10ft) razor-wired, electrified security fences, walked into the station and crashed a giant 500MW turbine before leaving a calling card reading "no new coal". He walked out the same way and hopped back over the fence.All power from the coal and oil-powered Kingsnorth station in Kent was halted for four hours, in which time it is thought the mystery saboteur's actions reduced UK climate change emissions by 2%. Enough electricity to power a city the size of Bristol was lost. Yesterday the hunt was on for the man dubbed "climate man" or the "green Banksy". Climate activists responsible for hijacking coal trains and breaking on to runways said they knew nothing about the incident. Even veterans of some of the most audacious direct actions, such as the scaling of the Kingsnorth chimney, are mystified. The station operator E.On professed astonishment that a lone activist would be daring enough to try to do something so potentially dangerous. Medway police said they had no suspects but were still investigating the incident, which took place on November 28. "It was extremely odd indeed, quite creepy. We have never known anything like this at all, but it shows that if people want to do something badly enough they will find a way," said Emily Highmore, a spokeswoman for E.On.Should "climate man" ever show up, he will be feted for what activists say was the most daring individual action of the year. "We have no idea who he is - but we really want to know. Everybody's asking 'where were you on Friday November 28'," said Ben Stewart of Greenpeace, one of six people arrested for climbing the 76 metre (250ft) chimney of the Kingsnorth station early last year but found not guilty of criminal damage in November. "We would never act anonymously," he added. Yesterday the full story emerged of what happened. "It was about 10pm, very dark indeed," said Highmore. "It looks from the CCTV like he came in via a very remote part of the site by the sea wall and got over the double layer of fences."The intruder then crossed a car park and walked to an unlocked door. But instead of going to the power station's main control room, where about eight people would have been working, he headed for its main turbine hall, where no one would have been working at that time. Within minutes, says E.On, "he had tampered with some equipment" - believed to be a computer at a control panel - "and tripped unit 2, one of the station's giant 500MW turbines". "This caused the unit to go offline," she added. "It was running at full 500MW load and the noise it would have made as it shut itself down is just incredible. CCTV shows that he then just walked out, and went back over the fence."It could be that no one has taken responsibility because they were so frightened by the noise it would have made. It's probably taken them a week just to get over the shock." E.On, which wants to demolish the station and replace it with Britain's first new coal-fired power station in 34 years, said it was reviewing security, but doubted it was an inside job or the work of a big environment group. The intruder may have had some experience at one of Britain's other major power stations, insiders say."He left a banner but it was a real DIY job. It was really scrappy. This was an old bedsheet with writing done out of gaffer tape. It was very crude," said Highmore"People at the station are gobsmacked," she added. "This is a different league to protesters chaining themselves to equipment. It's someone treating a power station as an adventure playground. You have to be trained to work here. People do not just wander about on their own. He could have killed himself. We do not have a problem with public protest but this was reckless. Whoever it was has crossed a line they should not have gone over. Power stations are dangerous places."Kingsnorth was the site of a week-long activist camp in August which saw about 1,000 climate change activists try but fail to get into the station.

Notorious, but nameless

The Kingsnorth intruder joins a select group of "caped crusaders" who do their work without their names becoming widely knownBanksy: The graffiti artist whose work has attracted worldwide attention has taken his subversive style from urban Britain to the West Bank. He was recently unmasked by a Sunday paper, but after years of arresting images he has almost been elevated to status of national treasure.Captain Gatso: The controversial leader of protest group Mad (Motorists Against Detection) has stoned, superglued, sprayed and ringed with burning tyres more than 1,000 roadside speed cameras in an eight-year campaign.Superbarrio: Billed by his supporters as "faster than a speeding turtle and able to leap small speed bumps in a single bound", the flabby caped crusader in cherry red tights traverses the streets of Mexico City, defending the working class, the poor and the homeless. "I can't stop a plane or a train single-handed, but I can keep a family from being evicted," he said. The Biotic Baking Brigade: A loosely connected group of leftwing activists, famous for throwing pies in the faces of such figures as the Microsoft's Bill Gates, the San Francisco mayors Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom and the Swedish King Carl Gustaf. The group's members have been active on animal rights and ecology issues as well as in feminist movements.

Coal's Other Major Pollutant: Mercury

Coal's Other Major Pollutant: Mercury

by Greg Haegele, Sierra Club on 12.12.08This post is co-written by Greg Haegele and Bruce Nilles, Director of the Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign.When we talk about coal-fired power plants, the discussion usually revolves around their massive emissions of global warming pollution. Yet these plants also emit many other toxic pollutants – including mercury.So you can imagine our happiness two weeks ago when a federal judge rejected Duke Energy's attempts to build its new Cliffside coal-fired power plant  in North Carolina without modern mercury and other pollution controls. This is the latest federal court to find that Duke Energy and its CEO Jim Rogers are simply refusing to comply with the law.The ruling means that Duke must go back to the regulators and agree to limit the mercury emissions from its Cliffside plant. As the first coal plant sent back to the drawing board after the D.C. Court of Appeals tossed out the do-nothing Bush administration mercury rules earlier this year, this case sets a precedent . According to the Environmental Protection Agency, coal-fired power plants are the largest industrial source of mercury pollution in the country. Mercury is a neurotoxin that has already contaminated water bodies in all 50 states. Also according to EPA , more than one in six women have already consumed so much mercury-contaminated fish that it threatens any children they may have. Duke's planned Cliffside coal plant was the latest in a string of plants across the U.S. lacking modern mercury controls. The Sierra Club is fighting these plants, including an action we took action earlier this year to make 30 plants go back and tighten their mercury emissions . There are affordable controls for mercury – even the EPA has said as much in its own estimates. And isn't it fairer [[more fair]] that utilities pay for the cost of polluting instead of having parents dealing with the cost of children born with the neurological defects associated with mercury-laden fish?Most important, though, we need to move beyond coal to clean, renewable energy sources over the next decade. There is no such thing as clean coal . It is filthy, it is destructive when mined, it is poisonous when burned and it contaminates ground water when the coal ash is land-filled.  Not so with investments in energy efficiency, wind, solar and geothermal power.Image credit:Home&Garden Network, Liquid Mercury Metal
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