'/> Uncommon Hours: July 2011
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bloomberg Philanthropies commits $50 million to Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign to move America toward cleaner energy

Grant a 'game changer' that will effectively retire one-third of the nation's aging coal fleet by 2020

Alexandria, VA. Today the Sierra Club announced a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies that will effectively retire one-third of the nation's aging coal fleet by 2020, replacing it with clean energy. The partnership includes a $50 million commitment over four years to the Beyond Coal Campaign that will fuel the Sierra Club's effort to clean the air, end the coal era, and accelerate the transition to cleaner, cost-effective energy sources.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The EPA should revoke Sunflower's permit for Holcomb II

The EPA should revoke Sunflower's permit for Holcomb II
Bob Sommer

By now it should be clear to anyone who has followed the five-year saga of Sunflower Electric’s efforts to build a second coal-fired utility plant in Holcomb, Kan., that the public has been misled and misinformed by supporters of this project.

From the outset, Sunflower campaigned for this coal plant—originally three coal plants—on the grounds that Kansas needed the energy and it would bring new jobs. In reality, most, if not all, of the energy would be sold to companies outside of Kansas, leaving the pollution here while the electricity went elsewhere. The promise of new jobs amounted to relatively few permanent jobs that could easily be provided by building renewable energy facilities.

Proponents of Holcomb II usually neglect to mention that Sunflower’s primary financial backer, Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, has investments in coal mines that produce some 20 million tons per year. Additionally, Tri-State is a member of the Western Fuels Association, which operates a fleet of 1,600 rail cars, delivering coal throughout the Midwest, including to Sunflower’s existing plant in Holcomb. Coincidentally, Sunflower’s outgoing CEO, Earl Watkins, is also on WFA’s Board of Directors.

What incentive could anyone have to disrupt the chain of profit—or to slow its growth? Better yet, Tri-State gets a downwind state to host the new coal plant, even as the co-op touts its investments in wind energy in Colorado.

As a friend of mine succinctly put it, “Kansas will be Colorado’s coal bitch.”