Saturday, December 27, 2008

Not The First, Won’t Be The Last


Sludge spill now estimated at 1 billion gallons. For perspective, the ExxonValdez spill was a mere 11 million gallons.
News flash: This was not the first time a coal ash pond flooded. Nor will it be the last.

The East Tennessee coal ash disaster should be ringing alarm bells from coast to coast. Just as Three Mile Island put the kabosh on nuclear power in this country, the Kingston sludge spill should serve as a warning to everyone who uses electricity.

All coal fired plants produce waste ash. All of them must dispose of this ash in some way. The Bush Administration has been dismantling all sorts of environmental regulations at the behest of Big Coal and Big Oil. At the same time, new coal-fired power plants are in the works for Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, proposed--and battled--in Ely, Nevada, north of Las Vegas (coincidentally the location of a proposed new transmission line), and is being debated in the Pacific Northwest. And that's just off the top of my head.

According to the American Coal Foundation, half of all electricity produced in this country comes from coal. If you use electricity, then chances are very good you use coal.

That’s a lot of coal ash. Anyone wonder how that’s disposed of? I have to admit, until this incident in East Tennessee, I never gave it all that much thought. But now we must.

It urge everyone to contact their local representatives and ask them to do everything in their power to ensure there is sufficient oversight, regulation and enforcement of their local power plants so this doesn’t happen in your region. And we must be working on clean energy technologies to make sure we can phase out coal-fired power plants and replace them with cleaner, less dangerous fuel sources. Ask your local utility if they offer green power alternatives; the Nashville Electric Service’s Green Power Switch program allows customers to buy blocks of Green Power; Mr. Beale and I have bought 10 green power blocks each month for the past year. If your local utility doesn’t offer such a program, ask them to.

And if seeing the destruction in East Tennessee hasn’t convinced you that coal is crap, not king, then here’s a movie that may convince you.