Coal phase out

Coal phase out

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A fossil fuel phase-out are plans for transport electrification, decommissioning of operating fossil fuel-fired power plants and prevention of the construction of new fossil-fuel-fired power stations. The purpose of this is to decrease the high concentration of greenhouse gas emissions
Greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

, which are the scientific consensus
Scientific opinion on climate change
The predominant scientific opinion on climate change is that the Earth is in an ongoing phase of global warming primarily caused by an enhanced greenhouse effect due to the anthropogenic release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases...

 for the cause of the current climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

. The energy vectors concerned are petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 (oil), natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 (gas), and coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...


The proposals are strongly opposed by the many nations who rely on such resources for electricity generation, such as the USA, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...


Studies about coal phase out and climate change

In 2008, James E. Hansen and eight other scientists published the 38-page journal article "Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?" which called for phasing out coal power completely by the year 2030.

Also in 2008, Pushker Kharecha and James E. Hansen published a peer-reviewed scientific study analyzing the effect of a coal phase-out on atmospheric carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 (CO2) levels. Their baseline mitigation scenario was a phaseout of global coal emissions by 2050. The authors describe the scenario as follows:
The second scenario, labeled Coal Phase-out, is meant to approximate a situation in which developed countries freeze their CO2 emissions from coal by 2012 and a decade later developing countries similarly halt increases in coal emissions. Between 2025 and 2050 it is assumed that both developed and developing countries will linearly phase out emissions of CO2 from coal usage. Thus in Coal Phase-out we have global CO2 emissions from coal increasing 2% per year until 2012, 1% per year growth of coal emissions between 2013 and 2022, flat coal emissions for 2023–2025, and finally a linear decrease to zero CO2 emissions from coal in 2050. These rates refer to emissions to the atmosphere and do not constrain consumption of coal, provided the CO2 is captured and sequestered. Oil and gas emissions are assumed to be the same as in the BAU [Business as Usual] scenario.

Kharecha and Hansen also consider three other mitigation scenarios, all with the same coal phase-out schedule but each making different assumptions about the size of oil and gas reserves and the speed at which they are depleted. Under the Business as Usual scenario, atmospheric CO2 peaks at 563 parts per million (ppm) in the year 2100. Under the four coal phase-out scenarios, atmospheric CO2 peaks at 422-446 ppm between 2045 and 2060 and declines thereafter. The key implications of the study are as follows: a phase-out of coal emissions is the most important remedy for mitigating human-induced global warming; actions should be taken toward limiting or stretching out the use of conventional oil and gas; and strict emissions-based constraints are needed for future use of unconventional fossil fuels such as methane hydrates and tar sands
Tar sands
Bituminous sands, colloquially known as oil sands or tar sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The sands contain naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, water, and a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen...


In the Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

 and EREC's Energy (R)evolution scenario, the world would eliminate all fossil fuel use by 2090.


A significant portion of total global carbon emissions are from electricity generation - coal, specifically, accounts for up to one-third of global carbon emissions. So to decrease carbon emissions and thus possibly stop extreme climate change from occurring, coal should be phased out.

This course of action is being undertaken by several governments. Germany is an example of a country that is phasing out coal Solar and wind are major sources of energy and renewable energy generation, currently around 15%, is growing. Coal is still a source of power in Germany, but it is gradually being replaced with renewable energy. Globally, coal is one the largest sources of energy in the world. During 2006, 27 percent of the world's primary energy is generated from the burning of coal. As a way to phase out coal, a few countries, in which coal is primary source of energy, have enacted legislation to prevent the construction of any new coal facilities and to close operating coal fired facilities. Also in several such countries, initiatives have been started to support the viability of the renewable energy industry to replace decommissioned coal facilities. However, many other countries, such as the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, but especially China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, are planning increased coal production to aid their economic advance. Both China and India have large reserves of coal, but relatively little oil, natural gas, hydro, solar or wind capacity, and are heavily dependent on coal for electricity generation. According to Scientific American
Scientific American
Scientific American is a popular science magazine. It is notable for its long history of presenting science monthly to an educated but not necessarily scientific public, through its careful attention to the clarity of its text as well as the quality of its specially commissioned color graphics...

, the average coal plant emits more than 100 times as much radiation per year than a comparatively sized nuclear power plant does, in the form of toxic, radioactive fly ash.

Some believe that coal should not be phased out and that clean coal technology
Clean coal technology
Clean coal technology is a collection of technologies being developed to reduce the environmental impact of coal energy generation. When coal is used as a fuel source, the gaseous emmissions generated by the thermal decomposition of the coal, include sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon...

 is the way all emission from the burning of coal can be restrained. But the renewable energy infrastructure, unlike unproven carbon-capture technology, is being deployed now. Some environmentalists and climatologists support a phase-out and criticise clean coal as not a solution to climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

, while entrepreneurs promote improved regulations and modernised technology. Others point out that such a policy would affect developing countries most seriously because of the scarcity of other fossil fuels.


The 20 leaders of the world's top industrialized nations, as well as key countries with developing economies, have agreed to phase out their subsidies for fossil fuel
Fossil fuel
Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years...

s, including coal. In a concluding statement from the Group of 20 (G20) Summit—held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 24 and 25, 2009 —the nations' leaders agreed to "phase out and rationalize over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies." The G20 leaders also called for targeted support for poor people that would be impacted by higher prices for fossil fuels. The leaders noted that "inefficient" fossil-fuel subsidies "encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources, and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change." The agreement will ultimately phase out nearly $300 billion in global subsidies for fossil fuels. And as noted in a White House fact sheet, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Energy Agency
International Energy Agency
The International Energy Agency is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis...

 estimate that eliminating fossil fuel subsidies worldwide would cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 10% or more by 2050.


The Australian Greens
Australian Greens
The Australian Greens, commonly known as The Greens, is an Australian green political party.The party was formed in 1992; however, its origins can be traced to the early environmental movement in Australia and the formation of the United Tasmania Group , the first Green party in the world, which...

 party have proposed to phase out coal power stations. The NSW Greens proposed an immediate moratorium on coal-fired power stations and want to end all coal mining and coal industry subsidies. The Federal Government's proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme
Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme
The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was a proposed cap-and-trade system of emissions trading for anthropogenic greenhouse gases, due to be introduced in Australia in 2010 by the Rudd government, as part of its climate change policy. It marked a major change in the energy policy of Australia...

, an emissions trading scheme will, if enacted, make it more difficult for new coal fired power stations to be developed. The Federal Government and Victorian State Government want to modify existing coal-fired power stations into clean coal power stations. The Federal Labor government extended the mandatory renewable energy targets, an initiative to ensure that new sources of electricity are more likely to be from wind power
Wind power
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships....

, solar power
Solar power
Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available...

 and other sources of renewable energy in Australia
Renewable energy in Australia
Renewable energy in Australia represents 5.2% of total energy consumption, but only 1.7% of total production, the difference being the result of significant non-renewable energy exports. In the five years to 2009 renewable energy consumption grew by 3.5%, faster than other energy sources. Of all...


Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 is not only one of the largest consumers of coal, but also one of the largest producers, and the proposals are strongly opposed by industry and the main Opposition Party in Parliament.


Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 has passed coal phase-out legislation.
In 2007, Ontario's Liberal government committed to phasing out all coal generation in the province by 2014. Premier Dalton McGuinty said, "By 2030 there will be about 1,000 more new coal-fired generating stations built on this planet. There is only one place in the world that is phasing out coal-fired generation and we're doing that right here in Ontario."


There are currently no plans to phase out coal burning power stations in the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

. In fact, it's quite the reverse.

China’s exceedingly high energy demand has pushed the demand for relatively cheap coal-fired power. Each week, another 2GW of coal-fired power is put online in China. Coal supplies about 80% of China's energy needs today, and that ratio is expected to continue, even as overall power usage grows rapidly.

In addition to the huge investments in coal power, China is also building large nuclear power plants. The largest hydro power plant in the world, the Three Gorges Dam
Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, located in the Yiling District of Yichang, in Hubei province, China...

, is also the largest power plant of any kind, and it operates in China.


India is in no way phasing out coal or fossil fuels in general.
The annual report of India's Power Ministry has a plan to grow power by about 80GW as part of their 11th 5-year plan, and 79% of that growth will be in fossil-fuel fired power plants, primarily coal. India plans four new "ultra mega" coal-fired power plants as part of that growth, each 4000MW in capacity.


In 2007 German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

 and her party agreed to legislation to phase out Germany's lignite
Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, or Rosebud coal by Northern Pacific Railroad,is a soft brown fuel with characteristics that put it somewhere between coal and peat...

 mining sector. That does not mean that they support phasing out coal in general. There are plans to build about 25 new plants in the coming years. Most German coal power plants were built in the 1960s, and have a low energy efficiency. Public sentiment against coal power plants is growing and the construction or planning of some plants has been successfully stopped.

New Zealand

In October 2007 the Clark
Helen Clark
Helen Elizabeth Clark, ONZ is a New Zealand political figure who was the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand for three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008...

New Zealand Labour Party
The New Zealand Labour Party is a New Zealand political party. It describes itself as centre-left and socially progressive and has been one of the two primary parties of New Zealand politics since 1935....

 government introduced a moratorium on coal-fired power plants. The ban was limited to state-owned utilities, though an extension to private sector was considered. The Key
John Key
John Phillip Key is the 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand, in office since 2008. He has led the New Zealand National Party since 2006....

New Zealand National Party
The New Zealand National Party is the largest party in the New Zealand House of Representatives and in November 2008 formed a minority government with support from three minor parties.-Policies:...

 government elected in November 2008 lifted the moratorium.

South Africa

Around 77% of South Africa's energy demand is directly met by coal, and when current projects come online, this ratio will increase in the near term.

There are no plans to phase out coal fired power plants in South Africa, and indeed, the country is investing in building massive amounts of new coal-fired capacity to meet power demands, as well as modernizing the existing coal-fired plants to meet environmental requirements.

On April 6, 2010, the World Bank approved a $3.75B loan to SA to support the construction of the world's 4th largest coal-fired plant, at Medupi.
The proposed World Bank loan includes a relatively small amount - $260 million - for wind and solar power.

Rated at 4800MW, Medupi would join other mammoth coal-fired power plants already in operation in the country, namely Kendal (4100MW), Majuba (4100), and Matimba (4000), as well as a similar-capacity Kisile, at 4800MW, currently under construction. Kisile is expected to come online in stages, starting in 2012, while Medupi is expected to first come online in 2013, with full capacity available by 2017. These schedules are provisional, and may change.

Some estimate that after Kisile and Medupi come online, South Africa will then derive 94% of its domestic energy from coal.

United Kingdom

Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband
Edward Samuel Miliband is a British Labour Party politician, currently the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition...

 announced that no new coal-fired power stations will be built in Britain from 2009 onwards unless they capture and bury at least 25% of greenhouse gases immediately and 100% by 2025 although at the time this was a statement of intent rather than something he was able to enforce.

Chris Huhne
Chris Huhne
Christopher Murray Paul-Huhne, generally known as Chris Huhne is a British politician and cabinet minister, who is the current Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for the Eastleigh constituency in Hampshire...

 has confirmed that the legislation required to allow his office to enforce emissions standards are proceeding.

The UK is also subject to the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive covering non-CO2 emissions which is expected to bring many older plants to a close over the next few years as they are too expensive to upgrade.


California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

's SB 1368 created the first governmental moratorium on new coal plants in the United States. The law was signed in September 2006 by Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

, took effect for investor-owned utilities in January 2007, and took effect for publicly owned utilities in August 2007. SB 1368 applied to long-term investments (five years or more) by California utilities, whether in-state or out-of-state. It set the standard for greenhouse gas emissions at 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, the equal to the emissions of a combined-cycle natural gas plant. This standard created a de facto moratorium on new coal, since it could not be met without carbon capture and sequestration.


On April 15, 2008, Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

 Governor John E. Baldacci signed LD 2126, "An Act To Minimize Carbon Dioxide Emissions from New Coal-Powered Industrial and Electrical Generating Facilities in the State." The law, which was sponsored by Rep. W. Bruce MacDonald (D-Boothbay
Boothbay, Maine
Boothbay is a town in Lincoln County, Maine, United States. The population was 2,960 at the 2000 census. It includes the villages of East Boothbay and Trevett. The Boothbay region is a center of summer tourist activity, and a significant part of its population does not live there year...

), requires the Board of Environmental Protection to develop greenhouse gas emission standards for coal gasification facilities. It also puts a moratorium in place on building any new coal gasification facilities until the standards are developed.


In 2006 a coalition of Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 groups organized a campaign in favor of a statewide moratorium on new coal-fired power plants. The campaign culminated in a "Stop the Coal Rush" mobilization, including rallying and lobbying, at the state capital in Austin
Austin, Texas
Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of :Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 14th most populous city in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in...

 on February 11 and 12th, 2007. Over 40 citizen groups supported the mobilization.

In January, 2007, A resolution calling for a 180-day moratorium on new pulverized coal plants was filed in the Texas Legislature on Wednesday by State Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson (R-Waco) as House Concurrent Resolution 43. The resolution was left pending in committee. On December 4, 2007, Rep. Anderson announced his support for two proposed integrated gasification combined cycle
Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle
An integrated gasification combined cycle is a technology that turns coal into gas—synthesis gas . It then removes impurities from the coal gas before it is combusted and attempts to turn any pollutants into re-usable byproducts. This results in lower emissions of sulfur dioxide, particulates, and...

 (IGCC) coal plants proposed by Luminant
Luminant is a Texas-based electric utility. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings Corporation. Luminant's operations include electricity generation and wholesaling, mining, construction, and development...

 (formerly TXU).

Washington state

Washington has followed the same approach as California, prohibiting coal plants whose emissions would exceed those of natural gas plants. Substitute Senate Bill 6001 (SSB 6001), signed on May 3, 2007, by Governor Christine Gregoire
Christine Gregoire
Christine O'Grady "Chris" Gregoire is the 22nd and current Governor of the state of Washington, and a member of the Democratic Party. Gregoire defeated Republican candidate Dino Rossi in 2004, and again in 2008. She is the second female governor of Washington...

, enacted the standard. As a result of SSB 6001, the Pacific Mountain Energy Center in Kalama was rejected by the state. However, a new plant proposal, the Wallula Energy Resource Center, shows the limits of the "natural gas equivalency" approach as a means of prohibiting new coal plants. The proposed plant would meet the standard set by SSB 6001 by capturing and sequestering a portion (65 percent, according to a plant spokesman) of its carbon.

Utility action in the US

  • Progress Energy Carolinas announced on June 1, 2007, that it was beginning a two-year moratorium on proposals for new coal-fired power plants while it undertook more aggressive efficiency and conservation programs. The company added, "Additional reductions in future electricity demand growth through energy efficiency could push the need for new power plants farther into the future."

  • Public Service of Colorado concluded in its November 2007 Resource Plan: "In sum, in light of the now likely regulation of CO2 emissions in the future due to broader interest in climate change issues, the increased costs of constructing new coal facilities,and the increased risk of timely permitting to meet planned in-service dates, Public Service does not believe it would not be prudent to consider at this time any proposals for new coal plants that do not include CO2 capture and sequestration.

  • Xcel Energy
    Xcel Energy
    Xcel Energy, Inc. is a public utility company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, serving customers in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. Primary services are electricity and natural gas...

     noted in its 2007 Resource Plan that "given the likelihood of future carbon regulation, we have only modeled a future coal-based resource option that includes carbon capture and storage."

  • Minnesota Power Company announced in December 2007 that it would not consider a new coal resource without a carbon solution.

  • Avista Utilities
    Avista Utilities
    Avista Utilities is an energy company with its headquarters in Spokane, Washington in the United States. It employs nearly 2,000 people who work in five western states...

     announced that it does not anticipate pursuing coal-fired power plants in the foreseeable future.

  • NorthWestern Energy
    Northwestern Energy
    NorthWestern Corporation owns NorthWestern Energy, a utility company that serves South Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana that is based in Sioux Falls...

     announced on December 17, 2007, that it planned to double its wind power capacity over the next seven years and steer away from new baseload coal plants. The plans are detailed in the company's 2007 Montana Electric Supply Resource Plan.

  • California Energy Commission
    California Energy Commission
    The California Energy Commission is California’s primary energy policy and planning agency. Created in 1974 and headquartered in Sacramento, the Commission has responsibility for activities that include forecasting future energy needs, promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building...

     (CEC) has initiated its review of two 53.4-megawatt solar thermal power plants that will each include a 40-megawatt biomass power plant to supplement the solar power.

Opinion polls

In October, 2007, Civil Society Institute released the results of a poll of 1,003 U.S. citizens conducted by Opinion Research Corporation.

The authors of the poll reported:
"75 percent of Americans –-including 65 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Independents—would 'support a five-year moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in the United States if there was stepped-up investment in clean, safe renewable energy—such as wind and solar—and improved home energy-efficiency standards.' Women (80 percent) were more likely than men (70 percent) to support this idea. Support also was higher among college graduates (78 percent) than among those who did not graduate from high school (68 percent).

The exact question posed by the survey was as follows:
More than half of power plant-generated electricity comes from coal. Experts say that power plants are responsible for about 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide pollution linked to global warming. There are plans to build more than 150 new coal-fired power plants over the next several years. Would you support a five-year moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in the United States if there was stepped-up investment in clean, safe and renewable energy –such as wind and solar –and improved home energy-efficiency standards? Would you say definitely yes, probably yes, probably no, definitely no, or don't know.

The results were as follows:
  • 30% "definitely yes"
  • 45% "probably yes"
  • 13% "probably no"
  • 8% "definitely no"
  • 4% "don't know"

CLEAN call to action

In October, 2007, fifteen groups led by Citizens Lead for Energy Action Now (CLEAN) called for a five-year moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, with no exception for plants sequestering carbon. The groups included Save Our Cumberland Mountains (Tennessee); Ohio Valley Environmental Council (West Virginia); Cook Inlet Keeper (Alaska); Christians for the Mountains (West Virginia); Coal River Mountain Watch (West Virginia); Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (Kentucky); Civil Society Institute (Massachusetts); Clean Power Now (Massachusetts); Indigenous Environmental Network (Minnesota); Castle Mountain Coalition (Alaska); Citizens Action Coalition (Indiana); Appalachian Center for the Economy & the Environment (West Virginia); Appalachian Voices (NC); and Rhode Island Wind Alliance (Rhode Island).

Other citizen groups supporting a coal moratorium

  • 1Sky
    1Sky is a United States based campaign in support of federal action to stem global warming and promote renewable energy.1Sky was founded in the spring of 2007 when thirty climate campaigners were on a retreat in the Hudson Valley of New York state...

  • Energy Action Coalition
    Energy Action Coalition
    The Energy Action Coalition is a North American non-profit organization made up of 50 partner organizations in the U.S. and Canada that runs campaigns to build the youth and student clean energy movement and advocate for tangible changes on local, state, national and international levels in North...

  • Rainforest Action Network
    Rainforest Action Network
    Rainforest Action Network is an environmental organization based in San Francisco, California, USA. The organization was founded by Randy "Hurricane" Hayes and Mike Roselle in 1985, with the financial help of Fund for Wild Nature....

  • Kansas Sierra Club
  • Coal Moratorium Now!
  • Step It Up! 2007
  • Co-op America
    Co-op America
    Green America, formerly known as Co-op America, is a nonprofit membership organization based in the United States that promotes ethical consumerism...

  • Rising Tide
    Rising Tide North America
    Rising Tide North America is a grassroots network of groups and individuals in North America who take action against the root causes of climate change and work towards a just transition to a non-carbon society. Rising Tide North America is part of an international network dedicated to building a...

  • Lead for Energy Action Now (CLEAN)
  • is a website launched on January 18, 2007 by Kevin Bacon. SixDegrees builds on the popularity of the "small world phenomenon" to create a charitable social network.- History :...

Shareholder resolutions in favor of a coal moratorium

"RESOLVED: Shareholders request that BOA’s board of directors amend its GHG emissions policies to observe a moratorium on all financing, investment and further involvement in activities that support MTR coal mining or the construction of new coal-burning power plants that emit carbon dioxide.

Prominent individuals supporting a coal moratorium

  • Al Gore:

  • Banker and financier Tom Sanzillo, currently First Deputy Comptroller for the state of New York, called for a moratorium on new coal plants in the state of Iowa. Citing slow growth in electricity demand and better alternative sources of energy, Sanzillo said, "It's not only good public policy, it's great economics."

  • Mary Wood, Professor of Law at the University of Oregon, called for a moratorium on new coal plants in an videocast lecture to the University of Montana on February 19, 2008. Wood compared the urgency of the climate crisis to World War II: “Nothing less than a massive global effort on the scale of WWII can save our climate.”

Prominent individuals supporting a coal phase-out

  • Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, called for replacing all fossil fuel
    Fossil fuel
    Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years...

    s with renewable sources of energy in twenty years.

EPA lawyers supporting a coal moratorium

In May, 2008, Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, two lawyers at the Environmental Protection Agency, wrote a public letter opposing cap-and-trade solutions to greenhouse gas emissions and supporting a federal moratorium on new coal plants that don't sequester their carbon dioxide emissions. The letter, "Urgent Plea for Enactment of Carbon Fees and Ban on New Coal-Fired Power Plants without Carbon Sequestration," was written in their capacity as citizens rather than in their capacity as EPA employees.

Mayors supporting a coal moratorium

On October 13, 2007, Pocatello, Idaho, mayor Roger Chase told other mayors from across the state attending an Association of Idaho Cities legislative committee that he favored a moratorium no new coal plants in the state.

On June 1, 2007, Park City, Utah, mayor Dana Wilson wrote a letter to Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett
Warren Edward Buffett is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world. Often introduced as "legendary investor, Warren Buffett", he is the primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is...

 expressing the city's opposition to three coal plants proposed by Rocky Mountain Power.

In November 2007, Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson
Rocky Anderson
Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson served two terms as the 33rd mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, between 2000 and 2008. He is the Executive Director of High Road for Human Rights...

 expressed his support for a coal moratorium at a rally organized by the Step It Up! campaign.

In January 2008, Charlottesville, VA, mayor Dave Norris blogged in favor of a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants. On December 19, 2007, Charlottesville passed the Charlottesville Clean Energy Resolution putting the city on record as supporting a moratorium.

Other politicians supporting a moratorium

  • Ed Fallon, running against incumbent Leonard Boswell for Democratic Party nomination for Iowa's 3rd Congressional District, stated his support for a coal moratorium and criticized Boswell's statement that "coal will be the mainstay for electricity for decades to come."

Local governmental bodies supporting a coal moratorium

  • In January, 2008, Black Hawk County (Iowa) Health Board recommended that the state adopt a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants until it enacts tougher air pollution standards.

Toward Solar

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission
Colorado Public Utilities Commission
The Public Utilities Commission of the State of Colorado provides regulatory oversight of public utilities in the State of Colorado of the United States....

 approved Xcel's voluntary decision to shut down two coal-fired power plants in the state and building one of the world's largest utility-scale solar power plants and adding 850 megawatts of wind energy
Wind energy
Wind energy is the kinetic energy of air in motion; see also wind power.Total wind energy flowing through an imaginary area A during the time t is:E = ½ m v2 = ½ v 2...

 to its system .

Toward Biomass

Biomass power is a growing trend in the United States. In 2006, Public Service of New Hampshire finished converting one of its coal-fired power plants into a 50-MW biomass power plant, the Northern Wood Power Project, which is fueled with woodchips
Woodchips are a medium-sized solid material made by cutting, or chipping, larger pieces of wood. Woodchips may be used as a biomass solid fuel. They may also be used as an organic mulch in gardening, landscaping, restoration ecology and mushroom cultivation...

. In 2008, DTE Biomass Energy (DTE Energy Company) agreed to buy the 50-MW E.J. Stoneman Power Plant in Cassville, Wisconsin
Cassville, Wisconsin
Cassville is a village in Grant County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 1,085 at the 2000 census. The village is located along the Mississippi River within the Town of Cassville.-History:...

, with plans to convert it to burn wood waste in 2009.

Georgia Power
Georgia Power
Georgia Power is an electric utility headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. It is the largest of the four electric utilities that are owned and operated by Southern Company....

, a subsidiary of Southern Company
Southern Company
Southern Company is a public utility holding company of primarily electric utilities in the southern United States. It is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia with executive offices also located in Birmingham, Alabama. The company is currently the 16th largest utility company in the world and the...

, asked the state's public service commission for approval to convert the coal-fired Plant Mitchell to run on wood fuel. If approved, the retrofit
Retrofitting refers to the addition of new technology or features to older systems.* power plant retrofit, improving power plant efficiency / increasing output / reducing emissions...

 will begin in 2011 and the biomass plant will start operating in mid-2012. The 96-MW biomass plant will run on surplus wood from suppliers within a 100-mile radius of the plant, which is located near Albany, Georgia
Albany, Georgia
Albany is a city in and the county seat of Dougherty County, Georgia, United States, in the southwestern part of the state. It is the principal city of the Albany, Georgia metropolitan area and the southwest part of the state. The population was 77,434 at the 2010 U.S. Census, making it the...


Coal-fired power plant in Pepeekeo, Hawaii, that formerly provided electricity to a sugar mill and has been out of operations since 2004, is seeking approval for conversion into a 24-megawatt (MW) biomass power plant. The plant was renamed the Hū Honua Bioenergy Facility by the lessees of the plant assets. Located about 8 miles north of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, the facility will draw on residual wood from the local timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

 industry and other biomass wastes to produce enough power for about 18,000 homes, meeting up to 10% of the Big Island's electricity needs, and serving as baseload power that will offset diesel generators elsewhere on the Big Island, likely those located in Hilo. The Plant received its Special Management Area permit in May, 2011, and is in the final stage of review for its air permit modification request, which asked the Hawaii Department of Health
Hawaii Department of Health
The Hawaii Department of Health is a state agency of Hawaii, with its headquarters in Honolulu CDP, City and County of Honolulu on the island of Oahu.-External links:*...

 to allow the facility to burn biomass rather than coal.

Companies are also building new power plants designed to run on biomass
Biomass, as a renewable energy source, is biological material from living, or recently living organisms. As an energy source, biomass can either be used directly, or converted into other energy products such as biofuel....


See also

  • Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future
    Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future
    Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future is a book by Jeff Goodell which claims that coal mining is one of America's largest and most influential industries...

  • Burning the Future: Coal in America
    Burning the Future: Coal in America
    Burning the Future: Coal in America is a 2008 documentary film produced and directed by David Novack. The film focuses on the impacts of mountaintop mining in the Appalachians, where mountain ridges are scraped away by heavy machinery to access coal seams below, a process that is cheaper and faster...

  • Clear Skies
  • The Coal Question
    The Coal Question
    The Coal Question; An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal Mines was a book by economist William Stanley Jevons that explored the implications of Britain's reliance on coal. Given that coal was a finite, non-renewable energy resource, Jevons raised...

  • Electricity generation
    Electricity generation
    Electricity generation is the process of generating electric energy from other forms of energy.The fundamental principles of electricity generation were discovered during the 1820s and early 1830s by the British scientist Michael Faraday...

  • Energy policy
    Energy policy
    Energy policy is the manner in which a given entity has decided to address issues of energy development including energy production, distribution and consumption...

  • Georgia Power
    Georgia Power
    Georgia Power is an electric utility headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. It is the largest of the four electric utilities that are owned and operated by Southern Company....

  • New Source Review
    New Source Review
    The New Source Review, is a permitting process created by the US Congress in 1977 as part of a series of amendments to the Clean Air Act. The NSR process requires industry to undergo an Environmental Protection Agency pre-construction review for environmental controls if they propose either...

    Prospective Outlook on Long-term Energy Systems
    Prospective Outlook on Long-term Energy Systems is a world simulation model for the energy sector that runs on the Vensim software...

     energy model
  • Renewable energy
    Renewable energy
    Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

  • Politics of global warming
    Politics of global warming
    The politics of global warming have involved corporate lobbying, funding of special interest groups and public relations campaigns by the oil and coal industries which have affected policy decisions and legislation worldwide...

External links