The Myth of Clean Coal Technology

Making coal cleaner will take years, despite what some legislators in Kentucky would have you believe. Efforts to cut emissions are ambitions, expensive and primarily failures.

U.S. News & World Report this week has a great story on coal:

America runs on coal. It’s cheap, plentiful (at least for another 100 years or so), and comfortingly domestic. Two hundred years ago, it powered the industrial revolution. Today, it spits out nearly half of the country’s electricity.

Coal’s problems, however, are getting to be so big and serious that they are not just overshadowing the industry but threatening to render it obsolete. About 80 percent of the electricity sector’s carbon dioxide emissions
come from burning coal. A price on CO2 pollution
, which Congress might impose as early as this year, is expected to be so costly that the mere prospect of it is already shaking things up. Some states have banned new coal plants, and many companies are canceling their plans in other places.

The industry’s greatest hope for survival, as far as CO2 emissions go, is a work-in-progress technological arsenal known as carbon capture and storage, or CCS. With all the makings—and risk—of a classic American gamble, it is in some ways the energy equivalent of missile defense. It’s ambitious, expensive, intricate, and wildly controversial.


It would be helpful if everyone were using the same definition. The term “clean coal,” though alliteratively pleasing, is far from straightforward. Besides CO2, coal plants emit mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxides. What doesn’t go into the air often ends up in the ground as fly ash, a sludgelike material that became big news last year when a retaining wall at an ash dump in Tennessee suddenly gave way, releasing thousands of pounds of waste into people’s front yards. So, it’s not just CO2 that’s problematic. In fact, in the early 1990s, clean coal referred almost exclusively to efforts aimed at curbing nitrogen and sulfur pollution. Today, clean coal has morphed to mean coal from a plant that doesn’t emit CO2. And it doesn’t exist yet.

Click here to read the rest and let us know what you think in the comments.

Ah, the Tasty Smell of Sweet Kentucky Corruption

Planting pansies at the sites of homophobic abuse is a good idea. [The Pansy Project]

Reminder for the weekend: Sustain his hosting its grand re-opening this Saturday. All day. Tons of free seminars and educational sessions. A happy hour with tasty treats and booze. Free screening of Gill Holland’s excellent film Flow. Activities for kids. And contests for thousands of dollars worth of awesome merchandise. [Details – Page One]

The death of Martin Cothran’s imaginary playmate. Here’s a hint: It’s the imaginary KERA-dragon. [Prichard Blog]

Governor Steve Beshear will kick off “Cover the Uninsured Week” at the University of Louisville on Monday. 2:30 P.M. with Dr. Adewale Troutman, Metro Health Dept director, Dr. Larry Cook, EVP for health affairs at UofL, Rep. Darryl Owens, JCPS Superintendent Sheldon Berman and William Wagner, ED of Family Health Centers. The event is a project with Passport Health Plan. Anyone plan to attend? [Press Release]

Attorney General Jack Conway said this morning that… “[t]here’s a good chance I’ll run for the Senate. I’ve been saying all along I owe Kentucky voters my best effort at attorney general … so I’m going to get through the (legislative) session. And I’ll say something in the coming weeks.” He goes on to say that he speaks regularly to strategize with both Crit Luallen and Ben Chandler. Guess the Crit and Ben rumors are official dead. [Pat Crowley]

Four of the eight Clay Countians charged for all kinds of election-related shenanigans have been arraigned. Douglas C. Adams, Freddy W. Thompson, Paul E. Bishop and William B. Morris pleaded not guilty and were released on bond. Judge Robert Wier set a trial date of May 19th. [Bluegrass Politics]

Joe the Plumber wants to make love to Washington? Uh, AWKWARD. [Washington Post]

Who’s taking us to see Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum which opens this Sunday at The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky? Runs March 22 through June 14, 2009. Admission is $10 for the general public ($8 for senior citizens). All students and UK faculty/staff/alum get in for free. The exhibit is open for free on Friday nights from 5:00 – 8:00 P.M. [H-L, More H-L & Art Museum]

TGIF! Everyone Is Broke, Hungry and Corrupt

President Barack Obama’s decision on mountaintop removal is expected to come ‘very soon.’ Only then will we know what the Obama Administration plans to do about the practice. News came yesterday in congressional testimony from Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. During a subcommittee hearing, Ben Chandler grilled Sutley. [WV Gazette]

Here’s more on yesterday’s Anti-Iraq War rally. [C-J]

Ruh Ro: Sphincters are tightening as the AIG debate turns anatomical. [Huffington Post]

Mitch McConnell, channeling his fake inner populist. He said, “It‘s shocking that the administration would come to us now and act surprised about these contracts. This administration could have and should have prevented this from happening.” [The Rachel Maddow Show]

For whom will you vote in the Bracket of Evil? Mitch McConnell? AIG? Karl Rove? [Clicky Clicky]

The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training announced that Louisville’s unemployment rate hit 9.4% in January, up from 7.6% in December. Fayette County’s January jobless rate was 6.3%, the state’s lowest. Menifee County had the state’s highest rate at 17.7%. [WFPL’s Rick Howlett]

From the Department of There’s No Way: You mean to tell me that the GOP’s blastfax planned to target and blame Chris Dodd for the AIG mess? Surely you jest! [Huffington Post]

And you thought Frank Simon was a closet pervert. Check out this Bill O’Reilly mess. [Village Voice via Barefoot & Progressive]

Frank Simon? You don’t say. His latest fearmongering email blast is all about the now-dead ultrasound/seance with your fetus bill, SB 79, and how it was attached to HB 241, a bill regulating tattoo parlors. He talks all about “Democrat” House Leadership letting it sit and not allowing a vote but suggests it could happen on March 26th and 27th– but only if you pray really hard and pressure your representative. Here’s his other choice language, “If passed, House Bill 241 with the Ultrasound language attached will save the lives of unborn children AND will protect many women from years of emotional agony. Since the abortionist already does an ultrasound to determine the cost of the abortion, why not let the woman have the option to see the truth?” Have the option to see the truth? That’d be nice and all– if the legislation didn’t FORCE women to see the ultrasound. If you’re interested: The AFA will hold a “chile (sic) supper” and silent auction on March 30th at the Evangel School, 5400 Minors Lane. Would be prime time to stage a little homo outing. [Frank Simon the Fearmonger]

Was the Louisville Arena Authority breaking the law during the bid process? Looks like Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd thinks this might be the case. Corruption? In Louisville politics? WHAT! [C-J]

Diane Brumback on the abortion bill and why it’s bad for teenage girls. [Kentucky Women]

Oh Noes – Early Evening Time Wasters

Okay. We admit it. Totally slept half the afternoon. Pretty sure there’s a small child or dog living in our sinus cavities. Should be easier to stay awake and away from generic Dayquil tomorrow.

The Derby/Oaks bus plan in Louisville is nothing short of a disaster and an embarrassment. [C-J]

Can’t get environment-killing legislation in the proper way? Sneak it in as am amendment and hope the House doesn’t notice, Senators. [Stephenie Steitzer]

Blind Item: Name That State Legislator. Which state legislator in Kentucky– who really hates the gays– is alleged to have sexually abused a young male relative in his past? We can’t confirm it, out of respect. (Unlike our other blind items, which will come soon.) But we will some day. The accuser has promised to go public when the time is right so he’s able to save his loved ones a ton of embarrassment. [Blind Item]

Poor old Jim Bunning is confused by Twitter and the internets. “Explain exactly what you mean by twitter,” Bunning said when asked if he would use Twitter as part of his 2010 strategy. Thank goodness Fake Jim Bunning is already Tweeting. [Business Insider]

VOM ALERT! The mayor who could be caught in bed with a live boy and a dead girl and still win re-election will film a commercial promoting his “Healthy Hometown Hike & Bike” events with Jared Fogle from the Subway commercials. [Business First]

What? You mean rank and file Republicans don’t like their leadership? *cough* Mitch McConnell *cough* [Daily Kos]

Can you believe it? The mainstream media is paying attention to green business in Kentucky. [C-J]

“Hi, my name is Mitch McConnell and I opposed Wall Street salary caps last month. Now I’m condemning “outrageous” AIG bonuses.” [Think Progress]

Monday Afternoon Dept of More UofL Messes

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence analyzes Senate Bill 1. [Bluegrass Politics]

Speaking of education… check out the latest hypocrisy from the University of Louisville. It is high time for State Auditor Crit Luallen’s office to step in. Please. Now. Just do it. This time it involves glaring oversights in an audit just conducted of the College of Education and Human Development. When a lowly blogger can pick apart an audit and find major omissions and oversights, you know they’ve got a problem on their hands. [Page One]

Today is the national call-in day for the Clean Water Protection Act. Help stop mountaintop removal by calling now. [Time To Act]

Will Ben Chandler pull the U.S. Senate trigger? [Swing State Project]

No, he won’t. He’s posturing like he always does. But Ben Chandler certainly is trying to dry up Daniel Mongiardo’s fundraising. [Mark Hebert]

What’s Mayor Jerry Abramson doing with $14.7 million of federal dollars in Louisville? Check the latest list of projects. [The ‘Ville Voice]

Legislation approved by the State Senate last week paves the way for the Breeders’ Cup to make an emergency return to Churchill Downs this year in the event of complications with a bankruptcy that could prevent the Oak Tree Racing Association from hosting the two-day championships this fall in Santa Anita. [Paulick Report]

Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s board of regents approved a 3.3% tuition hike on Friday. [Business First]

Want to ask corrupt Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry why nothing is happening on the CentrePointe front? Maybe ask why he tried to block an independent investigation of the airport scandal? He’ll be holding a “Mayor’s Night Out” event from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. tonight at the Northside Branch of the Lexington Public Library, 1730 Russell Cave Road. [Email Blast]

Secretary of State Trey Grayson taught Civics 101 to over one thousand elementary and middle school students today at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg. [Twitter]

Quick, Jim Gooch! Read this! Global warming is expected to cause the sea level along the northeastern coast to rise almost twice as fast as global sea levels during this century, putting New York City at greater risk for damage from hurricanes and winter storm surge, according to a new study led by a Floriday State University researcher. [e! Science News]

Thank Jeebus for Joe Biden dropping the f-bomb! [Huffington Post]

Put your money where your mouth is on mountaintop removal. [Page One]

You Can Do More to Stop Mountaintop Removal

Today the New York Times published an editorial on abolishing mountaintop removal, a practice we all know is killing eastern Kentucky:

A bipartisan group of 119 members of the House recently reintroduced legislation that would redefine mining waste as a pollutant. In so doing, Congress would reassert the original intent of the Clean Water Act and end the practice of dumping waste in valleys and streams. Until that bill becomes law — if, indeed, it ever does — a great deal more damage could occur in Appalachia. Two companies that have been awaiting the court’s go-ahead have now said that they will resume mining operations.

The Obama White House can prevent that damage. Under the law, the Corps of Engineers can suspend the mining permits in the public interest. This in turn would give the administration time to review the rules and issue new ones that would be more protective of the environment. But the Corps of Engineers, always reluctant to reverse itself and historically friendly to industry, will not act without orders from on high.

Mr. Obama promised to find better ways of mining coal “than simply blowing the tops off mountains.” The time to do so is now.

Click here to read the rest…

So what can you do to stop mountaintop removal? In addition to considering solar power in your home or business, you can learn to “green” your life little by little. And a great way to do that is with Sustain in Louisville. We’ve written about and partnered with the store over the past few months but want to bring it to your attention yet again. It’s really a one-stop shop for sustainable living products and free education for how to change your life. They don’t just sell compost bins, they offer information and education on composting, provide newspaper shredding as a base for the compost and sell books on vermiculture, worm farms and provide sources for red wigglers.

Tons of stuff for water and energy conservation, kitchenware, bed and bath, children, pets, home decor, cosmetics, electronics, clothing, furniture. Everything.

This Saturday, March 21, Sustain will host its grand (re)opening. The entire day will be filled with seminars and presentations, activities for the kids, a happy hour (by Jarfi’s! win!) and some fancy and expensive give-aways. So stop in from 10:00 to 6:00 at The Vogue Shopping Center, 3724 Frankfort Avenue, 40207.

Read the rest and peep the schedule after the jump…

Read moreYou Can Do More to Stop Mountaintop Removal