Coal-fired power plants really took it on the chin over the last seven days.
"Wisconsin regulators say no to new power plant" was the big headline out of Wisconsin Tuesday. As the Associated Press reported:
"State regulators have rejected a plan to build a new coal-fired power plant in southwestern Wisconsin. Alliant Energy subsidiary Wisconsin Power & Light has been working for months to win permission for the $1.3 billion plant in Cassville on the Mississippi River. The company says the plant could produce enough energy to power 150,000 homes. Environmentalists have opposed the project. But Alliant says it would use renewable fuel for 20 percent of the plant's output and shut down an aging coal-fired boiler in Sheboygan. Public Service Commission ChairmaEric Callisto says the project looks too expensive and the emissions control proposals won't offset the plant's pollution. He suggested Alliant buy power from elsewhere or consider natural gas-fired plants."
There's just no way for the coal folks to put a good face on this Wisconsin outcome. As one trade publication reported:
"... in a 3-0 vote Tuesday, the PSC rejected the Madison utility company's proposal, saying it would cost too much and would spew too much pollution into the air. 'My great-grandfather was a coal miner in Pennsylvania. My parents met in a town owned by a coal company,' commissioner Lauren Azar said. 'I have respect for coal and the role it played in fueling America's economy. But today's energy world is vastly different.' Commissioners pointed to the state task force on global warming whose recommendations last June called for drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions over the coming years, and to expectations that Congress will soon approve limits on greenhouse gases and will impose charges for exceeding them. 'It would be foolish and irresponsible' to ignore that, commission chairman Eric Callisto said."
Just two days later, King Coal was rocked even worse news when the Environmental Appeals Board of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blocked Desert Electric Power Cooperative's plans for a power plant. This time, the AP wrote:
"The Environmental Protection Agency was blocked Thursday from issuing a permit for a proposed coal-burning power plant in Utah without addressing global warming. The ruling by an agency appeals panel means the Obama administration probably will determine the fate of other similar plants. The panel said the EPA's Denver office failed to adequately support its decision to issue a permit for the Bonanza plant without requiring controls on carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas. The matter was sent back to that office, which must better explain why it failed to order limits on carbon dioxide. This is 'an issue of national scope that has implications far beyond this individual permitting process, the panel said."
Joanna Spalding, the Sierra Club attorney who handled the litigation, said:
"Today's decision opens the way for meaningful action to fight global warming and is a major step in bringing about a clean energy economy. This is one more sign that we must begin repowering, refueling and rebuilding America. The EAB rejected every Bush Administration excuse for failing to regulate the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States. This decision gives the Obama Administration a clean slate to begin building our clean energy economy for the 21st century."
Our friends over at Climate Progress may have put it best: "A legal bombshell has been dropped that may well stop all new coal plant permitting." (emphasis in original)
And that is what we call a very bad week for coal!