Category Archives: Coal

Coal plant spills 5,000 gallons of oil into Ohio River

Duke Energy’s Beckjord coal plant, New Richmond, Ohio. Photo credit: Brett Ciccotelli via EcoWatch

Duke Energy’s Beckjord coal plant, New Richmond, Ohio. Photo credit: Brett Ciccotelli via EcoWatch

EcoWatch’s Anastasia Pantsios gives a compelling overview of this spill, which might seem ‘small,’ and why it matters. The spill happened late Monday, leading the Coast Guard to close a stretch of the river yesterday. The plant, located near Cincinnati, spilled between 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of fuel oil, and is owned by Duke Energy. It’s closing soon, but apparently doesn’t want to go without leaving its good neighbors something to remember it by.

8,000 Gallons of Oil Spill Into Ohio River From Duke Energy Coal Plant
By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch. August 19, 2014.

This one’s not a big one in the scheme of things. But to those impacted—especially in Ohio, where algae bloom recently caused the water supplying nearly a half million people in the Toledo area to be undrinkable for several days—it’s bad news. Monday morning, reports the Columbus Dispatch, the Coast Guard closed down a 15-mile length of the Ohio River after Duke Energy’s W.C. Beckjord Station outside Cincinnati dumped approximately 8,000 gallons of oil into the river, according to a Coast Guard estimate.


Ohio-based Sierra Club organizer Neil Waggoner said of Monday’s spill:

This is yet another example of dirty fossil fuels putting us at risk. We pay with our health. We pay for the dangerous cleanup with our tax dollars. At the same time that Duke Energy was spilling oil in our river, it’s also asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to bail out its old, polluting coal plants by passing extra costs on to its customers. If utilities in Ohio invested these dollars in clean energy, we could breathe easier, have safe water and power our lives without suffering the dangers of refineries and coal plants.

Read more at EcoWatch.


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Filed under Coal, Oil, Pollution

Oregon denies permit for coal export terminal, cites damage to Indigenous fisheries as key in decision

Image used by Columbia Riverkeeper.

Image used by Columbia Riverkeeper

Oregon’s Department of State Lands denied Ambre Energy a permit needed for a proposed coal terminal to export coal from Wyoming and Montana to Asia. While a range of environmental groups helped put pressure, the state agency singled out the damage that would have been caused to tribal fisheries by the terminal. 

Oregon Department of State Lands rejects Ambre Energy coal export permit, dealing major blow

By Rob Davis, The Oregonian. August 18, 2014.

Oregon’s Department of State Lands on Monday dealt a serious blow to Ambre Energy’s proposed coal terminal, denying a key permit needed for a project to export 8.8 million tons of coal annually to Asia.

The state agency said despite a two-year review, Australia-based Ambre Energy hadn’t done enough to analyze alternatives that would avoid harming tribal fisheries at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, where the company had proposed to build a dock to load coal onto barges.


Tribes that rely on Columbia River fisheries had opposed the terminal, saying it would destroy protected tribal fishing areas. The state concurred, saying a “small but important long-standing fishery” at the project site would be harmed.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat and the project’s most prominent opponent, praised the decision.

“Columbia River tribes have fundamental rights to these fisheries,” he said, “and projects that may interfere with these rights or affect important public resources are held to appropriately high standards.”

Tribes also applauded the rejection.

Read more at The Oregonian.

The image comes from Columbia Riverkeeper: Read more from them here.

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Filed under Coal, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Indigenous Peoples

Another story about race and America this week

Photo by Carlan Tapp

Photo by Carlan Tapp

With the news and images, and ongoing battle, from Ferguson at the forefront of everyone’s mind, another story of race and America made news. Residents of a predominantly African American community have charged the state of Alabama with violating their civil rights when it dumped toxic coal ash in their community. The EPA is now investigating their claims.

A recent report has shown the damaging effects of coal ash not only on water, but also through the toxic dust released into the air.

Both stories vividly show how race and class work in the US to try to trap communities and deny the rights and quality of life deserved by all.


Earthjustice. August 14, 2014.

Washington, D.C — Investigators from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency interviewed residents of the predominantly black and low-income community of Uniontown, in Perry County, Ala., this week, to probe charges that their civil rights were violated when the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) decided to re-permit a municipal landfill containing four million cubic yards of poisonous coal ash.

The coal ash came from a massive spill in Kingston, Tennessee, where coal ash burst through a dike in 2008 and sent a billion gallons of toxic waste across 300 acres of riverfront property, destroying two dozens homes. It was the largest coal ash spill in U.S. history.


Photo comes from Carlan Tapp’s blog: He seems cool and it’s a great picture.

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Filed under Coal, Pollution, Waste

New report on the dangers of toxic coal ash dust and the front-line communities affected

Toxic coal ash dust at the Making Money Having Fun Landfill in Bokoshe, OK. Source: “Ash in Lungs: How Breathing Coal Ash is Hazardous to Your Health”

Toxic coal ash dust at the Making Money Having Fun Landfill in Bokoshe, OK. Source: “Ash in Lungs: How Breathing Coal Ash is Hazardous to Your Health”

Yesterday, July 31st, the Physicians for Social Responsibility and Earthjustice released Ash in Lungs: How Breathing Coal Ash is Hazardous to Your Healthan extensive report on the dangers of breathing coal ash, which has been more known for its pollution of drinking water and waterways. The report includes case studies of particular communities affected by the toxic dust released by coal ash. Here’s a snippet from the conclusion:

An increasingly large number of studies show clear links between inhaled coal ash and adverse health outcomes. The huge volume of coal ash generated in the United States and the many dangerous ways it is dumped create a variety of pathways for harmful levels of human exposure. Communities across the nation are hurt by toxic dust because adequate controls are not in place to protect public health. Often those harmed are communities of color or low-income communities living along the fence lines of these coal ash dumps whose economic hardships make them even more vulnerable to injury. Requiring control of toxic dust through federally enforceable standards that protect all Americans nationwide, and switching from coal to cleaner, renewable energy sources, are well-documented and essential paths to better health.

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Filed under Coal, Pollution, Uncategorized

U.S Coal Exports are a significant part of Obama’s Climate Action Plan

Powder River Mining- Source Greenpeace USA

Powder River Mining- Source Greenpeace USA

A new report released by Greenpeace USA, Leasing Coal, Fueling Climate Change, reveals that the United States’ federal coal leasing program promotes more coal mining and exports, and has lead to 3.9 billion metric tons of carbon pollution since the beginning of the Obama administration and is equivalent to the 3.7 billion tons of carbon that was emitted in the entire European Union in 2012. The report questions the ability to reconcile the coal leasing and export program with the Obama Climate Action Plan.

According to the report:

Without major changes, the federal coal leasing program will continue to undermine federal, state, and international efforts to reduce carbon pollution; the BLM Wyoming office plans to lease over 10 billion tons of coal in the coming years, dwarfing the emissions reductions expected from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The report comes to several startling conclusions including:

The carbon pollution from publicly owned coal leased during the Obama administration will cause damages estimated at between $52 billion and $530 billion, using the federal government’s social cost of carbon estimates.In contrast, the total amount of revenue generated from those coal leases sales was $2.3 billion.


A ton of publicly owned coal leased during the Obama administration will, on average, cause damages estimated at between $22 and $237, using the federal government’s social cost of carbon estimates – yet the average price per ton for those coal leases was only $1.03.

A July 28, 2014 post in DESMOG Blog by Steve Horn Greenpeace Report: Obama Administration Exporting Climate Change by Exporting Coal says that the policies represented by the coal development and exports

serve as major endorsements of continued coal production and export to overseas markets

and that

the report tackles the dark underbelly of a rule that only polices coal downstream at the power plant level and largely ignores the upstream and global impacts of coal production at-large.

The DESMOG article is full of jaw dropping statistics gleaned from the Greenpeace USA report and is an important read.

Other recent stories linked in the DESMOG report echo this theme. Read them here:

AP-July 28, 2014  Not in my backyard: US sending dirty coal abroad by Dina Cappiello

Rolling Stone-February 3, 2014  How the US Exports Global Warming by Tim Dickinson

Maclean’s June 10, 2014 America’s dirty secret  by Luiza Ch. Savage





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Filed under Climate Change, Coal

ESKOM’S coal is killer, new study finds

July 3, 2014, Source: Friends of the Earth International

Photo from FOEI

Photo from FOEI


While Eskom awaits decisions from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on its applications for postponement (in many cases, effectively exemption) to meet minimum emission standards for its coal-fired power stations, a new study [1] commissioned by NGO groundWork [2] reveals that while some of the country benefits from Eskom produced electricity, it’s the health and lives of people in the Highveld that are carrying the disease burden of the energy utility’s pollution.

With one of the world’s highest air pollution levels, most of the Highveld was declared a Priority Area (HPA) by government in 2007 because of the health implications. Home to 12 of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations, the area experiences a disproportionate amount of Eskom’s pollution. groundWork’s new study shows  that 51% of deaths due to respiratory illness and 54% deaths due to cardiovascular disease, related to outdoor pollution in the area, can be attributed to Eskom. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Coal

Cranky koala and treesits sustain leard blockade

May 31, 2014.  Source: The Australian

Photo Credit: Earth First Journal

Photo Credit: Earth First Journal

It must have been an odd site for a Saturday morning.

A grown adult in a furry grey suit chained to a large truck at the mercy of the western NSW sun.

But unlike the scenes that commonly face their city-counterparts, this scenario wasn’t a case of the morning after for police at the Maules Creek mine site.

An environmental activist – under the identity of the “cranky koala” – was chained to a large truck in the Leard State Forest as part of an ongoing blockade.

“He was there to highlight the threat to koalas that are hibernating and how winter clearing will affect different animals,” Leard Forest Alliance spokeswoman Helen War told AAP. Continue reading

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Filed under Coal, Forests, Mining

The untold story of what happened at an overcrowded West Virginia jail after the chemical spill

Note: Stand with the inmates at South Central Regional Jail who are demanding human dignity, protection of basic rights, and accountability from jail administrators, by signing this petition here.

-The GJEP Team

By Christie Thompson, May 21, 2014. Source: Think Progress

Graphic: Adam Peck

Graphic: Adam Pec

When roughly 10,000 gallons of chemicals leaked into a West Virginia watershed this January, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency. Officials shut down schools, deployed the National Guard, and rallied volunteers to bring water and support to the 300,000 people without potable water.

But in the state’s emergency response, there was one group that many forgot: the 429 prisoners locked in Charleston’s overcrowded jail, who were entirely dependent on the state to provide them clean water.

The only article that looked at the spill’s impact on inmates was a small, glowing report published two months later in the Charleston Daily Mail. Jail officials trumpeted their success at “protecting” inmates by providing a “plentiful supply of bottled water.”

Joe DeLong, executive director of the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority, told the paper inmates were given eight bottles of water a day and that they had “essentially no access to the contaminated water.” Before the jail returned to using tap water on January 18, DeLong said the jail went through a “very extensive” flushing process that lasted two to three days. They said they weren’t aware of any inmates reporting health problems related to chemical exposure. Continue reading

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Filed under Coal, Water