Sierra Club legal victory on coal in the US

In an exciting development, the Environmental Appeals Board of the U.S. Environmental Protection agency has handed down a ruling that effectively freezes construction of as many as 100 new coal-fired power plants around the U.S. The ruling requires new coal plants and expansions of existing ones to include “Best Available Control Technology,” and it seems that it will be up to the next administration to define what that means. The ruling directly impacts permits for 30 new plants in the seven states directly regulated by the EPA planning process, as well as all projects on Indian Reservations.

This will be a good opportunity for the Obama administration to demonstrate its commitment to building a low-carbon economy. That being said, it will also be a major challenge. The coal industry is large and powerful in the United States, and some regions are more than 90% dependent on coal power. Forcing them to introduce expensive (and, in some cases, largely untested) new greenhouse gas mitigation technologies will require a lot of political courage.

The full decision (PDF) is available online.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

8 thoughts on “Sierra Club legal victory on coal in the US”

  1. It’s definitely been verbified, but I guess I put myself in the grammar fascist camp on this one. I cringe every time I read or hear it. I think this addresses the issue well (and approves of your literal, physical use of the word in the comment above, which I agree with).

  2. Regardless of how we feel about ‘impact’ as a verb, this coal decision sounds like very positive news.

  3. Dynegy Cancels Investment in Six Coal Burning Power Plants

    The Dynegy Corporation has announced the termination of their coal-plant development partnership with LS Power, effectively canceling plans for six new coal burning power plants. Momentum against coal is growing all around the country, as residents of Kingston, Tennessee recover from a one billion gallon spill of toxic coal ash produced by a coal plant last week. That spill promises to leave streams, fish, front yards and drinking water in the community under health advisories for months, if not years. Now, just two days into 2009 the tally of canceled coal plants is already ticking up.

  4. Some more legal difficulties for American coal:

    The backers of the proposed Highwood coal plant in Montana announced they are reversing course and will instead build natural gas and wind energy facilities. The announcement comes after a series of successful legal challenges to the plant mounted by Earthjustice attorneys going back to 2007 aimed at addressing the coal plant’s harmful environmental effects, including approximately 2.1 million tons of CO2 the plant would emit each year. CO2 is a major global warming pollutant.

  5. Bill would restrict coal power plants

    By Margaret Newkirk

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Wednesday, February 04, 2009

    An Atlanta-area legislator took aim at Georgia’s coal-fired power industry Tuesday, introducing a bill that would restrict the kind of coal that can be burned in the state and stop new coal plants in their tracks.

    With alternative energy on the rise, “Coal makes no sense in this day and age,” said state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) of House Bill 276.

    The bill would limit and then ban the use of a kind of coal prized by utilities and reviled by environmental advocates. The coal comes from Central Appalachia and is mined by blasting the tops off mountains.

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