King Coal Retains its Title

An AP story yesterday reported on startling, if not somewhat predictable, developments in the context of the construction of coal-fired power plants in the United States. The story reports that 32 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction. It’s estimated that these plants will generate about 125 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, the equivalent of putting 22 million additional cars on the road. None of these plants, of course, utilize “clean coal” technology, as most experts acknowledge that commercial deployment of carbon capture and sequestration technologies is 15-20 years away, though most are designed for potential retrofitting with such technology. In a bit of good (it’s all relative) news, the article indicates that more than 100 plants have been shelved or delayed in the past few years. Emboldened by the failed efforts to pass national climate change legislation, and the prospects that it may be possible to tie up regulation of GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act for many years, industry appears to shed all pretense of caring about climate change. This might be a good first day reading to help give students a sense of the lay of the land in climate politics at this point.

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