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Colorado Springs own cloud maker

capitol climate action
Last week’s POWER SHIFT 09, where 12,000 student environmentalists converged on Washington, culminated with a protest of a DC power plant which still produced 40% of its electricity from coal. A threatened largest act of mass civil disobedience pushed Washington legislators to order the plant converted completely to natural gas. What a contrast to the awareness level in our own Colorado Springs, where the city wraps around a single coal power plant which consumes two coal train loads a day, its billowing stacks, local moms describe to their kids, give it the name “cloud maker.”

From a Capitol Climate Action PDF:

Ten Problems with Coal

1. Coal Fuels Global Warming
Coal is the largest single source of global warming pollution in the United States. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that global warming threatens human populations and the world’s ecosystems with intensifying heat waves, floods, drought, extreme weather, and by spreading infectious diseases. Furthermore, it is conservatively estimated that the climate crisis will place a $271 billion annual drag on the U.S. economy alone by 2025. According to the IPCC, the United States and other industrialized countries need to reduce global warming pollution by 25–40 percent by 2025 to avoid the most severe impacts of the climate crisis.

climate justice2. Coal Kills People and Causes Disease
According to the American Lung Association, pollution from coal-fired power plants causes 23,600 premature deaths, 21,850 hospital admissions, 554,000 asthma attacks, and 38,200 heart attacks every year. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 12,000 coal miners died from black lung disease between 1992 and 2002.

3. Coal Kills Jobs
The coal industry is one of the least job-intensive industries in America. Every dollar we invest in coal is a dollar we can’t spend creating jobs in the clean energy economy. In fact, the country’s wind sector now employs more workers than the coal industry. Investing in wind and solar power would create 2.8 times as many jobs as the same investment in coal; mass transit and conservation would create 3.8 times as many jobs as coal.

4. Coal Costs Billions in Taxpayer Subsidies
The U.S. government continues to subsidize coal-related projects despite its impact on health, climate and the economy.

5. Coal Destroys Mountains
Many coal companies now use mountaintop removal to extract coal. The process involves clear-cutting forests, using dynamite to blast away as much as 800–1000 feet of mountaintop and dumping the waste into nearby valleys and streams. Mountain-top removal has leveled more than 450 mountains across Appalachia. Mountain-top removal destroys ecosystems, stripping away topsoil, trees, and understory habitats, filling streams and valleys with rubble, poisoning water supplies, and generating massive impoundments that can cause catastrophic floods.

6. Burning Coal Emits Mercury
Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of man-made mercury pollution. Mercury can interfere with the development of babies’ brains and neurological systems. Elevated levels of mercury in Americans’ blood puts one in six babies born in the United States at elevated risk of learning disabilities, developmental delays, and problems with fine motor coordination. Already 49 U.S. states have issued fish consumption advisories due to high mercury concentrations in freshwater bodies throughout the country, largely due to coal emissions.

7. There’s No Such Thing as “Clean Coal”
Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), or what the coal industry is marketing as “clean coal,” is a hypothetical technology that may one day capture carbon dioxide from power plants and store it underground. However, the scheme has never been successfully demonstrated at a commercial scale, is wildly expensive, and can’t deliver in time to help with the climate crisis. Nationwide, approximately $5.2 billion in taxpayer and ratepayer money has been invested in the technology, but a recent government report found that of 13 projects examined, eight had serious delays or financial problems, six were years behind schedule, and two were bankrupt. Even if engineers are able to overcome the chemical and geological challenges of separating and safely storing massive quantities of CO2, a study published recently shows that CCS requires so much energy that it would increase emissions by up to 40 percent of smog, soot, and other dangerous pollution.

8. Coal Kills Rivers
Last December, a billion gallons of toxic coal sludge broke through a dike at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee and flooded the Emory and Clinch Rivers, tributaries of the massive Tennessee River system. Within hours, ash laden with mercury, lead, arsenic, benzene, and other toxic chemicals had contaminated the river and fish were washing up dead on the shore. The spill, which was followed days later by another coal ash spill at a TVA facility in Alabama, soon became a national symbol of the reality of “clean coal” and led to hearings in Congress; legislation is pending to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste. The TVA recently estimated the clean-up costs from this one spill to be up to $825 million, with higher costs possible as a result of a variety of pending civil suits against the TVA.

9. Coal Plants Are Expensive
Communities considering construction of new coal-fired power plants are seeing these impacts first-hand. During a recent debate over building a new coal-fired power plant in southwest Virginia, state officials estimated that building a new plant (which would employ just 75 people permanently), would cost 1,474 jobs as businesses laid people off to pay the higher electricity costs from a new coal plant. With the United States running a huge deficit, we’ve got to make sure that whatever investments we do make pack the biggest job-creation bang for the buck.

10. Acid Rain
Acid rain, a byproduct of burning coal, destroys ecosystems, including streams and lakes, by changing their delicate pH balance. It can destroy forests, devastate plant and animal life, and eat away at man-made monuments and buildings.

6 thoughts on “Colorado Springs own cloud maker

  1. you have given the top ten reasons re-thug-licans love coal, since they are sub human spawn of, hmm, i don’t want to insult satan , by an unjust comparison.

  2. I was driving down I-25 with my eldest son when he was about 18 and I said something snarky about the power plant. He looked at me incredulously and said, “Power plant? I thought it was a cloud maker!” He felt very deceived.

    It goes to show how easily we can confuse — or indoctrinate — our children when they’re young. Sorry, dear son.

  3. Marie, I think we need to give our children enough information for where they are at any given time. I don’t necessarily think it’s indoctrination or confusion, but maybe, at that time when you told him it was a cloud maker (I assume), , it wasn’t RIGHT for him to know all the details because he wasn’t ready, and as his mother, you sort of knew that. You know? It’s a fine line, and I think we both try to walk it (as many thinking parents do)…. this trying to show our children the truth, and yet wanting to protect them at the same time. Or at least wait until they are developmentally ready.

  4. The basic thesis of Big Business is that we all need energy so stop your complaining. We’ll get it from nuclear sources and coal because we just must have it. However….

    We use way too much energy, and that’s because Big Business wants us to buy, buy, buy and they sell us crap, crap, crap. Yes, we do need energy but we need to have a world that produces goods in a sane manner, and not just a production system that churns out plastic crap in mega amounts using valuable non-renewable Natural Resources like there’s no end in sight.

  5. Sue, I totally agree that kids can’t be told everything right away — especially because so much of what they need to know is negative and flies in the face of what they hear every day from the dominant culture! Bit by bit, the ability to think freely and question the status quo must be developed without crushing a child’s ability to trust the world they live in. I often tell stories that I hope are age appropriate but allow room for expansion as the children are able to handle layers of complexity.

    My other kids are well-aware that the cloud maker is something more, but apparently I forgot to cover Chapter 2 with Brendan. I wonder how many more incomplete lessons I’ve given. Time will tell I guess 😉

  6. we all know from all of the non renewable energy resources we have the coal in big amount.there is no doubt that coal release very harmful & hazardous gases for humans and there surrounding environment but we are helpless because coal is a big source of energy we simply cant avoid it it is a vital source of energy for industrial as well as domestic purpose.coal produce lots of problems but still we cant avoid it is a part of energy and human growth.

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