Tag Archives: Drake Power Plant

Where does the Drake coal emissions plume go when you’re not watching?

Martin Drake Coal-fired Power Plant
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO- We’ve seen the mapping of areas most vulnerable to the toxic emissions of Drake, our downtown coal plant. In particular we’ve learned that freezing temperatures mean that emissions aren’t dispersed according to best laid plans but instead linger in the neighborhoods to the southwest. What does that look like? Recent cold temps have afforded a glimpse. That mist in the morning in Ivywild and the Broadmoor hills is setting a mood which affects your mental health more than you know.

Will Act of God close Drake coal plant?

Colorado Springs Drake Power Plant
[FULL TEXT OF LETTER SUBMITTED TO CS INDEPENDENT MAY 14] Two years ago Colorado Springs lost 346 homes to the Waldo Canyon fire which precipitated floods expected to haunt the westside and Manitou for years to come.

The next year saw a wildfire in Black Forest that took an unprecedented 500 homes. That’s unprecedented for Colorado, although with global warming it’s certainly a portent of cataclysms to follow.

You’d think two fires in a row might have motivated city leaders to seize the chance to act on climate change, and not just symbolically. By coincidence Colorado Springs Utilities had been equivocating about whether to reinvest in an aging coal-fired power plant located in the center of town.

Imagine how we might have redeemed our city’s national reputation if Colorado Springs had announced a decision to close the Drake coal plant, prompted by wild fires to reduce the burning of fossil fuels! Instead the utilities board laid out only long term options, most to sustain Drake, and only one which included a token investment in renewable energy.

This year saw another coincidence. This is of course conjecture on my part. Seeing his two previous acts unheeded, local favorite God surprised everyone with a third fire where Colorado Springs backward thinkers would be sure to get the point. Last week the Drake coal plant itself caught fire, certainly the least expected and most poetic of global warming victims.

We’re told it’s going to take over a billion dollars to bring Drake back online. I’ve got an idea and I’m not even religious. LET’S CLOSE IT! Let’s spend that billion on a solar array or a wind farm! Naysayers should be ashamed to pretend we don’t have a plentitude of both.

It’s too late to convince the world we’re brilliant, let’s show we’re not idiots. The collective decision to act on climate change begins at home if you have a publicly owned coal-fired power plant. Communities across the world have stopped burning coal, are we with them or against them?

The Drake coal plant didn’t just spew carbon, its emissions included lots of toxins we were forced to breath. Heart disease and asthma were two measurable harms which any doctor could attribute to Drake, scrubbers or no scrubbers. The coal ash accumulating south of town is another threat altogether, of which the recent ash spill in North Carolina serves as a heartbreaking warning.

Even if we reinvest a billion in Drake, we have several months of clean air and cleaner consciences to think more clearly about it. This summer America the Beautiful Park will be the healthiest it’s been in fifty years, when the old “cloud-maker” got its start.

On the other hand, wouldn’t it be a shame not put every next penny into renewable, sustainable, healthy energy, starting with this first billion?

I’d like to think people can decide to save the environment for their own health and for their children, but if it takes an Act of God to close Drake, so be it.

Downtown Drake coal plant is not an eyesore, it hurts your heart and lungs

Martin Drake Power Plant in Scenic Colorado Springs
COLORADO SPRINGS- A downtown businessman’s quip about scenic postcards being marred by the prominently located Martin Drake COAL Power Plant gave local news patsies leeway to ignore community health risk complaints about the coal-fired facility in favor of the aesthetic.

CSU Martin Drake Coal Power Plant won’t need endless coal trains after all


COLORADO SPRINGS- Downtown merchants have asked the city to consider moving the Martin Drake Coal Power Plant to somewhere further afield, hopefully out of the fossil fuels racket entirely. Apparently that’s all it takes. Tomorrow CSU board president Scott Hente will entertain public input on closing the downtown coal plant.

PICS: Colorado Springs coal plant poisons protesters who got too close

Protest of CSU Coal-fired power plant, January 2012
OCCUPIED COLORADO SPRINGS- We got up close to take pictures of the Drake coal-fired power plant. We wore gas masks without filters because the image was meant to be symbolic, but now we’re sick. Three hours, two days in a row, caused nausea and shortness of breath. Who knew?

Colorado Springs power plants not among world’s 200 dirtiest by much

CARMA map as simplified by FORBESGood news, Colorado Spring’s main power plant is not among the world’s 200 biggest carbon offender power plants. But our neighbors are. One quarter of the world’s dirtiest power plants (53) are in the US. All in red states, because the uneducted are the new black. Actually in the West many of these coal plants are foisted on the Indians, the enduring black.

Colorado Springs is surrounded by:

LARAMIE RIVER, Wheatland, Wyoming at 15 million tons of carbon
INTERMOUNTAIN, Delta, Utah at 16 million
CRAIG, Colorado at 12 million
NAVAJO, Page, Arizon at 20 million
SAN JUAN, New Mexico at 12 million
MONTICELLO, Mount Pleasant, Texas at 18 million
WELSH, Pittsburg, Texas at 12 million
LA CYGNE, Kansas at 11 million

(For the record, the worst offender is the TAICHUNG plant in Taiwan, which emits 40 million tons of carbon every year. Clean plants emit 0.)

Falling short of ranking in the 200 worst, surrounding Colorado Springs, are:

CHEROKEE, Denver, Colorado at 5 million
COMANCHE, Pueblo, Colorado at 5 million
HAYDEN, Colorado at 4 million
PAWNE, Brush, Colorado at 4 million

Carbon emissions ratings are based on a plant’s efficiency relative to its intensity. On an interactive map offered by Carbon Monitoring For Action (CARMA), the dirty plants are in red, the clean in green. CARMA map of Colorado Springs area power plants The mainstream media is working off of maps offered by Forbes magazine, not CARMA’s. Notice the Forbes article sponsor is Shell Oil, who’s leading the effort to extract oil shale, an ugly alternative to coal. But don’t be fooled by Forbes’ interesting omissions. Colorado Springs is red.

The three plants operated by Colorado Springs Utility fall into the dirty category:

DRAKE, Colorado Springs, 80903 at 2.3 million
RD NIXON, Fountain, at 1.8
BIRDSALL Colorado Springs, 80907 at 0.1

That’s right, the “cloud maker” located at Colorado Springs’ center, is squarely in the red, pollution wise. A model of Clean Coal.

Considered relatively cleaner are:

FRONT RANGE POWER, Fountain, Colorado at 1.2 million
FOUNTAIN VALLEY, at 0.2 million
WN CLARK, Canon City, Colorado at 0.4 million
LIMON, at 0.1 million

Clean:

COLORADO SPRINGS WICKS at 0
TESLA, Manitou Springs, Colorado at 0
NORAD, at 0.03 million

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.