tagged w/ Solar is the answer
The story of the Battle of Blair Mountain starts in the southern coal camps of West Virginia, a time when King Coal reigned supreme, openly and without apology.
Mining companies owned workers' homes; they owned the schools, the air and water; they owned the police and even private armies. They owned miners' lives.
Which is why murder seemed permissible. When a notorious strikebreaker shot down labor hero Sheriff Sid Hatfield, who refused to be bought by the coal companies, more than 10,000 enraged miners and pro-union forces rose up in Mingo and Logan Counties and converged on Blair Mountain. A private army of management mercenaries shot guns and dropped leftover bombs from WWI—it was the nation's largest armed conflict since the Civil War and the largest labor confrontation ever.
Don't know about the Battle of Blair Mountain? There's a reason for that. West Virginia—a state still dominated by the coal industry and its political interests— has resisted highlighting the battle in history books and has denied commemoration attempts. When the federal National Register of Historic places chose the historic site for protection, the state—working with coal company lawyers—contested the decision. The site was de-listed last year, when West Virginia state officials submitted a "revised" list of 57 landowners supposedly objecting to the historic preservation decision. The list even included 2 dead people.
This Battle of Blair Mountain continues today. Coal companies stand literally to erase this history by obliterating the mountain.
Massey Energy and Arch Coal hold several permits in various stages to mine this land in the very worse form of strip mining on this planet: Mountaintop removal mining (MTR). One active mountaintop removal site is already blasting away the mountain and is moving within a few hundred yards of the historic battle site. Massey Energy, of course, is the company responsible for killing 29 of its workers last April in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion. Since then, it has come under extreme fire for its tens of thousands of violations of safety law and its corporate culture of profits before people. Not to mention, by Massey's own records, they've had 67,000 violations of just one of the environmental statute. It's influence among West Virginia politicians, of course, is far-reaching.
All across Appalachia today, mountaintop removal mining is destroying mountain communities by ripping apart its landscape, environment, health, heritage and economic prospects. Mining companies come in, break the law, reap profits, and leave a wasteland. In MTR regions in W. Va, companies are exploding dynamite the power of a Hiroshima-sized bomb—every single week. This form of mining isn't good for jobs either. Ripping up the mountain rather than carefully extracting coal is "efficient" -- i.e. it replaces people with machines to enhance company profits. As is noted in the wonderful documentary The Last Mountain, which is being released this week, while Appalachian coal company profits and production have skyrocketed in recent decades, at the same time some 40,000 mining jobs have been lost.
This is a new "Battle of Blair Mountain" taking place today --- and raising national awareness about this amazing story could help pressure an agency that hardly ever received much attention to reconsider its decision. This victory would be a huge symbolic win for the Appalachian communities, and for the organized labor movement around the country, which is again under siege today.
contThe story of the Battle of Blair Mountain starts in the southern coal camps of West... more
Michigan Solar Solutions, a local leader in alternative energy, is predicting an explosion in the solar industry in Michigan for 2010. According to company President Mark Hagerty, the year is shaping up to be "a perfect storm for solar" in the state.
"Many people think that solar won't work in Michigan because it's too cold and it doesn't get as much sun as other places, but that's misconstrued," Hagerty said.
"Michigan has an average of 4.2 hours of peak sunlight per day each year. Florida, the 'Sunshine State' only has about five hours. Solar panels are less efficient the hotter they get and actually produce more power when it gets cooler. While the Southwest may get more hours of sun, the panels produce less voltage per peak hour because of the heat."
He added that in 2008, his company's solar panels produced 1.2 times the rated output at 10 degrees below zero.
One reason Hagerty says Michigan is the place for solar power in 2010: rising electricity prices and increasing state and federal incentives mean that renewable energy has never been cheaper.
"Incentives are constantly changing and increasing," Hagerty said.
"Recently the federal government removed the $2,000 limit on the 30 percent tax credit for renewable energy. Michigan also now has a true Net Metering Law which means that utility companies have to accept any electricity that an owner puts onto the grid. People are recognizing the economic value in renewable energy and jumping on board at an unprecedented rate."
Utility companies are helping with additional incentives. DTE Energy is one example. It is currently piloting a "Solar Currents" program designed to make solar energy more affordable. It has been authorized by the Michigan Public Service Commission to partially reimburse customers for installing solar systems on their homes or businesses.
Customers who participate in the program will also receive a credit on their energy bills for the next 20 years (11 cents per kilowatt hour) in addition to federal tax credits and other local incentives.
Consumer's Energy has also introduced a feed-in tariff to spur more interest in solar. Their program reimburses customers 65.0 cents per kilowatt hour, for approved systems installed by May of 2010, (52.5 cents per kilowatt hour for approved systems installed after May of 2010) for any electricity a customer produces from solar-powered systems. Similar programs in Germany resulted in the creation of 170,000 jobs and the most solar-powered systems installed per capita in the world.
"Since Michigan is sunnier than Germany, this is very encouraging," Hagerty said.
Further evidence that the use of solar power is rapidly progressing in Michigan is the fast-paced growth Hagerty's company has experienced. Michigan Solar Solutions is currently doing as much business in one month as it did throughout all of 2008.
"We're very busy on a number of solar and wind installations right now," Hagerty said. In addition to numerous residential projects, Michigan Solar Solutions is working on a solar panel array for the offices of a Japanese auto supplier in Farmington Hills.Michigan Solar Solutions, a local leader in alternative energy, is predicting an... more
And yet, this administration pushes for the oxymoron 'clean coal' which is a non existant technology that will not be anywhere near functionally effective for the next twenty years, if it is even possible. This is just another scam coal companies can use to continue spewing the same amounts of CO2 while getting free credits under cap and trade for doing virtually nothing to effectively decrease carbon emissions as they must be decreased by 2020 to avoid a tipping point. And who will ultimately foot the bill? It won't be them. What a racket.
Harvard University researchers have issued a new report that confirms what many experts already feared: Stopping greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants is going to cost a lot of money.
Electricity costs could double at a first-generation plant that captures and stores carbon dioxide emissions, according to the report from energy researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center.
Costs would drop as the technology matures, but could still amount to an increase of 22 to 55 percent, according to the report, "Realistic Costs of Carbon Capture," issued this week.
These projections "are higher than many published estimates," but reflect capital project inflation and "greater knowledge of project costs," wrote researchers Mohammed Al-Juaied and Adam Whitmore.
Coal is the nation's largest source of global warming pollution, representing about a third of U.S. greenhouse emissions, equal to the combined output of all cars, trucks, buses, trains and boats.
In the U.S., coal provides half of the nation's electricity. Many experts believe that, because of vast supplies, coal will continue to generate much of the nation's power for many years to come.
Climate scientists, though, recommend that the nation swiftly cut carbon dioxide emissions and ultimately reduce them by at least 80 percent below 2000 levels by mid-century to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
Industry supporters say the key is for scientists to perfect technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and pump those gases safely underground. But such technology has never been deployed on a commercial scale. Critics worry about the expense, safety and a host of technical hurdles.And yet, this administration pushes for the oxymoron 'clean coal' which is a... more
And hopefully lives will be saved because of it. Will more coal companies start to see the writing on the wall this year? We can only hope.And hopefully lives will be saved because of it. Will more coal companies start to see... more
Hawaii has become the first state in the nation to pass into law a requirement that all new homes built after Jan. 1, 2010, be equipped with solar or other energy efficient hot water systems.
Signed into law by Hawaii’s governor on June 26, the bill's introducer, Senate Majority Leader Gary L. Hooser (D-Kauai, Niihau) said, "Hawaii is almost totally dependent on imported oil for its energy needs and estimates show that, with this law, our oil consumption will be cut by 30,000 barrels during the first year and continues to decline exponentially thereafter."
While allowing for other energy efficient choices, the new law is widely seen as a solar hot water mandate and is expected to cut home energy usage in Hawaii by an average of 30 percent starting in 2010.
With the price of oil recently reaching $140 per barrel, Hooser considers Hawaii's move toward cheaper, cleaner energy "a vital decision for our island state."
"While the instituting of broad mandates is never an easy thing to do, the public benefits resulting from the passage of this measure are huge," he added.
Hawaii currently has the highest electricity costs in the nation and it is estimated that homeowners will save $600 annually for a family of four. "The additional disposable income combined with a cumulative multiplier effect of that income circulating in the Hawaii economy, rather than being exported to import foreign oil, will result in significant additional economic activity," Hooser said.
Economics aside, the groundbreaking measure enables Hawaii to lead the nation in the country's growing effort to combat global warming. Hawaii's switch to solar will prevent the emission of over 10,000 tons of greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere every year.
Aloha Hawaii! This is the way to go and show leadership as well. Who needs Washington Dc?Hawaii has become the first state in the nation to pass into law a requirement that... more
Environmental activists and others are opening a new frontier in their fight against coal-fired power plants by questioning the use of tax-exempt bonds to help fund such projects.
New York City Comptroller William Thompson earlier this month called on the U.S. Treasury Department to investigate tax-free bond use in financing the plants. He cited the potential for expensive regulatory changes aimed at curbing greenhouse gases, the escalating cost of coal and subsequent risks to investors and taxpayers.
The Sierra Club also has been warning about the use of tax-exempt financing for coal plants owned by public or private entities, according to Becki Clayborn, a regional representative for the group.
"To us, it's a huge risk on taxpayers that doesn't need to be there," she said.
Last fall, the Sierra Club sent letters to municipal members of American Municipal Power-Ohio about financial risks attached to the nonprofit power wholesaler's involvement in the Prairie State coal-fired plant Peabody Energy Corp is building in southern Illinois.
"This massive power plant, which has not yet been built, would not only be a large source of water pollution, air pollution and global warming emissions, but will likely put your municipality at financial risk," the letter said. It pointed to escalating cost estimates for the project and legislation in the U.S. Congress that if passed, could raise the cost of power produced by the plant.
Gee, why don't all those squawking about a carbon tax that would be revenue neutral complain about higher utility bills because of stunts like this? You are already being taxed by big coal.
Environmental activists and others are opening a new frontier in their fight against... more
The Feds say it is for environmental reasons. This feels like tit for tat in the Anwar drilling debacle.The Feds say it is for environmental reasons. This feels like tit for tat in the... more