This week a double tragedy has struck the coal mining industry.
On Monday night in West Virginia, a coal outburst at a Patriot-operated mine killed two miners. And on Tuesday an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Western Turkey killed at least 245, with hundreds more still missing.
Our hearts and minds are with the miners and their families.
These disasters underscore the horrific cost of “cheap” and dirty energy. Miners’ deaths such as these are preventable. We call on coal companies to immediately improve labor conditions, and on the governments of Turkey and the United States to strengthen their regulatory oversight of the coal industry.
At the same time, here at Rainforest Action Network, we are reflecting on the less noticed human cost of coal. Every year, more than one million people die of the air pollution that comes from burning coal. 150,000 more die from the extreme weather events aggravated by climate change–and coal is the single biggest driver of global warming.
All of this points to an obvious conclusion. We must not continue to make these sacrifices in order to produce energy from such a dirty and unsustainable source. Coal is a dangerous and outdated fuel, and in the 21st century we should not be using it to power our homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. It is past time for us to shift our energy production to clean, safe renewable power.
The Obama-GOP plan cuts about $917 billion in government spending over the next decade. Nearly $570 billion of that would come from what's called "nondefense discretionary spending." That's budget-speak for the pile of money the government invests in the nation's safety and future—education and job training, air traffic control, health research, border security, physical infrastructure, environmental and consumer protection, child care, nutrition, law enforcement, and more.Our country's environmental laws and the agencies tasked with enforcing them have certainly taken a huge hit, which is especially troubling because the record-breaking heatwave we’re currently witnessing is only the latest projected impact of our warming climate to become all-too-real. We need strong climate policies and a clean energy revolution right now in order to avert runaway climate change. Instead, this deal jeopardizes even the most basic environmental protections, like the right to clean water and air. The full implication of the Obama-GOP debt deal won't be clear for some time, as the cuts it calls for are just the first round. The deal also mandates the creation of a 12-member “SuperCongress” committee that will determine where to make cuts totaling another $1.5 trillion. But given how things stand right now, environmental protections in this country have taken a severe blow.
- Guts Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act enforcement
- Less money for states to enforce environmental laws, too
- Lets Big Oil keep taxpayer-funded handouts
- Dries up investments in renewable energy
- Further diminishes chance of establishing a carbon tax
In conjunction with the international release of a report by Greenpeace today – that identifies the ridiculous risk, uncertainty and cost associated with industry-driven plans for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS),
Public interest groups (from across the country) sent the following letter to Congress, demanding that taxpayer subsidies be disallowed CCS, and that safe, affordable and market-ready energy technologies such as wind and solar be funded instead.
Dear Members of Congress
On behalf of our members and supporters we are writing to express our opposition to any policies that promote or provide taxpayer subsidies for carbon capture and storage (CCS), the practice of trapping carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion and storing it below the sea or beneath the surface of the earth.
As you know, global warming is one of the greatest challenges facing the planet today. To avoid the worst impacts of global warming scientists have warned that we need to reduce global warming pollution by at least 80 percent by 2050. Climate stabilization, national security and economic prosperity depend on substantially reducing our use of fossil fuels. That means no new investments in major infrastructure that increases fossil fuel dependence. Every dollar invested in CCS is a dollar unavailable for investment in renewable energy, efficient vehicles and energy efficiency.
CCS raises a number of serious financial, environmental and safety concerns:
· CCS cannot deliver in time. The best-case scenario is that the technology would be ready by 2030. Every decision made about new power plants today influences the energy mix for the next 30-40 years. We need to make the smartest choices to address the global warming crisis and invest in proven solutions as soon as possible.
· CCS is cost intensive. It increases the cost of power generation by 40 to 80 percent compared with conventional coal plants. Current research shows electricity generated from coal equipped with CCS will be more expensive than other less polluting sources, such as, wind power.
· CCS technology reduces the efficiency of power plants. Up to 30 percent more fossil fuel must be burned when CCS is used to achieve the same power output.
· CCS poses a risk of carbon dioxide leakage. Continuous leakage, even at very low rates, could undermine the climate benefit of CCS and large releases of carbon can also pose significant risk to human health.
As evidenced by mountain-top removal and dangerous emissions, CCS cannot make coal clean. Renewable energy sources are already available without the negative environmental impacts that are associated with fossil fuel exploitation, transport and processing. It is renewable energy together with energy efficiency and energy conservation that has to increase so that the primary cause of climate change – the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas – is stopped.
We strongly urge you to oppose any policies that provide mandates or taxpayer funded incentives for CCS. We should instead fund clean, renewable, domestic sources of energy, energy efficiency and conservation. Congress must prevent the construction of new coal-fired power plants that are inconsistent with an energy future that is good for the economy, the environment, national security, and safe for communities.
ActionPA • Alliance for Appalachia • Appalachian Voices • Black Mesa Water Coalition • California Communities Against Toxics • Canary Coalition • Cape & Islands Self-Reliance Corporation • Center for Coalfield Justice • Co-op America • Chesapeake Climate Action Network • Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana • Clean Power Now • Coal River Mountain Watch • Cook Inletkeeper • Energy Justice Network • Environmental Alliance of North Florida • Environmental Research Foundation • Friends of the Earth • Global Exchange • The Grand Canyon Trust • Green Delaware • Greenpeace • Heartwood • Help Our Polluted Environment • Indigenous Environmental Network • Jefferson Action Group • Kentuckians for the Commonwealth • Meigs Citizen Action Now • Mountain Watershed Association • North Carolina Waste Awareness & Reduction Network • Nuclear Information and Resource Service • Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition • Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition • Protect Biodiversity in Public Forests • Rainforest Action Network • Residents Against the Power Plant • Rising Tide North America • Save It Now, Glades! • Save Our Cumberland Mountains • Southern Energy Network • Valley Watch