December 10, 2008

Dirty Coal

The reality of 'Clean Coal'

I've been oversaturated with the bombardment of "clean coal" commercials as of late. Discussing the environment on an angling site can mean certain death for some; It can be scary out on that ledge. While I stare down the slippery slope of the deep end, my onlookers yelling "jump", I poke my stick at the big bear, energy. Coal derived energy to be exact.

Several energy and utility companies have been trying to force a new coal-generated power plant in our Region down our throat over the past decade. The proposed Big Stone II power plant would be located alongside the existing 450 MW Big Stone plant, in Milbank, South Dakota. There has been a heated exchange between the major utility company backing this project, Otter Tail Power, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), and concerned citizens and environmental NGOs (non-governmental agencies) against the project. Specifically, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy has garnered the largest voice against the effort. Plagued with controversy and inaccurate cost estimates, the Big Stone Plant II has suffered several setbacks, including several partners backing out of the project, leaving the proposed plant to operate at a 27% diminished capacity of 500-580 MW, meanwhile, projected operating costs have increased from $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion. Sounds like a good plan right?

So why would you propose to build a new coal generated power plant out in the middle of the prairie? The prairie grassland regions of the Dakotas and Western Minnesota are ideal for harnessing wind derived energy. Otter Tail Power, however, is trying to squash a proposed local cooperative effort in Big Stone County, MN, to build a 20MW wind farm Big Stone Wind, by requiring a feasibility study of connecting the proposed project to the electrical transmission grid, in excess of $500k. The investment group is not willing to risk all of its funding for the study , while there is no assured outcome. The region is one of few untapped areas for harnessing wind energy. There shouldn't be any discouragement for its development.

The propaganda that is fed to the local media outlets in support of Big Stone II, is astonishing. Proponents of the plant try to sell the plant under the guise of "clean burning coal", of which there is no such plant that currently exists in the United States. Plans for the proposed plant do not include these technologies, but big business tries to win our legislators and MPUC with their well funded lobby. They even have our City public utilities department brainwashed.


Why do I care that this plant is being proposed? It is located more than 150 miles away from me, but my city's utilities dept. is proposing utilizing energy from the proposed plant. They already obtain a majority of their energy from Missouri River Energy, a hyrdo-electric based Co.; I'm not a fan of hydro-based energy for obvious reasons [think dams and fish passage]. The increased particulates from the proposed plant will be deposited on the lakes, rivers, and lands that I recreate and nourish from. They will become plagued with mercury, arsenic, and other nasties not for the faint of heart.

I celebrate life.

I don't need more fucking pollutants contaminating our streams. It's bad enough with all the atrazine and anhydrous ammonia, and other shit that gets pumped into our watersheds every year from heavy agricultural use. I don't want anymore. I do my part, by buying my household electrical energy derived from wind power. You can check out your carbon footprint and purchase credits to offset your impact at I'm sick of reading, hearing, and seeing all of the pollution in our streams and waters [read the Little Stinking and the Powerglide tranny on the Upper Sac]. Enough is enough.

Let's do something for this planet. Say no to Coal.
And say no to Big Stone II.


  1. You know, not only do I disagree with your logic....since wind obviously doesn't blow all the time and is not a relialbe source of baseload generation...but even more disgusting is your use of an expletive which does nothing to improve your arguments and at best insults the reader for even looking

  2. I am not insulted by your profanity, JP. You have to love when someone tries to call you out but doesn't have the gravitas to put his (or her) real name behind it. Hence it carries absolutely no weight. Unless proved otherwise, I'm going under the assumption that it was left by someone from the Clean Coal Lobby.

    Here's a thought with some logic. Coal is a finite resource, while wind is infinitely renewable. Anyone who casts a fly rod could tell you that.

  3. Well, it sure is comforting to know that we all know who Fishing Jones is!

  4. My name is Pete McDonald. What's yours?

  5. My name, which is really irrelevant to the posting of this response, is Common Sense Joe who is concerned we are being driven down a road by a few that will lead us over a cliff of unreliable (hold on to that logic of the infinte source of wind when it's -30 and the wind isn't blowing) and expensive electrical generation that future generations will pay heavily for..

  6. I'll be holding on it for sure when I'm being treated for black lung from the China Coal Cloud:

  7. Coal is only "reliable" as long as you're willing to overlook the unsustainable nature of the mining operations building it - and the likely long-term effects of burning it.

    The baseline argument against renewables has long been discredited; renewable installations in multiple areas and formats (wind, geo, hydro, solar, etc) will easily feed a grid, and the "either coal or freeze" argument is simply a false one.

    It's actually amusing that someone would invoke future generations in the service of building more coal plants; with the climate altering and staple like water and agriculture at risk, I don't think another coal plant is doing future generations any favors at all.

  8. Coal is a living fossil at this point. All kinds of funny angles on that statement I guess. Like gas-burning cars I guess. I wrote a little song called "Cars are Gonna Be Extinct One Day" and I could lay it out here for you... but the core message is that they are pretty much done. They started not long ago, they lived not long, and they'll be done not far from now. We've been living in this boom that is a result of burning the earth's body... It's shortcut, convenience world really. Free work. Bottled up by time and intensification by geologic processes. It's gonna end though. That is a 100% mathematical fact. We're going to have to work out new methods of harnessing energy because the shortcut shit is diminishing. Fact dude. Fact. We can start early and allow for smoother transition, or we can learn by pain in sudden fashion.

    I was going to write more, but my kid is calling me.