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.