New Coal Plants in Midwest
- Under-the-radar Coal Plants Could Doom Air Pollution Control For
The Capital Times :: EDITORIAL :: 11A
Thursday, January 6, 2005
Dierk Polzin Madison
Dear Editor: The most under-reported story in 2004 in local media was
the boom in new coal-fired power plants planned for the Midwest.
Mention has been made quite often of the new plants on the south side
of Milwaukee in Oak Creek, but little mention has been made of 11
coal-fired plants in Illinois, five in Missouri and 11 more in
Kentucky. These plants have a productive life of 75 years and will
doom efforts to control carbon emissions. With the recent tripling of
natural gas prices, many more utilities are jumping on the coal
bandwagon to produce cheap and dirty electricity at 2 cents per
Illinois alone, which has been a nationwide leader in using nuclear
power, will increase its coal-fired electrical production 61 percent,
from 17,426 to 28,157 megawatts if all the planned projects are
completed. Across the country 36 states have plans to build 100 new
coal-fired plants, as tracked by the McIlvaine Co. and reported in
the New York Times last month.
Any efforts to comply with the Kyoto Protocol will soon be shot out
the window: According to the Christian Science Monitor, if all the
proposed plants in three key countries -- China, India and the United
States -- are built by 2012, they will emit an extra 2.7 billion tons
of carbon dioxide. In contrast, those three countries are supposed to
reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by some 483 million tons.
China alone is on track to add 562 coal-fired plants. The new coal
plants would burn 900 million extra tons of coal each year, which in
turn would emit 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the
What we will see here in Wisconsin downstream from the pollution from
Illinois and Missouri will not only add to carbon dioxide emissions
but will add to the problems we already have with acid rain and
mercury in the lakes and streams. The soot will add to the problem of
childhood asthma that has become an epidemic in the cities of the
northeast United States. We are at the cusp of creating a huge new
infrastructure both here and abroad that will make any attempt at
meeting Kyoto irrelevant.
Without strong local and regional opposition to these power plants
and a willingness to take on the utilities now, we will have created
a environmental legacy that even our grandchildren will have little
chance to fix.