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posted by martyb on Thursday November 20 2014, @06:24PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the do-coal-plants-come-from-coal-seeds? dept.

Christina Nunez reports in National Geographic that in the past four years, at least 29 coal-fired plants in 10 states have switched to natural gas or biomass while another 54 units, mostly in the US Northeast and Midwest, are slated to be converted over the next nine years. By switching to natural gas, plant operators can take advantage of a relatively cheap and plentiful US supply. The change can also help them meet proposed federal rules to limit heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, given that electricity generation from natural gas emits about half as much carbon as electricity from coal does.

But not everyone is happy with the conversions. The Dunkirk plant in western New York, slated for conversion to natural gas, is the focus of a lawsuit by environmental groups that say the $150 million repowering will force the state's energy consumers to pay for an unnecessary facility. "What we're concerned about is that the Dunkirk proceeding is setting a really, really bad precedent where we're going to keep these old, outdated, polluting plants on life support for political reasons," says Christopher Amato. Dunkirk's operator, NRG, wanted to mothball the plant in 2012, saying it was not economical to run. The utility, National Grid, said shutting it down could make local power supplies less reliable, a problem that could be fixed by boosting transmission capacity—at a lower cost than repowering Dunkirk. Meanwhile the citizens of Dunkirk are happy the plant is staying open. “We couldn’t let it happen. We would lose our tax base, we would lose our jobs, we would lose our future,” said State Sen. Catharine M. Young. “This agreement saves us. It gives us a foundation on which to build our economy. It gives us hope. This is our community’s Christmas miracle!”

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  • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by DeathMonkey on Thursday November 20 2014, @06:57PM

    by DeathMonkey (1380) on Thursday November 20 2014, @06:57PM (#118196) Journal

    But, but, but....Fracking!
     
    There is potential, but zero confirmed cases, of groundwater contamination!

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Thursday November 20 2014, @07:27PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Thursday November 20 2014, @07:27PM (#118211) Journal

      I don't usually complain about moderation but it seems like if I am so completely wrong to be considered flamebait you could have easily posted a rebuttal instead.
       
      I challenge you to provide evidence of groundwater contamination due to fracking. Or, if that is not your concern, provide evidence of whatever it is you are concerned about.

  • (Score: 2) by Covalent on Thursday November 20 2014, @07:26PM

    by Covalent (43) on Thursday November 20 2014, @07:26PM (#118210) Journal

    This is the real potential game changer. Natural gas is better than coal from a carbon standpoint, but it's still carbon positive.

    But biomass is about as close to carbon zero as burning anything can possibly get. But the article says nothing about the 10 plants that are burning biomass. Is it garbage? Agricultural waste? Forestry waste? Alien corpses?

    Natural gas gets all of the news because of fracking and freaking about fracking (see what I did there?).

    But biomass can be really close to carbon neutral and thus should be getting more attention.

    --
    You can't rationally argue somebody out of a position they didn't rationally get into.
    • (Score: 2) by paulej72 on Thursday November 20 2014, @08:39PM

      by paulej72 (58) on Thursday November 20 2014, @08:39PM (#118242) Journal
      I am sorry, but burning of alien corpses is not carbon neutral. It is just like burning of fossil fuels as the carbon source was not from here (or previously sequestered). Please hand in your SJW and Environmental Evangelist cards and present your self for flogging.
      --
      Team Leader for SN Development
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20 2014, @10:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20 2014, @10:19PM (#118279)

        I think that is why he wanted to know more about it, because if it was alien corpses (space) that would be carbon positive, if it was alien corpses (Uruguay) that would be carbon neutral.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday November 20 2014, @10:40PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 20 2014, @10:40PM (#118291) Journal

        t is just like burning of fossil fuels as the carbon source was not from here (or previously sequestered).

        You must have meant "Not from NOW, because it was sequestered".

        We have zero net incoming carbon, measured on a planetary scale.

         

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 2) by cmn32480 on Thursday November 20 2014, @07:28PM

    by cmn32480 (443) <{cmn32480} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday November 20 2014, @07:28PM (#118212) Journal

    As with many things, this is a case of tunnel vision. The Sierra Club sees only the thing that they care about, and damn everything else. "Everything else" includes the local economy, the stability of the New York power grid, that this is a significant improvement for over the burning of coal, and that there is no currently viable option for something better to replace these plants.

    The Natural Gas conversion is a nice middle ground as it continues to deliver jobs and keeps the ability to feed the power grid above the current need, as well as reducing the greenhouse gas emissions. Added bonus, it will be using American Natural Gas,, adn that will provide jobs elsewhere in the country.

    In the eyes of the Sierra Club, it seems that all coal plants are dirty and should be banished to hell, and if that destroys the communities that depend on them that is just too bad. But God forbid we have collateral damage against animals. That is an atrocity too great to contemplate.

    From my perspective, this is a win for all. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, a town doesn't get decimated, and the grid stays healthy.

    --
    "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
    • (Score: 1) by cellocgw on Thursday November 20 2014, @08:11PM

      by cellocgw (4190) on Thursday November 20 2014, @08:11PM (#118229)

      Yep, people invariably whine about the local economy -- whether it be antiquated power plants or new gambling casinos -- with little to no understanding of how economics works, let alone the effect their objectivist behavior has on neighbors. Would these folks be just as insistent on "keeping jobs" if they were dumping toxic waste all over the rest of the region? This is not an idle example, as controlling smokestack emissions was based on exactly this problem. Or, for another example, The incredibly ecological disaster visited on Senator Turtle's state as toxic metal waste is dumped everywhere from the strip-mining coal operations he so solidly suppots.

        It's really kind of sad that the Dunkirk residents can't envision any other business model for their community.

      --
      Physicist, cellist, former OTTer (1190) resume: https://app.box.com/witthoftresume
      • (Score: 2) by cmn32480 on Thursday November 20 2014, @08:22PM

        by cmn32480 (443) <{cmn32480} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday November 20 2014, @08:22PM (#118235) Journal

        I see what you did there. And you are correct. My comment was very one sided.

        In this instance, meeting half way with the transition of the coal plant to natural gas, seems to be a fair compromise to keep the town running and reduce the emissions. And yes, the byproducts of coal mining are certainly some nasty stuff.

        --
        "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
      • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Friday November 21 2014, @06:41AM

        by Hairyfeet (75) <reversethis-{moc ... {8691tsaebssab}> on Friday November 21 2014, @06:41AM (#118401) Journal

        DaFuq? Please explain to the class how EXACTLY a NATURAL GAS plant is gonna cause all this devastation of which you speak?

          This is the problem with the green movement in a nutshell, its the same thing that happened with PETA that went from "food animals shouldn't suffer" to "seakittens", or how MADD went from "drunk driving is a bad thing" to "our goal is prohibition". In group after group it gets taken over by what we now call "social justice warriors" (or as we used to know 'em "the batshit brigade") and what WAS a good and laudable goal gets co-opted by totally batshit looney tunes which wreck the movement and destroy it better than any government boot.

        --
        ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday November 20 2014, @09:37PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 20 2014, @09:37PM (#118254) Journal

      In the eyes of the Sierra Club, it seems that all coal plants are dirty and should be banished to hell, and if that destroys the communities that depend on them that is just too bad. But God forbid we have collateral damage against animals. That is an atrocity too great to contemplate.

      Exactly.
      As exhibited by their continued objection when the coal plants are made clean by conversion to NatGas, it is clear that the objection was never about the pollution, but rather the mere existence of humans.

      A perfect, clean, safe, and cheap solution, should such ever come along, would be similarly and vociferously opposed by these people because that solution would allow humans to continue to exist.

      Yet these people go home each night and flip on the light switch, crank up the heat, and get on their cell phones and computers. If only people with objections had to live within the demands of their own world view.

      We need a bridge technology until renewable energy can come on line in quantity and scale so that we can shut down all the coal, gas, and oil plants. Since nobody will let any nuclear plants be built any more, gas it is.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by urza9814 on Monday November 24 2014, @06:34PM

        by urza9814 (3954) on Monday November 24 2014, @06:34PM (#119500) Journal

        As exhibited by their continued objection when the coal plants are made clean by conversion to NatGas, it is clear that the objection was never about the pollution, but rather the mere existence of humans.

        Did you miss the part where both the plant operator and the local utility ALSO want to shut down the plant? They're not keeping this plant open to produce power. They can get the power cheaper elsewhere. They're keeping it open solely because some politician doesn't want their constituents to lose their jobs. Even if it means everyone in the area pays more for electricity and suffers from pollution. Even if there are cheaper and better ways to get that power. They want to keep it open just because it exists. That's it. That's their only justification. And THIS is the logic Soylent users are subscribing to? REALLY???