Category Archives: Coal

Videos: Right to Clean Water, Waterkeeper Alliance Conference 2022-06-11

It was standing room only, as presenters from India, Bangladesh, Colombia, and the U.S. (me) discussed different approaches to rights to clean water and problems such rights might solve, in a panel at the Waterkeeper Alliance Global Conference 2022, Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Washington, DC.

Update 2022-06-16: Fixed typo (Colombia, not Ecuador).

[Presenters and Questions]
Presenters and Questions

Many thanks to Rodrigo de la O, Maule Itata Coastkeeper, Chile, for using my phone to video the session.

And congratulations, Rodrigo, on winning the Terry Backer award!

Below are the videos of each presenter and some questions. First a video playlist, then individual videos with a few more pictures.

Here’s a WWALS video playlist:

Continue reading

When are we going to see a real effect on climate change? –Suwannee Riverkeeper to Southern Company 2022-05-25

Apparently I asked some interesting questions to the corporate parent of Georgia Power. I got Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning to admit he had already given a partial answer, even though SO is still reluctant to deploy renewable energy and storage at scale.

Surprisingly, when I asked him afterwards, Fanning said he had never heard of Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson and his work on powering the world on wind, water, solar, and storage power and nothing else. Jacobson’s group has produced plans more than 100 countries and each U.S. state, including Georgia.

Maria Saporta, Saporta Report, May 30, 2022 6:17 pm, Southern Co.’s annual meeting a model for corporate America,

[Tom Fanning responds to John S. Quarterman]
Tom Fanning responds to John S. Quarterman

…About 200 people attended the annual meeting,which lasted two hours and forty-five minutes. After the official part of the meeting was over, there was a question-and-answer period, which Fanning said was his favorite part. He engaged with shareholders — 17 of whom asked questions or made comments, several of them critical of various Southern Co.’s practices — be it unlined coal ash ponds across the system, its investment in the Plant Vogtle nuclear plant or a need to be more aggressive in expanding its renewable energy portfolio.

[John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper]
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper

“Tom Fanning is really, really good at his job as you have observed — he’s unflappable and always hospitable,” said John Quarterman of Lowndes County (an environmentalist and shareholder) as he addressed the meeting.

Continue reading

Valdosta council opposes swamp mine plan –VDT 2021-11-17

The Valdosta resolution could influence the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), especially through elected state and national officials. So it doesn’t matter that the head of the LLC from Alabama that wants to strip mine next to the Okefenokee says that resolution won’t affect his decisions.

You can help influence by talking to your elected officials or by writing to GA-EPD: https://wwals.net/?p=55092

Terry Richards, Valdosta Daily Times, November 17, 2021, Valdosta council opposes swamp mine plan,

[Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson; Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman; Map: Okefenokee Swamp, Valdosta, mine site]
Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson; Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman; Map: Okefenokee Swamp, Valdosta, mine site

VALDOSTA — An Alabama-based mining concern said a resolution by Valdosta’s city council won’t stop them from starting a controversial South Georgia mining project.

“The Valdosta City Council’s resolution has no impact on our plans whatsoever,” said Steve Ingle, president of Twin Pines Minerals, in a statement.

Valdosta City Council voted Nov. 11 to oppose Twin Pines’ plans to start a mining project near the Okefenokee Swamp, about 75 miles from Valdosta. The vote was Continue reading

Video: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest on Steve Nichols Radio 2020-06-23

On the Steve Nichols radio show we talked about how song submissions are open until July 8, 2020, for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. We also talked about fishing, bacterial contamination and mercury in the rivers, coal plants, solar power, and upcoming WWALS outings on Banks Lake and the Suwannee River.

[Flyer]
Flyer

Tickets to listen to the finalists play 7-9PM Saturday, August, 22, 2020, at the Turner Center Art Park in Valdosta, GA, are $10 online (children under 12 free) or $12 at the door. For VIP tables send email to song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.

The Steve Nichols show was the first to reveal the judges are selected. Continue reading

FPL and JEA exiting Plant Scherer Unit 4 near Macon, GA 2020-06-26

The biggest, dirtiest, coal plant in the country is losing the owners of one of its four units: Plant Scherer, near Juliette, Georgia, north of Macon. Florida Power & Light (FPL) and the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA), are bailing out of their 76.4% and 23.6% shares of unit 4, by January 2022. Somebody else may buy into unit 4, and thus Georgia Power may keep it running. But maybe not, considering the reason for FPL and JEA exiting is that the plant is no longer economical to run. Meanwhile, where will the coal ash go?

At least maybe soon less mercury will go into the air and come down in the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers and the Okefenokee Swamp.

JEA: Plant Scherer
Photo: JEA. Plant Scherer, located near Macon, Georgia, is operated by the Georgia Power Company. Unit 4, one of the four steam units located at the site, is partially owned by JEA. Unit 4 uses coal to produce JEA’s 200 MW portion of electricity output, which is delivered to Jacksonville over large, high-voltage electric transmission lines.

This move was signaled in FPL’s Ten Year Power Plant Site Plan 2020 – 2029, Submitted To: Florida Public Service Commission, April 2020:

(i) Retirement of Existing Generating Units That Are No Longer Economic to Operate:

…the retirement of FPL’s ownership portion (approximately 76%) of the coal-fueled Scherer Unit 4 unit in Georgia is planned by January 2022. FPL’s ownership portion of this unit is approximately 630 MW.

The news is not all good. Brendan Rivers, wjct, 26 June 2020, JEA Approves Plan To Close Unit At Plant Scherer, 1 Of Nation’s Biggest Carbon Emitters,

The transaction approved by the board includes JEA entering into a Continue reading

Last proposed U.S. coal plant ended 2020-04-15

Eight years after its twin in Ben Hill County got cancelled, another one also proposed by Power4Georgians is ended.

This was the last coal plant proposed in the U.S. Good riddance. On with solar power!

Plant Washington sign
Photo: Ray Henry, AP, in Georgia developer still trying to build coal plant, 2014-11-16.

And if GA-EPD can say time’s up, the Army Corps can say it for Twin Pines Minerals’ proposed titanium mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, and FERC can do that for Sabal Trail’s Phase II. Remember, only a decade ago Big Coal seemed invincible. Next to fall: “natural” gas.

Nedra Rhone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 15 April 2020, State EPD closes book on proposed coal plant in Middle Georgia,

In a March 6 letter addressed to Power4Georgians — most recently headed by former Georgia Board of Regents member Dean Alford — the state Environmental Protection Division denied an April 2016 request to extend the plant’s construction permit. The project had been dormant for several years, and the letter represents the paperwork to officially close the file, said Kevin Chambers, spokesman for the EPD. The permit revocation is final, and a new permit application would be required for any future project, he said.

“I am thankful for the EPD’s decision so we can move on from this outdated and unnecessary project,” said Katherine Cummings, a member of the Washington County-based Fall-line Alliance for a Clean Environment (FACE) and a longtime critic of the 12-year-old project. “Plant Washington posed a threat to family budgets, community health, and natural resources in and beyond Middle Georgia. It’s certainly a moment of closure and relief that this polluting giant will never be built.”

The bottom line: Continue reading

Georgia Power proposes connection fee hike

Georgia Power is back with a proposed mandatory connection fee hike for everyone! This is after they tried a couple years ago to get a mandatory solar power connection fee, but Sierra Club fought that off with town halls around the state.

Bryan Jacob, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, 29 August 2019, Georgia Power Wants You to Pay More For Using Less Energy,

fee hike graphic

In June, Georgia Power submitted a proposal to charge its customers for an additional $2.2 billion. A very troubling part of Georgia Power’s proposal: they propose to nearly double the mandatory monthly fee (which is hidden on most bills), from the current $10/month to $17.95/month for residential customers.

Customers must pay this fee no matter how much or how little energy is actually used, paying at least Continue reading

WCTV on mining proposed near Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge 2019-08-21

“Because of the coal plants in Georgia, there’s mercury deposition on the surface of the ground for years. If they go stir all that up, that could run in to the swamp,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman. “Why should we risk the Okefenokee, its boating, its fishing, its birding.”

Quoted by a reporter based in Valdosta, GA for WCTV in Tallahassee, FL, Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 21 August 2019, Heavy mining facility proposed near Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge,

[Sign]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Okefenokee NWR Entrance Sign, 2019-07-18

…Last week the Charlton County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution of support for the project. County officials said the reason is because Charlton County does not have many industry opportunities of its own, and many residents leave to surrounding counties for work. officials said the 150 jobs created from the project could be beneficial to the county.

The Okefenokee Swamp is the headwater for the Suwannee River, which is why community members across the region are fighting the proposal, saying it could have consequences in both states.

In the proposal, the Continue reading

Georgia PSC again increases solar power by Georgia Power 2019-07-16

The PSC required more than Georgia Power and Southern Company requested, although they still do not seem to understand that solar power is growing exponentially like compound interest.

[Vote]
See Stephen Fowler, GPB, July 16, 2019, Public Service Commission Adds More Solar To Georgia Power’s Energy Plan.

In 2013 Georgia only had some nominal solar energy online, less than 300 megawatts. In the 2013 IRP, the Commission added 525 megawatts of solar energy. Three years later, in the 2016 IRP, another 1,600 megawatts were added. By the end of 2019, Georgia should have a total of 2,400 megawatts of solar and other renewable energy on the grid. The 2,210 megawatts approved Tuesday will nearly double Georgia’s level of renewable energy by the end of 2022.

Doubling every two years is merely not falling farther behind. And what about after 2022? What’s the plan for more than doubling again by 2024, etc.? WWALS asked for Continue reading

Titanium mine near Okefenokee NWR 2019-07-12

Update 2019-07-18: The complete application is now on the WWALS website; you can comment now.

Friday, July 12, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a Public Notice for Application SAS-2018-00554 for a titanium mine southeast of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Thursday I attended a meeting at the Okefenokee NWR near Folkston about that, and I met with agents of the miners back in April. The application is about the little purple area on this map they showed us at the end of April:

[Context]
Context

But that’s not the whole story; see below. Today this mine proposal is on the agenda for the WWALS board meeting.

Here are some things the application doesn’t tell you: Continue reading