From Bruce Nilles, director of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. This post was co-written by Tim Wagner of Resource Media
Nearly a year after the Bush administration left office, we're still dealing with one of their fossil fuel legacies: an attempt to burden our economy and our climate with over 150 new dirty coal-fired power plants.
But of those 150 new plants proposed in Bush's early years, we've seen over 100 of them cancelled or shelved indefinitely for a variety of reasons, including increased public opposition to dirty coal and the economic reality of trying to construct an unnecessary multi-billion dollar (yes, I said 'billion') power plant that will emit millions of tons of potentially-costly greenhouse gases every single year for a decades-long lifetime.
In other words, new coal plants in the 21st century make no sense. And yet apparently some giant Wall Street equity firms haven't quite figured that out - including JPMorgan Chase and the Blackstone Group. Both corporations are funding the construction of new coal-fired power plants across the U.S. Let's focus on Blackstone, the firm with the most proposed plants.
As the majority owner and financier behind Sithe Global Power Company, LLC, a private energy developer with a heavy fossil fuels portfolio, Blackstone is willing to drop billions of investors' dollars into three large and dirty coal plants: the 300-megawatt River Hill waste coal burner in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania; the 750-megawatt Toquop coal burner located just outside the beautiful deserts of Mesquite, Nevada; and the giant 1500-megawatt Desert Rock coal burner on the Navajo Reservation in northwestern New Mexico.
The largest of these dinosaurs, the Desert Rock plant in New Mexico, has had its air permit completely remanded by the Environmental Protection Agency itself after it was issued by the agency in the waning days of the Bush administration. The reason? A completely inadequate environmental analysis as required by the Clean Air Act.
In addition, the 470-mile Navajo Transmission Project needed to transmit Desert Rock's power to Las Vegas and other markets has also seen its required environmental study and permit remanded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs due to similar analysis inadequacies.
And just last week, the Department of Energy (DOE) denied a $450 million grant request from Sithe Global to make one of Desert Rock's generating units into a proposed carbon capture and storage pilot project. The Desert Rock plant simply did not meet the criteria as required by DOE.
What does all this mean for the proposed $4+ billion Desert Rock coal plant, the Blackstone Group and its other coal plants? In today's economy, where credit has been severely pinched and we have a citizenry that is crying out for more clean renewable energy to help thwart off the worst of climate change and to stimulate our economy, Desert Rock and other new coal plants are a foolish bet.
And while Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman is making these foolish bets, his neighbor down the street Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, is financing destructive mountaintop removal coal mining and other risky new coal plants like Desert Rock.
So to get into the spirit of the season, tomorrow, Santa and the Sierra Club need your help to deliver our holiday greetings, complete with stockings full of coal, to Mr. Schwarzman and Mr. Dimon at their companies' respective headquarters in New York City. It's clear they both deserve coal in their stockings.
We'll be in front of the Blackstone Group headquarters in the morning to ask Mr. Schwarzman to get off our naughty list by ending plans for Blackstone's three proposed coal plants.
After the Blackstone Group meeting we'll convene at noon in front of JPMorgan Chase headquarters to encourage Mr. Dimon to stop supporting dangerous mountaintop removal coal mining and risky new coal plants.
If you can't attend our rally in New York on December 15th you can visit our websites to take action. Let's tell these CEOs that our communities don't want coal for the holidays, and neither should they.