New coal plants are the most urgent threat to our dangerously fragile climate. Just yesterday, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appeals board issued a ruling that will essentially halt the construction of new coal plants in the United States for the near term. They were responding because in Utah, yet another dirty plant was proposed without any concern for it's dangerous CO2 emissions. Like any dangerous substance, the EPA appeals board said that CO2 emissions should be limited with the "best available technology," for all new plants -- which applies to the entire fleet of plants currently proposed in the U.S. Kudos to the legal team at the Sierra Club for pushing the EPA to make this ruling happen.
In January of 2007, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) announced that there were 151 proposed coal plants slated to be built in the U.S. -- their construction would drastically increase U.S. carbon footprint, and cripple any chance of effectively dealing with climate change in time to avert runaway feedback loops that could severely alter life on Earth as we know it. In the last two years, an unlikely coalition of individuals, non-profit groups, investment banks and government officials have managed to stop 80 out of the 151 proposed plants.
Earlier this year, we saw the i-banking world reassessing their portfolios to include "climate risk." They see the necessity of dramatic carbon reductions, and are planning accordingly. They realize that factoring the cost of pollution into their books is good business, because change is coming when it comes to carbon regulation. From Enron's epic failure, to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, we are seeing a widespread failure in our traditional market systems. And now we are playing with sub-prime investments in sub-prime dirty coal plants.
As we recover from this economic crisis, the only way forward is one where we're being honest about the way we calculate risk, and the true costs of doing business. Finally, i-banker on Wall Street sees the same writing on the wall as the coal activist in Appalachia, who sees flattened mountains, toxic bath water, and a warming world. As of yesterday, that reality is being reflected by our government as well.
Here at 1Sky we're ready to move beyond coal. More than ever, we're seeing that a broad swath of society supports a decisive shift from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy. We can create market certainty, investment opportunities, and green pathways out of poverty with a just and equitable green recovery program. We're going to need capital, we're going to need workers, and more than anything else, we're going to need help. Check out www.1Sky.org for a list of our 200 allied organizations, and sign up to learn how we can join forces to fight for a better future.
Follow Gillian Caldwell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Gillian1Sky