Pennsylvania Focus: Stop Blackstone Coal
River Hill Power Company, a subsidiary of Sithe Global Power Company, LLC, which is partially owned by the Wall Street investment firm Blackstone, has planned a 290 megawatt cogeneration plant in Karthaus Township, Clearfield County. The plant will burn as much as 2 million tons of waste coal per year. Waste coal has a lower energy value than normal coal, resulting in the need to burn more of it to produce the same amount of energy, and also in less efficiency and more pollution. The only real reason waste coal is used for power generation is because it’s dirt cheap, literally, resulting in higher profits.
If built, River Hills will spew nearly 1.7 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, resulting in 85 million tons of greenhouse gases over the plant’s lifetime. In addition it will emit dangerous levels of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and mercury. The coal ash, the left over residue after combustion, will also pose serious health and environmental risks to those living in the area. This risk was tragically demonstrated last year with the massive TVA coal waste spill in Tennessee.
Because waste coal contains higher levels of impurities, the ratio of leftover coal ash is also much higher. Much of the coal ash generated in this country either winds up in landfills or is often pumped into old mining shafts, where it has been documented to negatively impact groundwater supplies. Coal ash contains up to 55 known carcinogens that can impair human fetus development. The Environmental Protection Agency is finally pursuing regulations for the safe disposal of coal ash, something the coal and utility industries have successfully fought for decades.
These levels of toxins from both River Hills’ smoke stack and the ash will endanger human health and endanger our trout streams. The plant will also prolong our addiction to fossil fuels while displacing real opportunities for renewable energy, and also burden ratepayers with higher electricity rates as carbon-based fuels become more expensive. Pennsylvanians cannot afford to foot the bill for such a toxic and unsustainable project.
While executives from Sithe and Blackstone say they expect to begin construction soon, they face the same unfavorable regulatory and economic climate that has led to the postponement or cancellation of numerous such plants around the country. But Pennsylvanians need to stand together in their opposition to River Hills to make sure our beautiful state is not harmed by short-sightedness and greed.
You can read about Pennsylvania's Energy Independence Initiative here.
You can also choose alternative energy for your own home use, creating more demand for clean, alternative energy and reducing demand for polluting energy. To find such options in Pennsylvania, click here and pick your energy provider from the list. Have your latest energy bill handy.