Power Plants and the “War on Coal”
Special CU Guest Lecture: Richard Revesz
New York University School of Law
Lawrence King Professor of Law
Director, Institute for Policy Integrity
5:30 pm, February 18th
Wolf Law Building, Room 207
University of Colorado School of Law
Struggling for Air: Power Plants and the “War on Coal” chronicles the fateful decision by Congress to grandfather existing coal power plants from the permitting requirements to install modern pollution control technologies and the health, legal and political reverberations of this crucial decision including the long struggle of Republican and Democratic administrations alike to reclaim public health safeguards in light of the heavy multipollutant burden from existing power plants and the perverse and potent incentives grandfathering created for prolonging the utilization of aging, inefficient and high emitting existing plants.
Sharon Jacobs, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Law School
Vickie Patton, General Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund and Adjunct Professor, University of Colorado Law School
This event is free and open to the public but registration is required. Register here.
New mines would give the nation’s second largest coal company access to 170 million tons of publicly-owned coal
Coal would release 485 million tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere along with millions of cubic feet of methane emissions
The Forest Service’s own analysis estimates $13 billion in environmental and economic damages
Keep Colorado's Forests Untouched and Its Coal in the Ground
This petition is now closed.
End date: Jan 15, 2016
Signatures collected: 89
Keep Our Forests Untouched
Explore the area around Paonia, and you’ll find some of the Western Slope’s most beautiful country. That’s why in 2012, the area was included in 4.2 million acres of National Forest that were set aside under the Colorado Roadless Rule.
The Roadless Rule was intended to conserve Colorado’s forest for future generations but a Forest Service proposal threatens to give Arch Coal access to thousands of acres of roadless National Forest for new mines.
Keep Coal in the Ground
China recently announced a 3 year ban on new coal mining. The Obama administration should also halt new coal leases, but these new mines would give Arch Coal access to 170 million tons of publicly-owned coal. When burned, this coal would release 485 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere along with millions of cubic feet of methane emissions.
We have until January 15th to tell the Forest Service: keep our forests untouched and keep this coal in the ground! Act now to protect Colorado’s forests from new coal mining.
“Ultimately, if we’re gonna prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re gonna have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground.” – President Obama, upon rejecting the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline
The renewal of tax credits for wind and solar has become a real possibility as Congressional leaders will vote this week to approve a deal on spending and tax credits before leaving the capital for holiday recess.
The solar investment tax credit and the wind production tax credit have helped to spur unprecedented job growth and significant investments in clean energy. An expiration of these tax credits would mean a painful contraction of both industries, at a time when the action to mitigate climate change – and the nation’s economic health – can ill afford a major setback.
More information regarding the tax credits can be found below the petition on this page.
The solar investment tax credit and the wind production tax credit that Clean Energy Action and allies supported were both extended as part of a broad deal on tax credits and spending. The solar and wind tax credits are expected to increase wind and solar installations by 39 GW over the next 5 years.
More Information on the Solar Investment Tax Credit
The investment tax credit provides a 30% tax credit on the total cost of residential, commercial and utility-scale solar installations. It provides individuals or businesses involved with a solar project a dollar-for-dollar reduction in income taxes. The U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association has a wealth of information on the success of the solar investment tax credit (ITC), including these highlights:
In the last 4 years, solar employment has nearly doubled (it’s up 86%)
Solar installations have increased 1600% since the ITC was implemented in 2006
A 5 year renewal of the ITC is projected to add 95 GW of solar energy to the U.S. grid.
More Information on the Wind Production Tax Credit
The production tax credit (PTC) is a performance-based tax incentive providing $.023 for each kilowatt hour generated by wind energy. The PTC illustrates the need for a long-term extension for both tax policies: when Congress failed to renew the PTC in 2013, wind installations fell 92% and 30,000 workers lost their jobs. Furthermore, the wind PTC has been renewed for 1 or 2 year periods, leading to a lack of long-term visibility for the wind industry. Still, the PTC has been instrumental in providing huge benefits to our economy and our environment. According to the American Wind Energy Association’s site, the PTC delivered enormous growth in wind energy and savings for consumers:
Nearly 30% of new generating capacity in the last 5 years has come from wind
Wind now accounts for 4.4% of U.S. electricity
Wind has saved consumers billions of dollars in fuel costs, including $2 billion in savings over 2 days in 2014’s as the “Polar Vortex” disrupted natural gas supplies in the Midwest
For more information on the PTC, visit the American Wind Energy Association’s website.
The end of 2015 represents an important milestone for Clean Energy Action. Founded in 2005 to oppose the construction of Colorado’s last coal-fired power plant, Comanche 3, we are proud of the organization that has evolved over a decade of powerful action and catalytic research on behalf of our climate.
As we celebrate a decade of speaking truth to power, this report focuses on CEA’s most significant achievements with an emphasis on the last two years.
Even as we pause to reflect on these accomplishments, we cannot ignore the growing urgency of the climate crisis nor can we forget the widespread damage our changing climate has already inflicted.
While we have been able to accomplish a great deal with very little thus far, even greater change is needed. We need to continue to grow our revenue and expand our appeal in order to hire new staff, deepen our research and multiply our impact. We look to you for continued and generous support – together we can accelerate the pace of change in this next, most pivotal decade.
Colorado used to be counted among national leaders on climate change and renewable energy, with citizens voting in favor of a 2004 initiative to establish a renewable energy standard for qualifying utilities. These standards were then increased multiple times by the Colorado Legislature to their current level, 30% renewable generation for investor-owned utilities by 2030 and 20% for large electric co-operatives.
Now, as governors from three states – California, New York and Colorado – release plans or sign legislation related to climate change and renewable energy, it is clear that Colorado no longer leads on these issues.
Jerry Brown, California
Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 350, landmark legislation to reduce air pollution and increase renewable energy. This legislation requires his state to:
Generate 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030
Double energy efficiency of homes, offices and factories
Incentivize utilities to install electric charging stations
Authorize the California grid operator, CAISO, to transform itself into a regional energy market, potentially spurring renewable energy development across the West
Joined California in signing the Under 2 MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), a compact between states, provinces and cities around the world committing them to limit emissions in line with a 2 degrees Celsius increase in global average temperature, vowing to reduce emissions between 80% and 95% below 1990 levels by 2050 (and/or below 2 metric tons per capita annually by 2050
Declared his intention to link the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap and trade market reducing emissions in nine Northeastern states, with other markets in California, Quebec and Ontario
Committed to putting solar on 150,000 homes and businesses by 2020
Install renewable energy systems at all 64 State University of New York campuses
Lacks specific emissions reductions goals. While previously Governor Ritter had set a goal of 80% emissions reductions by 2050, Hickenlooper’s plan skirts even referencing these goals specifically
Proposes no new initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Celebrates mining, oil and gas as pillars of Colorado’s economy
Projects that by 2030 Colorado’s emissions will increase 77% from 1990 levels
Where to from here for Colorado?
Despite its deficiencies, Hickenlooper’s plan proudly states that “Colorado is on the right track.” So where will the Governor’s business-as-usual approach take Colorado?
Interestingly, buried in the Plan itself is the answer. Colorado, famous for its beauty in all seasons, is on track for an average temperature rise of more than 6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, making seasonal temperatures in Denver most “closely resemble… Albuquerque.”
Colorado has already seen the devastating effects of climate change on our state: the ravages of pine beetle infestations, more intense floods and more destructive fires. If the Governor wishes to preserve the Colorado that Coloradans know and love, he ought to listen to what leaders on climate and renewable energy in New York and California are saying.
Since Governor Hickenlooper’s Energy Office has stressed that this plan is work in progress one can only hope that future versions of the plan include goals based in science and concrete actions to achieve those goals. States that are “on the right track” – New York and California – have these goals and initiatives. Colorado ought to as well.
Accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy