Energy companies have proposed building a fleet of new coal-fired power plants across America. As of June 2006, power producers have approximately 150 new coal-fired plants on the drawing board, representing a $137 billion investment and the capacity to supply power to 96 million homes.
If energy companies succeed in building even a fraction of these new power plants, it would have major impacts on America’s environment and economy. Further, this “coal rush” would consume investment dollars that could otherwise promote more sustainable energy sources.
Fortunately, alternatives exist that would reduce or eliminate the need for new coal-fired power plants. By funneling investment instead into improvements in energy efficiency and expansion of renewable energy, the U.S. can avoid the potential impacts of the “coal rush” and improve the economy, the environment and public health.
The “coal rush” would increase U.S. global warming pollution at a time when aggressive action is needed to reduce emissions.
When drafting the Clean Water Act in 1972, legislators set the goals of making all U.S. waterways fishable and swimmable by 1983 and eliminating the discharge of pollutants into the nation’s waterways by 1985. More than 30 years later, we are far from realizing the Clean Water Act’s original vision.
Using information provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, this report analyzes all major facilities violating their Clean Water Act permits between July 1, 2003 and December 31, 2004, reveals the type of pollutants they are discharging into our waterways, and details the extent to which these facilities are exceeding their permit levels.
More than two decades after the drafters of the Clean Water Act hoped that all waterways would be pollution-free, we find that facilities across the country continue to discharge more pollution into our waterways than allowed under the law.
In the American West, no other effect of climate disruption is as significant as how it endangers the region’s already scarce snowpacks and water supply. With the inherent vulnerability of the dry West to even small changes in the snow-water cycle, these risks alone present ample reason for Westerners to take action to protect this special region.
Rising oil prices are pinching the American economy. And, if many oil industry analysts are correct, prices won’t be coming back down any time soon. Indeed, it appears that the era of “cheap oil” may well be over.