Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Green, not brown!!

The proposed new coal plant in Early County in southwest Georgia has moved into the regulatory stage. This is the last chance to stop the state from building its first coal plant in 25 years. Environmental groups, including Environment Georgia, haven't given up the fight to block the plant.

In this Greg Bleustein AP article, proponents say that Georgia needs this plant in order to meet its growing energy needs. They also say that its cheaper to do it this way until green energy becomes more affordable.

Jobs are another angle they are taking. Early County has a high rate of poverty and the 100 new jobs created will help the local economy.

But what about the effects on the local citizenry as a whole? What about the effects on the environment? And what does this say about our commitment to make green energy more widespread as efficiently as possible, as soon as possible?

Bluestein points out the ugly side of the proposed Early County coal plant:

"But it also threatens an annual release of more than 10 tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming, along with 6,400 pounds of smog-causing sulfur dioxide and 220 pounds of mercury."

Sounds lovely, doesn't it?

LS Power, the New Jersey based company that wants to build the coal plant, calls this a "bridge to the future." More likely, its a bridge from our wallet to their bank account. They will build the plant and then they're gone. They don't have to directly live with the consequences of having a coal plant in their backyard. It won't be their blue skies threatened with brown and black smack, dust, and waste. It won't be their lungs that will be filled with it. And it won't be their vital rivers and lakes that will see their mercury levels rise.

Unfortunately, it is true that its cheaper to build a coal plant than it is to build a solar energy station. But when you factor in other potential costs, such as health related costs, a coal plant doesn't seem like a good option either. Then there are the opportunity costs to help further a cause that will benefit future generations, and not just add on to the environmental nightmare that we're preparing for them.

"Ajeet Rohatgi, director of a Georgia Tech center that researches photovoltaics, said solar power production is expected to be as cheap as fossil fuel generation by 2050. He said it's up to state leaders to back incentives now to nurture the industry."

There are some who say that we're so far away from green energry and alternative fuels being dominant sources of energy. But as Rohatgi points out, we have to "nurture" transition. It won't happen over night. The longer we wait on things like this, the longer that "bridge" has to be.

Hopefully this plant will be stopped dead in its tracks along with the 150 or so other coal plants being built around the country. Otherwise, we're digging our graves and the graves of future generations that much deeper.

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