Black Eye for “Clean” Coal

Power plant

Coal burning power plants, like this New York City veteran, are fast becoming industrial dinosaurs because they do more harm than good. (Photo by futureatlas.com)

Last week, the East Kentucky Power Cooperative abandoned plans to build two coal-burning power plants in Clark County. This major setback for Big Coal in the heart of Big-Coal country, comes just a year after Ohio’s American Municipal Power gave up its attempt to build a coal fired electric plant on the Ohio River near Cleveland. And according to a Sierra Club tally, it brings the number of coal-fired generating plants planned, announced and then abandoned in recent years to over 100. Continue reading

End of Oil Gets Two Paragraphs

asteroid approaches earth

Hey Dinosaurs! Heads Up! (Image by andrewsrj/Flickr)

If the US Secretary of Homeland Security announced at a news conference that a large asteroid was bearing down on earth, bringing massive destruction to our world, would he get more than two paragraphs on the Reuters news service? That’s pretty much what happened last week.

Instead of the Homeland Security chief it was the energy chief for the European Union, Guenther Oettinger, who made the announcement. Not about an asteroid, of course, but about peak oil: “The amount of oil available globally, I think, has already peaked.” The imminent damage to the civilized world implicit in that statement is equivalent to the damage done to the dinosaurs by the last big asteroid, but he got exactly two brief paragraphs in Reuters. Continue reading

Breakdown Coming: More Signs and Portents

Photo by cjohnson7/Flickr

The stress on the global web of life applied by a century of industrialization continues to increase as systems within it begin to break down. Nearly buried in the industrial media, amid the relentless stream of industrial optimism — the “we can do it, technology will find a solution” school — that floods our receivers, these stories, this week, reveal glimpses of the dark underbelly of the American way of life to which the world aspires: Continue reading

60 Minutes on Natural Gas: A Couple Minutes Short

Not the 60 Minutes stopwatch

Not the 60 Minutes stopwatch. (Photo by William Warby/Flickr)

Now comes the venerable television news show 60 Minutes, leading the way to a consideration of the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing for so-called “natural” gas. They led the way if, that is, you don’t count the hard-hitting documentary Gasland that aired months ago on HBO, or the solid investigative reporting done by Pro Publica over recent years. Continue reading

EPA to Halliburton: Raise Your Right Hand

a natural gas well using hydraulic fracturing

It's not just a drilling rig, it's a fracking rig, and it can make your water flammable.

Halliburton, the world’s second largest oilfield services company, is not in the habit of having to answer to the United States government. Thus, typically, it ignored a request from the Environmental Protection Agency, back in September, to share information about the chemicals the company routinely injects into this country’s underground water sources in order to retriever more natural gas out — a process called hydraulic fracturing. Continue reading

Heading for the Last Roundup

Dumping chemicals on genetically mutilated plants, once the leading edge of industrial agriculture, may soon be its last ditch..

Of all the destructive scams perpetrated by industrial agriculture. none has been more profitable, or more destructive, than the massive Roundup round-robin perpetrated by Monsanto for 40 years. Now the scam appears to be falling apart. This is a story with the global reach of the housing bubble, all the inventive greed of the sub-prime mortgage stampede, and the tender mercies toward fellow humans of a Bernie Madoff, that now appears to be heading toward a Wall-Street-style meltdown. Continue reading

In a Maryland Village, The Street Not Taken

Urban sprawl

Against an ocean of urban and industrial sprawl, a tiny town (not pictured here) offers resistance.

Is it, as the town’s mayor and the Washington Post calls it, “the greenest street on the East Coast?” Or is it a tiny Band-Aid on an enormous, cancerous tumor? We’ll report, you decide.

The street in question, in Edmonston, Maryland (population1500), is three quarters of a mile long. It has just been re-engineered to be “green” with a year-long, 1.3-million-dollar project that was funded with stimulus money. Continue reading

Whistling Past the Oil Field

World energy demand is skyrocketing. Supplies are running out. Official response: not to worry.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the world is going to need one-third more energy, primarily from oil and coal, by 2035, as demand from China, India and the Middle East continues its dramatic growth. Most objective students of the world’s fossil fuels do not believe that the sources of that energy exist.

In its annual report titled World Energy Outlook, the IEA said “It is hard to overstate the growing importance of China in global energy markets.” Continue reading

The Continuing Assisted Suicide of the Chesapeake Bay

Exploited for decades as food source, sewer, dump and playground, the largest estuary in the world is near death.

Since the 1970s, Maryland, Virginia and the Federal government have from time to time announced new initiatives to “clean up” the Chesapeake Bay. The term is quaint, and brings to mind activities like hauling old tires and discarded refrigerators out of the water. Would that it were that easy. Continue reading

Obama Offers Unilateral Compromises

Why is this man compromising?

In his first national radio address after receiving what he called a “shellacking” by voters, President Obama said he would be willing to compromise with Republicans who, since his election two years ago, have refiused to compromise on anything; and who, in the days leading up to this election, chorused their intention to refuse to compromise on anything in the future. This raises the question: what is Obama’s strategy here? Continue reading