AUSTIN, Texas - February 5 - A number of ads opposing the construction of coal plants in Texas ran in major daily papers across the state today. A group called Texas Clean Sky Coalition funded the ad buy and cited facts and analyses found on Environmental Defense's website. Environmental Defense is not a member of this coalition, was not aware these ads were being designed and was not notified that Environmental Defense would be mentioned.
"We don't know who they are or where they're from," said Environmental Defense regional director Jim Marston.
"We're encouraged that another loud voice is joining the chorus against TXU's dirty coal plants," said Marston. "But we're concerned that some readers might infer that Environmental Defense participated in the design or funding for these ads. These print ads could be interpreted as a complete rejection of ANY coal technology. We do not oppose all coal plants. We oppose the old-style dirty plants that TXU plans to build, but we have actively supported the consideration of IGCC coal plants that have much lower emissions. TXU has refused to consider IGCC."
"Environmental Defense has reviewed most of the ads that have come to our attention and that cite our facts and figures, and they appear to be accurate quotes," Marston said. "Still, we recommend that people visit www.stopTXU.com to get information about Environmental Defense's position on coal."
Following is Environmental Defense's position on clean coal technology. The rest of the text of this document comes from the "Better, More Responsible Choices are Available" factsheet.
There is something called "clean coal," but it's not what TXU is planning for these 11 plants. Several of the nation’s largest power companies are adopting coal gasification technology that not only burns cleaner but allows relatively easy capture of the carbon dioxide that is produced. All of TXU's plants would be old fashioned coal plants.
Nationwide, there are currently applications to build 25 new power plants using coal-gasification (integrated gasification combined cycle, or IGCC) technology. AEP, the nation’s largest power company, is planning new IGCC plants, and Xcel, the nation’s fourth-largest power generator, announced in mid-August that it not only will build a new IGCC plant in Colorado using the same Western coal that most of TXU’s plants would use, but it will also be the first to equip a plant to capture much of the carbon dioxide the unit produces so it can be permanently sequestered underground. These trends show that IGCC technology is available today, but TXU CEO John Wilder has called it a "gleam in someone's eye" and refused to consider it for any TXU's proposed plants.
What Other Power Companies are Saying About Coal Gasification
Investing in clean coal technologies like coal gasification would alleviate many of the environmental concerns of coal-fired power plants. But John Wilder has stated that coal gasification technology is unproven. He called it "a gleam in someone's eye."
That someone might be the CEO of American Electric Power, the nation's largest electric utility. AEP has filed for permits for two gasification plants.
From American Electric Power (AEP) website:
“IGCC is a clean coal technology that combines two technologies – coal gasification and combined cycle – to offer the potential to achieve the environmental benefits of gas-fired generation with the thermal performance of a combined-cycle plant, yet with the low fuel cost associated with coal. The technology offers potential for future retrofit of carbon-capture systems at a lower capital cost and with lower efficiency losses when compared with conventional pulverized coal technologies.”
Or maybe that someone is the CEO of Tampa Electric, a company that has been operating a gasification plant since 1995.
From the Tampa Electric website:
“The outcome is power production requiring 15 percent less fuel, achieving 10-12 percent more efficiency than normal generating stations. And, by reusing exhaust heat, additional electricity is produced. This combined-cycle process is the most cost-efficient method today of producing commercial electricity. It is also the most environmentally friendly with respect to air emissions."
Or maybe it's Richard Kelly, CEO of Xcel Energy. He announced that Xcel would build a gasification plant using the very same coal that John Wilder has said is unusable in gasification plants.
Wilder's claims about cleaner alternatives simply don't add up. The truth is that the technology IS available. But TXU doesn't want to use other companies' technology. To maximize its profits, it wants to only use technology IT ALREADY OWNS, which means the cheap, dirty coal technology it's been using for years.
Texans and the rest of the world shouldn't have to suffer the health and environmental consequences of TXU's "our way or the highway" position on technology. TXU should use the best available technology to clean up its dirty plants. And coal gasification is available today.