Articals of interest to the coal industry.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cost of Fed regulations

Cost of Federal Regulation Exceeds $1 Trillion

Americans Burdened by Governments 10,000 Commandments�

Washington, D.C., July 9, 2007 A new Competitive Enterprise Institute report on federal regulation finds that the cost of federal regulations on consumers topped $1 trillion last year, nearly 10 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

In Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, author Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr. examines the whopping costs and burdens imposed by federal regulations. Among the report�s findings:

Given that 2006 government spending reached $2.654 trillion, the hidden tax of regulation now approaches half the level of federal spending itself.

Regulatory costs are more than quadruple the $248 billion budget deficit.

The number of new regulations declined but is still well into quadruple digits.

In 2006, agencies issued 3,718 final rules, a 6 percent decline from 2005.

New regulations by federal agencies outpace actual laws passed by Congress, indicating that considerable lawmaking power is delegated to unelected agencies.

While regulatory agencies issued 3,718 final rules, Congress passed and the president signed into law 321 bills in 2006.

Regulatory costs exceed the amount of wealth already extracted from Americans in the form of income taxes.

Regulatory costs exceed the estimated 2006 individual income taxes of $998 billion and dwarf corporate income taxes of $277 billion.

Regulatory costs exceed 2004 corporate pretax profits of $1.059 trillion.

The solution to the crushing level of federal regulations on the lives and livelihoods of American workers? The report urges a series of reforms to make the cost of regulation more transparent and accountable to the people. For example, Congress should commission a third-party review of the costs and benefits of regulations. And Congress should be required to vote on agency rules before they become binding.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Crowd upset with envio's and bureaucrats,0,2914697.story?coll=la-home-center

Crowd aims fury at regional panel
Land use agency is criticized for failing to allow adequate clearing of combustible materials.

By Eric Bailey and J. Michael Kennedy, Times Staff WritersJune 26, 2007
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The mood of the crowd jammed into the meeting room was angry.Many had lost their homes to the forest fire that swept through the Sierra Nevada just south of Lake Tahoe.They said they were angry at bureaucrats and environmentalists who made cutting of trees and clearing of land difficult. There was always too much red tape, they said, and now it was too late.In all, a crowd of nearly 2,000 people descended on the South Tahoe Middle School auditorium Monday night, wanting to be heard in the face of their losses.And if there was an object of scorn in the crowd, it was the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, a powerful bi-state environmental land use agency charged with managing the resources of the basin.When a speaker mentioned the agency, the crowd responded with a chorus of boos. "What a joke!" yelled one man. The wrangling began in earnest over the assignment of blame, including arguments over whether federal and state forest managers had made their tree clearing rules too strict in the face of pressure by environmentalists. A common sentiment Monday was expressed by Jerry Martin, a bartender at the Horizon Casino Resort, whose house was still standing, although eight others around it had burned to the ground. He said U.S. Forest Service rules regulating the harvesting of dead trees were too stringent for those living next to government land."I hate to get political, but environmentalists wouldn't let us cut down the dead trees," he said.The amount of fuel in the Tahoe Basin has reached critical levels after years of discord among environmentalists and government agencies over how to thin forests and reduce the fire threat. And it has led to predictions of a devastating wildfire because the basin is one of the areas with the most fire starts in the Sierra Nevada.More than 21,000 acres of Tahoe land have been cleared to guard against wildfires, at a cost of $50 million, but an additional 67,000 acres need to be cleared and thinned."It's like painting the Golden Gate Bridge," said Julie Regan, a spokeswoman for the regional planning agency. "Once you're finished at one end it's time to start again on the other."In April, the U.S. Forest Service finally settled on a 10-year plan to thin and burn 38,000 acres of land to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. But the plan had little effect on the homes in the community of Meyers, where most of Sunday's fire damage occurred. Regan said only 462 acres within the Angora fire boundary had been treated for fuel reduction because it was low on the priority list. Sgt. Don Atkinson of the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department said heavy growth in the area, especially manzanita plants, contributed to the danger. He said fire officials request that underbrush be cleared at least 30 feet from residences."Sometimes people do it and sometimes people don't," he said. "There's a lot of residences where manzanita grows right up to the house, and that's unfortunate. It's very flammable and it's got oils and stuff in it that really tend to drive a fire."But the people at the meeting Monday said that regional planning agency regulations were the source of much of the problem when it came to clearing the land.A man got up and said, "I've lived here 35 years. Is this going to open TRPA's eyes?" The room erupted into cheers and applause.Regan said that of the 1,300 parcels in the neighborhood that sustained the most damage, only 274 were new or remodeled — and therefore more likely to have cleared "defensible space." "The majority of homes in Lake Tahoe have not completed defensible space," she said.She also said part of the reason may be that residents don't realize that no permit is necessary to cut down dead trees on private property."It's important to relay the message that homeowners can cut a tree down without a permit," she said. "If they want to cut down trees, all they have to do is call their fire districts," she said.Lauri Kemper of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board said most people in the basin are reluctant to clear out trees. "I've lived here for 22 years and folks like their trees," she said. "They like it for the habitat and the beauty they create."
eric.bailey@latimes.commichael.kennedy@latimes.comBailey reported from South Lake Tahoe, Kennedy from Los Angeles. Times staff writer Lee Romney and the Associated Press contributed to this report

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Every thing you want to know about coal is in this artical!

The Daily Star
Vol. 5 Num 1088
Sat. June 23, 2007

Coal -- the energy resource for 21st centuryDr. Rafiqul IslamWorld's population is expected to reach over 8 billion by 2030, from its current level of 6.4 billion and consequently global energy demand will grow by almost 60 percent by 2030 and rise to 16.5 billion tones of oil equivalent per year.
Fossil fuels and in particular coal will meet up this challenge in future. Nuclear energy though provides a significant proportion of energy in some countries, but in general it faces serious public opposition.
Renewable energies are growing fast, but make up only a small part of global energy production -- the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that by 2030 only 14 percent of total energy demand will be met from renewable sources. In fact its not wise to depend on a single source of energy.
Coal can play a unique role in meeting the demand for a secure energy supply. Coal is globally most abundant and economical as well of all fossil fuels, which can be used for both power generation and industrial applications.
The production and utilization of coal is based on well-proven and widely used technologies. Coal faces environmental challenges. However, research efforts into improving the efficiency of coal fired electricity generation and technologies for carbon capture and storage offer routes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Coal reserves are significantly more abundant and much more widely and evenly dispersed than other fossil fuels.
The top five coal producing countries are: China, US, India, Australia and South Africa. All these countries use their indigenous coal as the primary fuel for electricity generation and all except India have a sizeable coal export market.
The world currently consumes over 5500 million tones of coal for use in power generation, steel production, cement manufacture, as a chemical feedstock and as a liquid fuel (IEA, 2005a).
Where there is a forecast of depletion in the supply of oil and gas in next 50 years coal may serve the purpose for next 150 years or more and by then new and renewable sources of energy will find wide market.
Coal can be converted to liquid and gaseous fuels to substitute for oil and ultimately to less depend on imported oil -- South Africa has a well-established coal-to-liquids industry, and China is currently adopting this technology.
China wants to cut down its oil import dependence by building a commercial scale direct coal liquefaction plant in Inner Mongolia, which will produce around 50,000 barrels a day of finished gasoline and diesel fuel.
Overall costs for coal-based power stations are usually lower than from other sources and utilization of coal for electricity generation should be a key choice. At present almost 40 percent of global electricity generation is based on coal (IEA, 2005b). The generation technologies are well established.
Not only the developing nations but developed nations also face power crisis and the solutions for that has been recognized as utilisation of more coal in power plants.
Renewable energy can reduce dependency on finite energy sources and remove some of the risk on oil import dependence.
Hydropower provides many countries with a substantial amount of their electricity needs; however, when weather conditions deviate from normal, severe problems such as the blackouts experienced in Brazil and New Zealand can occur.
New Zealand's crises in 1998, 2001 and 2003 occurred as a result of an over dependency on a single energy source -- hydro power. There has been now a four-fold increase in coal fired electricity generation (IEA, 2005b).
In California due to severe energy crisis in 2000-2001 a 1300-mile transmission system to generate 12000 MW of electricity -- 6000 MW from coal fired gasification (IGCC) plants and 6000 MW from wind power -- has been in plan.
In September 2003 Italy suffered a nationwide blackout, which had an impact on its total population of 57 million people. Much of Italy's electricity is imported. The bulk of Italy's own generation is from oil-fired power stations.
Due to the increasing cost of oil and a need for new and diversified power generation, many of these stations are being converted to gas or coal fired plants. Enel, Italy's largest generator, aims to double its coal fired capacity to over 10,000 MW, or 50 percent of its generating portfolio. The Italian government has also eased regulations on building new power plants and sought to encourage greater investment in the electricity sector.
In Bangladesh the only commercial energy resource that mainly supports power generation in the country at present is natural gas. About 70 percent of power generation depends on natural gas.
As per the forecast of Petrobangla, the total remaining gas reserve would meet the country's projected energy demand upto 2015. So discovery of additional gas fields or alternative sources of fuel could meet up this challenge. Coal discoveries of the north-western part of the country, with its total estimated mineable reserves of 1400 Mt (which is approximately 37 Tcf of natural gas in terms of heat value) seemed to have solved this problem.
Considering that many countries in the world have between 40 percent to 60 percent of their electricity generation using coal, Government of Bangladesh should take prompt action for a rapid increase in generation of coal fired electricity, which will ultimately have the effect of enhancing the energy security of the country.
Future power plants in the country may be set up on dual fuel system using coal and gas for the sake of better energy security. This would save and conserve Bangladesh's reserve of natural gas, and prevent the dependence on oil import for power generation.
Coal production should be at such a rate that its availability in the country for a period of at least 50 years can be confirmed.
China, manufacture small-scale power plants in the range 3 to 5 MW operating on coal, and these technologies can also be promoted in our country for electricity supply in remote and rural areas.
It is important to understand the environmental impacts of mining, processing, and utilization of coal.
The choice of mining method is largely determined by the geology of the coal deposit. Underground mining currently accounts for about 60 percent of world coal production, although surface mining is more common in several important coal producing countries like in Australia where it accounts for about 80 percent, in the US 67 percent. In India also surface mining is given importance. Surface mining or opencast mining is only economic when coal seam is near the surface.
Opencast mines damage a large land surface area, displace people from their ancestral homesteads and cause agricultural losses. But the method is cost effective, recovery is high around 90 percent, comparatively better in safety aspects and is considered to be a modern method.
Surface mining requires large areas of land to be temporarily disturbed. This raises a number of environmental challenges, including soil erosion, dust, noise and water pollution, and impacts on local biodiversity. But modern technology considerably reduces these problems. The idea is to select proper technology.
Mine subsidence can be a problem with underground coal mining, whereby the ground level lowers as a result of coal having been mined beneath. Steps are taken in modern mining operations to minimise these impacts. Good planning and environmental management minimises the impact of mining on the environment and helps to preserve biodiversity. Computer simulations can be undertaken to model impacts on the local environment. The findings are then reviewed as part of the process leading to the award of a mining permit by the relevant government authorities.
Whether coal is to be extracted by Opencast or by Underground methods of mining the selected method is to acknowledge the need to reduce environmental impact and to provide security of supply, deliver environmental and social goals and promote competitive energy markets.
Environmental issues related to coal processing include water quality issues such as acidic drainage, slurry impoundment discharges, physical disturbances, and gob fires.
The environmental impacts of coal use, mostly for electric power, include harmful emissions and solid waste disposal. Emissions of concern include sulfur and nitrogen oxides that lead to acid rain; particulate matter that causes haze; mercury and its health impacts; and carbon dioxide as greenhouse gas and its potential to change climate.
Methane (CH4) is a gas formed as part of the process of coal formation. It is released from the coal seam during mining operations. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Methane from coal seams can be utilised rather than released to the atmosphere.

Dr. Rafiqul Islam is Professor, Dept. of Applied Chemistry & Chemical Technology, Dhaka University.

Wise Co. power plant focus of protest

Planned Wise County, Va., coal-fired power plant will be focus of Monday protest

Saturday, Jun 23, 2007 - 01:45 AM

By Amy Hunter
A parcel of land in Southwest Virginia has become the focus of a statewide debate, and on Monday protesters will take their message to Richmond – No new power plant in Wise County.
Up to 200 people are expected to gather in front of Dominion Power’s Richmond headquarters on Monday to protest construction of a coal-fired plant in Wise County they say would pollute the community and do more harm than good.
But Dominion officials maintain the plant’s benefits outweigh its negatives.
"It will create hundreds of jobs," said Dan Genest, Dominion spokesman.
Protest organizer Hannah Morgan, and fellow protesters, want Dominion to take the estimated $1 billion allocated for the plant and invest it in conservation efforts and renewable energy.
Mike Ewall, founder of Energy Justice, a national organization that works with communities under threat of pollution, said the biggest problem is the burning of waste coal.
"It’s a mixture of coal and rock that you have to burn a lot more of to generate the same amount of energy of regular coal," he said. "And it creates a lot of ash that has to be dumped somewhere."
The ash, Ewall said, can seep into the ground with rain and contaminate ground water. Plus, burning waste-coal increases greenhouse pollution and emit PAH’s, a category of chemicals that cause cancer.
"Companies use it because its cheaper," he said.
Genest said the company is aware global warming is an important issue, but because coal-burning accounts for 50 percent of U.S. energy needs, coal-fired plants will be a nationwide necessity for decades.
"You can’t do it all through conservation and renewable energy," said Genest.
He said the Wise County plant will use clean coal technology that helps reduce pollution.
"It’s a new generation of power plant. It’s like comparing an Oldsmobile to a hybrid today."
Genest said Dominion is working with researchers at Virginia Tech to find cleaner ways to meet the state’s energy needs, while using the best clean-coal technology available today.
Despite contentious disagreement on both sides, they do agree on one thing – Power plants create jobs, and job creation is a boon for the economy. (276) 645-2531

I must state for the record that 199 of the 200 protesters are misguided rich kids from up north who have no idea where their power comes from. "Shave the whales"...see I was young once and all mixed up... er I mean "save the whales". Its been a few years since my college days trying to save the world so I have to think about what allI was against. They just protest long enough to get their picture taken then they jump back in their BMW's and feel great about themselves. The understand how the press works to some extent but ignore the facts about energy use in America as well as their own use of 33 pounds of coal a day required to keep those printers running for their mis-guided flyer's.

90% of carbon dioxide can be removed!

E.ON to build pilot plant for CO2 capture
The method is currently being developed by Alstom, the power generation specialist.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

E.ON will be testing a new process in Sweden that can be used to remove up to 90 per cent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) from power plant flue gases.
The method is currently being developed by Alstom, the power generation specialist. E.ON and Alstom have now agreed to continue developing the technology at E.ON’s power plant at Karlshamn to a stage where it can be used in the actual environment of a power plant. The pilot plant at Karlshamn is to start trial operation in early 2008.
"For E.ON, carbon dioxide capture from power plants is one of the key technologies in tackling the global climate change problem. This is why E.ON is pushing the development of different processes in all markets as part of its technology initiative. In its quest for the best technology, the company is investigating various solutions in a number of parallel projects," the company said.
The method to be used at Karlshamn is based on the technology that involves the use of ammonia to capture the carbon dioxide. The key advantage is that this cleaning process uses less energy than other CO2 removal processes, so its impact on the overall efficiency of the power plant is relatively low. Experts expect the first almost CO2-free commercial power plants to come on line in 15 to 20 years.
As part of a carbon capture and storage initiative, efforts are currently underway worldwide to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the flue gases of power plants for safe storage. Three technologies are under development: Pre-combustion capture, Post-combustion capture and Oxyfuel technology.
The pre-combustion involves the use of a gasification process to convert the coal into a fuel gas which is stripped of its CO2 before combustion in a combined-cycle power plant to produce electricity.
In the post-combustion capture CO2 is removed from the flue gas stream by solvent washing, whereas the Oxyfuel process uses pure oxygen instead of air for the combustion of coal or natural gas, so the flue gases produced consist mainly of CO2 and water, which makes CO2 removal relatively easy.
EnerPub provides premium global energy news and analysis, "the news that moves the world."

Failure to set up Coal Power Plants in time as planned by the experts also caused severe damage to the economy of the country.

Failure to set up Coal Power Plants in time as planned by the experts also caused severe damage to the economy of the country.

Could this happen here? YOU BET.

The Sunday Times / On line
Financial Times

Major reasons for Lanka’s debacle
(Joint press release issued by the Chairman of the Joint Business Forum (JBIZ), Nimal Perera)
Until the late 1950s Sri Lanka had been an economically sound, self-sufficient country in Asia. Having fought together to gain independence, every community lived in harmony until the new language policy was introduced. It was a known fact that our country was looked at as a model by countries like Singapore to develop theirs in that era. Further to that our country was proud to have had one of the best-managed Railway systems and also the Public Service in the world. We did not have an Executive President, a large Cabinet and Provincial Councils at that time. The country was well governed by the House of Representatives comprised of high caliber personalities headed by the Prime minister. They were well supported by equally efficient and well-respected Government Agents. They never meddled with the law of the country. It looks like that the changes done subsequently to the Administrative and Legislative Structures and constitution had not been beneficial to the country. The situation now is in a highly deteriorated state in every aspect. We give below the Per Capita Income of two Asian countries and Sri Lanka for 1960 and 2006 just to indicate at what pace our country has moved.
What has gone wrong? Many accept that the war, high cost power generation, the language policy, preferential voting system, corruption and waste and deterioration of the law and order situation have caused the downfall of our country.
What has gone wrong? Many accept that the war, high cost power generation, the language policy, preferential voting system, corruption and waste and deterioration of the law and order situation have caused the downfall of our country.
WarThe 24-year-old war has done the biggest damage to the country both socially and economically. Every leader in power has vowed that terrorism would be crushed militarily. Military assistance from India was also obtained and now 24 years have gone by, more than 50,000 people have lost their lives, more than 100,000 people have got disabled, more than 500 billion rupees have gone down the drain and billions worth of properties have got destroyed. These still continue and our lives have become more and more miserable and uncertain. Although the leaders were always in favour of a negotiated settlement, they always succumb to the terrorist’s tactics of provocation. The war situation has also created room for the deserters and arms and ammunitions to move freely through out the country resulting in escalation of violence and crime. The sufferings the citizens have to go through, the battering the economy get, the destruction of property and moreover the loss of human lives should come to an end immediately if the country is to prosper. Budget approval for defense expenditure for the year 2007 was Rs 100 billion where as in a no war situation it should have been around Rs 30 billion. If the peace prevails, the country could easily save at least Rs 70 billion annually. This would enable the government to reduce the excessive taxes and other levies and thereby lower the COL. Had the billions of rupees spent on war utilized for the development process, by now the country would have had many new highways, many flyovers in major cities, many power plants and an highly improved transport system making the life of the people comfortable.
Expensive power generation Failure to set up Coal Power Plants in time as planned by the experts also caused severe damage to the economy of the country. Ironically our decision makers went for the most expensive method of power generating using expensive fuel when other developed and affluent countries resort to low cost methods. As a result of high cost of power many industrial ventures struggled to survive and some collapsed as they became uncompetitive. This has also become a big burden to the country’s economy as the country's biggest expenditure is for purchase of fuel which is being used mainly for power generation. Last year alone the country has spent Rs 220 billion to import petroleum products out of which around 70% totalling Rs 154 billion have been for power generation. Had the proposed coal power plants been set up in time as per the plans, the country could have easily saved more than Rs 100 billion spent on fuel annually. These wasted funds during past many years could have been utilized to reduce the burden on the economy. It is commendable that the government has already made arrangements to commence the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant and Kotmale hydro power project. What is important now is to fast track these projects and to take immediate action to set up the other plants in the locations already earmarked in Trincomalee and Hambanthota.
Language Policy It is a known fact that India is fast growing because of the IT and BPO Industry. With the growth of the IT Industry many cities like Chennai and Bangalore also developed. The secret behind the success of this industry is the high standard of English. After gaining independence the Indian leaders, continued to maintain the English standards without compromising the international medium of expression for pseudo nationalism. English is also an official language there. The level of English standard and English pronunciation in our country was of a much higher standard than our neighboring countries. In the good old days even a lower level employee in a government organization could converse in English. But leaders of our country for short term political gain neglected the English education and introduced a new language policy in late 50s. Poor rural youth suffered from this new policy as they were deprived of the English education making them unemployable mainly in the private sector. This compelled them to seek employment in the state sector using political influence and this was one of the reasons why state institutions are over staffed, politicized and have become less productive and unviable.
Preferential voting systemAnother major reason for the debacle of the country is the present preferential voting system. This system is not benefiting the country or its people. This system has paved the way for many unsuitable candidates to come into the parliament. They have lowered the status of the Parliament from a standard of a supreme, sacred place to the standard of a fish market. This electoral system has only increased the government expenditure (225 MPs for about 140 electorates). They interfere with the law and order enforcement in the country, functions of the Police and other government institutions and protect the criminals thus increasing the crime rate and corruption. These unprincipalled politicians prevent high calibre people in the public sector to perform impartially. They are the main root cause for deterioration of the discipline in the country, collapse of the important government institutions and downturn of the economy. They are also responsible for the destruction of the environment such as cutting down the forests, filling up of marshy lands, etc.
Dishonest and incapable politicians who get rejected from the electorate for not serving the people could still get into the parliament with this preferential voting system. Our country could afford only a lean parliament and a lean cabinet. If this happens many issues will get solved considerably.
Another white elephant in the present system is the Provincial Councils. It duplicates many functions, incurs heavy expenditure and has become a burden to the country’s economy. Income generated by provincial councils in 2006 was Rs 19.5 billion and the expenditure was estimated to be Rs 94.5 billion! It would be more beneficial to the country if the state of District Secretary (Government Agent) level is strengthened by way of giving them more authority, sending them for management training and provide better remuneration.
Corruption and wasteEveryday there are allegations by the citizens and the COPE report reveals many instances of corruptions within political circles from local authority level upwards and also in many state institutions. This is also a major reason for the downturn in the economy as the amounts involved are estimated to be large enough to make a huge adverse impact. Further substantial amounts of funds are getting wasted as the inefficient politicians are not very much concerned about the public funds. The amounts wasted on abandoned partially built roadways (such as Airport expressway), government buildings, abandoned CTB buses, railway compartments and other vehicles in government organizations including in ministries are colossal and values once again should be in billions of rupees. Sadly none is responsible. The general practice (of ruling party politicians) is to always blame the previous regime for the deficits but those in power continuous with the same mistakes.
Law and order situationThe law and order situation of the country has hit the rock bottom with the escalation of abductions, brutal killings and extortions and the irony is that most of these are happening in highly secured city. When many vehicles are being stopped two three times at the security check points, its baffling how the abductors are always getting away. The Police Department has become highly ineffective due to politicization. These are the end results of preferential voting system and the protracted war in the country.
LeadershipThe leader of a country should be brave enough to take correct decisions and bring about the necessary changes and may call for a referendum if necessary, in order to put the country on the right track. Short term he may become unpopular mainly within political circles but in the longer term he would be worshipped by the masses. It is high time that all stakeholders look hard at the current situation and unite to urge the leadership to take corrective measures. We also should urge the leaders of the political parties to select respectable people from the electorates who are educated and capable enough to govern a country. There are many capable personalities within the country who are willing to assist and facilitate in finding solutions to country’s woes if they are called upon to do so like in South Africa and Ireland.

Rate hike for power plants

Charleston Gazette

June, 2007
Power plants allowed rate hike

On Friday the West Virginia Public Service Commission approved an $85.5 million rate increase for Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power to continue the funding of scrubbers at Appalachian Power’s Mountaineer and John Amos plants.
With the 10 percent increase effective July 1, customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month will see their bills increase from $58.87 to $64.55.
The increase is part of a July 2006 order that allows the utility to annually adjust rates for the construction, fuel and purchase power costs. In total, rates will increase 16 percent by 2009.
Appalachian Power, a unit of American Electric Power, is spending more than $1.4 billion to build scrubbers to help reduce sulfur dioxide emissions to comply with federal and state clean-air laws.
The scrubber at the Mountaineer plant went online in early 2007, and the first scrubber at the John Amos plant will begin operation in 2008.
Of the $85.5 million increase, about $28.5 million will cover scrubber construction costs as well as costs of a transmission line from Wyoming County to Virginia. In addition, $54.8 million is for fuel costs and purchased power.
The PSC also approved an additional $2.2 million increase to help Appalachian Power fund the rehabilitation of four small electric utilities in McDowell County that the company will take over on July 1.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

coal carries on and keeps digging

Coal industry keeps digging as pressure rises over climate changeBy MATTHEW BROWN
WRIGHT, Wyo. - Every second of every day the oversized shovels of the Black Thunder mine claw another three tons of coal from the arid plains of eastern Wyoming.
Sprawled across 20,000 acres, Black Thunder produces more coal than any other mine in the Western Hemisphere. America's thirst for the fuel it provides is larger still: more than 1.1 billion tons consumed in 2006, or almost four tons per person.
But after years of steady growth, spurred by the rising cost of coal's main competitor, natural gas, the industry faces an increasingly uncertain future.
Each ton of coal burned emits more than two tons of carbon dioxide, the prime contributor to global warming. Environmentalists and some policymakers are calling for the country to wean itself from coal by investing in wind, biofuels and other energies and levying new taxes on carbon emissions. In the interim, they want mandates for cleaner power plants.
Yet coal could prove a habit hard to break.
Companies like Arch Coal, the owner of Black Thunder, supply the fuel for more than half the country's electricity. And with the industry's backing, Capitol Hill lawmakers led by U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., are pushing to recast coal's image _ from climate change culprit to promising "alternative fuel" that could ease dependence on foreign oil and possibly provide an exit plan for the global warming quandary.
Think of it as diet coal: A new wave of coal-fired power plants would capture carbon dioxide to prevent its release into the atmosphere. Other plants would use a process perfected by the Nazis to convert the black rock into diesel or jet fuel, to reduce imports of foreign oil.
Both technologies remain untested in the United States on a wide commercial scale. Thomas said that's why the government needs to step in and spur their development through loans to industry and a mandate for 21 billion gallons a year of coal-derived liquid fuels by 2022.
"We're going to be looking at new sources of energy and indeed we should be," said Thomas, whose state leads the nation in coal production. "What we need to be equally concerned with is what we're going to do now, for the next 15 years or so. Coal is one of the largest fossil fuel resources we have."
Thomas' efforts on behalf of industry stumbled in April, when his proposal was defeated on a party-line vote during a Senate Energy Committee debate over an ethanol bill. He plans to try again in June when the bill hits the Senate floor.
But a neighbor to the north, Democratic Sen. John Tester of Montana, is now saying coal should not expect a free ride. Tester said in a recent interview that any coal-to-liquids plant supported by federal dollars must include technology to capture and store carbon. The plants are projected to cost billions of dollars, making federal backing key to moving forward.
"They can do it with private backing if they want. But if they want public dollars they have to do carbon capture and sequestration. That has to be part of the conversation," Tester said.
Tester said he also wants coal-based fuels to be at least 20 percent cleaner than traditional petroleum fuels. Environmental groups say even then coal-to-liquids proposals are a distraction from the need to convert to more sustainable energy sources.
Still, from the vantage of the Black Thunder mine, it is hard to imagine coal's future dimming anytime soon.
Out of a gaping pit gouged deep into Wyoming's Powder River Basin, an endless procession of house-sized dump trucks haul away boulders of coal extracted from a 70-foot thick seam. From there, it is crushed into smaller chunks, loaded onto rail cars and shipped to power plants across the country.
The mine is one of more than a dozen along the eastern edge of the Powder River coal seam, which accounts for about 40 percent of the nation's coal production.
"In front of us are millions and millions and billions of tons of coal," said Arch Coal Vice President Greg Schaefer. "There is 200 years worth of coal here at present consumption. It's an incredible resource."
The Department of Energy forecasts coal's share of the energy market will increase to almost 60 percent over the next 25 years. Unless cleaner technologies are adopted to lower carbon emissions, that will spur an environmental "catastrophe," said David Hawkins, director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council and a former senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Yet to replace 90 gigawatts of additional electricity _ the amount the Department of Energy says will come from 151 new or proposed coal power plants _ would require 60,000 wind turbines or 100 mid-sized nuclear plants.
"There's just nothing that comes in at the scale of coal over the foreseeable future," said James Bartis, a RAND Corporation researcher specializing in energy issues.
But Hawking said that argument should not be extended to coal-to-liquids, which he described as a worse polluter than conventional fuels. He said it would take up to 250 million tons of additional coal production every year to reach Thomas' 21 billion gallon annual mandate.
In the last three years, lobbying expenses by the coal industry more than tripled, from $2 million in 2004 to almost $7 million last year, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Much of the money has been funneled through Americans for Balanced Energy Choices and a related organization, the Center for Energy and Economic Development (CEED).
Until recently, one of CEED's main goals was to cast doubt on global warming and coal's contribution to the problem. As the science behind climate change has gained traction with policy makers and the public, that message has shifted, said CEED vice president Ned Leonard.
"We can't even get in the door to speak to a governor or a regulator if we're saying, 'First of all, we don't think this is even happening,'" Leonard said. "You can no longer get away with talking generically about voluntary action."
What that means for coal production, and the steady march of the Black Thunder Mine across eastern Wyoming, could be decided by Congress in coming weeks.
"Over the next 20 years, the question is not whether the industry will go down," said Bartis. "It's how much will it go up."
A service of the Associated Press(AP)

Air Force and Ky coal

Coal States See Boon in USAF Alt-Fuel Push

Coal dug from deep in Kentucky’s rugged mountains generates some $4 billion a year for the state’s economy, helping to lift it to the position of ninth-poorest among the 50 United States.
With 120 million tons mined in 2006, Kentucky coal production is down from its peak of 180 million tons in 1990. But a new customer for Kentucky coal could bring an economic boost to the beleaguered state.
And Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., thinks he has found that customer — the U.S. Air Force.
A Davis amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization Act would give the Air Force $10 million to accelerate testing of jet fuel made from coal.
In 2006, the service tested coal-based synthetic fuel and ultimately flew a B-52 bomber on a blend of standard jet fuel and the coal-based liquid.
The Air Force plans to begin testing the fuel soon in a C-17 cargo plane, a service spokeswoman said.
Davis hopes that once the Air Force adopts coal-based jet fuel, so will commercial airlines. The potential benefits are broader than just more jobs and increased income for his home state.
“Kentucky has the unique opportunity to be part of the solution to our nation’s energy crisis by turning coal into liquid fuel,” the congressman said.
The Air Force may be essential to Kentucky’s success.
It will take billions of dollars to build a “coal-to-liquid” plant able to meet the Air Force’s fuel needs. It would cost many times that much to meet airline needs. No one is willing to make that investment unless there is an assured, profitable market for the synthetic fuel.
But no market will develop until there are plants turning out fuel.
Davis’ answer is the Air Force.
“The Department of Defense is the single largest consumer of fuel in the United States and the Air Force consumes over 50 percent of the fuel used by the military,” he said.
Seeking Reliable Supply
The Air Force burns 2.6 billion gallons of jet fuel a year, said Paul Bollinger, special assistant to the service’s assistant secretary for installations, environment and logistics. Ensuring that it has a reliable fuel supply is a key Air Force concern, he said.
The Air Force hopes to spend $38 million on synthetic fuel research and testing in 2008, but only $1 million was requested in the 2008. The remainder is an “unfunded priority,” Bollinger said. So the $10 million in Davis’ amendment is significant.
If the Air Force becomes a reliable synthetic fuel consumer, that could justify investment in coal-to-liquid plants, which could, in turn, “accelerate development of the technology and production capacity needed for large-scale commercial deployment of this type of alternative fuel,” Davis’ amendment says.
To push the Air Force further in that direction, Davis proposed a separate amendment permitting the service to sign purchasing contracts lasting as long as 25 years for buying coal-based fuel.
However, Davis withdrew that amendment after being told that House budgeting rules would count its cost as “mandatory spending” that would have to be offset by cutting an equal amount of money elsewhere in the budget. “We did not have an offset to offer,” a Davis aide said.
Davis isn’t alone in this endeavor.
In January, he and another coal-state congressman, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., introduced the Coal-to-Liquids Fuel Promotion Act of 2007.
The legislation would provide tax breaks and loan guarantees for building coal-to-liquid plants. That bill, which also contains coal-to-liquid research money for the Air Force and authority to sign 25-year fuel purchase contracts, awaits committee action.
A similar bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., and Barak Obama, D-Ill. Illinois produced about 32 million tons of coal in 2005.
Environmental Concerns
Growing support for coal-to-liquid fuel is sparking alarm among environmentalists, who warn that the fuel and the process that makes it produce twice as much carbon dioxide as petroleum-based fuel. That makes coal-to-liquid — or CTL — disastrous for global warming, said Alice McKeown of the Sierra Club.
Using more coal also means more strip mining, which environmentalists say is destroying the landscape in Kentucky, West Virginia and elsewhere. And the CTL process consumes prodigious amounts of water.
“We think it’s misguided. It’s not really a smart solution for our energy future,” McKeown said. “We should not be using government money to jumpstart this industry.”
Other government action, such as increasing the mileage requirements on automobiles, would reduce petroleum consumption, which would be environmentally beneficial and make more fuel available to the Air Force, she said.
Bollinger said the Air Force is very conscious of the possible environmental impacts of producing liquid fuel from coal.
“Our secretary has stated from day one that we are going to be good environmental stewards,” he said. “I’ve done an extensive amount of work with other agencies that control and regulate these areas.”
The carbon dioxide produced by the CTL can be captured and sequestered — essentially buried deep underground. Coal can be mixed with biomass to reduce the net CO2 output of the process and mining can be done in environmentally benign ways, he said.
Davis, too, says he is “committed to ensuring the environmental integrity of these fuels and have advocated that any future fuels produced from coal are as good or better than the environmental footprint of the fuels they are designed to replace.”
But the matters of national security and the economy cannot be disregarded, he said. The nation cannot afford to ignore the potential of coal, considering the absence of viable alternatives, he said. •

Save the birds

Bill aims to curb wind farms to spare birds
House panel chairman wants to protect flying wildlife from giant turbines
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Birds and bats have a powerful advocate in the new Congress, and he is making the wind energy industry nervous.Rep. Nick Rahall, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, is pushing legislation that would more strictly regulate wind energy to protect birds, bats and other wildlife killed when they fly into the giant turbines.Wind energy advocates say the bill could significantly cripple the burgeoning industry and they brand the measure as “anti-wind.”A release from the American Wind Energy Association last month said Rahall’s plan could “essentially outlaw” the generation of electricity from new wind power plants in the United States.Political debate over wind projects has intensified as the industry has seen major growth in recent years. According to the association, wind power is growing 25 percent to 30 percent annually.Congress has encouraged this renewable energy as oil prices have skyrocketed, creating incentives for the industry and promoting its benefits. But some lawmakers are concerned about the effects on wildlife.Rahall’s proposal, included in a larger energy bill, would direct the Fish and Wildlife Service to publish standards for siting, construction and monitoring of wind projects so that they do not harm wildlife. Violators could go to prison.After opposition from some members of his committee, Rahall has said he will revisit the legislation. The wind provisions are “not locked in stone,” he said.Still, Rahall, D-W.Va., believes more regulation would be a good idea.“I suspect that wind projects are on a regular basis in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act, yet no enforcement action is being taken,” he said at a recent hearing on the issue.Frank Maisano, a spokesman for wind developers in the Mid-Atlantic region, says the industry has frequent discussions with government regulators and environmental groups.Rahall “is throwing out the entire haystack because there’s a needle in there somewhere,” he said. “There are plenty of checks on the system that are making us develop in a smart way.”Some in coal-rich West Virginia disagree.John Stroud, the co-chairman of Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, is fighting a wind power project in Rahall’s district, saying it will spoil scenic views and endanger bats.“Something like this is greatly necessary because these concerns are generally ignored,” Stroud says. “Most states don’t have much regulation.”John Kostyack, senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, says his group is working with Rahall to fine-tune the legislation.“We think that any energy company, even in an industry we strongly support, needs to grow responsibly,” he said,Last month, a National Research Council panel said the risk to birds and bats is not yet completely understood. That report also noted that wind farms could generate up to 7 percent of U.S. electricity in 15 years.It is unclear if Rahall’s position could pass muster in the Senate.A spokesman for Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the senator is supportive of the industry and will remain so.GOP Sen. John Thune, who has introduced legislation that would give the industry more incentives, was more blunt.“This proposal is badly misguided and is a step in the wrong direction,” said Thune of South Dakota, one of the windier states. “Congress should not be blocking the development of one of the nation’s cleanest energy resources ... I will fight any efforts to stymie its development because of unfounded concerns for bats and birds.”

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Nuke's! ! Greenpeace dont want no stinking Nuke's

Greenpeace calls for abandoning plans for more N-plants

Tuesday, May 29, 2007-->Web posted at: 5/26/2007 8:11:13Source ::: Reuters
london • Britain could slash its carbon emissions and secure its future energy supplies quickly and cheaply by abandoning plans to build more nuclear power plants, according to Greenpeace.
By betting on nuclear, Britain is also setting a bad example to the rest of the world, senior Greenpeace UK energy and climate change adviser, Robin Oakley, said.
In less time and with less money than it takes to build new nuclear reactors, or try out ways of burying emissions from dirty power plants, the government could hit its energy goals by using proven technology available now.
“We are much better off focusing on the things that we know will work and deliver results fast,” Oakley said.
“The key ones are efficiency, going after decentralised energy to make the system more efficient, and bringing on renewables as quickly as possible,” he said in an interview. Government ministers previously opposed to atomic energy, including Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling, have warmed to it as the threat of climate change has grown, arguing that it offers clean power and cuts reliance on imported gas.
Apart from safety and waste disposal concerns, Greenpeace argues that nuclear is expensive, impractical and slow to offer a solution to either problem.
“It’s a technology that only generates electricity at a time when we need to be reducing emissions and dealing with energy questions right across the board including heat and transport,” Oakley said.
Instead, Britain should be cutting energy use while building lots of small combined heat and power (CHP) plants that are more energy efficient because they pipe the heat given off from electricity production to homes and businesses.
“You get a more secure electricity supply if you have got a more diverse range of sources, as you woulds have under a decentralised energy system,” Oakley said.
CHPs can burn various fuels from organic matter to coal or gas. And as they can be up to 95 per cent efficient, whatever they burn means less emissions per unit of energy produced.
“They deliver immediate results, they are cheaper to deploy and they give you a much bigger impact on reducing gas use and reducing emissions than nuclear power, which can’t be delivered within the next decade,” Oakley said.
Oakley cited government figures showing the UK could build enough CHP plants to produce about twice the electricity that the nuclear industry does today, about 20 percent, in less time than it would take to replace its existing nuclear plants. Backed up by wind, wave and tidal power, CHPs and energy efficiency can make nuclear power irrelevant, he added.

Australian bet on clean coal

Australian bet on clean coal risks climate change

Monday, 28 May 2007, 1:39 pm
Article: Michael Peck
Australia’s energy security policy undermines its climate change targets
Australian bet on clean coal risks climate changeby Michael Peck
The Australian Labor Party (ALP) is counting on clean coal technology (CCT) to achieve long term energy security by exploiting Australia’s huge coal reserves. This is a high risk policy given the enormous challenge of CCT which captures carbon dioxide and buries it in exhausted oil or gas fields. It suggests that the ALP, like the current Howard Government, is in thrall to the fossil fuel lobby.
A major theme of Labor leader Kevin Rudd’s April 27 speech to the 2007 annual ALP Conference was that Australia ‘desperately needs a government engaged in the business of long term solutions.’ Rudd identified ‘long term energy security’ and ‘climate change’ as two major challenges facing the nation over the next decades.[1] Ten days before Rudd’s speech, Senator Chris Evans, Shadow Minister for National Development, Resources and Energy, outlined the direction of ALP’s energy policy in his speech ‘Where Does Energy Policy Have To Go’ to the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Conference.
Noting Australia’s oil production was in decline with limited future prospects, Evans stated that Australia is ‘facing a profound shift in the source of our liquid fuels, which has major implications for our energy security in the future.’ Australia ‘faces a trade deficit in oil and condensate of up to $27 billion in 2015 … compared to a deficit of just under $4 billion in 2005.’ According to Evans the key issue is Australia’s reliance ‘on overseas sources, including the Middle East, for up to 80 per cent of its oil’ leaving the country exposed to potential disruptions to supply and price shocks. [2] He defined Australia’s energy security challenge as developing ‘a secure supply of alternative liquid fuels over the medium to long term.’ This would be achieved by diversifying sources of liquid transport fuels through ‘development of gas-to-liquids, coal-to-liquids and biofuels.’
Evans also touted the ALP’s $500 million National Clean Coal Initiative, noting that Australia’s ‘immense reserves and the importance of our coal exports mean that the development of CCT must be a strategic energy priority.’ Under Labor then, Australia will be doing the same as it is now under the Liberal-National Coalition: pinning its hopes on CCT. Australia generates 79% of its electricity from coal[3]. Using coal to generate electricity and converting coal (or gas) to liquid fuel are high CO2 emission processes. CCT can be applied to all of them, however, CCT reduces power plant efficiency and requires, according to a recent MIT study, 27% to 37% more coal for the same energy output.[4]
The problem with CCT is the huge scale on which it must be applied. Canadian energy researcher Vaclav Smil calculates that if just 10% of global CO2 emissions were to be sequestered, this would mean burying annually about 6,000 million cubic metres of compressed CO2 gas. This is larger than the annual volume of oil extracted globally – a bit less than 5,000 million cubic metres in 2005. This means creating an industry that would, every year, force underground a volume of compressed gas larger than the volume of crude oil extracted globally by the petroleum industry. Noting that the oil industry’s infrastructure and capacity has been put in place over a century, Smil concludes that ‘such a technical feat could not be accomplished within a single generation.’ [5]
Smil also notes that the same 10% reduction in CO2 emissions could be achieved by improving energy efficiency. Reducing the average annual US per capita energy consumption – roughly twice the affluent EU level – by about 40% would cut global carbon emissions by at least 2,500 million tonnes. This is nearly 10% of the 28,000 million tonnes emitted globally in 2005.
Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, and the Howard government has repeatedly stated that it will not ratify the Kyoto protocol because of the importance of protecting Australia’s energy exports. In his recent book ‘Scorcher: The dirty politics of climate change’, Clive Hamilton, Executive Director of the Australia Institute, argues that the Howard government believes Australia’s future prosperity and strength as nation depend on one factor above all others: Australia’s ability to increase energy exports to Asia. This belief explains its refusal to ratify Kyoto. In July 2006 John Howard even stated that he wanted Australia to become an ‘energy superpower.’ Hamilton also exposes the powerful influence of the ‘greenhouse mafia’ – a group of extremely well-connected lobbyists mainly from the Coal and Aluminium industries – on Australia’s environmental and energy policies[6].
In pursuit of its vision, which is no higher than remaining Asia’s coal mine, the Howard Government’s low ambition has been to undermine international cooperation to address climate change. In stark contrast, Rudd wants to take action on climate change by setting an ambitious CO2 emission reduction target of 60 per cent by 2050. Polls indicate this would have popular support. Rudd has also outlined a new vision for Australia that looks beyond the resource boom to new prosperity based on education and technology. He’s stated: ‘I don’t want to be a prime minister of a country that doesn’t make things any more.’
The ALP’s long term energy policy is high risk because it is reliant on technology barely out of the laboratory, which may not work on a large scale, and even if it does, may take a century to become established. It therefore collides squarely with the ALP’s ambitious 2050 CO2 emission reduction target. The ALP’s long term energy policy is high on hope and, if it fails, will have delayed any action to reduce Australia’s high coal consumption and CO2 emissions. The ‘greenhouse mafia’ would approve.
[1] SMH (2007) ‘I’m Kevin. I’m here to help’, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 2007, [Online], Available: [27 April 2007].
[2] EVANS (2007) ‘Where Does Energy Policy Have to Go’, Speech to the 2007 Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Conference, Labour eHerald, 17 April 2007, [Online], Available: [27 April 2007].
[3] IEA (2004) ‘Electricity/Heat in Australia in 2004’, International Energy Agency, [Online], Available:, [12 May 2007].
[4] MIT (2007) The Future of Coal: Options for a carbon-constrained world - An Interdisciplinary MIT Study, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, [Online], Available: [18 March 2007].
[5] SMIL, V. (2006) Energy at the Crossroads: Background notes for a presentation at the Global Science Forum Conference on Scientific Challenges for Energy Research, OECD Conference on Scientific Challenges for Energy Research, Paris, 2006, [Online], Available: [11 December 2006].
[6] HAMILTON, C. (2007) Scorcher: the dirty politics of climate change, Melbourne, Black Inc. Agenda.

© 2007 Michael PeckMichael Peck is a post graduate student in International Studies at the University of Sydney

Plant a tree then jet to Cancun ; Leave no carbon foot print

Plant a tree, jet to Cancun? Offset schemes not that simple

Kingsport Times News
The Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. -- If you plant some trees, is it OK to drive an Escalade?
The question isn't as silly as it sounds. People worried about global warming increasingly are trying to "offset" the carbon dioxide -- the leading greenhouse gas -- they spew into the atmosphere when they drive, fly or flick on a light. One idea popular with the eco-conscious is to have trees planted for them. You get to keep driving and flying, but those trees are supposed to suck in your trail of carbon.
Whole forests have been funded by tree-loving celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Coldplay, and more modest packages tailored to typical consumers are proliferating.
But some researchers say planting trees -- while a good thing -- is at best a marginal solution to global warming. Still others decry tree planters who continue to jet off to Cannes, drive their SUVs or generally fail to reduce their fuel-hungry lifestyle. To those critics, plantings and other carbon offsets are like the medieval practice of selling indulgences to wash away sins: It may feel good, but it doesn't solve much.
"The sale of offset indulgences is a dead-end detour off the path of action required in the face of climate change," says a report by the Transnational Institute's Carbon Trade Watch.
Groups that offer tree offsets typically rely on Web calculators requiring users to type in how many miles they drive, how much electricity they use and how far they fly. Figure out how much CO2 someone is responsible for (output), compare it to the work average trees can do (input), and you have a formula for neutralizing a person's "carbon footprint."
While the band Coldplay famously funded 10,000 mango trees in India to soak up emissions related to the production of a CD, the average consumer can get off far easier. For $40, Trees for the Future will plant 400 trees in a developing country to handle your car emissions. In June, Delta Air Lines will allow online ticket buyers to help offset emissions of their flights through tree plantings in the U.S. and abroad: $5.50 for domestic round trips, $11 for international.
"It's easy to do and it makes a big difference," said Jena Thompson of the Conservation Fund, Delta's partner and one of many groups that will plant trees on your behalf.
The science is sound: Trees take in carbon dioxide as part of photosynthesis and store the carbon. But even conservationists caution it's not as simple as planting a sapling so you can crank up the air conditioning without guilt.
Offset groups use averages to estimate how much carbon a given tree or forested acre can capture. For instance, the nonprofit Conservation Fund figures that each tree planted captures less than 11/2 tons over 100 years.
To put that in perspective, consider that about 7.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide was produced from the burning of fossil fuels worldwide in 2003, the most recent estimate available.
And how much carbon dioxide a tree can soak up varies, said John Kadyszewski of Winrock International, a nonprofit that works on environmental projects. A huge California redwood might have 30 tons of carbon stored while a 100-year-old pine might have less than a ton.
"Trees are all different," said Kadyszewski, coordinator for ecosystem services for Winrock, "and the amount of carbon in the tree depends on how old it is and where it's growing and what kind of tree it is."
Kadyszewski notes that most of the calculators use conservative numbers, meaning they're not likely to exaggerate benefits. The Conservation Fund and both say they plant more than enough trees to deliver on promised offsets.
There are other potential problems, however. Some researchers suggest forests in the snowy North might actually increase local warming by absorbing sunlight that would otherwise be reflected into space. And dead, decaying trees release some of that captured carbon back into the atmosphere.
Maybe most importantly, some researchers say it's simply not possible to plant enough trees to have a significant effect on global warming.
Michael MacCracken, chief scientist at the nonpartisan Climate Institute in Washington, said tree-planting has value as a stopgap measure while society attempts to reduce greenhouse gases. But University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver fears tree offsets could steal the focus of a problem that requires technological advances and behavioral changes.
"The danger is that you could actually think you're solving a problem," Weaver said. "It makes you feel good. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, like changing a couple of light bulbs. But the reality is it's not going to have a significant effect."
Eric Carlson of the tree-planting nonprofit notes that his group does not promote trees as the only solution to climate change. Participants also can purchase offsets that support projects aimed at expanding renewable energy or improving energy efficiency.
Carlso bristles when critics focus on the perceived hypocrisies of the jet-setting, tree-planting rich people.
He fears the indulgence argument shifts the focus from what normal, everyday people can do to fight global warming: Cut down on electricity and gasoline use, support renewable energy and, yes, plant trees.
"You can find pluses and minuses to all the offset options," Carlson said, "but the worst thing is to do nothing."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Conaress vs. OPEC

Senate to grapple with OPEC in wake of House bill passage
By Elana Schor
( May 24, 2007
Several senators are eyeing next month’s energy bill as a vehicle to confront the powerful Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) over high gas prices, setting the stage for another veto battle with the White House.The House approved its version of the so-called “NOPEC” bill, which empowers the Department of Justice to bring antitrust lawsuits against the OPEC alliance in U.S. court, by a lopsided and veto-proof margin on Tuesday. For the dozen backers of the Senate’s bipartisan NOPEC bill, a summer of pressure at the pump may provide the perfect opening.

“We should send a resounding message,” Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said yesterday. “Time is precious on the floor in terms of the schedule, so [the question is] if we can simplify the process and streamline it, and not lose our ability to capitalize on the momentum created by the House action.”After a prolonged war-funding debate that saw Republicans pledging to sustain any White House veto, the NOPEC bill — and a gasoline price-gouging measure the House passed yesterday — offers Democrats a greater chance of snaring enough GOP votes to override President Bush.The White House has issued veto threats on the NOPEC bill, warning that the potential to sue oil-producing nations such as Iran, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia could spark diplomatic and economic retaliation. Yet Republicans are likely to stray from Bush, attracted to the political hay that can be made from blasting OPEC members that many lawmakers consider enemies of the U.S. “Republican support of OPEC legislation would dovetail very well with their desire to take the heat off domestic oil companies,” one Senate Democratic aide said.Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), unveiling the energy legislation with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and several senior Democrats, said she would gauge support for the NOPEC bill and coordinate with leaders before determining her floor strategy.Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who this week became the third Judiciary Committee chairman in five years to sign off on the NOPEC bill, had stronger words in his floor statement: “It is long past time for this bill to become law.” Antitrust laws cover foreign businesses engaged in alleged price-fixing behavior while exempting foreign governments, he noted.Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), the bill’s lead author, said in a statement after the House vote that he would push to attach NOPEC to the next appropriate legislation the Senate takes up.Any congressional embrace of OPEC lawsuits would have ripple effects for U.S.-Russia relations as well. The roiled Russian foreign ministry this week accused the House bill of violating international law, and Russian energy minister Viktor Khristenko dubbed the NOPEC bill “a violation of states’ sovereign rights” and “a public PR stunt,” according to Russia & CIS, a daily business journal.“That speaks for itself,” another Senate Democratic aide said of the Russian response, adding that Moscow’s aggravation is unlikely to make bill supporters reverse their positions. The bill’s most influential opponent may be the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where Vice President Bruce Josten wrote to House members this week predicting a “domino effect” if the NOPEC bill becomes law over Bush’s objections.“Under such a legal regime, the United States and all its agents throughout the world could be tried before a foreign court for any activity that the foreign state wishes to make an offense,” Josten wrote. Anticipating next month’s energy debate, Senate Democrats launched a new website at to educate members and constituents about the package. Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) previewed several changes he hopes to make on the floor, including greater environmental protections for renewable fuels and an energy tax package that Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is pushing to complete in time to pass.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Non fuel use of coal

April, 2007
Project to tap coal potential

Dhanbad, April 12: Central Fuel Research Institute (CFRI) here and the BHU have jointly taken up a research project to explore the possibility of producing “fullerenes” from coal.
Fullerenes are chemical compounds, which were discovered in 1985 and only the USA has been able to produce Carbon Nano Tubes from graphite and that too in laboratory conditions. It is expensive and priced at Rs 1.28 lakhs for 10 grams, said CFRI director S.K. Srivastava.
The unique structure of fullerenes give them high tensile strength, high electrical conductivity, high resistance to heat and relatively lower susceptibility to chemical activities.
Scientists, excited over the development of fullerenes with their unique electronic, chemical and mechanical properties, believe this is going to be path-breaking and cylindrical fullerenes or nanotubes could be put to various uses including defence and medicinal purpose. The common gas cylinders in use today, they believe, will weigh far less if fullerenes can be used in their manufacture.
The three-year research project has received a grant of Rs 2 crore from the government, which is equally keen to explore the possibility of producing fullerenes from coal, found in abundance in this part of the country.
The CFRI director said the project is the brainchild of one of their brilliant scientists, Ashis Ghosh, and he exuded confidence that the scientists will have the desired breakthrough within the period prescribed. BHU scientist O.N. Srivastava will be collaborating with Ghosh on the project, he added.
CFRI, he said, has already drawn global attention by its pioneering research on the non-fuel usages of coal and the production of engineering plastic out of coal.
With the research on fullerenes, he said, CFRI has joined a select band of research institutions in the world engaged in the high-technology area of fullerenes and nanotubes.
“We are sure to succeed and prove that we are inferior to none as promising scientists are putting their best in this work,” said Srivastav.

There's Green in that Coal

Peabody Energy: There's Green in Coal

Posted on Apr 12th, 2007 with stocks: BTU

Todd Sullivan submits: America has a growing demand for electricity and is currently the largest consumer of electricity in the world. In our homes, our businesses and industries, Americans spend more than $210 billion on electricity each year. In fact, electricity and food are the two largest commodities bought and sold in America.
Electricity demand has continued to increase since the 1970s. While we are more efficient in our use of energy, demand has grown largely due to the introduction of new technologies — such as the Internet — which consumes about 8 percent of U.S. energy. Between 1970 and 1999, electricity use grew by more than 130 percent, and will continue to climb: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration [EIA], America's energy demand is anticipated to grow over 45 percent in the next 20 years.
What is the main fuel for all this electricity? Coal. It fuels about 40% of the world's electricity and over half of America's electricity (this amount continues to climb annually), which is more than all other sources combined.
Other than electricity, what are some additional uses of coal?
• Coal liquefaction offers promise for nations that are rich in coal, yet scarce in oil. There are four plants in the United States and South Africa currently using coal as feedstock to create liquid fuels. A plant using more than 6 million tons of coal annually could produce more than 3.6 million barrels of diesel and Naptha annually, making diesel liquefaction competitive at $35 to $40 per barrel oil prices. China has earmarked $15 billion for coal-to-diesel-fuel conversion plants and has targeted replacing 10 percent of its oil imports with coal-liquified oil by 2013.
• Partial oxidation - gasification - combines feedstock, oxygen and steam to produce a synthesis gas that is cleaned of impurities. Syngas can be used as a fuel to generate electricity and steam or as a chemical building block for the petrochemical and refining industries. The gasification process converts feedstock such as coal, crude oil, petroleum-based materials or gases into marketable fuels and products.
• Syngas from gasification historically has been used as a feedstock for the production of chemicals, accounting for nearly one-half of syngas use worldwide in the late 1980s. World gasification capacity grew by 50 percent during the 1990s, with more than 40 plants coming on line.
• Today, there are approximately 155 commercial gasification plants in development, construction or operation around the world in 28 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. When operational, these facilities will provide the energy equivalent of more than 770,000 barrels of oil per day.
How to invest and make money on coal?
Just as investing in alternative fuels begins and end with Archer -Daniels Midland (ADM), commercial roofing and insulation with Owens Corning (OC) and paint and coatings with Sherwin Williams (SHW), investing in coal begins and ends with Peabody Energy (BTU) . Since their initial public offering on May 22, 2001, at $28 per share, or $7 per share on a split-adjusted basis following the March 2005 and February 2006 two-for-one stock split, shares hit a high of $75 in May of 2006. Since then, shares have fallen steadily (40%) to their current level of $45 despite growing earnings last year 60% . The world's largest public coal company, their products fuel approximately 10 percent of America's and 3 percent of the world's electricity.
So, how much coal does Peabody have? If you converted their coal into each one of the following energy sources, Peabody's reserves would provide :
• Enough electricity to provide all the U.S. electricity demands for five years• More that 10 times the total U.S. natural gas uses• Diesel fuel: enough to fuel the U.S. truck fleet for 42 years• Hydrogen: enough to replace all oil in U.S. transportation for 6+ years
BTU has not traded in a PE range this low since early 2003, when its stock traded for a split adjusted $9 a share. Since that period, it has grown earnings from 25 cents a share to $1.92 last year (680%) and dividends have grown from 11 to 24 cents a share (118%). Since 2001, shipments of coal have grown from 194 million tons to 240 million tons in 2006 and in 2006, its worldwide coal sales were 38% greater than their closest competitor. In the U.S., Peabody's shipments were 22% of all U.S. coal shipments and 80% greater than the closest competitor. They clearly dominate the coal market both nationally and internationally.
The Future
So, now that we know where we are, we need to figure out where coal and BTU are going. Let's take a look at both worldwide demand and demand here at home in the U.S. The EIA estimates that 115 gigawatts of coal fueled electricity will come on line worldwide in the next three years and by 2030, an additional 156 gigawatts will come online in the U.S. These uses by themselves will require an additional 500 million tons of coal annually. This does not include additional coal demand for the other uses previously mentioned.
Currently BTU has a 1 billion ton backlog of orders with contract ranging from 1 to 19 years, with an average of five years. All long term contract have "price re-opener" provisions in them which protects BTU from a profit squeeze should input costs rise unexpectedly.
BTU is currently is in the process of building 3,100 megawatts of electrical generation capabilities in two locations at BTU owned mining sites. This will enable BTU to become a "minimal cost" electrical producer at these locations as they would be using their own coal to produce the electricity they would then resell.
Debt grew by $1.7 billion in 2006 as this money was used to purchase Excel Coal in Australia and repay its debt. The acquisition makes BTU that largest coal producer in that country also and provides BTU a lower cost basis to export coal to Asia and China, whose demand for it is surging. The Australian mines primarily produce "metallurgical coal." This high BTU coal is primarily used for the production of steel and is highly sought after by China. Selling for about $100 a ton (vs. approx. $26 a ton for all other coal), BTU estimates it will sell an additional 3 to 6 million tons of this in 2007 vs. 2006 providing about $500 million in additional revenue with no added cost.
For 2007 BTU is predicting 265 to 285 million tons of coal shipments for a 10.4% to 18.7% increase over 2006.
From 1990 to 1999, the price of coal declined from $1.38 per million BTU's to $ .91 per million BTU's. Since 1999, that trend has reversed and prices have risen to $1.15 in 2005 and the EIA estimates this price will continue to rise to $1.84 by 2030.
Geopolitical Considerations
The news this week made reference to, but did a lousy job of covering the "summit" of natural gas producers. These nations are attempting to band together and create an OPEC like cartel for the sale of natural gas. The U.S. is not one of these nations, and the formation of an organization like this would only be done for one reason: to raise the price of natural gas.
This event, should it come to fruition, would be monumental to the coal industry. It would create a huge demand for reliable, low cost fuel for the production of electricity and more plants and other industries would move from natural gas to coal as their main fuel source. I anticipate that these nations will form this alliance and Peabody and its shareholders will be the main unintended beneficiary of it.
So, all this now has us considering buying shares of a company that is the world leader in its industry, with increasing demand and pricing power for its products selling at historically low levels... valueplay, anyone?

Progress Energy seeks new approach

Progress seeks new strategy

ASHEVILLE — Progress Energy said Wednesday that officials realize the proposed power plant in Woodfin was perceived in the public as a done deal, and they may take a different approach with similar deals.
Progress Energy spokesman Ken Maxwell said while the company publicly announced a $1-per-year lease on public land to build the oil-burning power plant and there were numerous occasions for public input, the building of the $72 million “peak” power plant was seen as certain by many people in the community.
“We may look at this differently in the future,” Maxwell said.

The utility’s response came after a Woodfin board voted last week to deny Progress Energy a conditional-use permit for the 130-megawatt plant that would serve about 150,000 power customers during peak demand periods.
Many residents spoke in opposition to the plant at the board meeting, saying it was harmful to people’s health and the environment, and would cause property values to drop.
Progress Energy said the plant is needed to replace power that the company now buys from another utility provider and that it has to build the plant in order to provide reliable power to the region.
Progress Energy representatives said they have not yet decided if they will appeal the ruling in court, go back to the board with new information or look at building the plant elsewhere.
The company has 30 days from the April 2 ruling to appeal the board’s decision. Even with a successful appeal, Progress still must win an air quality permit and prove need for the plant before the Utilities Commission in the fall.

Cleanest power plant in the U.S.A.

Polk power plant one of the cleanest in the country

Last Edited: Thursday, 12 Apr 2007, 8:51 PM EDT
Created: Thursday, 12 Apr 2007, 8:51 PM EDT

This power plant in Polk County is getting world-wide attention for its clean-burning technology.

MULBERRY - A power plant in Polk County may become a power player in the struggle to combat global warming. Tampa Electric Polk Power Station is in an isolated area south of Mulberry, and a lot of people are making the trek there looking for answers.
"We have had a number of visitors, literally around the world, to learn about this technology," said Rick Morera, a spokesman for Tampa Electric.
The power station is known as one of the cleanest plants in North America. It emits very little air pollution, and is ready to raise the bar even higher. It is set to cut carbon dioxide emissions, which are suspected of causing global warming, to lower levels than ever before.
"It's not a trivial thing to consider carbon dioxide removal," said Mark Hornick, general manager at the Polk Station.
Carbon dioxide is produced as a by-product of burning the coal.
Experts expect the federal government to tighten up regulations on coal burning plants like the one in Polk, within the next few years.
"We'll be ready," Hornick said.
If the plant's state of the art technology was retrofitted, its carbon dioxide emissions could be cut by almost ninety percent. It also has plans to build a new unit within the next few years that would produce very little Co2.

Coal vs. Environmental Concerns

Coal fueling environmental collision course
Apr 13, 2007
Honolulu Advertiser, Opinion
By Ronald Brownstein
Utilities deciding on new plants that could undermine U.S. policy
An ominous collision is approaching between Washington's legislative and regulatory agenda and the investment plans of the nation's largest utilities. Unless these blueprints are aligned, meaningful progress against global warming could be foreclosed for years, or even decades.
Mandatory limits on carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to global warming appear inevitable after a U.S. Supreme Court decision last week. By ruling that greenhouse gases qualified as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act, the court virtually required the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate them — and increased the likelihood that Congress will impose limits as well. But with President Bush opposed to compulsory reductions, none is likely until he leaves office.
Many utilities accept the inevitability of restraints on greenhouse-gas emissions, but most won't act unless they are required to act. And while Washington delays in establishing such requirements, utilities are making investment decisions that could undermine whatever strategy the nation finally adopts.
With demand for electricity expected to rise by about one-sixth through 2015, utilities are betting heavily on coal, even though it generates more carbon dioxide per unit of heat than oil or natural gas. Coal is attractive to utilities because it is plentiful and cheap. But coal is inexpensive largely because power plants are not required to capture the carbon they produce. Coal-fired plants contribute half the electricity produced in the United States but four-fifths of the carbon emissions associated with electrical generation. Coal-fired plants, in fact, contribute almost one-third of all the carbon emissions the United States generates — roughly as much produced by every car and truck on the road. No future federal effort against global warming could succeed without slashing those coal-related emissions.
Yet the Department of Energy recently reported that U.S. utilities are planning to build 150 more coal-fired power plants through 2030, with nearly half slated for operation by 2011. Utilities say they have no alternative to meet the growing demand, but power plants operate for 50 years. By relying too heavily on coal to meet their near-term supply challenge, utilities could threaten progress against global warming for decades.
"The biggest threat to a rational global warming policy is we delay acting two to four years and utilities build a lot of new sources that make it impossible to take action," said Bruce Nilles, a Sierra Club attorney.
Technological advances may someday reduce that danger. Researchers are exploring systems that capture carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and sequester the gas underground. But these efforts are nascent: The largest project, in Norway, is storing only about one-third as much carbon as an average coal plant produces.
Some public figures, such as former Vice President Al Gore, 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and outspoken NASA climate scientist James Hansen, want to ban new coal-fired plants until this clean coal technology is proved. That's probably more than the economy could bear. But until research demonstrates the technological and economic feasibility of "capture and sequester" systems, officials should seek to limit new coal plant construction to the bare minimum.
One precedent that states could apply is the new California law prohibiting purchase of electricity from plants that generate substantial greenhouse-gas emissions. Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico recently sent a useful signal by warning that any federal global-warming legislation was unlikely to "grandfather" heavily emitting coal plants completed before its passage.
Even the utility industry should think twice; conventional coal plants built today inevitably will face expensive retrofitting to meet future emission standards. American Electric Power Co., a large Midwest utility, last month announced plans for the first capture-and-sequester retrofits on existing coal plants. But Michael G. Morris, company chairman and chief executive, says the better approach is to build all-new plants "from this point forward addressing the global warming issue."
As Morris notes, that would require fresh thinking from state regulators, who currently don't allow utilities to pass on the cost of limiting carbon emissions, because federal law doesn't require it. It would also require sacrifice from consumers. Wind and solar could fill some of the gap if utilities slow their planned additions in coal-fired power while cleaner technologies are tested. But any turn from coal would also demand conservation, likely enforced through higher prices for electricity.
Moving away from conventional coal too abruptly might disrupt the economy. But sticking with it too long would surely doom our efforts to stabilize the environment. The best formula would be to accelerate research on technologies that promise cleaner coal — and to slow the deployment of conventional coal plants until that research catches fire.
Ronald Brownstein is the Los Angeles Times' national affairs columnist.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Safety Fines To Double

Mine Safety Fines to Double Under New Regulation
Mar 24, 2007

Total fines for mine safety violations would more than double, to almost $32 million a year nationwide, under a new rule finalized Thursday by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.
But fines charged to the industry's largest operators could actually decline, compared to the original proposal MSHA published last year, according to estimates made public with the release of the final rule.
While MSHA refused an industry request and generally raised fees across the board, agency officials also backed off several parts of the original proposal issued in the wake of last year's deadly year in the coalfields.
United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts generally praised the final rule, but said he remains worried about how MSHA will implement it.
"It remains to be seen if MSHA will actually shift its general attitude from 'compliance assistance' to being strict enforcers of the law," Roberts said in a prepared statement.
Carol Raulston, a spokeswoman for the National Mining Association, said her group had hoped MSHA would scale back the rule to include only fine increases required by Congress in a reform bill passed last year.
That law established a new maximum fine of $220,000 for "flagrant" health and safety violations and a penalty of $5,000 to $60,000 for operators who fail to promptly report serious accidents, but under pressure after the Sago Mine disaster and a string of other deaths, MSHA did a much broader rewrite of its penalty regulations.
The rule rewrites a set of tables that set penalty "points" for violations, based on various factors, including the company size, compliance history and violation seriousness.
Under the final rule, total fines for all mining sectors would increase, if officials assume no additional compliance, from $24.9 million a year to $69.3 million, slightly more than under the original MSHA proposal.
MSHA projected its overall increase in penalties would force more coal operators to comply with the law more frequently. Overall, the agency said, total violations are expected to drop by nearly one- fourth.
When this change is accounted for, MSHA projects total fines assessed per year would increase from $14.7 million to $31.8 million.
Total fines for the very largest operators - those with more than 500 workers - would drop compared to the original proposal, from $7.4 million to $5.7 million.
For the next largest category - operators with between 20 and 500 workers - total penalties would increase slightly over the proposed rule, from $46.7 million to $49.4 million.
In its Federal Register notice, MSHA analyzed several industry examples that indicate the final rule is not as severe as last year's proposal:
* At one Jim Walter Resources mine in Alabama, the proposed rule would have increased total 2005 penalties form $66,000 to $379,000. The final rule increases them to $334,000, about 12 percent less.
* At another Jim Walter mine, last year's proposal would have increased total fines from $129,000 to $421,000. This week's final rule would increase them to $344,000, about 18 percent less.
* At a Peabody Energy mine, the original MSHA proposal would have increased the average fine for a serious violation from $576 to $3,996. The final rule would increase the fine to $2,902, about 27 percent less.
Among other changes, MSHA backed off its original proposal for increasing penalty points based on mine size. Instead of a maximum of 20 points for mines with more than 2 million tons a year of coal produced for example, the final proposal gives similar-sized operators 15 points. That is still an increase over the 10 points allocated to those size operators under current rules.
MSHA eliminated the single shift penalty, which assigned automatic fines of $60 to the most common and less serious violations.
Under the change, these violations will instead be processed through the normal assessment procedure.
MSHA also reduced from 24 months to 15 months to period of time that will be examined in determining whether operators have a history of violations.
Also, in its new addition to the penalty formula meant to take into account repeat violations of the same safety standards, MSHA decided to base its analysis on the number of citations per inspection day rather than just the raw number of citations.
MSHA did not agree to industry requests that this new part of the formula only consider violations inspectors deem to be "significant and substantial."
To contact staff writer Ken Ward Jr., use e-mail or call 348- 1702

USA #2 and we like it, China top polluter

China on brink as No. 1 polluter
Mar 24, 2007

Washington Times

Emma Graham-Harrison and Gerard Wynn

China is on course to overtake the United States this year as the world's biggest carbon dioxide producer, according to estimates based on Chinese energy data.
The finding might pressure Beijing to take more action on climate change.
China's emissions rose by about 10 percent in 2005, a senior U.S. scientist estimated, while Beijing data shows fuel consumption rose more than 9 percent in 2006, suggesting China would easily outstrip the United States this year, long before a forecast.
Taking the top spot would put pressure on China to do more to slow emissions as part of world talks on extending the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol on global warming beyond 2012.
Thirty-five developed nations have agreed to cut emissions in accordance with Kyoto and they want others, especially the United States and China, to do more. China and India were not included in the pact because they are considered developing countries, which was one reason the United States did not sign it.
"It looks likely to me that China will pass the United States [in emissions] this year," said Gregg Marland, a senior staff scientist at the U.S. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, which supplies data to governments, researchers and nongovernmental organizations worldwide.
"There's a very high likelihood they'll pass them in 2007."
Carbon dioxide is produced by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas for heat, power and transportation. Many, but not all, scientists say it is a key contributor to global warming.
Mr. Marland used fossil fuel consumption data from oil company BP to calculate China's carbon dioxide emissions in 2005 at 5.3 billion tons, versus 5.9 billion for the United States, with respective growth in 2005 of 10.5 percent and less than 0.1 percent.
In 2006, Chinese fuel consumption rose 9.3 percent to the equivalent of 2.4 billion tons of coal that year, the deputy head of the office that advises China on energy policy, Xu Dingming, said on Thursday.
This was faster than BP's estimate of a 9 percent rise in China's oil, gas and coal consumption in 2005, to 1.45 billion tons of oil equivalent.
The International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises 26 developed countries, said in November that China would overtake the United States as the world's biggest carbon dioxide emitter before 2010 if current trends continued.
China's Office of the National Coordination Committee on Climate Change said it could not comment on either forecast, as it did not have a reliable estimate of the country's emissions.
"These figures are very complicated; we don't have an estimate of [carbon dioxide] for such a recent date," said an official who declined to be named. "We have just set in motion our national reporting plan ... but it will not be done for two or three years."
U.N. data for 2003 put the United States at the top with 23 percent of world carbon dioxide emissions and China second with 16.5 percent. But U.S. residents were far bigger producers, at 20 tons per capita versus China's 3.2 tons and a world average of 3.7.
China argues that wealthy nations are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere and should lead the way in cutting emissions.
More economic growth and fuel use translates into higher emissions, particularly in China, which gets around 70 percent of its energy from coal, the highest carbon-producing fuel.
Mr. Marland estimated a plus or minus 15 to 20 percent error in the Chinese data versus a 5 percent U.S. margin.
China's rapid rise of carbon emissions is threatening to outweigh efforts by the European Union and others to slow climate change. EU leaders said earlier this month they would cut the bloc's greenhouse gases by at least one-fifth by 2020.
But China between now and 2015 will build power-generating capacity equal to the entire existing capacity in the 27-nation European Union, the IEA estimates.
China's sconomic growth has been fueled largely by burning coal, and it is still building power plants at an unprecedented rate. Last year, it added about 100 gigawatts of new generators, approaching France's entire capacity, most of them coal-burning ones.

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