David Roberts of Grist.org writes in the Nation, "So there you have it: just in the past week, elite opinion against coal has accelerated, two major coal projects have run into embarrassments, and an independent report has confirmed that things are only going to get worse." Power consulting firm Wood MacKensie says that "the rate of coal plant cancellations accelerated during 2007 to the point that more than 50% of the new coal capacity announced since 2000 has now been canceled." On top of that, the cost of building new power plants has increased 130% since the start of the decade. Desperation is palpable in industry's efforts in places like Kansas. After the Sunflower plant was denied a permit last year based on failure to meet air quality requirements, they leaned on their friends in the state legislature to pass a coal-friendly "compromise" bill. When Governor Kathleen Sebelius promised to veto the bill, Sunflower resorted to blatant bribery. The firm says they "will give $2.5 million over 10 years to Kansas State University ... but only if the plant is approved." But what about the promise of "clean coal"? Roberts states that "an official at Royal Dutch Shell said last week that carbon prices would have to reach about $100/tonne -- three times current levels -- before investment in carbon capture and storage would make economic sense."
By Judith Siers-Poisson on February 27, 2008