Hansen: “Tell Barack Obama About Coal River Mountain”

Our top climate scientist has posted his thoughts on Coal River Mountain and Obama coal policy in general here. He notes:

Coal River Mountain is the site of an absurdity….

The issue at Coal River Mountain is whether the top of the mountain will be blown up, so that coal can be dredged out of it, or whether the mountain will be allowed to stand. It has been shown that more energy can be obtained from a proposed wind farm, if Coal River Mountain continues to stand. More jobs would be created. More tax revenue would flow, locally and to the state, and the revenue flow would continue indefinitely. Clean water and the environment would be preserved. But if planned mountaintop removal proceeds, the mountain loses its potential to be a useful wind source (see here).

The whole note is worth reading, though the analysis of U.S. emissions trends omits a key analysis I posted earlier (see “U.S. carbon dioxide emissions growth during Bush years 300% higher than official estimates“).

9 Responses to Hansen: “Tell Barack Obama About Coal River Mountain”

  1. John Hollenberg says:

    The “see here” link is broken.

  2. charlesH says:

    There is a lot of support for coal among the Democratic members of the Senate Energy Committee. For example see probable energy committee chairman Dorgan.

    “Coal is our most abundant, most secure, and lowest cost American resource. Our national coal resource is estimated to have over 200 years of energy. But we must invest in technologies to capture and store the carbon dioxide produced from burning coal and other fossil energy sources. Senator Dorgan is a leader in supporting carbon capture and storage research, and has helped enact legislation to provide a set of policies and incentives for companies who are developing and commercializing carbon capture and storage technologies.”

    Read the policy statements of all the energy committee members. I did and I was surprised to see the support for coal especially among the Democratic members.

    So maybe Dr. Hansen’s memo should be copied to the Democrats on the committee.

  3. bosq says:

    it is need time

  4. llewelly says:

    It is a sign of how confused our national energy discourse is that ‘ … over 200 years of energy …’ is an argument in favor of coal. Conservatively, solar and wind can be expected to provide energy for as long as human civilization lasts.

  5. Dano says:

    I wonder if Dorgan “counted” all the deaths from air pollution and AGW in the coal cost “calculation” he used as the basis for the “lowest cost” talking point. Doubtful, as those are lobbyist talking points.



  6. Rick C says:

    It seems like a no-brainer. Destroy the mountains to extract a finite amount of coal and forever despoil the area with a low labor intensive but highly environmentally destructive process or construct wind turbines on the tops of those mountains which may not look pretty to some but will produce electricity far further into the future than coal every could and provide many more locally sited jobs. Of course the scales tilt heavily towards mountain removal when your adversary is the coal industry. A classic David and Goliath struggle and there are far more Davids then Goliaths and we’ll need everyone of them.

  7. charlesH says:

    It seems to me something is missing from the story to explain why coal mining is favored. If putting wind farms on the mountain generated more economic value then the company who owns the mountain wouldn’t mine for coal.

  8. Kojiro Vance says:

    I’m not a big fan of mountaintop removal, but there are a couple of missing pieces to this story.

    First, this is Massey’s private property. They are removing minerals from land they own. They will own the reclaimed land. They have filed and received valid permits from the state and from the federal government.

    Secondly, I pulled up the wind resources for the area. It is mostly class 4-6 for wind resources. This area is not particularly good for locating wind turbines. Any development would also require new transmission lines. Even so, electric prices in West Virginia run 5-7 cents per kWh, the cheapest in the nation. Retail customers pay less for power than the cost to generate from wind – even in better resource states like Texas. (7-9 cents). With poorer resources, wind power in West Virginia are likely to be 10 cents or more per kWh. So electric ratepayers in West Virginia would get to pay MORE for power from wind then they currently pay for coal fired power.

    Finally, Hansen is an idiot when he claims that wind would produce MORE power than the coal.