June 05, 2007

Part of the Solution, or Part of the Problem?

Tenaska, Inc. is planning to build the largest new source of carbon dioxide in Illinois near Taylorville. The 630MW coal fired power plant, as currently planned, would add approximately four million tons of carbon dioxide to Illinois’ carbon dioxide emissions annually, the same amount of global warming pollution as 500,000 cars, per year for each of the next fifty years.

Governor Blagojevich has set a statewide goal of reducing global warming pollution to 60% below 1990 levels by 2050 - the level that science tells us we must reach to slow global warming. Renewable energy and energy efficiency programs will be a major part of this strategy. Illinois coal can also be a part of the solution if new plants are linked to major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Last year in Springfield, just up the road from Taylorville, City Water Light and Power (CWLP) was planning to build a 200MW power plant for their city customers. We worked with CWLP to forge an agreement to offset the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions through a creative package of programs, including purchasing 120MW of wind power, and investing $400,000 into a city wide energy efficiency program.

So far, this has not been the case with the Tenaska project. Tenaska does not have a plan to deal with the massive increases in global warming pollution that would come from their plant. Such a plan could include offsetting carbon emissions through retiring existing, dirtier plants, investing in renewables or efficiency, or potentially sequestering their carbon underground, although there are still many questions about the viability of carbon sequestration.

Tenaska could be a part of the solution, and put forward a plan that gives Illinois and the planet less, not millions of tons more, carbon dioxide. We are willing to work with them to develop such a plan. If Springfield and their local utility can do it, surely a large corporation like Tenaska can do it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As you point out Jack, the Governor has set a state-wide goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. However, this goal, while admirable, has yet to be translated into concrete action steps.

Has the Governor instructed his EPA director to include limits on carbon dioxide emissions in the construction permits for new coal gasification plants like the one in Taylorville? No. Has he introduced legislation that would set a ceiling on carbon dioxide emissions and require existing coal-burning plants to begin reducing their emissions? No.

Instead, the Governor wants to spend $775 million in state dollars to help speed the construction of more coal gasification plants. Has he made this massive subsidy contingent on these plants capturing and sequestering carbon emissions, or at least finding ways to offset them by investing in cleaner energy resources? No.

The Sierra Club endorsed the Governor over the Green Party candidate in the last election. You can bet Rich Whitney would have a climate change action plan in place by now. What were you thinking?

sos said...

Whoa! Wind power and efficiency as an offset to new CO2 emissions? Hmmm, I guess if you keep repeating a lie you start to believe it yourself, Sierra Club.

To answer the question, I often find the Illinois Sierra Club part of the problem.