Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Boulder’s Fight Against Air Pollutants

When it comes to the environmental movement, one can approach issues from a variety of perspectives: one can deal with the things yet to come which pose a threat–i.e., carbon emissions, population growth, waste–or demolish the harmful models of the past, and transform them. In other words, animal rights activists can protest a fur factory, but what to do with all the furs already made? I can think of no better way to illustrate this paradox, than by looking at the recent dismantling of one of Boulder’s coal plants. From Daily Camera’s new blog, Big Green Boulder:
BOULDER, Colo. — In January 1923, when Western Light and Power company announced plans to spend $4 million to build a coal-burning power plant on the shores of what was then Weisenhorn Lake east of Boulder, locals were delighted. The Daily Camera called the decision to construct the Valmont power plant “the greatest thing for Boulder that has happened in years,” as it would bring good jobs and ensure that the town would not be overlooked as Colorado continued to grow. Today the brick walls of the 85-year-old building are covered with creeping ivy, tall trees quietly line the power station’s drive — and Boulder residents are decidedly less delighted about having a coal plant in their back yard. Four of the plant’s five coal-fired generators were retired in the mid-1980s, but one boiler stays lit, eating through a trainload of coal a week. When running full tilt, it delivers 186 megawatts of electricity to the grid — enough to power about 186,000 Colorado homes, according to the Governor’s Energy Office. Lately, opposition to Valmont’s surviving coal-powered boiler, now owned by Xcel Energy, has heated up, stoked by concerns over global warming, toxic air pollutants and Boulder’s ability to meet its greenhouse gas-reduction goals. “I feel as though the whole movement to go beyond coal has taken a giant leap forward in the last six months,” said Micah Parkin, who leads Boulder’s Beyond Coal Coalition, which is helping lead the fight to shut down Valmont. “Several things are all culminating to shake people up, to make people realize that something has got to be done.” Even so, Xcel has been steadfast in its decision to keep Valmont running, pointing out that the plant is its most efficient in Colorado– meaning it turns a greater percentage of the energy trapped in coal into energy delivered to the grid than the company’s other coal plants. Valmont also has an excellent record of compliance with environmental regulations, officials say, and Xcel is already planning to retire two of its dirtier Colorado coal plants in the next five years. But Boulder’s anti-coal activists are not deterred, and their attack on Valmont has taken many forms, including greater pressure on city officials to play hardball in their franchise negotiations with Xcel, demanding more electricity from renewable sources. Most recently, opponents of Valmont are trying a new tactic, striking the power plant in what may prove to be its Achilles’ heel: its air permit, which is now up for renewal. […]
Read the entire article here.


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The techniques and prophetic vision for achieving food security in the face of climate change contained in Gary Paul Nabhan’s Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land may well need to be implemented across most of North America over the next half-century, and are already applicable in most of the semiarid West, Great Plains, and […] Read More

The Future Is Hopeless, So Give it Your All

The never-ending national election in the United States, the “surprise” pro-Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, climate change … the list goes on and on about how easy it can be to lose hope in the future.Like many of life’s frustrations, or overwhelmingly large topics, most people in our society find themselves somewhere on the […] Read More

How Carbon Farming Can Save the Planet

Carbon farming alone is not enough to avoid catastrophic climate change, but coupled with new economic priorities, a massive switch to clean energy, and big changes to much of the rest of the way our societies work, it offers a pathway out of destruction and a route to hope.Along the way carbon farming can also […] Read More

Welcome to the Lyme Wars

Lyme disease infects a minimum of 300,000 people per year in the United States and millions more throughout the rest of the world. Symptoms run from mild lethargy to severe arthritis to heart disease to incapacitating mental dysfunction. Although tests have improved over the past decade, they are still not completely reliable, and antibiotics are […] Read More

Look Under Your Feet for Global Soil-utions

For several years, Chelsea Green has been publishing books that look under our feet for solutions to some of the most vexing problems facing the planet – hunger, drought, degraded farmland and grasslands, damaged waterways, and much more. Those books focus on (mostly) one thing: Soil.  In 2016, we’ve published two more important books that […] Read More
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