Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Union of Concerned Scientists "Burning Coal Burning Cash" 2010 Alabama Facts--"Damn" Alabama Power

In the ever increasing need to find alternative solutions to coal fired power plants this study by the UCS shows Alabama's huge economic outflow to import coal to the state making the state the 6th highest importer of coal at a cost of $1.3 billion dollars. The Southern Company's Alabama Power is one of the largest consumers of coal in Alabama.

Energy efficiency programs supported by taxpayer funds paled in comparison at "$.49 cents per person in 2007--about 600 times less than it spent on imported coal" which clearly defines how Alabama's interests are all askew. We're willing to fork out huge sums to maintain the status quo and unwilling to change even if it means a boon to our local economy to do so.

The state is beholden to the omnipotent Southern Company [SC] (Alabama Power) [AP] who is the largest user of all this imported coal--they own Alabama and every politician in it, particularly the Republicans. The study states that Alabama produced "63% more electricity from all sources than retail customers bought. That suggests in-state coal plants may have exported some of their power."

That's a great arrangement for SC and AP--pollute Alabama's environment, add to the ghastly practice of mountaintop removal in the Appalachia's and grow even richer by selling the power produced from those deeds to other states. It's reprehensible and heartily aided and abetted by our politicians who are completely devoid of any forward thinking on energy change;
Alabama Power is responsible for the multiple dams on the Coosa River that caused the biggest mass extinction of species in the river and they have applied for a re-license to operate for 40 more years on the Coosa but refuse to do environmental studies on how that may affect the quality of the 10th most endangered river in the US.

American Rivers and its partners called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to meet their responsibility and ensure the new operating license for dam owner Alabama Power includes key protections for the river and its fish and wildlife.

The Coosa is the most developed river in Alabama, and only some of the river’s 275 miles still flow freely.  Most of the Coosa River is trapped behind seven Alabama Power Company dams. 

The construction of these dams doomed many of the Coosa’s native fish and wildlife to extinction.  FERC’s re-licensing of Alabama Power’s dams is the first opportunity in half a century to improve river conditions for people, fish, and wildlife, ensuring a future for 21 federally listed species in the area.
An article came out over the summer of 2010 touting the "comeback" of the endangered Tulotoma Snail in the Coosa below the Jordan Dam thanks to AP's "carefully regulating the flow on the segment of the Coosa below Jordan Dam."

This was cited as the basis for removing the snail (which is a filter animal and the presence of these indicate water quality as any fisherman will tell you) from the Endangered Species list to just Threatened Species, which in turn would "relax" regulations on that segment of the river.

Reading the fine print shows what AP considers a "comeback";
Today, the Tulotoma is believed to occupy 10 percent of its historical range. 
The article is replete with feel good language and high talk by Alabama Power spokesperson Michael Sznajderman extolling the the "caring efforts" of AP in helping to create the massive 10% comeback of the snail. This was obviously the work of underhanded PR men and lawyers who consider the Endangered Species Act to be a Trojan Horse of sorts that only serves to work against the self-serving interests of big business. As usual, Alabama's media dutifully prints their propaganda without any inkling of fact checking or opposing factual information included in their sparkling "news stories."

Note to AP; crowing about helping what you harmed to begin with is beyond hypocritical, it's reprehensible and it's a lie. Note to Alabama's press; do your damn job and perform as true journalists not regurgitaters of spin.

If it weren't for this all powerful giant of a company not only would Alabama's environment improve, but so would our economic opportunities in having more dollars available for our state than what your coal fired plants are costing all of us. AP requested "confidentiality" on the location of two of it's coal ash ponds in the Wilsonville plant area (that we know of, there may be others)--why?
The agency has acknowledged that wet disposal of coal ash presents a greater risk to human health and the environment than dry landfills, Sierra Club says, because hazardous chemicals are more likely to migrate from such dumps and the large impoundments present a risk of catastrophic failure. 

The EPA data note ownership, location, hazard potential, year commissioned, type and quantity of coal combustion waste disposed, dates of the last regulatory or company assessment, and in some instances whether an unregulated discharge of coal ash had occurred. Some critical data were not included because companies claimed the data as Confidential Business Information. 

The Sierra Club says the problems are likely underestimated by the present data set because companies like Duke Energy, Alabama Power, Georgia Power and Progress Energy have withheld information on 74 dump sites, including some of the largest dump sites in the U.S, claiming the information is "confidential business information." 

AP claims that safety records around its dams of the coal ash ponds are "proprietary records";
"The specific information is considered proprietary," Alabama Power said in an e-mailed statement last week. "Public safety and the security of our facilities are our primary concerns. Our ash pond poses no threat to our employees or the public." 

Alabama Power's Miller Steam Plant on the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River. (Jefferson Co.)
Photo by Nelson Brooke.Miller Steam Plant, on the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior, emitted more mercury in 2007 than any other coal-burning power plant in the country, according to EPA data compiled by the Environmental Integrity Project. Note how close to the river the coal ash pond is.
TVA said the same thing about it's Kingston plant and we know all too well how that went.

Nothing happens in Alabama without the long shadow of AP's President Charles McCrary "right up in the middle of every significant issue that involves the state." And King Charles is not about to give up his King Coal loot for anyone despite the cost to Alabama's citizens, the environment of Alabama and those of other states that help feed the fire to burn coal and burn cash in the Land of Cotton.
Coal Cash Alabama
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  1. AlaDAM Power is precisely correct and thank you for nailing them on it.
    It is past time they have their hands out of the affairs of Alabama, lest we forget what happened in the late 1970s that Walter Johnsey's "long shadow was also on the middle of" covered in the MY Times in 1978.

  2. Alabama Power "always in your politician's pocket"


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