Renewables Conference Sponsored by Envirokinetics

AAEA Midwest Office Director is also president of Envirokinetics, which sponsored a Renewables Energy Coference on September 8, 2008.


In Memoriam: Robert J. Knox

Bob Knox was a friend and inspiration to AAEA as he was to many other institutions and people all over the country.

Robert J. Knox was a founding Deputy Director and former Acting Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Justice(OEJ). Mr. Knox was an engineer by training and he began his career in Region 4 as a manpower development specialist working on water related issues. He moved to Region 2 where he led manpower and training programs.

In the early 1980s he served as the Director of the Office of Civil Rights. Thereafter, he was the Hazardous Waste Ombudsman for OSWER. When the Office of Environmental Justice was formed in 1992, he served as the founding Deputy Office Director with Dr. Clarice Gaylord, then OEJ Director. Bob spent his last 12 years in EPA working on community engagement activities. Bob retired from EPA in December 2004. In his retirement, he began taking coursework toward a masters degree from Howard University's School of Divinity. He was also a former deacon at the Gethsemane Baptist Church.


Federal Lending For Building Coal Plants Suspended

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has suspended a low-interest lending program for rural electric cooperatives seeking federal assistance to build new coal-fired power plants during fiscal 2008 or 2009. The suspension is acknowledgement about concern for global warming. The low-interest loans are perceived as subsidizing coal plants that emit greenhouse gases while failing to accurately calculate the financial and environmental risks associated with those plants. The RUS has provided $1.4 billion in low-interest loans for coal-fired plants over the past six years. Rural electric cooperatives rely on coal for 80 percent of their power, well above the 50 percent national average.

The last loan for a generating plant was made in 2006. But rural cooperatives have applied for $1.2 billion in loans to cover all or part of four more coal-fired plants, including controversial ones in eastern Kentucky and southern Illinois. The Sierra Club also has a major program to prevent the building of coal plants around the U.S. Yet the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is concerned that global warming retrofit expenses and higher coal prices for rural power generation co-ops could pass the increases along to consumers. Power generation co-ops are separate from distribution co-ops, which in the past have forced some generators into bankruptcy rather than pass along higher costs. (The Washington Post)


AAEA Midwest To Speak At Delta College Earth Day Event

AAEA Midwest Director James Mosley will speak at Delta College located near Bay City, Michigan on April 7 for their Global Awareness Program and Earth Day Celebration. The theme of the event is, "Sustainability: Challenges and Choices for Our Planet." Mr. Mosley will speak about global, national, state and local environmental and energy issues. Another panel will discuss coal issues, which will include industry, state and NGO panelists. College representatives will give a presentation on the Delta College “EverGreen” Green Campus Initiative. Other issues to be discussed include alternative auto fuels, hybrid vehicles, bio-diesel, pollution prevention and there will be a film and a Global Awareness World Event.

On April 8, solar power will be discussed and there will be musical performances. The Student Environmental Club will be available to answer questions and the will be vendor displays all day. Delta College has a 640-acre main campus in University Center, Michigan and additional locations in Midland, Saginaw, and Bay City. This college has over 10,000 students enrolled.

FutureGen Clean Coal Project Cancelled

The Bush administration dropped its support for a $1.8 billion planned 275-megawatt coal-fired plant power plant designed to store greenhouse gases underground, because of ballooning costs. This decision comes about a month after the private partners in the project picked Mattoon, Illinois as the site for the project. Congress appropriated $108 million for the plant that was authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, but the cost of the project has doubled and other technologies could be better. The Center would like to see a conversion plant that converts carbon dioxide into gasoline. FutureGen is one of the most advanced projects for determining whether emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, can be captured from coal-fired plants and stored, or sequestered, underground. The Center will examine whether CO2 to gasoline conversion qualifies for the FutureGen project. By contrast, the FutureGen project is a nonprofit venture that included 13 utilities and coal companies constructing of a plant that would turn coal to gas, strip out and store underground the carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change, and then burn the remaining gas to produce electricity and hydrogen.

The project is a joint venture between a private industry alliance, which would cover 26 percent of the cost and the Department of Energy, which was supposed to cover 74 percent. Half of the nation's electricity is produced by coal-fired plants so dealing with the carbon dioxide for is important for reducing this main greenhouse gas emission that is producing climate change. The cost was first estimated in 2004 at $950 million and the $1.8 billion final cost estimate assumed that construction costs escalate at a 5.2 percent annual rate. DOE has refused to issue a record of decision on the environmental impact statement, which blocks development of the project. DOE has decided to pay the cost of adding carbon capture and storage technology to new or existing coal plants bigger than 300 megawatts. (The Washington Post) (The Washington Post)


DOE Selects "Clean Coal" Demonstration Site

The U.S. Department of Energy's FutureGen Alliance named Mattoon, Illinois, as the site for a new $1.8 billion "clean coal" demonstration plant that will capture carbon dioxide and store it underground permanently. The FutureGen project, which also aims to eventually produce some hydrogen from coal, is expected to be online in 2012.

The plant in downstate Mattoon will be a joint venture between the U.S. Department of Energy and the FutureGen Alliance, a non-profit consortium of coal producers and energy generators. Downstate Illinois has the coal, the geology and the commitment needed to demonstrate this project. The Center supports this project. (Reuters, The Baltimore Sun)


Congress Passes Final Energy Bill

The House passed the final version of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 today (Dec 18) by a vote of 314 to 100. The Senate passed the revised energy bill 86 to 8 on Dec 13. It now goes to the president for his signature. President Bush signed his second energy bill (H.R. 6) and thus leads America into a new age of automobile efficiency. Raising vehicle fuel economy standards is a great achievement that eluded other presidents and congresses since the passage of the original mileage law (Energy Policy Conservation Act of 1975).

President Bush signed his first energy bill, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. AAEA atttended the signing of that historic legislation.Key provisions of the bill include: Autobile fuel efficiency stardard of 35 miles a gallon by 2020, Renewable fuel ethanol use increased to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022, Green Jobs training for 35,000 people every year, Increases the efficiency of buildings and appliances and eliminates incandescent light bulbs by 2015, among others. The new law also goes far in helping to fulfill the goals of the California global warming law and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Iniative (RGGI) of the Northern states.Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate) [H.R.6.ENR]