Major Indian coal plant builder turns to solar
Hindustan Power Projects Ltd. (formerly Moser Baer Projects) has announced that it will no longer build coal plants after completing construction on two projects this year. “I’ve stopped developing coal plants. There’s not enough coal, and I’m not going to rely on imported coal. It’s too risky,” said Chairman Ratul Puri. Instead the New Delhi-based power company will invest nearly US$3 billion to add 650 megawatts (MW) of solar power by 2017. “Solar power has several advantages over power plants using any other fuel,” said Puri. “It is not only a clean source of energy, but also has a stabilizing effect on the grid.” In addition to its India projects, Hindustan Power Projects is developing solar projects in Germany, the UK, Japan, and Italy. (The Japan Times, The Financial Express)
Indian activists hold national coal convention
Representatives from coal-impacted communities across India gathered in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, to share their experiences with the impacts of coal mining and power plants. The attendees —from Gujarat, Singrauli, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand—reported on groundwater depletion, declining farm and fishery incomes, breathing difficulties, birth disorders, and early deaths, all compounded by official indifference. Addressing the convention, Mr. E.A.S. Sarma, former Power Secretary for the Government of India, said, “If the Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Plant materializes, it will make this water-rich, agriculture-rich and fisheries-rich area of Tamil Nadu a toxic hotspot.” The delegates visited villages near the proposed 4,000MW Cheyyur project. (India Resists)
Spain’s Laciana Valley says adiós to mountaintop removal
Following a twenty-year struggle by anti-mining activists, the regional government of Castilla y León has cancelled mountaintop removal coal mining in Spain’s Laciana Valley. The campaign included litigation, appeals to the European Court, media campaigning, and non-violent direct action. (Earth First Newswire)
Thousands rally to resist mining in the Mahan forests
Thousands of villagers from more than a dozen villages in the Mahan region of Singrauli rallied in Amelia last week to oppose mining in the forests of Mahan. The rally marks the beginning of a Van Satyagraha—a concerted non-violent resistance campaign—aimed at reversing Environment Minister Veerappa Moily’s action granting Stage II forest clearance to the Mahan coal block. “The movement has over a million supporters across India, who lent their support through social media and other platforms. The movement is also being supported by leaders of various people’s movements…. This union of urban and rural India is unprecedented. Essar has a fight on their hands,” said Priya Pillai of Greenpeace India. (India Blooms News Service)
European Parliament report aims at reducing rights abuses associated with mining
Campaigners cheered the passage of a European Parliament report on “promoting development through responsible business practices.” The report called for legislation requiring due diligence by companies to ensure that mining resources not finance conflict or encourage rights abuses. Among the countries cited by campaigners was Colombia, where the Supreme Court found that paramilitary units killed 18 farmers so that land could be sold to Glencore Xstrata for coal mining, and multiple lawsuits have accused Drummond Coal with involvement in the killings of 70 miners and railroad workers. (All Africa, BDlive)
|Coal mining company to pay largest water fine in U.S. history: Under a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Alpha Natural Resources will pay a US$27.5 million fine and spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges in five Appalachian states. Both the fine and the number of permit violations are the largest ever, according to EPA officials. (Associated Press)|
China declares “war on pollution”:Describing smog as “nature’s red-light warning against inefficient and blind development,” Premier Li Keqiang told delegates at the opening of the annual meeting of parliament that the government will increase the intensity of its campaign against air pollution, with an initial focus on hazardous particulates known as PM 2.5 and PM 10. Measures recommended by Li include cutting steel and cement production, closing 50,000 small coal-fired furnaces, deploying smart grid technology, and taking steps to protect water resources from heavy metals. (Climate Spectator)
Peabody Energy launches “Advanced Energy for Life” campaign: Peabody Energy has launched a PR campaign aimed at promoting coal as a solution to “energy poverty,” which it names as the world’s leading human and environmental crisis. The campaign includes social media, a digitally based education program, and a new research institute. (The Wall Street Journal)
|Five more North Carolina plants receive citations following Dan River ash spill: State regulators issued notices of violations to Duke Energy for not having permits to legally discharge rainwater draining from its plants into public waterways. The citations followed inquiries by the Associated Press, which requested permit records for the Dan River plant, site of a massive coal ash spill. The agency told the AP that no permit existed. (The Guardian)|
Blaze hospitalises 19 firefighters: Burning since 9th February, the three-kilometre Hazelwood Fire near Morwell, Australia, continues to exact a high toll on the 200 firefighters attempting to extinguish the blaze. Nineteen firefighters have been hospitalised for carbon monoxide poisoning. Shadow Emergency Services minister Wade Noonan said that the fire may not be extinguished until mid-to-late March. (The Age)
“We can’t sleep, we can’t go outside, we can’t breathe,”
said Estelle Landy, resident of Morwell, Australia, close to an uncontrolled fire at the open-pit Hazelwood mine.
|Australia: Premier Barry O’Farrell admits he had contact with lobbyist for Wallarah 2 coal mine.|
Indonesia: Churchill Mining wins the first round of its legal battle with the Indonesian government over rich Kalimantan deposit.
Indonesia: Mining companies pressure government to postpone coal export tax and reduce royalty level.
|Jamaica: China Harbour Engineering to build coal plant as part of US$1.5 billion Caribbean port project.|
Philippines: Twenty-year-old miner Melvin Landero killed and three other miners injured in northern Cebu coal mine collapse.
“Singrauli has 22,000MW of coal power plants … but villagers near the plant still have no electricity,”
said Awadesh Kumar Dwivedi, a resident of Singrauli, India’s energy capital.
|Buffett admits bet on coal-heavy utility was a blunder: In his annual letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett said he regretted buying US$2 billion in bonds of Energy Future Holdings Corp., created in 2007 from the US$45 billion leveraged buyout of Texas utility TXU. At the time of the buyout, TXU was proposing 11 new coal-fired generating plants. Only three of those projects are still being pursued.(Reuters)|
Kentucky deal with India stalls: Eighteen months after the signing of a 25-year, US$7 billion contract between India’s Abhijeet Group and Kentucky mining companies, no coal has been shipped. According to one analyst, producing and shipping a tonne of Eastern Kentucky coal to India would cost US$112, but India can buy the same tonne from Indonesia or South Africa for US$79.(Courier-Journal)
|India’s NTPC goes shopping for stranded power plants: With numerous proposed coal-fired power plants across India stuck in a state of limbo due to uncertain coal supplies and local opposition, federal utility NTPC has invited “expressions of interest” for acquiring plants from state electricity boards, independent power producers and plant developers, and captive plant owners. Both completed and proposed plants are being considered. According to a company spokesman, seven stranded projects are under study for acquisition. (The Hindu)|
Indonesian coal thefts reach epic scale: According to unnamed sources, illegal mining in Indonesia exceeded US$6 billion in 2013, including 24 million tonnes at Bumi Resources’ Arutmin mine alone. Analysts view the amount of stolen coal entering the international market from Indonesia as sufficient to depress international prices. (Bloomberg News)
“Most of you have never heard of Energy Future Holdings. Consider yourselves lucky; I certainly wish I hadn’t,”
wrote Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, in a report to company shareholders.