The Obama Doctrine: Killing Beyond the Horizon by Karen Garcia

Reprinted from the blog of Karen Garcia:  http://kmgarcia2000.blogspot.com/

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2011

The Obama Doctrine: Killing Beyond the Horizon

The thousands of men, women and children who have been killed and maimed by the secretive and escalating Drone attacks overseas are finally getting some big-time attention from the mainstream press.  The Washington Post ran an excellent and disturbing article on its front page yesterday.  The gist is that lawmakers in Washington kind of know about the program, but are kind of not allowed to talk about it, because it’s a big fat secret. Here’s the part that sent chills up my spine: Continue reading

Occupy Biloxi Joins Occupy Jackson to Support the Sierra Club in the Kemper Coal Plant Lawsuit

by Dr. Tom Baldwin

Biloxi, MS

December 18, 2011

On December 14, 2011 a small group of Occupy Biloxi members joined a Sierra Club  effort to make a six hour round trip to Jackson to support their lawsuit hearing before the Supreme Court regarding the atrocity of the Kemper Coal Power Plant.  The details are complex but the basic issues are not.  Ratepayers in Southern Mississippi are faced with huge increases in electricity rates beginning in January 2012 with absolutely no benefits; they are  being charged for this “investment” on behalf of MS Power profits. This  has occurred with corporate abuse being exerted over political bodies in the State of  Mississippi including  the corruption of the Public Service Commission.  In addition, it involves the use of unproven technology with extraordinary risk, considerable risk to the environment of citizens, and unproven need of increased new facilities.  We are  being duped by a combination of  the influence of Mississippi Power and its  parent, the Southern Compant, and forced to pay for this atrocity.

In this  report we will give the results of our trip experience and the essence of the issue with reference to other sources.  It has been totally inadequately reported either by the SunHerald newspaper in Gulfport and the televison media WLOX-TV in Biloxi even though they were notified.  Occupy Biloxi has  decided to produce its own media and this is just one attempt to announce that.  We will  tell the citizenry what they need to know about these issues. 

Seventeen persons caught the chartered bus  in Gulfport at 7:30am on December 14 for the three hour ride to the State Capitol in Jackson. In Jackson we were joined by about a half dozen Occupy  Jackson members.  Following a tour of the Capitol, and a brief visit to the permanent site of Occupy Jackson at Smith Park, the Sierra Club arranged for a box lunch followed by a press conference conducted by Sierra Club Director, Louie Miller. In the picture here, he is seen holding the “flip flops” which symbolize the change in votes by Public Service Commissioners Bentz and Posey to approve this industrial disaster.

There were two adequate press reports of the Supreme Court hearing, one by the Clarion Ledger/Associated Press in Jackson and a second by the Mississippi Business Journal.  There were no television reporters at the Sierra  Club press  conference.  In approximately a two hour hearing we witnessed superb questioning of the attorneys by the three justices who heard the case.  A major issue which is being contested is the “flip flop” decision of the Public Service Commission between April 2010 and May 2010.  There is no obvious record of why the Commission suddenly lifted the denial for the plant in April, first exclaiming it was too risky at 2.4 billion dollars and then approving it in May when the cost had been increased by 480 million dollars on a recommendation of a paid consultant!  Readers will perhaps recall that on April 20, 2010 was when the BP Deep Horizon disaster occurred in the  Gulf of Mexico.  This entire matters smells rotten of corporate collusion with government officials.  It should be noted that Governor Barbour’s  lobbying firm has done work for years for the Southern Company, parent company of MS Power!  We shall see what the Southern Company “reward” to Barbour was, hopefully soon!

A major concern is that MS Power can raise electricity rates while the plant is being constructed; the first rate increases are scheduled for January 2012!  A second major concern is a grant from the Department of Energy of 300 million dollars as well as loan guarantees to support the unproven, risky coal gasification facility.  One of the justices even made mention of the Solyndra Solar Facility in California  which recently declared bankruptcy and cost the Department of Energy 500 million dollars.  A third major concern is that this monstrosity is being built near the headwaters of the Pascagoula River, one of the only remaining  unrestricted rivers in the entire U.S.  There are so many things wrong with this project and the entire risk is being assumed by the public with essentially none by MS Power and at their profit!!  There can hardly be a better example of corporate fascism at work in the entire country.

The MS Supreme Court should rule  on this case early in the new year.  It is essential we keep this matter in the public  eye and reveal the entire story until everyone thoroughly understands the issues.  There will be great tragedy in neglect or indifference.  We owe the Sierra Club  a great deal of thanks and support for their persistence and their efforts to protect the public.

Source of the picture above (Kemper Coal Plant construction) was a Facebook post and the original is believed to be from the Associated Press published in about September.  Other pictures  are from Mippi the Dork.

Not  included  in the photo above,  of course, is the lignite coal mine;  there are none available yet.  But here is what you might expect  under “best” conditions;  this is the Inden lignite mine in Germany from a report, “Just  Say No to Lignite Mining”.

“There were two new lakes being dug in the bottom of Inden mine. The mine engineer explained that some unexpected water problems had been encountered when developing this mine. These lakes were experimental lakes that would be used to try and find solutions to the water problems. Germany has been mining lignite since the 1930’s. They still have problems that they cannot predict before mining starts”.

Gerry went on to describe conditions at the mine.

“Dust was a real problem for us around the mines that day. It had rained heavily all night beforehand, and the roads inside the mine were muddy and wet. But the wind kicked up dust and sand all around us. We did get to see the main dust prevention scheme that Ballymoney Power plan to install for us. These are perimeter water sprays (below). They were not very large, nor were they turned on, despite the wind. Whether these will really contain dust efficiently is something we were not convinced of.”

Mississippi Power’s Kemper County Coal Plant Boondoggle


By Will Watson, Ph.D.

Long Beach, MS

December  18, 2011 

(This is reprinted here with permission from a letter also sent to the Sun Herald (Gulfport) and  the Clarion Ledger (Jackson).

Time’s designation of The Protestor as “Person of the Year” makes perfect sense.

On every hand, the world’s ruling elite aggrandize their power and wealth while the planet dissolves into social carnage and climate chaos. Even in the USA, the evidence of this is overwhelming.

Almost 50 per cent of Americans now live near or below the poverty threshold. 15-20% of Americans face hunger on a regular basis. Without social security, unemployment compensation, food stamps, and the like, conditions would resemble the Great Depression. Yet corporate-funded conservatives work to shred the social safety net and push for lower taxes for corporations and millionaires. The US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision will transform American elections into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street and Koch Brothers Oil. But no Wall Street “banksters” have gone to jail for wrecking the economy.

Meanwhile, the collusion of corporate and state power recalls Mussolini’s definition of fascism: “perfected corporatism”. Oil companies, for instance, practically bribe Congress to pass carbon-heavy energy policies that spell disaster for the climate. Record amounts of CO2 were pumped into the atmosphere in 2010, and the number of billion dollar US weather-related disasters, almost certainly driven by global warming, hit an all-time high in 2011. Yet big oil demands that the President permit the Keystone XL and detonate the largest carbon bomb in North America, the Alberta tar sands.



In Mississippi, corporate power and state power collude on such ecocidal and extravagant “development” as Mississippi Power’s Kemper County boondoggle. Commercially unworkable wherever attempted, MPC’s “clean coal” scam will raise residential rates by 45% and includes a massive, filthy strip mine that will poison the Pascagoula River headwaters. Meanwhile Coast elites blow Katrina and BP-spill restoration funds on parking lots, a dolphin prison, and a megalomaniacal port expansion that will turn central Gulfport into a combination traffic jam and pollution sink.

Whew! Given all that, if you’re not ready to protest, you’re not paying attention.

____________________________________________

Will Watson, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Southern Mississippi (Long Beach) and has studied this project in great detail.  He has coauthored with Julia O’Neal an extensive “White Paper” which  was submitted to the Department of Energy in 2010 prior to DOE’s approval of a 300 million dollar grant and loan guarantees  for this atrocity.  Readers can access a copy from another post made here.

IMPORTANT: Press Release on Supreme Court Kemper Coal Plant Hearing

Media Advisory From Sierra Club and Gulf Restoration Network 
For Immediate Release
December 13th, 2011
CONTACTS:
Louie Miller
Louie.miller@sierraclub.org  601-624-3503Raleigh Hoke
Raleigh@healthygulf.org
504-525-1528, ext. 204 or 573-795-1916

Ratepayers Say ‘No’ to Kemper Coal Outside of Supreme Court Hearing

What: Jackson, MS:Concerned ratepayers, citizens, and groups will gather for a press conference at the New Capitol to say ‘No’ to Mississippi Power’s proposal to build a dirty, unnecessary, and expensive coal plant and mine in Kemper County.  Afterwards, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Sierra Club legal challenge, as to whether or not the Mississippi Public Service Commission acted correctly when it approved a plan to force the ratepayers of Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, and the other twenty counties in the southeast corner of the state to pay for this project, a move that will increase rates as much as 48%.
Who (tentative): Louie Miller, State Director, Mississippi Sierra Club

Barbara Correro, KemperCountyResident

Andrew Whitehurst, Director of Science and Water Policy, Gulf Restoration Network

Billy Bishop, Former Supervisor of Lamar County

Cindi Tarver, STEPS Coalition, Biloxi Ms.

Anne Welch, M.AS.S. Mississippi Alumni and Students for Sustainability

James Parker, Occupy Jackson

Thomas Baldwin and Mippi Schwarts, Occupy Biloxi

Richard Marsh, Gulfport Ms. NAACP

Mary Troupe, Executive Director, Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities(Invited)

Where: New Capitol , South Steps (weather permitting) or Capitol rotunda first floor.
When: December 14, 2011, press conference at 12:45 p.m., Supreme Court Hearing begins at 1:30 p.m.
Visuals:                Speakers gathered on steps with concerned citizens holding flip flops inscribed with Bentz and Posey. Signs, and banners with phrases such as “No Blank Check for MS Power” and “Dirty Expensive and Unnecessary.”


The Gulf Restoration Network is a diverse network of local, regional, and national groups and individuals dedicated to protecting and restoring the valuable resources of the Gulf of Mexico.
Since 1892, the Sierra Club has been working to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself.
###

Schedule for Kemper Coal Power Plant protest in Jackson–December 14

Here is a tentative (and near final) schedule for the Occupy Biloxi members and others in Jackson on December 14:

Leave the Crossroads Shopping Center in Gulfport approximately 7:00am on Wednesday, December 14.  Call Linda St.  Martin at 228-324-3024 or contact Glen at glens@ieee.org to RSVP.  Bus will have capacity for 50 people.  If you have any questions contact me at 228-348-6651,

Arrival in Jackson is anticipated at about 10-10:30am.  Plans are being made to tour the Capitol and/or the Public Service Commission to carry on our protest.   Bring a sign appropriate for this  with you or carry one we will have with us.

About 12:15pm the Sierra Club plans a press conference at the State Capitol.  Louie Miller, the Executive  Director of the MS Sierra club has done outstanding work on this issue.  Following this, box lunches  will  be provided for participants.

Approximately by 1:15pm we  will gather for the Supreme Court hearing.  We will return to Gulfport/Biloxi following the hearing.

The bus trip is guaranteed to be a pleasant one.  We are also trying to find one or more appropriate films to be shown along the way!  I plan to be your candy cabin attendant.

Tom Baldwin

Occupy Mississippi Power Continues: Join us for a trip to Jackson on December 14

By Derek Gipson and Tom Baldwin

Occupy Biloxi Members

December 10, 2011

The Sierra Club and Mississippians for Affordable Energy need our help. And the Mississippi Power Company wants you, the rate-payer, to finance the dirty, expensive, and unnecessary abominable Kemper County Coal Plant and immediately increase your electricity rates.

DIRTY—The plant will use one of the most pollutive types of mining known as lignite strip mining in the headwaters of the Pascagoula River, one of the only unrestricted rivers in the U.S.

 (Photo above at MS Power protest by John Tuepler) EXPENSIVE—The cost is estimated at nearly 3,000, 000, 000 dollars (that’s 3 billion minimum). Once again, this cost is foisted on the rate payers and the tax payers, not the company itself.!  This kind of plant design is 25% more expensive than others at “best” case. Huge cost overruns always occur on projects like this. Large companies and casinos were given exemptions from the rate increases.

UNNECESSARY—Mississippi currently has natural gas power plants lying idle that can supply three times the necessary amount of power for the state. These are operating under capacity.  Energy conservation  measures can save much more money at incredibly reduced costs.

CORRUPT COLLUSION BETWEEN MS POWER AND GOVERNMENT—  There are numerous examples of how this approval process avoided transparency and collusion with the State legislature, the Public Utilities Commission and Governor Haley Barbour whose lobbying firm also serves the  parent of MS Power, the Southern Company headquartered in Atlanta.  

Senate Bill No. 2793, signed by the governor, authorizes Mississippi Power to charge its customers to pay for the construction of this plant.  Due to its experimental nature and the use of  IGCC (“clean coal”  technology), the plant MAY NEVER  EVEN WORK AS DESIGNED.   The rate payer will have to pay for the plant even if it never produces one watt of electricity and this plant was never intended to even supply electricity to Southern Mississippi!  We can no longer afford to support this type of corrupt corporate welfare and  must reject  it.  This project will make a few very rich while producing FEW  jobs.  In  fact, the 3 billion dollar “investment” will produce 260 permanent jobs at a cost of nearly $110,000, 000 EACH!  Many of these jobs will most likely not even be “created” jobs but jobs that are simply relocated from power plants on the Coast. The investment proposed could instead provide thousands of  jobs in renewable energy and conservation at lower cost. This PUBLIC INVESTMENT could provide comfortable support for 6000 families at an average income of $50,000 per year for 10 years!!  It is a monumental boondoggle and atrocity designed to enrich a private company and their friends.

____________________________________________ 

We will be chartering a bus to travel to Jackson, MS on Dec. 14th to attend a MS Supreme Court hearing on the matter in a law suit brought by the Sierra Club.  Join us to protest the blatant collusion of Mississippi Power and our Mississippi lawmakers to satisfy their own interests instead of the public’s interest.

You should call Linda St. Martin at 228-324-1028 or email Glen Sandberg at glens@ieee.org if you would like to RSVP  for the bus trip to Jackson on December 14 for the hearing before the Mississippi Supreme Court.  It  will be an opportunity to connect  with our Capitol and learn more about citizen  participation and  will be fun!  It  will be leaving from  Barnes and Noble parking lot in Gulfport. Crossroads Center at about 7:00 am.  There are approximately 50 seats on the bus and overflow will be handled by a van or a second bus.  A pickup will be arranged for those living in Jackson County at the Car Park at the intersection of Exit 50 and I-10 at 6:30 am!. We will keep you updated.

WLOX-TV Report on Protest at Mississippi Power December 7.

http://www.wlox.com/story/16212319/occupy-takes-up-fight-against-ms-power-kemper-co-plant

www.wlox.com  Some of the people involved in the Occupy movement said it’s time for a new strategy that includes working with other grassroots groups.

Mississippi Public Radio (NPR) report by Rhonda Miller of our demonstration at Mississippi Power Company on December 7..

http://mpbonline.org/News/article/occupy_movement_on_gulf_coast_takes_aim_at_mississippi_powers_coal_to_gas_p

mpbonline.org

The Occupy movement on the Gulf Coast is aiming its criticism at Mississippi Power’s coal plant under construction in Kemper County. MPB’s Rhonda Miller has more on the continuing controversy over converting coal to gas

Details of the Giant MS Power Scam at Kemper Now Underway

Kemper County, MS, IGCC Lignite Plant: Wrong for Ratepayers, Wrong for the Energy Industry, Bad for the Environment

by Julia O’Neal, MBA, CPA and Will Watson, Ph.D

(This White Paper was submitted to the Department of Energy in 2010 to object to DOE funding and support.  There was no response. It is reprinted here by Dr. Tom Baldwin.)

The proposed Mississippi Power Kemper County[U1]  clean coal plant is a boondoggle, slated to have an 582 MW capacity, at a cost to the public of $2.4 billion of taxpayers money, and a 14,000-acre strip mine, while there are 7,666 MW of developed natural gas generating facilities available in Mississippi right now, from which Mississippi Power refuses to buy power. (This White Paper was submitted to the Department of Energy in 2010 to object to DOE funding and support.  There was no response.)

Four Charges 

Mississippi Power’s plan to build an IGCC-process “clean coal” power plant in East Central Mississippi is wrong for its ratepayers, bad for the environment, and will prove detrimental not only the utility itself but to the entire US energy industry. We ask the Secretary of Energy to look into four charges:  First, it is difficult to argue that the plant is actually needed to satisfy emerging power demands in Mississippi Power’s service area. Second, evidence suggests that the permitting and planning processes have been influenced by special interests to fatten utility industry profits on the backs of Federal loan guarantees and presumptive rate increases. Third, Mississippi Power’s plans to capture and sequester CO2 emissions are highly problematic, both technologically and fiscally. And fourth, the plan calls for a lignite strip mine—one of the most pollutive and destructive types of mining operation—to be constructed in the headwaters of the Pascagoula River system, the last large unregulated river system in the continental United States.  For these reasons, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) should refuse to guarantee the loan Mississippi Power needs to build the Kemper County IGCC project. 

Demonstrable Need?

During the ‘90s, a number of independent companies built natural gas electrical generating plants, anticipating deregulation. This story was told in detail by The Jackson Free Press in August of 2009.[i]   Those plants that still operate now lie idle 85% of the time—only used during periods of excess demand.  As clean energy advocates know, even without sequestration, natural gas emits a little more than half the CO2 of coal. There are 7,666 megawatts available in the state right now from these smaller, independent power set-ups, which, as the article points out, is already three times what the state uses, even at peak demand times. Yet Mississippi Power and Entergy do not buy from these independents.[ii]  The proposed Kemper plant, at a nominal 582 MW capacity, is dwarfed by existing gas-powered generating capacity.

While claiming that “volatility” in the natural gas market made gas unattractive as a power source, Mississippi Power has also insisted on keeping its natural gas price forecasts “confidential,” even though if it used natural gas as an alternative it would pay the market price.[iii] More recent forecasts for natural gas reflect new availability due to technological advances such as horizontal drilling into shale. Projected prices are considerably lower than even a few years ago. Natural gas is a relatively clean, tried-and-true power production technology, and newly available supplies and investments have stabilized the market and driven prices down.[iv] If the independent gas-fired plants are taken into account, there is no demonstrable need for the Kemper County project. In fact, if they are considered, Mississippi’s power industry appears to be overbuilt for the foreseeable future. This seems especially likely when one considers a recent Georgia Tech study that posits that cost-effective energy efficiencies alone could preclude the need for new energy generation in the Southeast for at least the next decade.[v]

Whatever need for the new plant Mississippi Power demonstrated has also been inflated by Mississippi’s steadfast refusal to enact any of the standards of the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPA’05).  Lobbied hard by Entergy and Mississippi Power, the Public Service Commission (PSC) refused to mandate net metering, smart metering and standards for efficiency. Neither would the PSC mandate that utilities include a portion of renewables in their generating portfolios.  Despite the fact that the DOE will be guaranteeing Mississippi Power’s $2.4 billion loan for the Kemper plant under provisions of EPA’05, the state has simply rejected federal standards for renewable energy and efficiency. In fact, according to the DOE’s EERE website, Mississippi and Alabama are the only states without any energy efficiency rules or regulations.[vi]

The possibility that biomass and solar could provide a portion of state energy needs has been obscured by Mississippi Power’s repeated mantra that “Mississippihas fewer renewables than other states.” This claim does not hold up under scrutiny. For instance, the Mississippi Forestry Association is working toward biomass as a fuel and forestry has long been a major industry in the state.  And the NOAA says that Jackson, Mississippi, averages more sunny days than Austin, Texas, a city with a very active solar program.[vii] The practicality and economic potential of biomass and distributed solar generation inMississippi have been either ignored or dismissed by the PSC, the governor and the legislature.

In summary,Mississippihas existing gas-fired power generation capacity far in excess of projected demands. And power shortage projections have been inflated by official skepticism toward renewables, distributed generation and efficiency measures. How was the official decision made to approve the new construction inKemperCounty? It is difficult to avoid the unfortunate impression that the Kemper Plan reflects an unhealthy degree of collusion between regulators, other branches of state government, and the utilities industry.

A Problematic Process

The August 2009 Jackson Free Press story referenced above provides considerable evidence substantiating this claim.[viii]  Mississippi’s governor Haley Barbour came to the office fresh from a successful career as a lobbyist for Southern Company, among other clients.  “While working as a lobbyist for electricity generators,” Mr. Barbour was also known for helping Dick Cheney renege on George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign promise to reduce U.S. emissions, thereby contributing to the resignation of Christine Whitman as Bush’s EPA Administrator.[ix]  In 2008, four years into Governor Barbour’s tenure, a mass of lobbyists representing Mississippi Power and Entergy converged on the state capitol and had their way with the legislature, which passed a bill (Senate Bill 2793) allowing utility companies to charge new plant facilities to ratepayers before the plants were built, regardless of whether the plants delivered the power promised.[x]  Citizen groups protested, but to no avail.  As a result of SB2793, residential and small business ratepayers will pay for Kemper County and similar facilities, whether they are completed or not; larger customers such as refineries and casinos are exempt under special contracts. Among the pre-construction costs that have already been filed with the Public Service Commission for ratepayers to reimburse is a trip by executives to a strip club in Houston and a $1000 seafood dinner.[xi] As with its gas price projections, Mississippi Power also claims these expenses are “confidential.”

In the summer of 2009, the PSC announced that it would hold hearings on the Kemper Plan. Before these hearings could begin, however, the Governor cut off the PSC’s funding, effectively preventing it from acquiring adequate research staff.[xii] After a week or so, the PSC’s budget was reinstated, and the first phase of the Kemper hearings took place in October 2009.  The first phase of hearings focused on whether there was a need for more electrical generating power. In November, the PSC ruled that a need existed, rejecting the potential of the independent natural gas generators out of hand.

The second set of PSC hearings was completed on February 5, 2010.  These hearings were to determine whether the Kemper IGCC plant and 14,000-acre strip mine were the best way to meet future state power need. [The Jackson Free Press story says Mississippi Power asked for 48,000 acres to be set aside, but the DOE’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is for about 14,000, including the strip mine and the plant.[xiii]]  As of late February 2010 the decision is still pending.

Given pressure from the Governor and the non-stop lobbying by utilities, it is somewhat surprising that the hearings took place at all. One might expect that the PSC would rubber-stamp Mississippi Power’s “certificate of convenience” to build the Kemper County plant despite the fact that its proposed IGCC and CCS technology could reasonably be called “experimental.” The high cost and experimental technology of the proposed Kemper Plant, however, have not gone unnoticed on Wall Street. Analysts at Moody’s, the bond rating agency, lowered the credit rating on Mississippi Power based on the increasing likelihood that the IGCC plant would be built: Because of Mississippi Power’s small size relative to the expense of the project, Moody’s concluded that the “New IGCC plant will increase capital expenditures and overall business risk profile.”  In addition, Moody’s also noted the absence of compliance with EPA’05, citing “Exposure to environmental mandates, including carbon, and national renewable portfolio standards.” [xiv] 

In conclusion, there is considerable evidence that, as Louie Miller of the Sierra Club told the Jackson Free Press, “…the power companies are putting the heat on them [the PSC] through state government.” The review process has not been a disinterested examination of the cost/benefit of the plan or of alternatives for the rate-paying public.  Rather it reflects a certain degree of collusion between state government and the utilities industry. The response of Moody’s suggests that the benefits and liabilities of the Kemper plan, even in the most basic business sense, have not yet been considered or even fully understood by the state regulators.

Is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Really Ready for Prime Time in Central Mississippi?

Despite optimistic predictions of the potential market for CO2 in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), the DOE must know that CCS for EOR is problematic both technologically and fiscally.[xv]  Potential aside, the actual market is in an embryonic state. A recent article from The Wall Street Journal essentially suggests that a market for power plant CO2 emissions does not yet exist and details how most EOR needs for CO2 are filled with naturally occurring CO2.[xvi] A 2007 DOE/NETL paper tends to bear this out; only about 40 million tons a year (MTY) of CO2 is used for EOR in the USA with only 10MTY from anthropogenic sources.[xvii]

What does this nominal market mean for Mississippi Power’s Kemper plan? The DOE’s DEIS on the Kemper County plant stipulates that the amount of CO2 to be captured will be 2.5-3.5 million tons a year.[xviii] There is no mention made of any provision to sequester this CO2 in any way other than through sale for EOR. Thus, the Kemper Plant would produce roughly a third of all the manmade CO2 currently used for EOR nationwide. The economic feasibility of Mississippi Power’s plan to sell anthropogenic CO2 should also be questioned because the largest deposit of naturally occurring CO2 in the eastern US is the Jackson Dome in central Mississippi!  According to a 2001 NETL whitepaper, there is “an estimated 530 million tons (10 trillion cubic feet) of CO2 . . .  in fields” there.[xix]  The Jackson Dome fields already supply CO2 to a local EOR project and other industrial buyers.[xx] According to the WSJ, oil producers generally pay “$10 to $20 a ton to harvest naturally-occurring, pure carbon dioxide.”  Yet “treatment costs alone, not including transport, average roughly $50 to $80 a ton for refinery and coal-plant (CO2) emissions.”[xxi]  Mississippi Power apparently plans for oil field producers to buy their expensive anthropogenic CO2 despite the fact that over a half billion tons of pure, naturally occurring CO2 can be had much more cheaply from Jackson Dome fields. At no time in the permitting process does the fiscal shakiness of this plan for marketing the Kemper CO2 appear to have been questioned. It needs to be. 

Are there genuine market incentives for Mississippi Power to sequester CO2 by selling it to area oil fields? If anything, the opposite appears to be the case: CO2 captured from the Kemper plant will be priced out of the EOR market by the much cheaper CO2 that is readily harvested from the Jackson Dome. Thus, there is ample reason to question whether the costs of CCS at the Kemper County plant will be offset by local sales of captured CO2. If these projected markets are lost, it seems likely that one of three things must happen: one, new markets for the captured CO2 must be found—markets not already served by the Jackson Dome CO2 field; two, the captured CO2 will have to be sequestered in some other unspecified way, without the cost offsets of EOR sales; or, three, the CO2 produced by the Kemper plant will not be captured, and instead will simply be emitted into the atmosphere at a rate of about 4 million tons/year, thereby negating any claims that the Kemper County plant is “clean coal” or that it will in any way contribute to the overall greenhouse gas abatement goal of EPA’05.  Fiscally, CCS is simply not ready for deployment in central Mississippi. 

There are engineering reasons to conclude this as well. The volume of C02 sequestration proposed for Kemper County has slender precedents, at best, in engineering practice. Since 1996, the largest project for CO2 sequestration in the world has been the massive Sleipner Platform in Norway. It sequesters about 1 MTY that is produced on-site at a natural gas well. CO2 that is released when natural gas deposits are tapped is separated and simply pumped back into stable strata adjacent to the gas deposits. [xxii] The Weyburn-Midale CO2 project, which spans the North Dakota-Saskatchewan border, is currently the world’s largest CO2 sequestration operation. There, according to Canadian Geographic in 2008, the Dakota Gasification company produces methane from coal, capturing about 1.5 MTY CO2 and pumping it to Canadian oil fields for EOR.[xxiii] Neither of these cases features carbon capture from power plant emissions. 

To bring these figures home to Mississippi, the Kemper County IGCC plant would require the largest CO2 sequestration operation in the world. It would be roughly twice the size of the Weyburn-Midale project and 2.5-3.5 times as large the Sleipner project. The Kemper plant also appears to be the first coal power plant in the world to capture CO2 and sell it for EOR in any quantity. This is new territory in terms of engineering too. Yet the Mississippi Power plan is for not for an experimental demonstration plant—where new technology can be tweaked and tuned at private investors’ expense. Rather, Mississippi Power plans for the Kemper IGCC Plant—with its experimental CCS technology—to be paid for by a proactive rate increase on residential customers and by loans guaranteed by public tax monies. Further, Mississippi Power wants this essentially experimental plant to be on line, producing power for ratepayers, in late 2013.  [U2] Private capital apparently is not interested in the engineering and potential for return on investment posed by the Kemper plan. The public is thus entitled to ask, if this project is to be publically funded, why is it being overseen by a private utility and not principally by the DOE?

Even a cursory survey of similar CCS power plant projects reveals that there is ample reason for private capital to be suspicious.[xxiv] Further, public authorities have been suspicious that the costs tend to outweigh the public benefits. As many as 14 IGCC projects have been cancelled or postponed in recent years.[xxv] The impracticality and cost of large scale CCS has played a role in those determinations.

For instance, a December 2006 DOE Environmental Impact Statement concludes that geologic sequestration of CO2 “is not a reasonable option because technology is not sufficiently mature to be implemented at production scale during the demonstration period for the proposed facility.” The whitepaper concludes that CCS isn’t expected to be “technically practicable” for large scale commercial development within the next 15 years.[xxvi]  Similarly, the Chinese, who have built 2 CCS coal plants, predictably, have recently grown skeptical of the costs involved.[xxvii] According to a Reuters piece in February 2010:

            Gao Guangsheng, director of the National Development and Reform Commission’s department of climate change, said ahead of the Copenhagen talks             in December last year that CCS’s expensive installation and running costs  represented a “fatal weakness.”

            He said the “energy penalty” required to run the technology would amount to around 20-30 percent of the capacity of an individual power plant, and that overall   CO2 storage costs would amount to around $70 per tonne.

To conclude here, the Kemper plan for mass volume CCS through EOR would be technically challenging and, given the Chinese experience, prohibitively expensive anywhere. But with the proposed plant situated almost on top of the Jackson Dome, one of the largest geologic deposits of CO2 in the U.S., Mississippi Power’s plan is also problematic economically. If the DOE is interested in supporting “clean coal” as a way to reduce America’s carbon footprint, a loan guarantee for the Kemper IGCC plant will be a step in the wrong direction.

Strip Mining is Never “Clean” 

To even a casual conservationist, the DOE’s DEIS is a heartbreaking document. The DOE describes the 4000+ acres of bottomland forest wetlands in the impact area thus: “In the study area, bottomland forest wetlands most commonly occurred in the floodplains of major creeks and along their associated tributaries. These wetlands were often high quality due to a lack of frequent or significant human disturbance.”[xxviii] These “high quality” acres are in the Pascagoula River watershed, an area crucial to migrating neotropical birds. The Pascagoula itself is the largest of the remaining unregulated river systems in the lower 48, and its estuary and wetlands are vital to the life cycles of dozens of species of marine life, birds and mammals, some of them of considerable commercial value. Toxic run off from the lignite strip mine proposed in the watershed will certainly play havoc not only with the 4000 acres of upstream wetlands and area ground water, but also with the entire downstream ecology of the Pascagoula River system. Few people in Mississippi, particularly in those areas that will be most affected, understand what lignite strip mining does to the land, the air and the water supply.[xxix]  The New York Times Magazine’s series “Toxic Waters,” delivers a frightening message about water pollutants from coal mining.[xxx] 

Conclusion

$2.4 (now 2.88) billion is too much to pay for 582 megawatts when there are existing natural gas plants with over 7000 MW capacity going unused in the Mississippi Power service area. We also believe that MS Power is technologically unprepared for this responsibility, and that its plan for CCS is fiscally imprudent. In the end, it won’t be just the MS ratepayers who are on the hook for a failed plant, but alsoU.S.taxpayers, who are behind the DOE’s loan guarantee.  The DOE’s DEIS makes it clear that if Mississippi Power does not get the loan guarantee, the project will not go forward. Mississippi Power’s Kemper County plant and strip mine will be bad for ratepayers, bad for the energy industry, and bad for the environment. We hope the DOE will reconsider and deny the guarantee.


[ii]  Jackson Free Press, cited.

[viii] Jackson Free Press, cited 

[x]  Jackson Free Press, cited.

[xv] “Storing CO2 with EOR.” DOE/NETL-402/1312/02-07-08

[xvi]  “Using Smokestack Gases to Pump Oil,” The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2010.

(http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704343104575033750328618136.html?KEYWORDS=Using+Smokestack+Gases+to+Pump+Oil for subscribers only)

[xviii]  DOE/DEIS Vol. I, table S-3

[xxi]  Wall Street Journal, cited

[xxvi] U.S. Department of Energy, Supplement to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Gilberton Coal-To-Clean-Fuels And Power Project, Gilberton, PA, December 2006, p.3-4; citing CO2 Capture and Storage Working Group 2002, CO2 Capture and Storage in Geologic Formations, NCCTI Energy Technologies Group, Office of Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, January 8, 2002.

[xxviii]  DOE/DEIS Vol. I, p. 3-150 

[xxix] http://www.justsaynotolignite.co.uk/aachentrip.html

 The citizens ofBallymoney,Ireland, organized against a proposed lignite mine there. The url here leads to a page that details their visit to the lignite mining district of Germany, a scene of shocking environmental devastation, air and water pollution.


 [U1]Just to be clear

 [U2]New