Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Anti-coal strategy: Give it the gas ...

The New Mexican
Posted: Monday, March 29, 2010

"It's too soon to be celebrating a new day in Western energy policy — but we like the way at least some denizens of corporate executive suites have been thinking lately:

Sithe Global Power, the outfit whose plans for the Desert Rock coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation have been put on hold by the federal government, has changed its mind about using coal to produce steam at a proposed plant in southeastern Nevada. Instead, the company wants to burn natural gas — and use photovoltaic solar cells for 50 to 100 megawatts' worth of electricity from its Toquop operation.

The Sierra Club is applauding that shift, noting that thousands of Nevadans and Utahns would be spared the health effects of coal-burning — not to mention its mining and disposal. Might the Desert Rock project undergo a revision?

Clean as natural gas may be as a combustible, however, the country is slowly becoming aware of the environmental effects of an increasingly popular way of producing it: hydraulic fracturing — "fracking," as New Mexicans have come to know it. This is a process by which water, sand and chemicals are forced into the ground to push out the gas.

Thus the sudden concern on the part of many Santa Fe County residents in late 2007 and early 2008 when gas producers announced that they had designs on the Galisteo Basin. Our area has darn little water in the first place — and what water we do have shouldn't be tainted by the toxic compounds that would be blasted into the aquifers. " More>>>>

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