coal

Affidavits say records on Kingston coal ash cleanup were intentionally destroyed

Three supervisors – two construction foremen and a TVA-paid overseer – say in affidavits filed in U.S. District Court they saw separate instances in which Tom Bock, the man tasked with protecting workers at the nation’s largest coal ash spill,  intentionally destroyed or skewed air monitoring results and knowingly endangered workers, reports the News Sentinel.

Bock served as safety manager for Jacobs Engineering, an international government contractor.

The firm was tapped by TVA and approved by the EPA and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to manage the clean-up of the massive coal ash spill at the TVA Kingston Fossil Fuel Power Plant in the Swan Pond community of Roane County in December 2008.

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TVA ratepayers may pay contractor’s legal bills in coal ash lawsuit

After unsuccessfully using the Tennessee Valley Authority as a legal shield, a global government contractor accused of fatally endangering workers at the site of the nation’s largest coal ash disaster wants TVA ratepayers to pay its legal bills, according to court records reviewed for a News Sentinel report.

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Judge orders TVA to move mountain of coal ash waste at Gallatin Steam Plant

U.S. District Court Judge Waverly Crenshaw of Nashville has ordered the Tennessee Valley Authority to excavate and relocate a mountain of coal ash accumulated over decades at its Gallatin Steam plant, reports WPLN.

Crenshaw said in his order, issued Friday and resolving a lawsuit brought by environmental groups, that TVA’s construction of an unlined ash waste pond in porous terrain, as the case in Gallatin, risks leakage into the neighboring Cumberland River. Because the cost of moving the waste will be so high, he did not order TVA to pay any penalties.

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Commission Trump wants to abolish announces $15.7M in grants to help coal miners losing jobs

The Appalachian Regional Commission, which would be abolished under President Trump’s proposed federal budget for the coming year, announced almost $16 million in grants intended to help communities losing jobs in the coal industry in seven states, including Tennessee.
The only Tennessee grant is $500,000 for Knoxville-based LaunchTN for its Entrepreneurial Education and Workforce Development project. The Tennessee startup support initiative will target the coal-impacted counties of Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Cumberland, Fentress, Grundy, Marion, Morgan, Scott and Sequatchie. A list of the projects is HERE. The ARC press release is below.
 

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Feds ban mountaintop coal mining on 75,000 acres in East TN

The federal government on Wednesday banned mountaintop coal mining from more than 500 miles of ridges in East Tennessee’s Cumberland Mountains, reports Michael Collins. The move was praised by Tennessee’s environmental commissioner and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander as well as conservation groups – though condemned by mining officials.

The Department of Interior said it is designating nearly 75,000 acres of mountain ridges as unsuitable for surface mining, in essence barring a controversial form of mining known as mountaintop removal. (Note: The department’s press release, with much comment, is HERE.)

…The decision comes in response to a petition filed in 2010 by then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, just three months before he left office. In its petition, the state said mountaintop coal mining would be incompatible with existing local and state plans and would affect fragile or historic lands that would result in significant damage to cultural, scientific, aesthetic values or natural systems.

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Regardless of Trump policies, TVA committed to cutting back on coal

President-elect Donald Trump may roll back carbon limits and other environmental regulations on electric utilities, but the Tennessee Valley Authority is still moving away from coal-fired power generation, reports the Times-Free Press.

The federal utility, which two decades ago derived more than two-thirds of its electricity from burning coal, expects to get less than a fourth of its power from coal next year and only 15 percent of its generation from coal a decade from now.

Trump has pledged to bring back the coal industry and limit what he says are costly regulations on coal mining and power generation, including the Clean Power Plan proposed by President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency last year but delayed by a Supreme Court stay on its implementation.

TVA CEO Bill Johnson says the utility will continue moving toward meeting the carbon-reduction targets of the Clean Power Plan as it retires aging coal plants and replaces them with lower-carbon natural gas-fired power plants and more wind, solar and nuclear power.

“We have been following a path that is consistent with the direction of the Clean Power Plan, but we’ve been following it based on what’s the best for our customers, and they happen to line up,” Johnson told analysts and reporters on a recent conference call. “We really have been following the plan that says if we modernize the fleet as we diversify, what is the best economic and rate path to follow? And that’s really what we will continue to do in every decision we make.”

TVA has already shuttered 24 of the 59 coal-fired units the utility once operated, including all eight units at its Widows Creek Fossil plant and all five units at the Colbert Fossil plant, both in Alabama, and four units at the John Sevier plant near Rogersville, Tenn. TVA reached a settlement with environmental groups in the EPA five years ago.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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