Missouri and coal

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Missouri had 56 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 11,810 MW of capacity - representing 53.5% of the state's total electric generating capacity, and making Missouri the 12th biggest coal energy producing state in the U.S.[1] In 2006, Missouri's coal-fired power plants produced 77.2 million tons of CO2, 253,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 105,000 tons of nitrogen oxide; coal-fired power plants were responsible for 56.3% of the state's total CO2 emissions.[2] In 2005, Missouri emitted 23.7 tons of CO2 per person, about 20% higher than the U.S. average.[3]

Missouri coal mines produced 394,000 tons of coal in 2006 (0.03% of the U.S. total), making Missouri the second-smallest coal-producing state in the country.[4] Missouri employed 20 coal miners in 2006, all of whom were non-unionized.[5]

According to the American Coal Foundation, Missouri uses 34 million tons of coal annually for 83% of its electricity needs, ranking it 10th nationally in state coal use.[6] The vast majority of the coal used in Missouri is brought in from other States, and over nine-tenths of this coal is transported via railcar from Wyoming, including through Warren Buffett's BNSF Railway. The single-reactor Callaway nuclear plant in Fulton supplies much of the State’s non-coal electricity. Approximately 3 percent of Missouri’s electricity is generated from renewable sources, and the majority of that is from hydroelectricity generation.[7]

In May 2010 the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report titled, Burning Coal, Burning Cash: Ranking the States that Import the Most Coal. In the paper the group reported that Missouri was the tenth most coal dependent state in the country, spending $1.1 billion on coal imports in 2008.[8]

Citizen activism

Best of: March 26th Peabody Energy Protest

On March 26, 2010, over fifty Washington University (WashU) students and St. Louis community members gathered outside of Peabody Energy to protest the company’s business practices, including mountaintop removal, a lawsuit against the EPA over the regulation of carbon dioxide, and the company's funding of a clean coal project at WashU. WashuU's International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability(I-CARES) announced in December of 2008 the formation of the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization, funded with $5 million each from Peabody Energy and Arch Coal and $2 million from Ameren. The students and community members called for an end to "c!#@n coal."[9]

Much of the Consortium’s attention will go toward carbon sequestration (CCS). The Consortium is also planning to build a small "clean coal" power plant on the north campus, although this project remains in its conceptual stages without a projected date of completion. The power plant will research CCS and its efficacy compared to alternative energy sources, such as biomass and solar power.[10]

Students at Washington University in St. Louis brought the national coal debate to campus on April 27, 2010 with The Great Coal Debate. Bruce Nilles, Sierra Club Coal Campaign Executive Director, faced off against Fred Palmer, VP of Governmental Relations at Peabody Energy in a debate moderated by Bryan Walsh of TIME Magazine. The event took place in Graham Chapel in front of an audience of more than 600 students, faculty, and community members.

Best of: The Great Coal Debate


Missouri has 3.86 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves; all of this, however, is classified as high-sulfur coal (over 1.67 lb per million BTU).

Missouri was the first state west of the Mississippi to produce coal commercially, in 1840. By 1881, coal mining had become a major industry in the state, with Missouri coal largely fueling coal-fired locomotives. Production swelled to 5 million tons in 1918, and ranged between 3 and 6 million tons per year for the next six decades. In the 1950's and 60's, Missouri's coal production dropped, due to the declining use of coal-fired locomotives; in the 1970's, however, production boomed, due to the increased use of coal-fired power plants, and the state's output peaked at 6.7 million tons in 1984.

Since then, Missouri's coal production has dropped precipitously; the passage of the Clean Air Act has meant that Missouri's higher-sulfur coal has become less economically desirable. (In 1992, Missouri-mined coal averaged 3.92 lb of sulfur per million BTU, a very high level - especially compared with 0.44 for Wyoming coal.) Production dropped to 2.6 million tons by 1990, and then to 394,000 tons in 2006. Coal mining, which employed 1,108 people in Missouri in 1985, employs just 20 Missourians today.[11]

However, the coal industry remains very strong in Missouri, despite the state's decline in importance in coal mining. Missouri was the 12th biggest coal energy-producing state in the country in 2005. Ameren, the fifth-biggest U.S. coal energy producer, is headquartered in St. Louis - as are Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, the country's biggest and third-biggest coal mining companies, respectively.

Legislative issues

On November 4, 2008, Missouri residents approved (66%) Proposition C, the Missouri Clean Energy Initiative. The proposition, which was promoted by the environmental group Missourians for Cleaner Cheaper Energy, requires investor-owned utilities to derive 15 percent of their electricity from clean energy sources by 2021. The measure also contains a rebate to lower the cost of solar installations by almost 20 percent. The passage of Prop C is expected to save ratepayers $331 million over the next 20 years.[12]

However, legislators later said the language of the ballot measure was ambiguous, creating a controversy over the voters’ intent, while utilities and consumer groups argued that geographic limitation would drive up electric rates. A legislative committee struck down the provision, confirmed by the full Legislature in January 2011. The change opened the door for utilities to purchase renewable energy certificates on the open market, even if the energy never makes its way to Missouri.[13]

In 2011, the House Committee on Renewable Energy passed the “Renewable Energy Act” (HB 613), a revised, weaker version of Prop C that requires utilities to make a "good faith effort" to get 15 percent of their energy from renewables by 2021, with no penalties if they fail to meet the targets. Prop C also anticipated 2500MW of new wind or other non-solar, and 150MW of solar. HB 613 rolls provisions back to 750MW of wind/nonsolar and 60MW of solar, accounting for approximately 3%, on top of the 2% already being delivered to Missouri today, for a total of 5%.[14]

However, HB 613 stalled. According to citizens group Renew Missouri, utility companies, led by Ameren Missouri, insisted HB 613 be attached to legislation that would have allowed Ameren to charge consumers for the costs incurred in obtaining an early site permit from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.[15]

Citizen action

August 2011: Fifteen arrested taking action against Peabody in St. Louis, Missouri

On August 15, 2011 fifteen people were arrested in St. Louis, Missouri while protesting the practices of Bank of America (BoA) and Peabody Energy. Over a hundred people marched in protest of BoA's coal investments and Peabody's coal mining activities. The arrests occurred in a downtown St. Louis intersection that connects Bank of America’s regional offices and Peabody’s world headquarters. The actions were carried out by Midwest Rising! Convergence, a group associated with Rising Tide North America.

Activist Scott Parking wrote, "Midwest Rising was a convergence for climate and economic justice that brought together a diverse coalition of groups fighting home foreclosures in cities like Chicago, St. Louis and Pittsburgh, communications workers on strike against Verizon Wireless, local labor organizers, Appalachian activists fighting mountaintop removal and climate justice activists from around the world."[16]


According to opensecrets, in 2008 Peabody Energy was a top contributor ($96,200) to Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), and contributed $150,100 to Missouri’s Congressional delegation. Ameren contributed a total of $120,200 to Missouri’s Congressional delegation, including $53,500 to Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) and $15,700 to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).[17]

Proposed coal plants



Coal lobbying groups

Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization

Coal power companies

  • Ameren
    • Headquarters in St. Louis, MO
    • 5th biggest coal energy producer in U.S.
    • Owner of Union Electric Co.
    • Controls 31 coal-fired generating stations with 10,719 MW total capacity
    • Active proposals: Duck Creek Expansion
  • Great Plains Energy
    • Headquarters in Kansas City, MO
    • 26th biggest coal energy company in U.S.
    • Owner of Kansas City Power & Light
    • Controls 7 coal-fired generating stations with 3463 MW total capacity
    • Active proposals: Iatan 2
  • Associated Electric Cooperative
    • Headquarters in Springfield, MO
    • 38th biggest coal energy producer in U.S.
    • Controls 5 coal-fired generating stations with 2335 MW total capacity
  • Peabody Energy
  • Aquila
    • Headquarters in Kansas City, MO
    • Controls 6 coal-fired generating stations with 658 MW total capacity
  • City Utilities of Springfield

Existing coal plants

Missouri had 56 coal-fired generating units at 24 locations in 2005, with 11,810 MW of capacity - representing 53.5% of the state's total electric generating capacity.[18][19]

Here is a list of coal power plants in Missouri with capacity over 400 MW:[1][20]

Plant Name County Owner Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions SO2/MW Rank
Labadie Franklin Ameren 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 2389 MW 16,400,000 tons 51,445 tons 174
Iatan Platte Great Plains Energy 1980, 2010 1576 MW 5,649,000 tons 17,518 tons 136
Rush Island Jefferson Ameren 1976, 1977 1242 MW 6,828,000 tons 28,674 tons 150
New Madrid New Madrid Associated Electric Cooperative 1972, 1977 1200 MW 7,647,000 tons 14,678 tons 213
Thomas Hill Randolph Associated Electric Cooperative 1966, 1969, 1982 1135 MW 8,348,000 tons 18,495 tons 193
Sioux St. Charles Ameren 1967, 1968 1099 MW 6,043,000 tons 44,148 tons 57
Meramec St. Louis Ameren 1953, 1954, 1959, 1961 923 MW 6,635,000 tons 17,225 tons N/A
Hawthorn Jackson Great Plains Energy 1969 594 MW 5,029,000 tons 1,897 tons 257
Montrose Henry Great Plains Energy 1958, 1960, 1964 564 MW 3,887,000 tons 11,561 tons 125
Sibley Jackson Aquila 1960, 1962, 1969 524 MW 3,252,000 tons 11,967 tons 116

These 10 plants represent 88.0% of Missouri's coal energy generating capacity, 50.8% of the state's total CO2 emissions, and 40.5% of its total SO2 emissions.[3]

For a map of existing coal plants in the state, see the bottom of this page.

Major coal mines

There are no major coal mines in Missouri.[21]

As of 2010 there were approximately 2 active coal mines in Missouri with production of approximately 458 short tons per year.[22]

Coal waste

The 2011 report, "State of Failure: How
 Ash" by Earthjustice and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, looked at EPA data and found that state regulations are often inadequate for protecting public health. Missouri’s largest coal ash pond is the only one of 32 that is regulated for dam safety, while the state allows ponds impounding more than 170 million gallons of coal ash to avoid safety regulation.[23]

Water use from coal

A 2011 Union of Concerned Scientists report, "Freshwater Use by U.S. Power Plants: Electricity’s Thirst for a Precious Resource," calculated the available water in every major watershed in the U.S. and measured that against the water used by power plants in each watershed. The report found that every day in 2008, on average, water-cooled thermoelectric power plants in the United States withdrew 60 billion to 170 billion gallons of freshwater from rivers, lakes, streams, and aquifers, and consumed 2.8 billion to 5.9 billion gallons - coal plants were responsible for 67 percent of those withdrawals, and 65 percent of that consumption.

Plants in the East generally withdrew more water for each unit of electricity produced than plants in the West, because most have not been fitted with recirculating, dry cooling, or hybrid cooling technologies. Freshwater withdrawal intensity was 41 to 55 times greater in Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, and Missouri than in Utah, Nevada, and California.[24]

Citizen groups



  1. 1.0 1.1 Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "EIA" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Estimated Emissions for U.S. Electric Power Industry by State, 1990-2006, Energy Information Administration, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Missouri Energy Consumption Information, eRedux website, accessed June 2008.
  4. Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  5. Average Number of Employees by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  6. "What is your state's role in coal?" American Coal Foundations, accessed March 2010.
  7. "State Profile: Missouri" EIA, March 18, 2010.
  8. "Burning Coal, Burning Cash" Union of Concerned Scientists' Report, May 18, 2010.
  9. Arielle Klagsbrun,"WashU Students Protest Peabody and Tell Them to Get Out of their University" itsgettinghotinhere.com, March 30, 2010.
  10. David Song,"Students and faculty critique ‘clean coal’" WashU Student Life, March 30, 2009.
  11. State Coal Profiles - cached copy at [http://coaldiver.org/documents/state-coal-profiles-doe-eia-january-1994 CoalDiver.org], Energy Information Administration, pp. 55-61.
  12. "Missourians for Cleaner Cheaper Energy Releases New Ad Promoting Passage of Proposition C, The Missouri Clean Energy Initiative," Missourians for Cleaner Cheaper Energy, October 28, 2008.
  13. Jason Hancock, "Press Release"St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 4, 2011.
  14. "Missouri renewable energy bill gets stuck in the legislative process: Renewable Energy Act HB 613 stalls out" Renew Missouri, accessed February 2012.
  15. Jason Hancock, "Press Release"St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 4, 2011.
  16. "Fifteen Arrested Taking Action Against Banks and Big Coal in St. Louis" Scott Parkin, It's Getting Hot in Here, August 15, 2011.
  17. Brad Johnson,"Among Plutocrats Fueled By Coal, Climate Bill Sends Chill", The Wonk Room, April 13, 2009.
  18. Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
  19. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  20. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  21. Major U.S. Coal Mines, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  22. "Coal Production and Number of Mines by State, County, and Mine Type, 2010" U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2010.
  23. Raviya Ismail, "Tr-Ash Talk: State of Failure" Earthjustice, August 17, 2011.
  24. Averyt, K., J. Fisher, A. Huber-Lee, A. Lewis, J. Macknick, N. Madden, J. Rogers, and S. Tellinghuisen, "Freshwater Use by U.S. Power Plants: Electricity’s Thirst for a Precious Resource," The Union of Concerned Scientists' Energy and Water in a Warming World initiative, November 2011 Report.


Existing coal plants in Missouri

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