Texas and coal

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

{{#badges: CoalSwarm}}



In 2005, Texas ranked third in the nation in coal-fired power production.[1] Texas also ranks as the highest-emitting state or province in the world for CO2 emissions,[2] producing 290 million tons of the greenhouse gas per year.[3] Coal plants produce about 36.5 percent of the electricity generated in Texas, where the average retail cost of electricity is the 14th highest in the U.S. at 10.34 cents per kilowatt hour.[4]

Texas has an estimated 13.7 billion tons of coal reserves. The most significant areas for bituminous coal mining are in the southern and north-central parts of the state, although lignite constitutes approximately 97 percent of near-surface coal resources. [5]

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 Texas was the third most coal dependent state in the country, spending $1.9 billion on coal imports in 2008.[6]

According to the American Lung Association's 2011 annual "State of the Air" report, Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, Texas ranked 8 of 277 metropolitan areas for ozone pollution. The area was also ranked number 64 of 277 for year round particulate matter pollution.[7] It was reported in March 2012 coal-fired power generation was decreasing as compared to 2011. The culprit, the report noted, was an increase in natural gas.[8]


The earliest record of coal mining in Texas was in 1819. Until the 1880s, extraction efforts were generally small-scale operations. [9]

In the mid-1880s, bituminous coal deposits were discovered in the town of Thurber. By the end of the century, the discovery had transformed a previously rural area of West Central Texas into the leading coal-producing region in the state. The town exploded, and by 1900 it had over 200 houses, 30 shops, schools, offices, churches, a 650-seat opera house, a dairy and meat market, and a 200-room hotel. The power plant provided electricity 24 hours a day, making Thurber one of the earliest towns in the state to have full electric service. The town's decline began after 1910, when the local railroads converted their engines to run on oil instead of coal, and focus switched away from coal mining to a local oil discovery.[10]

Bituminous, sub-bituminous, and lignite coals have all been mined in Texas. A total of 316 historical coal mining sites in over 40 counties have been identified in the state, 90 percent of which were associated with underground mining. As of August 1977, U.S. coal mining has been regulated under the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). However, all 316 historical mines were in operation and abandoned prior to this legislation, meaning that the mining companies were not required to reclaim these sites.[9]

Texas Clean Energy Project

The Summit Power Group is currently developing a carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility in Texas called the Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP). TCEP is called a “NowGen” carbon capture facility that will incorporate CCS technology in what the company calls a "first-of-its kind commercial power plant." TCEP hopes to capture ninety percent of its carbon dioxide emissions. If accomplished, this would be more than any other power plant of commercial scale operating anywhere in the world. As a result, the company contends that TCEP’s carbon emissions will be far lower than those of any existing fossil-fueled power plant.[11]

Summit Power Group, a Colorado-based company, announced plans in April 2008 to construct TCEP, a 600 megawatt Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle coal-fired power plant in West Texas. TCEP intends to use the same carbon capture and sequestration technology as the cancelled FutureGen coal plant in Mattoon, Illinois. A site for the plant has not been determined, but officials say the Permian Basin is a contender because captured carbon dioxide could be sold to local oil and gas companies for oil field injection.[12] Coal would likely come from the Powder River Basin.

On December 4, 2009, Secretary Stephen Chu of the United States Department of Energy announced that TCEP will receive $350 million to help develop the facility. The company notes that the government's investment will help reduce TCEP’s costs. It was the largest award given up to that date by the Department of Energy's Clean Coal Power Initiative, which was enacted and funded by Congress.[13]

TCEP is scheduled to achieve financial closing and commence construction in December 2010. Commercial operation is scheduled for mid-2014. The project will begin sequestering carbon during startup and testing in the year 2013.[11]

In September 2011 the U.S. Department of Energy issued a Record of Decision approving $450 million from DOE’s Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI) for the project. Of this, $211 million will come from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for CCPI.[14] However, the funds given by the DOE will not meet the costs of the plant, which are to be around $2.2 billion.[15]

Plant Opposition

Texas Public Citizen opposes the plant and argues that coal cannot be clean, no matter what technology is used. "We don’t support the use of coal for electrical generation, period," said Tom "Smitty" Smith, Executive Director of Public Citizen in Texas. "There are significant problems with the mining of coal ... then you have significant problems with coal waste disposal, like coal ash in Tennessee or contamination of watersheds."[16]

Tenaska "clean-coal" project

Tenaska announced the project -- dubbed by the company as the Tenaska Trailblazer Energy Center -- at a media conference held on February 19, 2008 at Texas State Technical College, West Texas. Speaking in support of the proposal were Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development Executive Director, Ken Becker; County Judge Tim Fambrough, State Representative, Susan King; Tenaska Manager of Business Development, Helen Manroe; and Tenaska Vice President of Environmental Affairs, Greg Kunkel.[17]

On the same day as the announcement, Tenaska filed an application for an air permit with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The company stated that "construction could begin in late 2009 and be completed in 2014." On the day of the announcement, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) issued a statement of qualified support for the project. "We look forward to discussing with Tenaska ways to make legally binding the promises they have made concerning the capture and storage of their carbon dioxide emissions so that we do not oppose their applications for a permit," EDF's director of the Texas Regional Office, Jim Marston, stated.[18]

In March 2009, Tenaska CEO David Fiorelli said the company is waiting to see what cap-and-trade legislation or other measures Congress implements before going ahead with the project. The plant will use about 25 percent of its energy to capture and compress carbon dioxide. Adding carbon capture equipment will increase the project costs by 40 percent. Given these figures, "there has to be a pretty compelling economic reason that you would want to use 25 percent of power and increase your capital cost so substantially," Fiorelli said.[19]

It was announced in July 2010 that Fluor would be supplying the Trailblazer Energy Center with the company's carbon capture technology. The power plant is designed to capture 85 to 90 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and send it through a pipeline to be used in enhanced oil recovery. The company stated that it had done all of the initial design and engineering work on Trailblazer and is the project’s construction contractor.

Tenaska received an air permit for the power plant in December 2010. Earlier in 2010, the Environmental Defense Fund dropped its opposition in the TCEQ permit case after Tenaska agreed to limit water use and to sequester most CO2 produced by the plant.[20]

In July 2011 the City Council of the West Texas town of Stamford voted to allow Tenaska to buy the city's water. With Stamford's approval, Tenaska will now have access to approximately 250 million gallons of water a year. However, the company still needs to find hundreds of millions of gallons of water and needs to go through an appeal process on its air permit before construction of the plant can begin.[21]

Environmental impacts of coal

Texas leads U.S. in mercury emissions

Most Power Plants Still Spewing Toxic Mercury

In March 2010 the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) released a report using available EPA data that indicated half of the country's 50 largest mercury-emitting power plants have increased their emissions in recent years. The report also noted that half of the coal plants in the United States do not have the most up to date emission controls in place, and five of the plants with the highest amount of mercury emitted are located in Texas.

Coal-fired power plants generate more than 40 percent of U.S. emissions. Mercury released into the air settles in rivers and lakes, where it moves through the food chain to the fish that people eat. The report states that Luminant's Martin Lake Steam Station in Texas is the nation's worst mercury polluter. The plant reported a 4.56 percent increase from 2007 to 2008.[22]

Mercury map.jpg

Texas leads in CO2 emissions

A 2011 report by the Environmental Integrity Project, "Getting Warmer: US CO2 Emissions from Power Plants Emissions Rise 5.6% in 2010" shows that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants in the U.S. rose 5.56 percent in 2010 over 2009, the biggest annual increase since the EPA began tracking emissions in 1995. In total, electricity generators released 2.423 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2010, compared to 2.295 billion tons in 2009. The report is based on data from the EPA’s “Clean Air Markets” website, which tallies emission reports from electric generators.

The 10 worst states for CO2 pollution identified in the report are, in order, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri. Texas power plants released nearly 257 million tons of CO2, as much as the next two states - Florida and Ohio - combined, and more than seven times the total CO2 emissions from power plants in California. Texas opened three new coal plants toward the end of 2010, with a combined capacity of 2,156 megawatts.

Coal-fired boilers provided 45 percent of U.S. electricity in 2010, but were responsible for 81 percent of total CO2 emissions from electricity generation in 2010.

Other key report findings include the following:

  • 50 coal-fired power plants accounted for 750 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2010, or about a third of the total. The two largest carbon polluters, the Scherer and Bowen power plants in Georgia, together released more than 48 million tons of CO2 in 2010. By comparison, emissions from all power plants in California were 37.1 million tons; in New York, 40 million tons; and in the six states of New England, 40.5 million tons.
  • Coal-fired generation rose 5.2 percent in the 12 months ending November 30, 2010. Nearly 4.5 gigawatts of new coal-fired electric generation came online in 2010, about half of that in Texas. But power companies have also announced plans to retire almost 12 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity within the next few years, including the announcement in Jan. 2011 that Xcel would close nearly 900 megawatts of coal-fired capacity at four different power stations in Colorado.

Citizen activism

Citizen activism in Texas has predominantly centered around stopping the permitting of 19 proposed coal plants and shifting to renewable energy sources. The pressure these efforts have exerted on energy companies has had a big impact in the state.

CPS Energy agreement

In the case of the Spruce 2 plant outside San Antonio, environmental groups settled a permit challenge in 2005. As part of the settlement, CPS Energy agreed to offset of the plant's emissions and invest in wind power, energy efficiency, and a local health screening program.

Luminant agreement

Stop TXU: Profits and Pollution

In 2007, environmental groups reached a milestone agreement with Luminant (formerly TXU), one of the state's largest power companies. As part of an estimated $45 billion buyout by a group of private equity firms, Luminant settled a series of lawsuits with Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council. On Feb. 26, 2007, the company agreed to cancel 8 of its planned 11 new Texas coal-fired power plants along with several new coal plants in Pennsylvania and Virginia, back federal legislation to create a cap-and-trade system regulating CO2 emissions, and double spending on energy efficiency. In return, Environmental Defense and NRDC agreed not to campaign against TXU’s remaining three Texas coal-fired plants.[23]

Environmental groups also dropped their challenge to the permitting of Luminant's Sandow Unit 5 in exchange for the closing of three lignite boilers built in the 1950s. The new plant will have 90 percent less sulfur and 80 percent less NOx emissions than the three older units combined.[24]

NuCoastal Power agreement

In August 2007, Texas environmental groups reached another precedent-setting agreement with NuCoastal Power. The Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition and Public Citizen agreed to drop legal challenges to a new 303MW power plant in Port Comfort in exchange for NuCoastal's commitment to offset 100 percent of the mercury and carbon dioxide emissions from the plant. NuCoastal promised reduce at least 80 percent of mercury emissions at the plant and offset the remaining emissions by purchasing mercury emission credits. The company will also offset 100 percent of carbon dioxide emissions for the life of the plant through a variety of methods, including funding energy efficiency programs, shutting down an equivalent source of CO2 emissions, building wind turbines, and investing in carbon capture and storage equipment if those technologies become commercially available.[25] The deal has been widely reported in the both U.S. and Europe as precedent-setting for the emerging U.S. emissions trading markets.

Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars.

Dynegy / LS Power

Following from the success of the Luminant and NuCoastal agreements, the Sierra Club launched a national campaign in February 2008 to pressure Texas-based Dynegy / LS Power to abandon its plans to build six new coal-fired power plants and instead shift its focus to cleaner energy solutions.[26] In December 2008, Dynegy CEO Bruce Williamson announced that the company was reevaluating its role in developing new coal plants. Specifically, he said Dynegy was reconsidering its involvement in permitting, financing, and constructing at least six new projects, including the Sandy Creek Plant in Texas.[27] On January 2, 2009, Dynegy announced it was dissolving its development venture with LS Power entirely. Under the agreement, LS Power maintains the rights to build the proposed coal plant projects.[28] However, without Dynegy's support, LS Power will likely face a more difficult time raising funds and securing long-term purchase agreements to enable the new plants to more forward.[29]

Current efforts and actions

Activists' efforts are now focused on the remaining active coal plant proposals, including filing legal challenges and organizing local communities against Limestone 3, Twin Oaks, Coleto Creek, and Tenaska. Environmental groups are also monitoring early stage proposals, including a Babcock Brown plant in Pampa, an expansion at LCRA's Fayette plant, and a Summit Energy IGCC plant in West Texas.

February 19th, 2009: March in Corpus Christi, TX - Over 200 citizens wearing respirators marched along the Corpus Christi bay front to protest the proposed Las Brisas Energy Center. The marchers included local doctors, who warned that the plant would worsen asthma rates, heart attacks, cancer, neurological and behavioral problems, and failed births. Estimates suggest that the plant would produce over 21,000 tons of air pollution per year, more than the annual emissions of all the surrounding counties combined.[30]

March 30, 2009: Students rally outside capitol in Austin, TX - Student activists from ReEnergize Texas gathered at the Capitol to rally for clean energy projects and green jobs. Members of the state legislature were also in attendance. The group expressed support for proposed legislation that would enact a temporary moratorium on coal plants without carbon capture and sequestration. After the rally, the activists visited 75 legislative offices to lobby for the bill.[31]

Action to Close Fayette Power Project

Public Citizen coverage of the Houston Energy Citizens rally

The Sierra Club and Public Citizen believe the Fayette Power Project ought to stop its coal-burning by 2020. In November of 2009 the nine-member Austin Generation Resource Planning Task Force voted to improve Austin Energy’s proposed Generation Plan for 2020. In addition, five out of the nine members of the Task Force – including representatives from Sierra Club and Public Citizen – endorsed the Plan itself but recommended that Austin Energy set a target of ending Austin’s coal addiction by 2020. Austin Energy generates a portion of its power from the coal-fired plant.

“Public Citizen and Sierra Club agree that we can and must get out of the coal plant by 2020, and with this recommendation, the Austin Generation Resource Planning Task Force has set up a process to do that,” said Public Citizen’s Matthew Johnson.

The groups hope to move forward with pubic support to shut the plant down prior to 2020.[32]

Groups Sue Coal Plant Touted as Green Success

In mid-July 2010, three environmental groups, the Environmental Integrity Project, the Texas Campaign for the Environment, and Environment Texas, announced that they were intending to file suit over over 10,000 alleged violations of federal air regulations. Lower Colorado River Authority, a publicly owned utility that runs the 1,641-megawatt Fayette Power Project near La Grange, Texas.

"In Texas, air pollution permits are flexible alright -- flexible enough to allow coal-fired power plants like the Fayette plant to avoid tougher federal emission limits, violate the weaker substitute standards offered by the Texas regulators, and short-change Texas taxpayers by failing to pay fees that are supposed to be used to improve air quality," said Ilan Levin, a senior attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, in a statement about the suit.[33]

Citizen Action Against John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant

On July 20, 2010 two environmental organizations asked a federal judge to halt construction of the $1.7 billion John W. Turk, Jr. coal-fired power plant that is to supply power to electric customers in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

The two groups, Audubon Arkansas and the Sierra Club said construction of the Southwestern Electric Power Co. plant was destroying pristine wetlands. Owners of a hunting club near the plant site sued previously to stop construction, also on environmental grounds.[34]

Environmentalists Claim Coal Neighbors' Air

In November 2010, a report produced by the Sierra Club, attributed as many as 64 days with harmful levels of smog in Oklahoma to Texas' coal-fired power plants. The report also tied air pollution from the plants to as many as 20 days of unhealthy air in Arkansas and up to 16 in Louisiana.

"The coal plants are a real problem — not just for Texas, but the entire region," said Jennifer Powis, a regional representative for the Sierra Club.

The report supported earlier concerns raised by Oklahoma officials about the potential impacts on their state from the nearly 30 coal-fired plants either operating, permitted or proposed in Texas.[35]

Pecan Growers Say Coal Pollution is Killing Texas Trees.

Farmers, pecan growers say coal plant kills plants

In December 2010, plant experts, scientists, environmentalists and ranchers stated that they believe sulfur dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants is slowly killing vegetation across Texas, in particular pollution from the Fayette Power Project.

Sulfur dioxide has been known to kill vegetation in other parts of the country. In Texas, the deaths of pecan trees, oaks, elms and willows have been documented.

In Central Texas, not far from the Fayette plant, pecan growers claimed thousands of trees have died and nut production has steadily decreased since the plant began operating in 1979. After consulting science experts, the growers contended that sulfur dioxide emissions from the plant were the cause.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing the data and is expected to respond in early 2011 on their findings.[36]

The plant says there is no scientific evidence the emissions killed the trees.

Suit filed over Fayette coal plant

On March 7, 2010 three environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit against the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Fayette Power Project. The groups, which included Environmental Integrity Project, Austin-based Environment Texas and Texas Campaign for the Environment, claimed the Fayette Power Project violated the federal Clean Air Act thousands of times. The plaintiffs alleged the company increased capacity and as a result, levels of dangerous particle pollution, which has been linked to asthma and heart and lung disease.[37]

Sierra Club calls for closure of three coal plants in Texas

On March 18, 2011 the Sierra Club released a report stating that three of Luminant's coal plants in East Texas should be shut down because the facilities do not meet Clean Air Act standards and need $3.6 billion in upgrades in order to comply with federal regulations.

The three plants targeted were Big Brown, Monticello Steam Station and the Martin Lake Steam Station plant. The Sierra Club expressed concern about "the major threats to air and water pollution that citizens in the Barnett Shale [in North Texas] are dealing with firsthand."[38]

Supreme Court may hear Clean Air Act case regarding proposed Texas power plant

In October 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court indicated that it may be interested in weighing in on the Associates v. Sierra Club et al. to determine whether or not the Clean Air Act requires the Sandy Creek Plant to install technology to control mercury and other air toxins regardless of when the plant began construction.[39]

Sierra Club warns against Texas export plans

In March 2012 the Sierra Club released a statement that the group had obtained documents showing the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas was considering amending a proposal to include more coal shipments.

The New Elk Mine is currently exporting coal out of the port, and Ambre Energy plans to do so in the near future. The report said executives are considering pushing for even more shipping capacity into the Gulf of Mexico. The report said the companies "view a decrease in domestic consumption as a signal to maximize revenue by looking to export markets." More capacity in the Gulf could give them access to Europe, Latin America and Asia with the Panama Canal's expansion. Ambre and other companies are also looking to expand export capacity in the Pacific Northwest to reach Asian markets.[40]

Legislative issues

In January 2009, Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, proposed a new bill offering up to $300 million in tax credits to companies interested in building so-called clean coal plants in Texas. According to the bill, the plants would need to sequester at least 60 percent of their carbon dioxide emissions. If passed, the legislation would issue franchise tax credits of up to $100 million to the first three completed plants. Sponsoring companies could not claim the credits until a plant was fully operational.[41]

Senate Bill 126, sponsored by state Sen. Rodney Ellis, and its companion House Bill 4384, sponsored by Rep. Allen Vaught, would put a temporary moratorium on coal fired power plants without carbon capture and storage capabilities. SB 126 was sent to committee on March 24, 2009.[42] Joe Lucas, Senior Vice President of Communications at American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, described support for the proposed legislation as "misguided, economically unfeasible and environmentally unnecessary."[43]

Texas faces biggest increase in toxic coal ash waste from new power plants

Urgent Plea for Environmental Safety in Texas

According to a March 2009 report by the NRDC, Texas is facing a larger increase in the production of toxic coal ash waste by power plants than any other state. The report identified the amount of coal ash that will result from 88 proposed coal plants around the U.S. The 15 states that face the biggest jump in new coal ash production are Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.[44]

Congressional deal would transfer coal tracts to Texas company

On March 23, 2011, the federal government stated that it would give an estimated 145 million tons of publicly owned coal to Great Northern Properties based in Houston, Texas under an exchange backed by members of Congress that calls for future royalties and other coal reserves to go to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. Supporters stated that the deal would likely accelerate mining in Montana and deliver "tens of millions" in revenue to the impoverished tribe.[45]

Study questions coal-fired power plant job numbers

In a report released in late March 2011 by the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies in Chattanooga, Tennessee shows that coal-fired power plants often do not reach predicted counts of construction and permanent jobs.

The Center analyzed the largest coal-powered plants that became operational between 2005 and 2009. At those six locations -- in Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, South Carolina and Wisconsin -- analyses of employment data and labor retention rates showed that only the plant in Iowa had an increase in construction employment that matched the predicted level. The others did not reach the numbers predicted.[46]

Kinder to export coal from Port of Houston

In late April 2011 Kinder Morgan Energy Partners stated that the company will begin exporting Colorado mined coal through its bulk terminal at the Port of Houston in Houston, Texas. According to its first quarter earnings report, Kinder wrote that they had signed an agreement with a “large western coal producer” and will invest about $18 million to expand the ship channel facility.

Kinder stated it will be the first time Western coal will be exported from the Port of Houston. In February 2011, Kinder Morgan inked a deal with Massey Energy to export up to 6 million tons of coal annually through Kinder’s Myrtle Grove, La., facility.[47]

Proposed coal plant closures

San Antonio coal plant to be 1st in Texas to close

In June 2011 CPS Energy announced that its San Antonio based J.T. Deely Station would be shut down in 2018. The coal-fired power plant that supplied electricity in San Antonio since the 1970s. The CPS Deely plant is the first publically-owned coal plant announced to retire in Texas.

According to the president of CPS Energy, Doyle Beneby, their plans will cut emissions of sulfur dioxides by 85%, nitrus oxide by 30%, carbon dioxides by 25%, and mercury by 58% by the time the plant closes.

"Closing Deely coal plant and transitioning to a clean energy economy will be a tremendous benefit for San Antonio," according to a joint news release released by the Sierra Club, SEED Coalition, and Public Citizen.[48]

AEP's Welsh Power Plant, Unit 2

On June 9, 2011, AEP announced that, based on impending EPA regulations as proposed, AEP’s compliance plan would retire nearly 6,000 megawatts (MW) of coal-fueled power generation; upgrade or install new advanced emissions reduction equipment on another 10,100 MW; refuel 1,070 MW of coal generation as 932 MW of natural gas capacity; and build 1,220 MW of natural gas-fueled generation. The cost of AEP’s compliance plan could range from $6 billion to $8 billion in capital investment through the end of the decade. AEP’s current plan for compliance with the rules as proposed includes permanently retiring five of its coal-fueled power plants.[49]

Included in the plan:[50]

  • Welsh Power Plant, Pittsburg, Texas - Unit 2 (528 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Units 1 and 3 (1,056 MW) would continue to operate with retrofits.

Drought may shut down Texas power plants

It was reported in August 2011 that a number of Texas power plants might need to cut back operations or shut down completely if the state’s severe drought continues. At the time at least one North Texas power plant has had to reduce how much it generates because the water level in its cooling reservoir has fallen significantly, said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

It was also reported that if the state’s drought continues and water levels continue to fall at other power plant reservoirs, other units could be forced to curtail operations or shut-down completely.[51]

Luminant may shutter two coal-fired units and two coal mines in Texas

It was announced on September 12, 2011 that Texas based coal plant Monticello Steam Station Units 1 and 2 would be idled in January 2012 if Energy Future Holdings, owner of Luminant, failed in its legal challenge to pending federal air pollution rules. It was also reported that the company would close both its Thermo Mine and Winfield South Mine at the same time.[52] The company stated it would switch its coal source to Powder River Basin coal.[53]

Proposed coal plants




Citizen groups

Coal lobbying groups

Power companies

Existing coal plants

Texas has 40 coal-fired generators at 20 locations, totaling 21,240 megawatts (MW) of capacity.[1]

See bottom of this page for a map of Texas coal plants.

39 of the generating units are larger than 50MW.[54][55]

Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination

In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that Texas, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that was not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, in an attempt to pressure the EPA to regulate coal ash, noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites.[56] The report mentioned Texas's Fayette Power Project as one site that has groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.[57]

Coal Train Cars Overturns

On July 4, 2012 43 rail cars operated by BNSF carrying coal overturned in the Texas town of Bell County. No one was reported injured during the incident.[58]

Major coal mines

As of 2010 there were approximately 12 active coal mines in Texas with production of approximately 40,982 short tons per year.[59]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Existing U.S. Coal Plants
  2. "New database exposes, ranks global utilities' emissions", Greenwire, November 14, 2007.
  3. "New Database Ranks CO2 Emissions from 50,000 Power Plants Worldwide", Center for Global Development, November 15, 2007.
  4. The Facts, America’s Power, accessed May 2008.
  5. Texas, Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation, accessed May 2008. - cached copy at CoalDiver.org
  6. "Burning Coal, Burning Cash" Union of Concerned Scientists' Report, May 18, 2010.
  7. "State of the Air" American Lunch Association, May 9, 2011.
  8. http://www.the33tv.com/news/kdaf-texas-coalfired-power-fell-sharply-in-january-story,0,842082.story "Texas' Coal-Fired Power Fell Sharply in January"] Kate Galbraith, The CW33.com.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Historical Coal Mining in Texas", Surface Mining and Reclamation Division of the Railroad Commission of Texas, accessed June 2008.
  10. "Thurber, Texas Coal Town", Texas Almanac 2008-2009, accessed June 2008.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Texas Clean Energy Project Texas Clean Energy Project Homepage, accessed April 5, 2010.
  12. "Officials say they hope FutureGen efforts not wasted, Working for bid from energy company for similar plant", Kathleen Thurber, MyWestTexas.com, April 16, 2008.
  13. "Summit Power Group" Summit Power Project List, accessed April 5, 2010.
  14. "Innovative Texas Clean Coal Project Takes Major Step Forward as DOE Issues Record of Decision," U.S. Department of Energy press release, September 27, 2011
  15. "All Eyes on Odessa's Clean Coal Future" Jen Kaster, NewsWest9.com, September 30, 2011.
  16. "West Texas power projects could hold the key to carbon emissions" Jack Z. Smith, Fort Worth Telegram, June 6, 2009.
  17. Trailblazer Energy Center, "February 19th Trailblazer announcement", Trailblazer Energy Center website, accessed May 2008.
  18. "Environmental Defense Welcomes Apparent Benefits of Capture and Storage Power Plant", Media Release, February 19, 2008.
  19. "Sweetwater coal plant ready for cap and trade rules," Standard-Times, March 30, 2009.
  20. "Tenaska clean-coal project gets Texas air permit" Reuters, December 14, 2010.
  21. "West Texas city to give proposed coal plant water" Ramit Plushnick-Matsi, Associated Press, July 13, 2011.
  22. "EIP Report: Electric Power Industry "Not Making A Dent" in Dangerous Mercury Pollution, Which Rose at Over Half of the Nation's 50 Dirtiest Power Plants" Environmental Integrity Project, March 17, 2010.
  23. A Buyout Deal That Has Many Shades of Green, New York Times, February 26, 2007.
  24. "Coal Plant Rush In Texas Threatens Air Quality And Endangers Health", Public Citizen, accessed June 2008.
  25. "Environmental Groups and NuCoastal Power Announce Precedent-Setting Agreement", Public Citizen press release, August 7, 2007.
  26. "Sierra Club to Pressure Dynegy Over Coal-Fired Plants", Houston Business Journal, February 19, 2008.
  27. "Dynegy to rethink new coal-fired power projects," Reuters, December 11, 2008.
  28. Mike Barris, "Dynegy Ends Joint Venture for Projects," Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2009.
  29. "Dynegy Abandons Plans for New Coal Power," SustainableBusiness.com, January 6, 2009.
  30. Jeff Biggers, "Takes a Village to Stop Razing Appalachia: Power Past Coal Fights Back," Power Past Coal, March 12, 2009.
  31. "ReEnergize Texas!," Power Past Coal, March 31, 2009.
  32. "Austin Energy Task Force Approves Consensus Recommendations on Electric Power Generation" Lone Star Sierra Club Chapter, accessed April 11, 2010.
  33. "Enviro Groups to Sue Coal Plant Touted by Texas as Permitting Success" Gabriel Nelson, July 15, 2010, New York Times.
  34. "Sierra Club, Audubon sue to stop SWEPCO plant" Business Week, July 19, 2010.
  35. "Study: Texas coal plants foul neighbors' air" Matthew Tresaugue, Houston Chronicle, November 17, 2010.
  36. "Farmers, pecan growers say coal plant kills plants" Ramit Plushnick-Matsi, Business Week, December 28, 2010.
  37. "Suit filed over coal-fired plant SE of Austin" Houston Business Journal, March 7, 2011.
  38. "Sierra Club calls for closure of three Luminant coal plants in Texas" Jack Z. Smith, Star-Telegram, March 17, 2011.
  39. "US Supreme Court shows interest in Texas coal plant MACT case" Platts.com, October 3, 2011.
  40. "Sierra Club warns against Texas export plans" Manuel Quinones, E&E, March 9, 2012.
  41. Aman Batheja, "Bill would offer tax credits to promote clean coal plants in Texas," Star-Telegram, January 19, 2009.
  42. "Coal Moratorium Press Conference and Testimony Yesterday," Texas Vox, March 25, 2009.
  43. "ACCCE Statement on Re-Energize Texas Anti-Coal Rally," Earth Times, March 30, 2009.
  44. "Texas Sits at Top of Coal Ash Heap, NRDC Says," Environmental Protection, March 18, 2009.
  45. "Deal would transfer Mont. coal tracts to Texas company, allow tribe to consolidate reserves" Associated Press, March 23, 2011.
  46. "Study questions coal-fired power plant job counts" Associated Press, March 31, 2011.
  47. "Kinder to Export Coal from Port of Houston" Casey Wooten, Business Journal, April 25, 2011.
  48. "San Antonio to Shutter Coal Plant" Daniel Reese, June 20, 2011.
  49. "AEP would shutter 5 coal plants to meet EPA rules" Coal Tattoo, June 9, 2011.
  50. [http://www.eaglecountryonline.com/news.php?nID=1881 "Return to News AEP Shutting 3 of 4 Units At Tanners Creek"] Eagle Country Online, June 10, 2011.
  51. "More power plant woes likely if Texas drought drags into winter" Tom Fowler, Fuel Fix, August 24, 2011.
  52. "Energy Future Holdings threatens plant closures" Dallas Business Journal, September 12, 2011.
  53. "Texas Utility to Idle Boilers, Coal Mines in Response to New EPA Rule" Gabriel Nelson, New York Times, September 12, 2001.
  54. Power Plants in Texas, accessed May 2008.
  55. Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration website, accessed April 2008.
  56. "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
  57. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
  58. "Crews Work To Clear Site Of 43-Car Derailment" Allison Ignacio, KWTX, July 4, 2012.
  59. "Coal Production and Number of Mines by State, County, and Mine Type, 2010" U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2010.
  60. Coal and Lignite Surface Mines, Railroad Commission of Texas, December 2007.


Existing coal plants in Texas

Loading map...

Related SourceWatch articles

Alabama and coalAlaska and coalArizona and coalArkansas and coalCalifornia and coalColorado and coalConnecticut and coalDelaware and coalFlorida and coalGeorgia and coalHawaii and coalIdaho and coalIllinois and coalIndiana and coalIowa and coalKansas and coalKentucky and coalLouisiana and coalMaine and coalMaryland and coalMassachusetts and coalMichigan and coalMinnesota and coalMississippi and coalMissouri and coalMontana and coalNebraska and coalNevada and coalNew Hampshire and coalNew Jersey and coalNew Mexico and coalNew York and coalNorth Carolina and coalNorth Dakota and coalOhio and coalOklahoma and coalOregon and coalPennsylvania and coalRhode Island and coalSouth Carolina and coalSouth Dakota and coalTennessee and coalTexas and coalUtah and coalVermont and coalVirginia and coalWashington State and coalWest Virginia and coalWisconsin and coalWyoming and coalDelaware and coalMaryland and coalNew Hampshire and coalNew Jersey and coalMassachusetts and coalConnecticut and coalWest Virginia and coalVermont and coalRhode Island and coalMap of USA with state names.png
About this image

External links