Ohio and coal
- 1 Introduction
- 2 History
- 3 Citizen activism
- 3.1 July 7, 2008: Earth First! Activists lockdown at American Municipal Power headquarters in Columbus, OH
- 3.2 June 29, 2009: More than 700 people turn out against carbon sequestration project in Greenville, OH
- 3.3 March, 2010: Ohio Citizen Action and coal ash
- 3.4 Lake Shore Plant and Environmental Justice
- 4 Legislative issues
- 5 AEP raises rates in Ohio
- 6 Proposed coal plants
- 7 Citizen groups
- 8 Coal lobbying groups
- 9 Coal power companies
- 10 Existing coal plants
- 11 Proposed coal unit retirements
- 11.1 AEP's Picway Power Plant, Conesville Power Plant, and Muskingum River Plant
- 11.2 FirstEnergy's Lake Shore Plant, Eastlake Power Plant, Ashtabula Plant, and Bay Shore Plant
- 11.3 Burger Plant units 4 and 5
- 11.4 Ohio University Lausche Heating Plant
- 11.5 American Municipal Power to Close Gorsuch Plant by 2012
- 11.6 GenOn to close Niles and Avon Lake stations
- 12 Coal Mines
- 13 Coal waste
- 13.1 EPA releases list of 44 "high hazard" coal ash dumps
- 13.2 Coal ash ponds in Ohio
- 13.3 August 2010 study: Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination
- 13.4 October 2010: Coal slurry leak
- 13.5 2011 report on top state mercury emissions rates Ohio third
- 13.6 Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at Ohio coal waste sites
- 14 Reports
- 15 Alternative energy projects
- 16 Resources
Ohio coal mines produced 22.7 million tons of coal in 2006 (2.0% of the U.S. total), making Ohio the 14th-biggest coal-producing state in the country. Ohio employed 2,413 coal miners in 2006, of whom 76% were non-unionized.
Ohio had 119 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 23,825 MW of capacity - representing 64.9% of the state's total electric generating capacity, and making Ohio the biggest coal energy producing state in the U.S. In 2006, Ohio's coal-fired power plants produced 125.5 million tons of CO2, 941,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 220,000 tons of nitrogen oxide; coal-fired power plants were responsible for 47.3% of the state's total CO2 emissions. (To put this emissions total in perspective, Ohio's coal-fired power plants emitted almost as much CO2 in 2006 as was emitted by all sources in the entire continent of South America.) In 2005, Ohio emitted 23.2 tons of CO2 per person, somewhat higher than the U.S. average.
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 Ohio was the fifth most coal dependent state in the country, spending $1.5 billion on coal imports in 2008.
Ohio's coal reserves are concentrated in the southeastern part of the state (which is also the poorest part of the state). In 1992, Ohio's estimated recoverable coal reserves totaled 11.8 billion tons.
Ohio's coal mines began exporting coal by barge to other states in 1827. In the subsequent decades, railroads and canals opened up new markets in other states, and by 1875 the state's annual coal production totaled 5 million tons; by 1889 was producing 10 million tons of coal each year, and was the third-biggest coal producing state in the country. In 1918, the state's coal production peaked at 46 million tons; Ohio's coal industry declined in subsequent decades. The 1960's witnessed a dramatic revitalization of Ohio's coal industry, and production climbed from around 32 million tons in 1960 to 55.4 million tons in 1970. However, the passage of the Clean Air Act was a massive blow to Ohio's coal industry, which produces primarily higher-sulfur coal; production declined to 39.4 million tons in 1980, 30.4 million tons in 1992, and 22.7 million tons in 2006.
July 7, 2008: Earth First! Activists lockdown at American Municipal Power headquarters in Columbus, OH
On July 7, 2008, approximately 75 Earth First! activist gathered outside American Municipal Power (AMP) headquarters in Columbus, Ohio to protest the company's plan to build a new 960 MW coal-fired power plant in Meigs County, Ohio. Two protesters climbed flag poles in front of the building and hoisted banners that read “No New Coal!” and “We won’t stop until you do”. Around 20 activists entered the building and occupied the lobby as five protesters locked themselves down using chains. Police used pepper-spray on the protesters and arrested eight when they refused to leave.
June 29, 2009: More than 700 people turn out against carbon sequestration project in Greenville, OH
More than 700 people attended a meeting organized by opponents of a proposed $92.8 million carbon capture and storage project in Greenville. The project would inject carbon dioxide from a nearby ethanol plant more than 3,000 feet underground. The group included local residents, activists, and politicians. A representative of the Ohio Environmental Council commented that he had "rarely seen a community that well organized and that strong."
March, 2010: Ohio Citizen Action and coal ash
In a push for federal regulation of coal ash, Ohio Citizen Action organized a letter-writing drive as part of a community activism nationwide effort targeted at the White House. In October 2009, the EPA proposed regulating coal ash, due to multiple reports citing its hazardous effects, but the proposal has stalled in the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Elisa Young, who lives in Meigs County, Ohio, wrote that there are four coal-fired power plants within 11.5 miles of her home and asked OIRA Director Cass Sunstein, “Where is the justice in allowing a community already saturated in coal waste and with these kinds of health statistics to continue to bear the brunt of this burden with no regulatory oversight?”
Lake Shore Plant and Environmental Justice
FirstEnergy's Lake Shore Plant is in the Glenville community of Cleveland, Ohio, near Lake Erie and in close proximity to a large population of low income African Americans. Within a three mile radius of the plant, 85% of the 100,000 plus residents are African Americans with an average income of $10,000 per year, raising issues around environmental justice and coal. Lake Shore is among over 100 coal plants near residential areas.
A new bill introduced to the Ohio Senate in November 2008 would strip the Ohio EPA of its authority to limit water pollution from coal mines. Senate Bill 386 would give the power to grant water pollution variances to mining officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Senator Timothy Grendell, R-Chesterland, sponsored the bill. Environmental groups are concerned that the bill is intended to help one particular mining company, Murray Energy Corp., build a 1.85 billion-gallon coal slurry pond in Belmont County. The EPA denied the company's permit, saying that coal slurry would threaten a nearby creek, which is home to the endangered eastern hellbender salamander.
2011: Ohio Gov. proposes defunding Air Quality Board
In March 2011, Ohio Gov. John Kasich released a two-year budget proposal that would cut 95% of the funding for the the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, a decades-old agency that was created to help businesses follow Clean Air Act requirements. Most of the authority's funding is for the Ohio Coal Development Office, which helps fund "clean coal" research and aids power companies in getting money for air-pollution filters. The Office would move to the state's Department of Development and take some of that funding with it. The Authority was created 40 years ago to help businesses comply with the 1970 Clean Air Act. Similar agencies were started in a dozen other states but have been dissolved or merged as the federal tax code restricted the breaks they could offer for pollution control equipment, but Ohio has used a broader definition for pollution controls and kept the agency going. The authority has helped power companies issue billions of dollars in bonds to reduce the cost of buying equipment such as air-pollution filters and scrubbers. It also took over the coal-focused office in 2003 and devoted $46 million to research about coal use and pollution reduction, although much if for clean coal and new coal plants.
AEP raises rates in Ohio
On March 18, 2009, the Ohio PUC approved rate increases for two AEP companies, but the hikes are only about half of of what the utility had requested. Columbus Southern Power customers will face a maximum increase of 7 percent in 2009 and 6 percent in both 2010 and 2011. Ohio Power customers will face a maximum increase of 8 percent in 2009, 7 percent in 2010, and 8 percent in 2011.
Proposed coal plants
In construction or operating
- Haverhill Cogeneration Station, Haverhill, OH
Abandoned, cancelled, or on hold
- American Municipal Power Generating Station, Letart Falls, OH
- Ashtabula IGCC Generating Facility, Ashtabula, OH
- Atlantic Energy Ventures gasification plant, Lawrence County, OH
- Dominion Energy plant, Conneaut, OH
- Great Bend IGCC, Great Bend, OH
- Lima Energy, Lima, OH
- Ohio River Clean Fuels, Wellsville, OH
- Cleveland Climate Watch
- Counter COALture Coalition
- EarthWatch Ohio
- Free the Planet! - Ohio State University
- Meigs Citizens Action Now
- Ohio Citizen Action
- Ohio Coal to Clean Energy
- Ohio Environmental Council
- OU Beyond Coal
- Sierra Club Ohio Chapter
Coal lobbying groups
Coal power companies
- American Electric Power
- Headquarters in Akron, OH
- 13th biggest coal energy producer in U.S.
- Controls 25 coal-fired generating stations with 8005 MW total capacity
- Headquarters in Dayton, OH
- Owner of Dayton Power & Light
- 24th biggest coal energy producer in U.S.
- Controls 11 coal-fired generating stations with 3521 MW total capacity
- Ohio Valley Electric Corporation
- American Municipal Power - Ohio
- Headquarters in Columbus, OH
- Controls 4 coal-fired generating stations with 200 MW total capacity
- Active proposals: American Municipal Power Generating Station
- Global Energy
- Headquarters in Cincinnati, OH
- Active proposals: Lima Energy
- Reliant Energy
- Baard Energy
Existing coal plants
Ohio had 119 coal-fired generating units at 35 locations in 2005, with 23,825 MW of capacity - representing 64.9% of the state's total electric generating capacity, and making Ohio the biggest coal energy producing state in the U.S.
|Plant Name||County||Owner||Year(s) Built||Capacity||2007 CO2 Emissions||2006 SO2 Emissions||SO2/MW Rank|
|Gavin||Gallia||American Electric Power||1974, 1975||2600 MW||18,700,000 tons||24,787 tons||222|
|W.H. Sammis||Jefferson||FirstEnergy||1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1967, 1969, 1971||2456 MW||13,800,000 tons||86,392 tons||81|
|J.M. Stuart||Adams||DPL||1970, 1971, 1972, 1974||2441 MW||13,400,000 tons||103,649 tons||54|
|Conesville||Coshocton||American Electric Power||1962, 1973, 1976, 1978||1891 MW||9,060,000 tons||90,540 tons||30|
|Cardinal||Jefferson||American Electric Power||1967, 1977||1880 MW||10,100,000 tons||86,880 tons||49|
|Muskingum River||Washington||American Electric Power||1953, 1954, 1957, 1958, 1968||1529 MW||7,299,000 tons||122,984 tons||2|
|W.H. Zimmer||Clermont||Duke Energy||1991||1426 MW||8,597,000 tons||22,054 tons||200|
|Miami Fort||Hamilton||Duke Energy||1949, 1960, 1975, 1978||1378 MW||7,546,000 tons||62,028 tons||36|
|Eastlake||Lake||FirstEnergy||1953, 1954, 1956, 1972||1257 MW||6,355,000 tons||82,705 tons||34|
|Walter C. Beckjord||Clermont||Duke Energy||1952, 1953, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1969||1221 MW||6,330,000 tons||62,480 tons||28|
|Kyger Creek||Gallia||American Electric Power and FirstEnergy||1955||1086 MW||7,326,000 tons||67,157 tons||38|
|Avon Lake||Lorain||Reliant Energy||1949, 1970||766 MW||2,574,000 tons||43,479 tons||11|
|Killen||Adams||DPL||1982||666 MW||4,258,000 tons||22,825 tons||83|
|R.E. Burger||Belmont||FirstEnergy||1944, 1947, 1950, 1955, 1955||541 MW||1,635,000 tons||62,558 tons||N/A|
|Bay Shore||Lucas||FirstEnergy||1959, 1963, 1968||499 MW||3,979,000 tons||15,207 tons||140|
|O.H. Hutchings||Montgomery||DPL||1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953||414 MW||597,000 tons||3,530 tons||N/A|
These 16 plants represent 92.6% of Ohio's coal energy generating capacity, 45.8% of the state's total CO2 emissions, and 48.6% of its total SO2 emissions.
For a map of existing coal plants in the state, see the bottom of this page.
Proposed coal unit retirements
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 the following coal-fueled power plants:
- Picway Power Plant, Lockbourne, Ohio – 100 MW (retired by Dec. 31, 2014).
In addition, six other plants would reduce their power output, including:
- Conesville Power Plant, Conesville, Ohio - Unit 3 (165 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2012; Units 5 and 6 (800 MW total) would continue operating with retrofits; and
- Muskingum River Plant, Beverly, Ohio - Units 1-4 (840 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Muskingum River Unit 5 (600 MW) may be refueled with natural gas with a capacity of 510 MW by Dec. 31, 2014, depending on regulatory treatment in Ohio.
FirstEnergy's Lake Shore Plant, Eastlake Power Plant, Ashtabula Plant, and Bay Shore Plant
On August 12, 2010, FirstEnergy announced it will throttle back power production at four of its smaller, coal-burning power plants, beginning in September and continuing for three-years. The company cited the lackluster economy, low demand for power, and pending federal rules tightening emission standards. The plants are the Lake Shore Plant in Cleveland, OH, all but the largest boiler at the Eastlake Power Plant in Lake County, OH, the Ashtabula Plant, and three of four boilers at the Bay Shore Plant near Toledo, OH. The largest Bay Shore unit, which burns petroleum coke from the nearby BP/Husky oil refinery, will continue operating. The four power plants have not been running flat out for some time; instead, the company has kept them in reserve, ramping up production as needed. Altogether the power plants have a total generating capacity of 1,620 megawatts, they accounted for less than 7 percent of total production in 2009. One megawatt is 1 million watts and enough electricity to power about 800 homes. FirstEnergy said the slowdown will reduce operating costs but could force the company to write off $287 million in the value of its assets, reducing third quarter earnings by 59 cents per share.
Burger Plant units 4 and 5
According to a Nov. 17, 2010 report from Power-Gen Worldwide, FirstEnergy is planning to permanently shut down two coal-fired units, Units 4 and 5, at the Burger Plant by the end of the year. The units were included in the 2005 Consent Decree settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and FirstEnergy had the option to re-power, install scrubbers, or shut down the units as part of an effort to reduce the company's sulfur dioxide emissions. Rather than refit the Burger plant units, First Energy will complete a $1.8 billion retrofit at its Sammis Plant in Stratton, Ohio, according to the report.
In March 2011, the Ohio University administration made a promise not to consider coal as an energy source for a new heating plant. The administration has said that it must replace the Lausche facility by the year 2016, as the useful life of its boilers draws to a close.
American Municipal Power to Close Gorsuch Plant by 2012
On May 18, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department announced that American Municipal Power - Ohio (AMP) would be permanently retiring the Marietta, Ohio Richard H. Gorsuch Generating Station by Dec. 31, 2012, under a settlement to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act's New Source Review requirements. Interim sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emission limits will be implemented until that date. Also part of the settlement, AMP will spend $15 million on an environmental mitigation project and pay a civil penalty of $850,000.
GenOn to close Niles and Avon Lake stations
On February 29, 2012, GenOn Energy said it will close seven of its coal generating stations by 2015 (and a natural gas station for a total 13 percent of its generating capacity), citing impending environmental regulations. The coal stations and proposed closing dates are:
- Elrama Power Plant (PA) - June 2012;
- Niles Plant (OH) - June 2012;
- Portland Generating Station (PA) - January 2015;
- Avon Lake Power Plant (OH) - Apr 2015;
- New Castle Plant (PA) - April 2015;
- Shawville Generating Station (PA) - April 2015; and
- Titus Generating Station (PA) - April 2015.
Click here for a list of coal mines in Ohio.
Major coal mines
|Mine Name||Location||Owner||2006 Production|
|Century Mine||Alledonia, OH||Murray Energy||6,451,000 tons|
|Powhatan No. 6 Mine||Alledonia, OH||Murray Energy||4,370,000 tons|
Coal mine violations
A 2013 Plain Dealer examination of coal mine records showed that mine operators routinely avoid paying the full fines for mining violations.
Reviewing MSHA data dating to 2007, the newspaper found repeated success for mine owners. From 2007 through 2010 the government fined Murray Energy nearly $1.6 million for citations at its two Ohio underground mines. Murray paid $1.05 million, avoiding $531,000 by seeking negotiations and filing appeals. Murray is also contesting nearly $1.1 million more for citations issued in 2011, 2012 and early 2013.
At the Buckingham Mining Co.’s Buckingham Mine #6, what began as $107,720 in proposed federal fines during 2010 ultimately became $54,750 — cut by nearly half. Carroll Hollow mine #6, owned by Sterling Mining Co., had fines totaling $194,590 in 2010, but were lowered to $57,100, a 70-percent reduction.
As of 2010 there were approximately 42 active coal mines in Ohio with production of approximately 26,707 short tons per year.
The 2011 report, "State of Failure: How States Fail to Protect Our Health and Drinking Water from Toxic Coal Ash" by Earthjustice and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, looked at EPA data and found that state regulations are often inadequate for protecting public health. Ohio excludes all coal ash from regulation by classifying it as “nontoxic," and has water contamination at seven coal ash dump sites across the state.
EPA releases list of 44 "high hazard" coal ash dumps
In response to demands from environmentalists as well as Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, the EPA made public a list of 44 "high hazard potential" coal waste dumps. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not include an assessment of the likelihood of such an event. Ohio has 6 of the sites, all of which are owned by American Electric Power.
|Company||Facility Name||Unit Name||Location|
|American Electric Power||Cardinal Plant||Fly Ash Reservoir 2||Brilliant, OH|
|American Electric Power||Gavin Plant||Fly Ash Pond||Cheshire, OH|
|American Electric Power||Gavin Plant||Bottom Ash Pond||Cheshire, OH|
|American Electric Power||Muskingum River Plant||Unit 5 Bottom Ash Pond (Lower Fly Ash Pond)||Waterford, OH|
|American Electric Power||Muskingum River Plant||Upper Fly Ash Pond||Waterford, OH|
|American Electric Power||Muskingum River Plant||Middle Fly Ash Pond||Waterford, OH|
Coal ash ponds in Ohio
Ohio coal plants store billions of gallons of toxic coal combustion waste in ponds that are largely unregulated by federal and state authorities. Nine of the 13 plants in the state rely on dams to contain the waste in these ponds, which can hold up to 9.1 billion gallons of water and coal ash. After the disastrous coal ash spill in Tennessee, Ohio government and utility officials said they believe the dams at the ponds are sound. According to state records, however, many of the dams at smaller ponds have not been inspected in over ten years.
According to a 2006 report by the EPA and DOE, Ohio power plants produced almost 7 million tons of coal ash in 2004, about 40 percent of which was stored in 300 ponds. The remainder was discarded in landfills or reused in other products, such as cement and drywall.
Environmental groups hope the Tennessee spill will spur Congress to create strict regulations.
In August 2010, Ohio Citizen Action released a video entitled “Coal Ash in Ohio” to "highlight the problems and risks of toxic coal waste in Ohio." Coal ash is not currently regulated and Ohio is one of 29 states that does not require coal ash landfills and wet ponds to be monitored. Coal ash is disposed of in landfills and wet ponds, and some of the coal ash waste is used in consumer products ranging from bowling balls and building products to cosmetics and toothpaste.
The video is in response to the EPA considering two competing proposed regulations to begin regulating coal ash. The federal comment period for the proposed regulations runs through November 19, 2010 and there will be seven public hearings that run August 30-September 28, 2010.
August 2010 study: Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination
In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that Ohio, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that is not currently 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. The report mentioned Ohio based Cardinal Plant, Gavin Plant, Industrial Excess Landfill Superfund Site and the Muskingum River Plant as all having groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.
October 2010: Coal slurry leak
On October 1, 2010, an underground pipeline from Murray Energy's American Century Mine sprung a leak in Belmont County, sending coal slurry into the Captina Creek. The leak is a potential health risk because coal slurry contains mercury, lead, iron, manganese, cadmium, and other heavy metals that are carcinogenic and toxic to human health. The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) estimates the spill at about one quarter of a million gallons. According to the OEC, 7 leaks were found in Murray Energy's impoundment pond and two were in the pipeline, one in 2005 and then this 2010 spill. The 2005 pipeline spill cost Murray Energy $50,000 dollars in fines for killing thousands of fish and polluting a half mile of the same creek. In this spill, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division Spokesman Mike Shelton said, "so far 3500 fish and 850 other salamander, crayfish and frogs died in the creek."
"The question is why does this keep happening, why does this company seem unwilling to change the way it does business?" said Nachy Kanfer, Spokesman for the Sierra Club, referring to Murray Energy's practice of pumping slurry through a pipeline only to be stored in a slurry pond indefinitely. Murray Energy was denied a permit to build a new slurry pond in 2008 by the Ohio EPA, now they have applied again for another permit to build a pond. The spill is believed to have been caused by an underground break.
2011 report on top state mercury emissions rates Ohio third
An analysis of federal government data by the environmental advocacy group PennEnvironment showed that Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia's coal-fired power plants ranked highest in the nation, respectively, for 2009 mercury emissions. According to the report, Pennsylvania's power plants put out more than 15,000 pounds of mercury that year, second only to Texas. Ohio and West Virginia were third and fourth.
Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at Ohio coal waste sites
A report released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011 stated that there are many health threats associated with a toxic cancer-causing chemical found in coal ash waste called hexavalent chromium. The report specifically cited 29 sites in 17 states where the contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash and included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin. In Ohio, the Conesville Power Plant in Coshocon County and Industrial Excess Landfill in Uniontown were reported as having high levels of chromium seeping into groundwater.
According to the report, the Conesville Power Plant coal ash site is a landfill. Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was reported at the site at 100 ppb (parts per billion) - 5,000 times the proposed California drinking water goals and above the federal drinking water standard, while the Industrial Excess Landfill in Uniontown was reported at 1,680 ppb (parts per billion) - 84,000 times the proposed California drinking water goals and 1.68 times above the federal drinking water standard.
As a press release about the report read:
- Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.
According to the report, the electric power industry is the leading source of chromium and chromium compounds released into the environment, representing 24 percent of releases by all industries in 2009.
Ohio River highest in chemical discharges
A 2012 Environment America report found that, again, the Ohio River led the nation in the amount of toxic chemicals released into it by industries. The 32 million pounds of discharge into the Ohio is about 1 million pounds more than the last time the group analyzed pubic data on factory discharges into the nation’s waterways in 2009. The study was based on discharges into the nation’s waterways that industry reported for 2010 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory. Most of the releases nationally and 93 percent of the discharges into the Ohio River were nitrate compounds, which is rated as less risky, but can lead to algae blooms and "dead zones."
Ohio highest in mercury and selenium emissions
A 2011 joint report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), EarthJustice, and the Sierra Club rated the top 5 worst states for toxic power plant emissions. Some of the chemicals used to rank the states’ emission status included chromium, arsenic, lead, and mercury. In terms of sheer pounds of emissions of the four highly toxic heavy metals, Ohio ranked second highest in the nation, with #1 rankings for mercury and selenium.
Ohio highest in national toxic air emissions
Residents of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida live in states with the most toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants, according to a July 2011 NRDC report, "How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States", based on data from the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (2009 data, accessed June 2011). Ohio released nearly 70 million pounds of toxic air pollutants in 2009, with 45 million pounds from the electricity sector (65%).
Among the key findings of the report:
- Nearly half of all the toxic air pollution reported from industrial sources in the United States comes from coal- and oil-fired power plants.
- Power plants are the single largest industrial source of toxic air pollution in 28 states and the District of Columbia.
Ohio third highest in U.S. 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.
Alternative energy projects
In 2008, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland signed SB 211, a renewable portfolio standard bill requiring that 25 percent of all energy consumed in Ohio to come from renewable energy sources by 2025. One-half percent of that figure must come from solar power.
Solar power project at old coal mine site
A solar energy installation is slated for construction at the site of an old coal mine in southeast Ohio. The plant is named “Turning Point” and will feature a 239,400-solar panel array with a total generating capacity of 49.9 megawatts (MW). According to CNN, the plant will be adjacent to a 10,000-acre conservation area known as The Wild, which is home to several animals that are on the endangered species list. The project is designed to help the state meet SB 211, a bill requiring that 25 percent of all energy consumed in Ohio to come from renewable energy sources by 2025.
New Harvest Ventures and Agile Energy will build the plant, while American Electric Power (AEP) will purchase the electricity through a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). The project is expected to create 300 new jobs and, it is hoped, will generate interest in renewable energy-related education and manufacturing activities throughout the region.
When announcing the new plant, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland took care to note that two Spanish manufacturing companies will soon open facilities in Ohio to help construct the Turning Point array. According to solar.com: "to get the Spanish companies to open shop in Ohio, Gov. Strickland took a page out of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s playbook, signing an executive order doing away with the state’s personal property tax and real property tax for renewable energy facilities."
2010: Ohio Power Siting Board approves Five Wind Farm Projects
In an April 2008 unanimous vote, the Ohio legislature passed a state renewable portfolio standard bill requiring 25 percent of Ohio's energy to be generated from alternative and renewable sources, of which half or 12.5 percent must derive from renewable sources.
In March 2010, the Ohio Power Siting Board Monday approved three separate projects in western Ohio after about a year of review and hearings. The three will have a total generating capacity of nearly 500 megawatts.
The project proposed by Cleveland-based JW Great Lakes Wind, a subsidiary of German wind developer Juwi GmbH, is in Hardin County and would include up to 27 wind turbines with a total capacity of 48 megawatts. Juwi plans to begin construction of the Hardin County wind farm in 2010 and start commercial operation in mid-2011. A second Hardin County project will be built by Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC, and would contain up to 200 wind turbines with a total capacity of 300 megawatts. It would be built in phases and include a transformer substation, interconnection substation, underground electricity collection system, and about 30 miles of roads. The third project, the Buckeye Wind Farm, will be in Champaign County, and built by New York City-based EverPower. The Buckeye Wind Farm would include about 50 wind turbines with a total generating capacity of 135 megawatts. EverPower hopes to begin construction later in 2010.
As of the March decision, the siting board was still reviewing three additional wind farm projects.
In August 2010, the Ohio Power Siting Board approved an agreement authorizing Heartland Wind, LLC to construct the Blue Creek Wind Farm in Paulding and Van Wert counties. Heartland is authorized to provide up to 350 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity and the facility, as approved, will consist of 159 wind turbines spread across 1,700 acres. With the addition of the Blue Creek project, the OPSB has certificated five wind farms across the state totaling 472 turbines and up to 882.2 MW.
- Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
- Average Number of Employees by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
- Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
- Estimated Emissions for U.S. Electric Power Industry by State, 1990-2006, Energy Information Administration, 2007.
- Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
- Ohio Energy Consumption Information, eRedux website, accessed June 2008.
- "Burning Coal, Burning Cash" Union of Concerned Scientists' Report, May 18, 2010.
- State Coal Profiles, Energy Information Administration, pp. 71-7. - cached copy at CoalDiver.org
- "Women Climb Flagpole In Power Plant Protest", NBC 4 Columbus, July 7, 2008.
- "700 protest against carbon dioxide plan," Dayton Daily News, June 30, 2009.
- Madison Underwood,"Citizens living near coal ash invite white house to visit" Green Space, March 26, 2010.
- Jacqui Patterson, "Day VIII Clearing the Air Road Tour—Hammond, IN—State Line Plant" NAACP Climate Justice Initiative, April 20, 2010.
- "Mining bill would trim EPA's power," Columbus Dispatch, November 24, 2008.
- "Proposed law would take state EPA out of coal-mine regulation," Athens News, December 4, 2008.
- "Ohio governor's budget plan slashes air quality agency funding, moves coal development office" The Republic, March 20, 2011.
- Dan Gearino, "AEP given OK to raise rates in Ohio, but about half what it asked," Columbus Dispatch, March 18, 2009.
- Existing U.S. Coal Plants
- Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
- "AEP would shutter 5 coal plants to meet EPA rules" Coal Tattoo, June 9, 2011.
- [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.
- John Funk, "FirstEnergy Corp. to throttle back four smaller coal-fired power plants" Cleveland.com, August 12, 2010.
- "FirstEnergy to Close Coal-Fired Units at Shadyside, Ohio, Plant" WVNS, Nov. 17, 2010.
- "Ohio University Announces Historic Step: School to Move Beyond Coal" Sierra Club, March 29, 2011.
- "Ohio Utility to Settle Clean Air Act Violations Emissions to be cut by more than 34,000 tons annually" EPA Website, May 18, 2010.
- "GenOn Looking to Cut Generating Capacity … Shawville Plant in the Crosshairs," GantDaily.com, Feb. 29, 2012.
- Stephen Koff, "Ohio coal mines fight, and win routinely, against big federal fines," Plain Dealer Washington, May 05, 2013.
- "Coal Production and Number of Mines by State, County, and Mine Type, 2010" U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2010.
- Raviya Ismail, "Tr-Ash Talk: State of Failure" Earthjustice, August 17, 2011.
- Shaila Dewan, "E.P.A. Lists ‘High Hazard’ Coal Ash Dumps," New York Times, June 30, 2009.
- Fact Sheet: Coal Combustion Residues (CCR) - Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings, Environmental Protection Agency, June 2009.
- "Few regulations restrain tons of toxic coal sludge," Dispatch Politics, January 8, 2009.
- "Ohio Citizen Action releases new 'Coal Ash in Ohio' video" Ohio Citizen Action, August 25, 2010.
- "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
- "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
- Rick Reitzel, "Ohio Coal Company Has A Large Coal Slurry Spill" NBC, Oct. 6, 2010.
- "Pa. power plants were No. 2 in mercury pollution" Bloomberg, Jan. 26, 2011.
- "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
- "Damage Case Report for Coal Combustion Wastes," August 2008
- U.S. EPA Proposed Coal Ash Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 35128
- EarthJustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and Sierra Club, "In Harm's Way: Lack of Federal Coal Ash Regulations Endangers Americans and their Environment," August 2010
- EarthJustice and Environmental Integrity Project, "Out of Control: Mounting Damages from Coal Ash Waste Sites," May 2010
- "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer, Examiner.com, February 1, 2011.
- James Bruggers, "Ohio River tops nation in pollution discharges," The Courier-Journal, April 3, 2012.
- "Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Texas are Top States in Terms of Toxic Power Plant Air Pollution" EIP, December 7, 2011.
- "Solar Power Project at Former Coal Mine To Create Jobs in Ohio" Get Solar.com, October 7, 2010.
- New Ohio Renewable Energy Law Has National Importance. Energy Daily (2008-04-30). Retrieved on 2008-11-28.
- "Ohio Power Siting Board has approved the state's first large wind farms" The Plain Dealer, March 22, 2010.
- Ohio Power Siting Board News Release: Ohio Power Siting Board approves construction of Blue Creek Wind Farm, August 23, 2010.
Existing coal plants in Ohio
Related SourceWatch articles
- Anthony J. Alexander
- Paul M. Barbas
- Michael G. Morris
- Existing U.S. Coal Mines
- Existing U.S. Coal Plants
- US proposed coal plants (both active and cancelled)
- Coal plants cancelled in 2007
- Coal plants cancelled in 2008
- Profiles of other states (or click on the map)