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Maine and coal
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Citizen activism
- 3 History of coal in Maine
- 4 Legislative issues
- 5 Proposed coal plants
- 6 Coal lobbying groups
- 7 Coal power companies
- 8 Existing coal plants
- 9 Major coal mines
- 10 Citizen groups
- 11 Resources
Maine had one coal-fired generating station in 2005, with 103 MW of capacity, representing 2.3% of the state's total electric generating capacity; Maine ranks 47th out of the 50 states in terms of coal-fired electric generating capacity. In 2006, Maine's sole coal-fired power plant produced 447,000 tons of CO2, 2,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 1,000 tons of nitrogen oxide; this coal-fired power plant was responsible for 1.9% of the state's total CO2 emissions. In 2005, Maine emitted 17.6 tons of CO2 per person, about 25% less than the U.S. average. In 2005, 40.8% of Maine's electric generating capacity came from natural gas, 23.8% from oil, and 16.1% from hydroelectricity.
No coal was mined in Maine in 2006.
Twin River Energy Center controversy
The 700 megawatt Twin River Energy Center, an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plant, was planned to be built on the site of the decommissioned Maine Yankee nuclear power plant near the town of Wiscassett. Because Wiscasset's building code required amending for the project to move forward, the plant had to go before Wiscasset voters. A local coalition of environmentalists and lobster fishers (who argued that coal barges would disrupt their fishing) protested against the proposal, and voters rejected it by a vote of 868-707 on Nov. 6, 2007. RE/Sources, however, described the voting results as “feedback,” and reiterated their commitment to the project.
History of coal in Maine
There is no history of coal mining in Maine, as the state has little or no coal reserves. The coal power industry is also very weak in Maine - the state's sole coal-fired power plant was built in 1990. Currently, National RE/sources is trying to build the Twin River Energy Center, a 700-MW IGCC plant in Wiscasset, ME; the company continues to pursue the project, despite the fact that Wiscasset voters defeated the plant proposal in a referendum in Nov. 2007.
- The Town of Wiscasset had a scare last year when a Connecticut-based real estate developer announced plans for a massive coal gasification plant to be located near the site of the former Maine Yankee nuclear power plant. The proposed coal facility would have converted coal to liquid diesel and also generated electricity. But the environmental impacts would have been large, including a big increase in Maine’s carbon dioxide emissions and threats to the safety of local fishermen and lobstermen from massive coal barges arriving up the Sheepscot River almost daily. Moreover, the coal likely would have come from Appalachia, where mountain-top removal mining has destroyed the landscape. The citizens of Wiscasset last November rejected a zoning amendment sought by the company, but the developer suggested that he might come back.
- The Legislature took an important step forward to slow any arrival to Maine of a coal gasification plant, by enacting “An Act to Minimize Carbon Dioxide Emissions from New Coal-powered Industrial and Electrical Generating Facilities in the State” (LD 2126). The new law establishes a three-year moratorium on construction of a coal gasification facility in Maine and directs the Department of Environmental protection to develop appropriate emission standards for any such plant. Coal gasification may be an important energy generation technology in the future, but climate scientists agree that carbon emissions from such plants must be captured and sequestered. Maine does not have the type of underground geological formations contemplated for carbon sequestration,” said NRCM Clean Energy Project Director Dylan Voorhees. “So we are pleased that lawmakers took a stand against coal plants that would worsen the problem of global warming.”
Dirty Energy Public Disclosure Bill
On March 5, 2009, Maine State Representative Elsie Flemings (D, Bar Harbor) introduced the the "An Act Regarding Coal from Mountaintop Removal, Oil from Canadian Tar Sands, and other High Pollution Energy Sources," a.k.a. the "Dirty Energy Public Disclosure Bill" (HP 998, LD 1422). The right-to-know bill would have required "electricity suppliers that sell electricity generated from coal and tar sands to provide Maine ratepayers each year with a new disclosure statement" about environmental and health impacts from each source of coal burned for the New England electric grid. Fleming's announcement of the bill stated that "according to the Maine Public Utilities Commission, approximately 12 percent of the electricity sold in Maine in 2008 came from coal – mostly from plants in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. Nine New England power plants burned more than 5.2 million tons of coal from Colombia, Venezuela, Indonesia, West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania."
The bill called for a study prepared by Maine's Department of Environmental Protection, with assistance from the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the Office of Energy Independence and Security to be completed by January 1, 2010 and biennially thereafter. The reports would cover coal from mountaintop removal, open pit, and long wall mines in Appalachia, Colombia, and Venezuela, oil from the tar sands of Canada, oil shale, and coal used for gasification. Information provided in the reports would have included the sources and volumes of fuels, the impacts associated with the extraction, processing, transportation, and burning of the fuels, health impacts from power plant emissions, and risks from toxic pollution, habitat loss, and water quality impacts. The reports would also include relevant photographs.
On April 7, 2009, the Committee on Natural Resources had the bill printed. On May 21, 2009, the Committee unanimously voted "ONTP," meaning that the bill ought not to pass, or that it died in committee. Opposition to the bill came from the American Petroleum Institute and the Portland Pipeline Corporation. 
Proposed coal plants
- Twin River Energy Center, Wiscasset, ME
Coal lobbying groups
Coal power companies
Existing coal plants
|Plant Name||County||Owner||Year(s) Built||Capacity||2007 CO2 Emissions||2006 SO2 Emissions||SO2/MW Rank|
|Rumford Cogeneration||Oxford||NewPage Corporation||1990||103 MW||447,000 tons||1,829 tons||N/A|
This one plant represents 1.9% of the state's total CO2 emissions, and 3.9% of its total SO2 emissions.
Major coal mines
There are no coal mines in Maine.
- 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.
- Maine Energy Consumption Information, eRedux website, accessed June 2008.
- Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
- “Lobstermen Protest Proposed Power Plant,” WCSH Portland website, October 11, 2007.
- "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed December 2007. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
- Paula Gibbs, “‘No’ Vote was ‘Feedback’: Twin River Remains ‘Steadfast’ in ‘Mission’,” Wiscasset Newspaper, November 8, 2007.
- State Coal Profiles, Energy Information Administration, 1994. - cached copy at CoalDiver.org
- Recoverable Coal Reserves at Producing Mines, Estimated Recoverable Reserves, and Demonstrated Reserve Base by Mining Method, 2006, Energy Information Administration, 2007.
- "2008 Legislative Report Card," Natural Resources Council of Maine, accessed 10/08
- Ted Nace, "Blocking Ferrari-Ready Driveways," Gristmill, 4/16/08
- Elsie Fleming, "Rep. Elsie Flemings to introduce "Dirty Energy Public Disclosure Bill" with goal of curbing use of coal and Canadian tar sands", Appalachian Voices website, March 5, 2009.
- "Summary of LD 1422", Maine State Legislature website, accessed June 25, 2009.
- "Text and status for HP 998, LD 1422, 124th Legislature, First regular session", Maine State Legislature website, accessed June 25, 2009.
- Susan Sharon, "A push to shed more light on electricity sources", Maine Public Broadcasting Network, April 30, 2009 .
- Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
- Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
- Major U.S. Coal Mines, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
Related SourceWatch articles
- Existing U.S. Coal Plants
- Existing U.S. Coal Mines
- 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)