Yellow Springs Says No to Coal

By Carl Reverts

If the proposed coal fired power plant that American Municipal Power-Ohio (or AMP-Ohio) is pushing for gets built, it would cause additional hardship to Meigs County, an area in Ohio already troubled by coal related problems, according to environmental advocate Elisa Young. Last week, Young met with the Antioch Environmental Group, who opposes the construction and its contract that requires a fifty-year commitment to buy power exclusively from the utility. AEG is looking to join the efforts of other groups that oppose the Power Plant.

Yellow Springs Council voted ‘no’ to the contract this week, following through on sentiment from a meeting last week, which seemed to say that ‘the moral and economic cost of coal is too great,’ according to the Yellow Springs News. The vote has been pushed forward from the March 1st deadline that AMP originally provided. With the aggressive push for yes answers and the continually shorter deadlines, Young says that the project might be in trouble. Other towns have begun to question the motives of the company in gunning for yes answers, with many saying that it curtails the public comment period. In reference to the shifting deadlines by AMP-Ohio, Kathy Lawson, a Martinsville City, VA Councilwoman said she feels “like there was a hidden agenda,” and added, “I’m definitely more cautious about them.”

The great myth about “clean coal” is that you still have to mine it. A common practice in Appalachia is that of mountain top removal, a process that literally moves mountains, and leaves an ugly scar to boot. The process also causes runoff and other environmental concerns.

Young says that with climate change related legislation in the works in coming years, coal power plants will no longer provide the most value to customers as non fossil fuel technologies begin to gain market share, in all likelihood, well before the fifty year contract is up. A likely additional tax on carbon-emissions would contribute to this devalued effect. A potential idea, Young said, is to build transmission lines from Colorado, a state that has discovered its massive potential for wind energy. The imported green energy would be comparable or a little more expensive in price but the benefits would equal out in reduced health care bills and peace of mind.

What Young doesn’t want to see is any new coal power plants, a conviction she developed after seeing the detrimental environmental effects of mining coal, the contaminated drinking water from leached sludge, and the increase in respiratory illness, cancers and other maladies, among other reasons. As a full time nurse in Meigs County, Young gets to see first hand the human effects of coal mining and burning.

The city of Westerville, AMPs third largest contract, turned down the contract with one of the voting members saying the only fifty-year commitment she could make was to her husband. There is a growing trend with cities and towns now feeling emboldened enough to say no. However, other large cities and towns like Cleveland and Dover City are still signed on for the contract.