coal

WATCH: When coal goes bankrupt, who pays for cleanup?

Jun 13, 2016
Wyoming PBS

When mining companies are done digging up coal, the empty pit mines need to be returned to their natural state.

But due to a process called self-bonding, mining companies don't have to set aside money to do so. As coal mining companies declare bankruptcy, who will pay for the cleanup? 

WATCH: How a coal plant is cleaning up its act

Jan 22, 2016
Reid Frazier, The Allegheny Front

The Homer City Generating Station rises like a cathedral out of a valley in Indiana County, just east of Pittsburgh. You can see its smokestacks and hour-glass shaped cooling towers from miles around. 

Like many coal plants around the country, workers at Homer City are busy installing pollution controls to comply with new clean air rules imposed by the EPA.

These units take out sulfur and other harmful pollutants, like mercury. Total cost? $750 million.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

When she was growing up, Julie Bundy’s parents forbade her from playing on the "slate dumps." That was their shorthand for the hundred-foot-tall pile of loose rubble that sat right in the middle of Fredericktown, the southwestern Pennsylvania coal town where her grandparents lived.

“My grandparents lived in the yellow house on the corner with the slate dumps in the back yard. As long as I can remember, it was there,” Bundy says.

Kate O'Connell / WXXI

New York is home to some of the oldest power facilities in the U.S. Add in stricter emissions regulations introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the result is a tough environment for coal-plants state-wide.

The NRG power plant in Dunkirk presents a good case study for coal plants across New York, and the upstate region, that are now facing a changing energy landscape.

dec.gov.ny

Governor Andrew Cuomo has set out an ambitious agenda for energy in New York state and he needs to.

Extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy have exposed the fragility of the state’s aging energy grid, new EPA regulations on greenhouse gases are driving fast-track conversions of former coal-fired plants, over 40 percent of New York’s power stations are more than four decades old and the Governor is caught in a major political vice over fracking.

Cuomo’s 2013-14 budget proposal also outlines some major investments in the renewable energy sector.

The Innovation Trail will focus its reporting on the state's energy planning and investment in the week of March 18-22. All the reports will be posted here.

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