Something other than coal for West Virginia

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

West Virgina’s suicide pact with coal mining makes no sense. The Appalachian state could be a respectable wind energy producer and now Science reports that West Virginia is a geothermal hot spot.

Researchers have uncovered the largest geothermal hot spot in the eastern United States. According to a unique collaboration between Google and academic geologists, West Virginia sits atop several hot patches of Earth, some as warm as 200˚C and as shallow as 5 kilometers. If engineers are able to tap the heat, the state could become a producer of green energy for the region…

The find was a surprise to the scientists themselves as well as to local experts. “Nobody expected West Virginia to show up as a hot spot,” says SMU’s Maria Richards, a geothermal expert and geographer. “Just last year, I thought West Virginia, geothermal energy–I didn’t put the two together,” adds West Virginia’s official state geologist, Michael Hohn, who didn’t participate in the study.

West Virginia could change, but…

Electricity is extremely cheap in West Virginia due to its abundant coal, so geothermal energy probably can’t compete for business from utilities there. But Hohn says the state’s extensive network of power lines makes it a good candidate for exporting electricity produced by geothermal power to nearby states such as Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Madness to keep burning ‘cheap’ coal.


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  1. It’s only cheap when the costs to health and environment are excluded.

    • Edger on October 6, 2010 at 20:03

    Now if we could get pollutive coal mining taxed high enough to at least pay for some of the costs (environmental, health, etc) it dumps on to the people of West Virginia and the rest of the world, maybe geothermal electricity production would be competitive there…

  2. …TPTB will choose to stay with

                 TEH MADNESS?

    Don’t they always?

    • RUKind on October 7, 2010 at 04:48

    Clean Coal is analogous to Compassionate Conservative. Ain’t no such thing.

  3. Jesse Johnson, the US Senate candidate from the Mountain Party (WV’s Green Party affiliate) has spent years organizing to end mountaintop removal mining. Both the Democrat and Republican in the race support MTR.

  4. That is willing to address or even make an honest assessment of carbon.

    How naive I was for thinking the real Blue State senators would stand up for their constituents and embarrass coal state senators into an honest debate.

    Well it’s looking like that will be a moot point in West Virginia soon.

    One seat the Democrats weren’t worrying about this year was the U.S. Senate seat in West Virginia held for 50 years by Democrat Robert Byrd. When Byrd died in June, popular Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin announced he would run in the special election to fill the remaining two years of Byrd’s term. Most analysts expected Manchin would win in a walk, but the contest has turned out to be anything but a sure thing.


    Oh well.  

  5. I don’t usually watch CNN but there was a piece on Little Blue, EPA Decision Could Jolt Electrical Power Industry.

    Today, Little Blue Run is a 1300-acre facility, with an impoundment measuring nearly 1000 acres, and 400 feet deep in some places. FirstEnergy Corporation, the utility company that now owns Little Blue, pumps tons of coal ash and other waste into it every year.

    But, you won’t find any sailboats. The EPA says that coal ash contains toxic agents like arsenic, cadmium and lead, some of which are known to cause cancer. And, Little Blue is about to get bigger. FirstEnergy produces so much waste to make electricity, it wants to build an adjacent facility to store it.

    Little Blue Run is one of about 600 surface impoundments in the country that contain coal ash from coal-fired power plants like FirstEnergy’s Bruce Mansfield Plant in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. In addition, there are about 300 landfills containing dry waste.

    The Environmental Protection Agency is now holding hearings across the country on coal ash waste. After the disastrous coal ash spill in Tennessee two years ago, the agency is considering whether to toughen regulations and classify coal-ash as “hazardous” waste. Right now it’s considered ordinary garbage. The proposed changes could have an enormous financial impact on the hundreds of coal-fired power plants that produce half the nation’s electricity.

    Which could be a huge EPA decision with a possibly positive effect on the environment.

    There is nothing little about Little Blue Run Dam, the coal fly ash impoundment that reaches into both Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Coal ash  is the toxic by-product of burning coal for electricity – the Little Blue Run ash impoundment belongs to the Bruce Mansfield Plant. This plant is FirstEnergy’s largest coal-fired power plant, burning around seven million tons of coal annually.

    Have you been covering this at all?  

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