Sustainable WNC

The Gateway to Sustainability in Western North Carolina

Archive for September, 2007

Common Sense and Public Pressure Will Have to Stop Cliffside Coal Plant

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

In a consensus report this year, written and reviewed by 2500 scientists appointed by 130 nations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells the world that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities must be rapidly reduced by 80% to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of global warming (

Plans to build hundreds of new power plants across the nation, including Duke Energy’s plan to build and operate a new coal-burning power plant at its Cliffside facility in Rutherford County, North Carolina, ignore this reality and other good reasons for abandoning this strategy to meet future energy demand.

Coal-burning power plants are the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. There is no technology available to reduce or eliminate the massive amounts of carbon-dioxide released into the atmosphere from the combustion of hydro-carbons such as coal, oil or natural gas. Burning coal is also responsible for acid rain from sulfur-dioxide and nitrogen-oxide emissions, high ground-level ozone concentrations and mercury contamination of water ways and aquatic wildlife. Several existing coal-burning power plants had to shut down operations this summer because waterways used for cooling were too warm. Burning coal has become reliant on the environmental devastation wrought by mountaintop removal mining in which vast eco-systems are destroyed, entire towns are displaced, rivers are contaminated with toxic by-products from sludge-pond dam failures and floods.

Because of the passage of Senate Bill 3 in the 2007 session of the North Carolina General Assembly (that the Canary Coalition is working to reverse), electric ratepayers would be forced to invest about two billion dollars into the planning, siting, preparatory work and construction of Duke Energy’s Cliffside plant before it even comes on line, if it ever comes on line. This huge investment would squander limited capital that could be used instead to advance energy efficiency, conservation and renewable technologies that would provide a way of meeting future energy demand while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from current levels, in line with the direction advised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Duke Energy’s application to build and operate the new Cliffside coal-burning power plant results from energy policies that are business-as-usual at a time when a change of direction is desperately needed, if we are serious about our responsibility toward future generations.

The only public hearing set by the NC Utilities Commission for the Cliffside Coal plant application will be held at the Chase High School , 1603 Chase High School Road , in Forest City , NC , on Tuesday, September 18, at 6 pm.

To review the permit application visit

The Canary Coalition is organizing a carpool to and from this hearing. Contact or call 828-631-3447 for more information.