New Plans in Appalachia for Jobs and Environmental Quality

by admin on August 2, 2020

Bruce Mansfield coal-fired power plant in western Penna. was closed in November 2019

Appalachian ‘New Deal’ would create jobs, improve environment

From an Article by Chrissy Suttles, Elwood City Ledger, July 21, 2020

Reimagine Appalachia on July 21st released a New Deal-style policy framework to expand economic opportunity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region.

A collective of environmental and economic policy groups in the region want federal lawmakers to include Appalachia in the national recovery conversation.

Large, absentee corporations have drained wealth from Appalachia for decades, the groups argue, leading to abandoned reclamation, pollution and poverty — especially in already marginalized communities. As Congress further addresses economic fallout linked to COVID-19, the partnership wants a seat at the table.

Reimagine Appalachia, a coalition of organizations from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, released the New Deal-style policy framework to expand economic opportunity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Ohio River Valley.

The strategy was drafted by Policy Matters Ohio, a research institute, and its sister organizations in neighboring states, including the Keystone Research Center in Pennsylvania.

Their solution involves reviving federal recovery programs launched during the Great Depression and expanding transportation, clean manufacturing and broadband in rural areas.

By reviving the Civilian Conservation Corps, Americans could rebuild wetlands and reforest their land, authors said. Appalachia is rich in carbon-absorbing natural resources, and investment in “carbon farming” would help mitigate the effects of climate change.

“It’s important to understand we don’t have to eliminate every single carbon emission to achieve net-zero carbon. Trees absorb carbon,” said Amanda Woodrum, a senior researcher at Policy Matters Ohio. She said it’s likely national climate change legislation will come in the form of an economic stimulus package if trends continue.

Shuttered coal plants can be converted into eco-industrial parks that use circular manufacturing methods to turn a company’s waste into another’s raw material, too. Boilers and turbines can be re-purposed for combined heat and power to better meet the needs of manufacturers, and all orphaned oil and gas wells would be capped.

“Climate change is already causing damage in the Ohio River Valley,” authors wrote. “Severe storms have damaged our infrastructure and flooded our homes, communities and farms and made people sick.”

Publicly funded projects outlined in the strategy include upgrading the Rural Grid Modernization Program to give all Americans access to broadband internet. Similar to past initiatives, it could create tens of thousands of construction, maintenance and utility jobs.

Building an Appalachian rail corridor connecting rural areas to urban cores would provide a less-expensive form of transportation, according to the plan.

This would reduce the amount of money Appalachians spend on petroleum products imported from outside the region, the plan notes. Federal policymakers can further improve Appalachia’s transportation network by expanding public options and offer electric vehicle subsidies.

“The economy really does come down to people working, buying and selling stuff,” said Hannah Halbert, Policy Matters Ohio executive director. “People are the economy, and what’s good for people is good for the economy.”

Public construction projects would involve labor agreements, prevailing wages and apprentice-utilization requirements to ensure quality work under the blueprint, with a large share of apprentices coming from low-income, underrepresented communities.

Company leadership would have to honor workers’ freedom to unionize and ensure genuine opportunities for fossil fuel workers. Skilled laborers would not be asked to involuntarily relocate or retrain. “In fact, we need coal miners, plant workers and oil and gas to help us,” Woodrum said.

The coalition also demands public officials support those who contracted black lung disease and other chronic health problems while working in extraction industries. “These workers must be able to retire with dignity, with the health care they need as well as the retirement pensions they deserve,” authors said.

Average income in Appalachia has largely stagnated or declined in the past 40 years, according to Keystone Research Center executive director Stephen Herzenberg. In the four decades prior — from the late 1930s to the late 1970s — regional income tripled or quadrupled.

“The people of Appalachia have a great work ethic,” he said. “They expect to be paid fairly and to be protected and respected on the job. But for the past 40 years, almost none of the benefits of economic growth have been shared with working people in our region. Corporations and the politicians they control have held wages down.”

A copy of the full blueprint can be found at:

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

admin August 2, 2020 at 7:21 am

Bruce Mansfield Power Plant at Shippingport, PA, was closed in November 2019.

From Wikipedia on August 2, 2020

Bruce Mansfield Power Plant was a 2.49-gigawatt (2,490 MW), coal power plant located in Shippingport, Pennsylvania in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. The plant was operated by FirstEnergy. It began operations in 1976 and was shut down in November 2019.

History — Construction of Bruce Mansfield commenced in 1970. The plant was operated by Pennsylvania Power (a subsidiary of Ohio Edison). Its ownership was a consortium of Pennsylvania Power, Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating, Toledo Edison, and Duquesne Light to form the Central Area Power Coordination (CAPCO). Bruce Mansfield began commercial operations of Unit 1 in 1976 with Units 2 and 3 following suit in 1977 and 1980 respectively. All three of the units generated 830 MW each with a nameplate capacity of 2490 MW. The plant was named after D. Bruce Mansfield, a former chairman of Pennsylvania Power. Murray Energy was the primary supplier of coal for Bruce Mansfield. The coal was shipped from West Virginia.

FirstEnergy Solutions announced in August 2018 that they were closing Bruce Mansfield by June 2021. FirstEnergy Solutions blamed the wholesale market system, which PJM Interconnection operates on, for not relying on coal and nuclear plants. PJM Interconnection conducted an analysis and concluded the plant’s closure would not affect grid reliability. The closure was moved back to November 2019 due to, “a lack of economic viability.”

Environmental mitigation — Units 1 and 2 were installed with a flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) system to prevent sulfur dioxide (SO2) from being emitted into the atmosphere. Its chimney is 950 feet (290 m) tall. The sludge was then transported 7 miles (11 km) by pipe to Little Blue Run Lake between Beaver County, Pennsylvania and Hancock County, West Virginia. When Unit 3 was constructed in 1980, an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) system, designed by the Weir Group, was installed instead for the unit to curb particulate emissions. Its chimney is 600 feet (180 m) tall.

To reduce waste disposal from scrubbers at Bruce Mansfield, National Gypsum constructed a nearby plant in 1998 to process synthetic gypsum from the plant to produce drywall. To deliver the gypsum for the nearby manufacturer, a forced-oxidation gypsum (FOG) system was built.

A $200 million dewatering facility was completed in 2016 in response to a 2012 settlement that prohibits the further disposal of byproduct at Little Blue Run Lake. The facility would separate byproduct from water and then be properly disposed of in a lined impoundment at Murray Energy’s mine in Marshall County, West Virginia. The dewatering facility began operations in January 2017, but problems at the new facility forced the plant to go offline the following month. The plant restarted two weeks later.

Incidents — A release of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) during repair work on a pipe killed two and injured four workers in August 2017. The workers’ families who experienced casualties in the accident filed lawsuits against FirstEnergy in November 2017 seeking damages. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined FirstEnergy $77,605 for workplace hazards and also fined subcontractor Enerfab $129,340 for failing to provide “appropriate respiratory protection”. FirstEnergy ultimately settled by paying a fine of $65,963.

On January 10, 2018, Bruce Mansfield caught on fire causing damage to its roof and duct work. In a filing later that month, FirstEnergy revealed that the fire caused significant damage to the equipment for Units 1 and 2. The damage was severe enough that deactivation of both units were accelerated from June 2021 to February 5, 2019.]


Duane Nichols August 2, 2020 at 10:07 am

The Cautionary Tale of the Largest Coal Ash Waste Site in the U.S. – LITTLE BLUE RUN— By Brittany Patterson, The Allegheny Front, November 2019

This story was first published on June 22, 2018. The US EPA announced proposed rules for coal ash impoundments on November 4, 2019.

LISTEN: “The Cautionary Tale of the Largest Coal Ash Waste Site in the U.S.” — Audio Player (See the link below).

Chester, West Virginia, is a small town of about 3,000 people, just a stone’s throw from Pennsylvania to the east and Ohio to the north. The region’s rolling hills are dotted with family farms and the “world’s largest teapot” proudly welcomes visitors into downtown.

But the area is also home to another object of record-breaking size: the largest coal ash waste site in the United States, …… the “Little Blue Run Impoundment.”

(This impoundment is a continuing threat to the waters of the Ohio River. DGN)



Jan Milburn August 22, 2020 at 4:05 pm

From ‎Jan Milburn‎ to Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group, August 20, 2020

Dear Frack Worker who has taken to televise your political views:

I was there at the EPA hearing when you mocked the mothers who testified how their children became ill when fracking moved into their area.

I was there when you laughed at those who testified that their farm animals got sick and died.

I was there when you came en masse in your company issued tee shirts sporting gas industry logos, transported by a company bus, to intimidate, to sneer, to jibe. I sat behind you, I heard you.

I was there-at the official hearings of the DEP, EPA, DOE, and numerous communities where families pleaded with officials to listen, to protect.

You fought us every step of the way.

So when you deride a candidate out of concern for your job (claims which are highly exaggerated) I respond with this — tens of thousands of people have lost jobs in this country over the past decade for a multitude of reasons-companies moving off shore, automation, on line buying, trade agreements, a change in demand for particular products. Ten years ago there were no fracking jobs, ten years ago we did not have the spills, violations, emissions, contamination, zoning battles, and sickness associated with fracking.

That’s not hyperbole, that’s research-based and public record.

So, if you need to be re-trained, if all those subsidies, tax breaks, are moved to renewable sources, if fracking leaves PA as it has been banned in NY and MD, do not expect sympathy from those of us who only want to protect our families, our property rights, and our environment.

A Mother, a grandmother in Penna.


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