4 Environs 1 (1980)

handle is hein.journals/environs4 and id is 1 raw text is: OO
Volume 4, Number 1
January, 1980
ENVIRONS, a non-partisan environmental
law/natural resources newsletter publish-
ed by King Hall School of Law, and edited
by the Environmental Law Society, Univer-
sity of California, Davis.
Designation of the employer or other
affiliation of the author(s) of any article is
given for purposes of identification of the
author(s) only. The views expressed herein
are those of the authors, and do not
necessarily reflect the position of the
University of California, School of Law,
Environmental Law Society, or of any
employer or organization with which an
author is affiliated.
Submission of Comments, Letters to the
Editor, and Articles is encouraged. We
reserve the right to edit and/or print these
Editorial Staff
Woody Brooks
Ginny Cahill
Dale Campbell
Billy Davies
Michael Endicott
Martha Fox
Anne Frassetto
Bob Goodrich
Bruce Klafter
Craig Labadie
Jay Long
Barb Malchick
Kathy Oliver
Mark Raftery
Shar Rezabek
Lew Ross
Brian Scott
Donald Segerstrom
Wendy Thomson
Dick Tomoda
Bruce Waggoner
George Wailes
Sandra Wicks
Special Acknowledgement
Harrison C. Dunning Faculty
January 190 UCD Environmental Law Society
0 (_____                ____V
c iLK Mhu

Coal Plants and
Northern California
The difficult question of what type of fuel will be relied on by
California for new electric energy generation in the 1980's and '90's is
complicated by the problems of fuel cost and availability as well as issues
of safety and cleanliness of operation. Since all conventional sources of
energy have disadvantages, and the unconventional sources such as
solar and wind power seem unable to produce the quantities of energy
needed in the near future, the process of making a commitmentto one
form or another amounts to a weighing of the respective problems
The federal government has effectively eliminated oil and gas from
consideration by ordering presently-operating plants to convert to coal
and by strictly limiting new oil and gas plants to generation of 15% of
peak demand, or to situations where energy is critically needed and no
alternative source exists. While hydroelectric power is cheap and clean,
there are few favorable hydroelectric damsites left, and public
opposition to flooding beautiful canyons and valleys is growing. Fear of
calamitous accidents and the problem of disposing of high-level
radioactive waste have caused the further development of nuclear
power to be viewed with concern.
Coal is considered to have several advantages. There are large
domestic supplies, and its use is perceived as being relatively safe. The
Brown Administration has been promoting coal as an alternative to
more nuclear power plants, and apparently needs to demonstrate that it
is not as anti-business or anti-energy as some of its critics have
charged. The federal government is eager to see America's plentiful
deposits of coal developed as an alternative to importing foreign oil. Its
cost is low: about 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, as compared to 1.5 cents
for nuclear power, and 3.5 cents for oil.
The cost of coal power is increasing, however. New plants must be
equipped with expensive anti-pollution equipment to control the huge
quantities of air pollutants that pour from the plants' smokestacks. Even
with the best available emission-control equipment, significant
quantities of extremely fine ash and other pollutants will escape; some
scientists fear that even these relatively small emissions may have grave
health and agricultural impacts. There is also increasing concern over
the possibility that the carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel-burning
plants could result in a greenhouse effect which could in turn cause
significant climatic changes in the next century.
-. These are the kinds of problems that were analyzed by the Energy
Commission in its decision to approve Pacific Gas and Electric
Company's (PG&E) Notice of Intention (NOI) to file an Application for
Certification (AFC) for construction of Fossil 1 & 2-a two-unit, 1600
megawatt coal-fired steam electric powerplant. The project is expected
to cost $2 billion and will be California's first coal-fired powerplant. It
will burn up to 16,000 tons of low-sulphur Utah coal, delivered in two
80-car trains every day.

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