You can support Missouri Coalition for the Environment when you go solar.
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Missouri is at a confluence when it comes to energy issues. It has the potential to launch towards a goal of 100% clean energy and run with wind and solar resources. Several cities and utilities have taken on bold renewable energy targets like St. Louis, Kansas City, Rock Port, and Liberty Utilities-Empire District. However, Missouri consumes more coal than any other state in 1. the US besides Texas to fuel its massive coal fired power plants. 2.
Why is this important?
Coal is one of the dirtiest energy sources for people and the planet. When coal is burned it emits several potent gases that impact our health, and the health of the environment directly. For example, sulfur dioxide contributes to acid rain, nitrous oxide contributes to respiratory issues and smog, and carbon dioxide contributes to increased global temperatures, causing changes in the climate. Additional particulates can be expelled from coal fired power plants that can also enter our lungs, which can be especially impactful to vulnerable populations like children and the elderly. 3.
These are the impacts from just the emissions. Coal ash waste, a slurry substance that is produced after the coal has been burned, is stored in engineered ponds. According to a Washington University Law report, there are 41 coal ash ponds throughout Missouri associated with the 16 coal fired power plants throughout the state. Many of these are unlined. These 4. ponds contaminate groundwater, which is dangerous for communities across the state. Can you imagine turning on your water and not being sure if it is safe to use? This is what people are experiencing every day — in particular, poor rural communities and communities of color. These populations should not be subjected to more health impacts than urban or wealthier communities, especially when they cannot afford healthcare in some cases, according to the US EPA. 5.
In addition to these local impacts, coal energy impacts climate change, which impacts everyone. When carbon emissions enter the atmosphere faster than the Earth’s natural systems can sequester them, the atmosphere, which acts as a net around the Earth, gets thicker. This heavier blanket traps in more heat and will change climate patterns on a global scale. Missouri is used to a relatively mild climate. We experience natural ebbs and flows in our rivers as they swell and contract with the seasons. However, the patterns we have been experiencing for centuries are likely to change. Large flooding events have, and will continue to be more common, there will be more extreme heat days, and our agricultural output is likely to be highly compromised. Climate change will impact us on a national and international scale, as people are displaced, lose access to water supplies, and face more intense weather events like hurricanes.
Our dependency on coal contributes to all of these negative environmental and social issues.
What can be done to change this trajectory?
Transitioning our power sector to 100% renewable energy (wind and solar) as quickly as possible will be critical to mitigating these problems for our communities. The Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) sends a policy expert to Jefferson City to talk to lawmakers about these, and other environmental issues each year. You can advocate for a higher renewable portfolio standard for the state via MCE’s legislative alerts and advocacy initiatives.. A great example of progress is a recently passed local ordinance in the City of St. Louis in which every new home construction be solar ready. We also need to ensure that as we transition from coal, we don’t choose other dirty fuels like natural gas, which raises similar environmental and health concerns as coal.
You can help support MCE’s work while doing your part to invest in the clean energy future we need by going solar! MCE is partnering with StraightUp Solar to PowerUp the Coalition with solar installations! For every home or business that goes solar, $500 will be donated to MCE to help fund their clean energy and climate work. Help our state transition from coal to something much brighter by visiting, here.
1. Sierra Club. (2020). 100% Commitment in Cities, Counties & States. Retrieved from: https://www.sierraclub.org/ready-for-100/commitments. 2. U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2017 (November 2, 2018), Table 26, U.S. Coal Consumption by End Use Sector, Census Division, and State, 2017 and 2016. 3. U.S. EIA, Coal Explained: Coal and the Environment. Retrieved from: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/coal/coal-and-the-environment.php 4. Washington University Law Report (2019). Missouri Coal Ash Ponds. Retrieved from: http://apps.stlpublicradio.org/documentcloud/document.html?id=5750671-2019-Washington-University-La w-Report-on 5. US Environmental Protection Agency (2016). What Climate Change Means for Missouri. Retrieved from: https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/climate-change-mo.pdf