Governor Deval Patrick                                                              See Principles for New Coal Technology
Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor
Room 360
Boston, MA 02133                                                                                 July 10, 2007

Dear Governor Patrick:

Thank you for your leadership to date on advancing clean energy policy and raising the profile of the global warming challenge. In the context of climate policy, the undersigned organizations want to express to you our deep concerns regarding recent efforts by the coal industry, including new coal technology "start-ups", to promote so-called “clean coal” as a global warming solution. We firmly believe that these new coal technologies – coal-to-liquids, integrated gasification combined cycle using coal, and emerging new coal gasification technologies – in their current form would be a step in the wrong direction for Massachusetts and the nation.

Please find attached a set of principles that we believe should guide whether new coal technologies are accepted or rejected by the Commonwealth. In summary:

  1. New coal energy technologies or facilities should only be allowed in Massachusetts if there is no net increase in emissions of carbon dioxide produced.

  2. "Sequestration ready" is not a substitute for on-the-ground sequestration of carbon dioxide.

  3. We should invest first and foremost in truly clean energy, such as efficiency, demand response and renewable energy -- and funding should not be diverted from these clean energy resources to support coal-based technologies.

Consider, for example, current proposals that would have Massachusetts’s ratepayers fund incentives for coal gasification technologies. Even though some developers claim that the carbon dioxide pollution from the gasification process will be “sequestration-ready,” carbon capture and storage technologies are widely considered to be many years (if not decades) away from being proven commercially viable, geologically safe, and feasible in this region. Thus, coal gasification is in conflict with the first two principles stated above.

Opening the door to technologies like coal gasification will lock us into decades of increased carbon emissions. We must be especially cautious in regard to proposals to convert our half-century old coal plants in Massachusetts to “clean coal” technologies. These proposals may at first appear to be an improvement – an upgrade of an old technology to a new one. But given the absence of effective sequestration strategies, such upgrades could represent little more than a decades-long extension of the lifetime of outdated and highly polluting coal plants (such as the Salem power plant).

Instead of embracing and designing incentives for new coal energy technologies, we should adhere to the third principle above and invest in alternatives, which have much greater benefits and fewer negative impacts. As you know, there is substantial untapped energy efficiency available at a cost far cheaper than buying electricity. Further, low- and zero-carbon renewable energy technologies are poised for major growth in the coming decade. Given that we have finite resources to invest in the solutions to global warming, we believe that broadly beneficial alternatives such as energy efficiency and clean, safe renewable energy should take priority over questionable coal technologies.

With the Brayton Point, Salem Harbor Station, Mount Tom, and Somerset power plants, our coal burden is the heaviest of the New England states; in fact, as of 2004, Brayton Point was the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide of all 188 electricity generating facilities in the nine northeast states.  We ask that you join us in upholding the above three principles and rejecting new coal facilities at this time.

As you noted in your campaign for governor, Massachusetts has rich intellectual resources and skilled workers, and if we can get clean energy right, the whole world will be our customer. Investing in new coal technologies would be getting it wrong. We urge the Commonwealth to instead invest in and promote technologies that will result in the greatest benefits in terms of greenhouse gas emission reductions and cost effectiveness.

Jeff Seyler
American Lung Association of MA

Loie Hayes
Boston Climate Action Network

Sandra Gavutis
C-10 Research and Education Foundation

Dave Dionne
Campaign to Clean Up Brayton Point

Megan Amsler
Cape and Island Safe Reliance

Dr. Anna Manatis
Cape Clean Air

Mark Rogers
Cape Wind Associates

Adam Markham
Clean Air Cool Planet

Barbara Hill
Clean Power Now

Cindy Luppi
Clean Water Action

Werner Lohe
Climate Action Brookline

Rabbi Katy Allen
Coalition for Jewish Life & the Env.

Susan Reid
Conservation Law Foundation

Frank Gorke
Environment Massachusetts

Nancy Goodman
Environmental League of Massachusetts

Fred Schlicher
Massachusetts Climate Action Network

Susan Altman
Medford CAN

Sheryl Poole
Merrimack Valley Residents for the Env

John Friede

Peggy MacLoud
Northampton Citizens for Climate Action

Julie Rawson
Northeast Organic Farming Association

Joan Kulash
People for the Environment

Mary Lampert
Pilgrim Watch

Erik Hoffman
Pioneer Valley Biodiesel

Peggy Middaugh
Regional Environmental Council-Worcester

Fred Small
Religious Witness for the Earth

Pat Gozemba
Salem Alliance for the Environment
Steve MacAusland
Massachusetts Interfaith Power and Light

Maria Valenti
Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility

Sue Phelan
Green Cape

Sue Butler
Green Decade Cambridge

Eric Olsen
Green Decade Coalition-Newton

Al Lima
Green Futures

Jim Simmons
Hands Across the River Coalition

Brent Baeslack
Haverhill Environmental League

Bill Ravanesi
Healthcare Without Harm

Martha Dansdill

Ken Kipen
Hilltown Anti-Herbicide Coalition

Tom Powers
Island Alliance

Richard McCarthy
Lawrence Environmental Action Council, Inc.

Pat Beckett
Marblehead Pesticide Awareness Committee

Larry Cretien
Mass. Energy Consumer Alliance 

Ben Kelley
Save the Harbor Save the Bay

Marybeth Palmigiano
Stop the Stop

Dante Comparetto
Green Worcester

Meredith Small
Toxics Action Center

Adam Werbach
US Sky Watch

Nancy Banks
UU Massachusetts Action Network

Lisa Alexander
Watertown Citizens for Environmental Safety

Lori Erlich
Wenham Lake Watershed Association

Virginia Ryan
Westwood Environmental Coalition

Jim Walsh
Safer Water for MA


CC:    Ian Bowles
David Cash
Anne Burwick
Arleen O’Donnell
Philip Giudice
W. Robert Keating
Tim Woolf
Therese Murray
Salvatore F. DiMasi