Coal plant means bad news for the environment and city

The costs of utilities in Tallahassee are going up, but is a coal plant the solution to the problem?

A referendum has been issued to the people of Tallahassee to vote on whether or not they feel it’s a good idea to build a coal plant 50 miles outside the border of Leon County.

A referendum is the submission of a law, proposed by the legislature or already in affect, to a direct vote of the people.

Since the vote on building a coal plant about 50 miles outside of Tallahassee only passed at 69 percent, they have to acquire a referendum before the plant can be built here in Leon county or any of the neighboring counties.

With ballots going out and a full news special being prepared on WCTV, I don’t feel that the Tallahassee community has been well informed about how switching from gas to coal is going to affect their everyday lives. Many questions about the coal plant have been raised, but not answered.

After researching both sides of the issue, I feel that switching to coal is not a good idea environmentally or financially. The US government’s original plan was to build at least 124 coal plants throughout the United States.

Five of those would be in Florida, and 600 in other countries. With 724 coal plants running throughout the world, providing heat and electricity for largely populated areas, the price of coal is going to go up.

The rising price of coal since 2002 is at a 12 percent increase and the price of gas is at a seven percent increase. So imagine, once all the coal plants are running, how much it’s going to be to have a coal plant in your city?

With the health issue of the coal plant also in concern, Congress is already talking about having a carbon tax. If it is enacted the cost of burning coal will rise to about 50 million dollars a year.

Environmentally, a coal plant is highly unhealthy. When you burn coal it emits sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide into the air. These chemicals are very hazardous to your lungs.

It’s very true that coal controls 51 percent of our electricity in the United States, but it also controls 96 percent of the sulfur dioxide emissions and 93 percent of nitrogen-oxide emissions.

These chemicals in the air, mixed with sunlight, can cause smog that can burn holes in your lungs.

According to the clean air coalition 1/2 gram of mercury emitted from a coal plant can contaminate a 10-acre lake, which contaminates fish and causes neurological problems in children.

I think that the only way to control the issue of utilities in Tallahassee is to be more efficient in the energy that we use.

Nikkia Ganey is a third-year magazine production student from St. Petersburg. She can be reached at