Fighting Climate Change in Alabama
Climate Change + Dirty Fossil Fuels
The average temperature on Earth “has risen by 1.5°F over the past century, and is projected to rise another 0.5 to 8.6°F over the next hundred years,” according to the EPA. This could lead to catastrophic shifts in climate and weather. In fact, we just experienced the hottest summer on record — again! While climate change is no doubt one of the most debated topics today — whether it be among researchers, politicians, or private citizens — the bottom line is that climate change is real and cannot be ignored. The time has come for Alabamians who care about environmental health and climate justice to come together and address this urgent challenge head on.
As of 2016, 38 percent of electricity generated in Alabama comes from coal — compared with about 33 percent nationwide. However, the state’s largest utility, Alabama Power, generates approximately 55 percent of its electricity from coal, well above the national and state average. In fact, John Kelley of Alabama Power in May 2016 told The Birmingham News, “we expect coal to remain a significant part of our diverse supply of energy sources for many years to come.”
Meanwhile, the Alabama Public Service Commission, the agency tasked with regulating the utility, is obstinately pro-fossil fuel and denies the very existence of climate change. Commissioner Chip Beeker, for instance, proudly wrote on his campaign website, “I believe that […] the so-called ‘climate change crisis’ is about as real as unicorns and little green men from Mars.” Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange consistently opposes every EPA action and joined several other state attorneys general in suing the federal government to block the Clean Power Plan.
It is time for Alabamians who care about our health, our environment, and our children’s futures to rise up and demand real solutions to climate change. We must break the shameful cycle of reactionary thinking that has permeated so much of our state’s social and economic fabric.
What is Healthy Energy?
The extraction, transport, and burning of coal, oil, and gas contributes to environmental degradation, including emission of criteria air pollutants, air toxics, and greenhouse gases. In fact, the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity and power vehicles accounted for more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2016. We believe that a transition away from fossil fuels and to clean, renewable energy — or healthy energy — is the only option for a healthy, just, and sustainable Alabama.
Healthy energy is that which comes from solar, geophysical or biological sources; is replenished naturally as quickly as it is used; and does not harm human health or the environment.
Spotlight on Alabama
🏭 Alabama Power’s James H Miller Jr. Plant ranked second in carbon pollution in the United States behind only Georgia Power’s Robert W Scherer Power Plant. (Both are owned and operated by Southern Company.)
🏭 Alabama ranks 41st in energy efficiency, while the city of Birmingham ranks an embarrassing 50th out of 51 cities in energy efficiency.
🏭 The bulk of power generation comes from coal and gas, making the Southeast’s carbon footprint disproportionately greater than that of the rest of the country.
🏭 Alabama Power currently generates more than 50 percent of its electricity from coal. The company gets almost 19 percent from oil and gas. In total, 69.87 percent of Alabama Power electricity comes from burning fossil fuels.
POTENTIAL IMPACTS IN ALABAMA
According to the Alabama Report Card published by “States at Risk”:
⚠️ “There is no evidence that [Alabama] has published information acknowledging or assessing its climate vulnerabilities.”
⚠️ “Alabama has taken no action to plan for its future climate risks or implement adaptation strategies.”
⚠️ Alabama has failed to dedicate any “state funding, policies, or guidelines to improve resilience against climate change-rel