What's Going on in Pueblo?

Environment, Social IssuesShannon Reed

Took a little road trip to Pueblo with my dad yesterday and landed at this crossroad on Lime Road
about a mile and half or so off I-25. We wanted to photograph the lone wind turbine
out here as it's positioned between two plants of some sort - a representation of
the transition from old energy to new energy.

Once I got home, I decided to do some research...

This semi - along with a half-dozen others that passed us in the 10 minutes we sat here - is empty and returning to the Grupo Cementos cement plant about a mile or so to the south of where we're standing.

Each truck hauls about 26 tons of cement. I have a feeling that one or more of these trucks has found its way to Tennyson Street. Small world.

The photograph below is of the cement plant (and three trucks). In 2000, 95% of Pueblo's population was against the construction of this plant because... would use a hot combustion process [and] would release nitrogen oxide (NOx), which [Dr. Neil] Carmen says has diverse impacts. It is an ozone precursor and a contributor to acid rain. It degrades watersheds and also forms very fine, harmful particulates, Carmen said, adding that numerous studies, including some done at Harvard Medical School, have linked fine particulates to premature deaths, and in some cases, to sudden infant death syndrome.

Carmen said the plant would produce at least 2.2 million pounds of nitrogen oxides per year, or the equivalent of that produced by almost 54,000 passenger vehicles. But the plant could exceed that amount. "If the plant doesn't meet this, they'll just amend the permit," be said.

What's more, the Mexican plant from which the data was extracted burns natural gas; the one in Pueblo would bum coal. Coal disperses more dust and noxious byproducts by vaporizing heavy metals, according to CCAP Some of the chemicals emitted would include hydrogen chloride, benzene, sulfur trioxide, ethylene chloride, mercury, chloromethane, and chromium compounds. Chromium hexavelent was the compound that gained notoriety for its deadly effects on the residents of a small town in California in the recent movie Erin Brockovich, Ammonium nitrate - a chemical sometimes used to make explosives - would also be emitted.

Also concerning to CCAP is the number of trucks that would travel I-25 daily carrying the cement product northward, "The major market for the plant will be Denver," said Jane Fast, a member of CCAP.

In its special-use permit application, Grupo Cementos estimated that 45,000 truck trips per year would travel along I -25, Fast said. "That's a truck every five minutes" during the planes operating hours, Fast said.

Carmen noted that diesel trucks "are huge NOx sources." He added that diesel emissions contain 40 different human carcinogens.


This thing is huge (can you spot that semi now?)...

To our north (I'm standing in the same spot - just rotated to my right), is Xcel Energy's Comanche Station, which just expanded in 2010 to incude a new 750 megawatt, coal-fired powered plant (next to the already existing 660 megawatt plant).

Comanche Power Plant, located in Pueblo, Colorado, is a steam-electric generating station fired by coal. Colorado’s largest power plant, Comanche Station has three operating units capable of producing 1,500 megawatts. The low-sulfur coal used to fuel the plant comes from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

On Wednesday January 31, 2007, Dan Friedlander, a member of Clean Energy Action took legal action against the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regarding their decision to allow Xcel Energy to begin construction of the Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant. In a statement reported in the Denver Post, Friedlander alleges that the PUC allowed Xcel to violate the "long-standing practices of not charging ratepayers for power plants until they are operational." According to Clean Energy Action, in addition to greatly increasing greenhouse gas emissions, this plant would add 100 pounds of mercury to the environment and use 5 million gallons of water a day every year until at least 2060.

On October 16, 2007, the Colorado Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case aimed at stopping construction of Xcel Energy's Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant in Pueblo. The case brought by Clean Energy Action and Citizens for Clean Air in Pueblo went to the Court of Appeals after the permit was upheld by the district court in a 2006 ruling. Xcel received an air permit for the plant in 2005, but Clean Energy Action and Citizens for Clean Air in Pueblo argue that the permit should be overturned because the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment failed to investigate an EPA violation notice issued in 2002 against the two existing units at the Comanche plant. Construction of the third unit began in December 2005 and is scheduled to be in operation by fall 2009.

The Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant became operational in May 2010.


The photograph below was taken on the road east of Comanche at the plant's entrance...

Coal + Water = Electricity

You know - there are lots of schools of thought when it come to power line emissions and cancer. Common sense might indicate that it's no bueno. I mean, considering the increased rates of cancer diagnoses (especially Leukemia), it might be worth further investigation.

But then, sick people are massive revenue generators
(all the pharmaceutical companies are shouting AMEN).

The EPA (let's throw the FDA in there, too, while we're at it) seems to turn a blind eye when it comes to oh, I dunno, regulating the crap we're exposed to because, why? Why would that be? Oh, yeah - the government totally hearts big corporations because big corporations give politicians lots of money and, in return, the politicians become the champions for these corporations and pass laws that allow them to do whatever they want to do - even if it means killing their consituents. Yay - America rocks.

Speaking of the stupid war...

Just up the road from the Comanche Plant of Doom, is Chemetron. That's my dad; he picked up one of about 1,000 empty beer bottles on the side of the road,
"With a name like 'Chemetron', it has to be good!"


Chemetron is owned by Progress Rail Services, which is owned by Caterpillar; Caterpillar bulldozers are used to demolish Palestinian homes by Israel Defense Forces. In 2003, a modified Caterpillar D9R operated in Gaza by an Israel Defense Forces soldier ran over and killed Rachel Corrie, an American acting as a human shield to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home.

So - you know - we just wanted to photograph the wind turbine; a beacon of hope - a promise to future generations that we're at least trying to get our shit together so we don't completely obliterate our planet.

The lone wind turbine...

Here's what I know: Wind farms and solar power don't kill people or destroy the environment.

We could demand more sustainable energy plans.

We could eat real food.

We could have a higher quality of life.

We just need to quit giving our power away in the voting booth. Please consider making informed decisions when casting your votes for elected officials.

If you don't know - don't vote.