Coal No Longer on the Front Burner

The rush to build power plants slows as worries grow over global warming, building costs and transportation.

Published: 25-Jan-2008

WASHINGTON — America's headlong rush to tap its enormous coal reserves for electricity has slowed abruptly, with more than 50 proposed coal-fired power plants in 20 states canceled or delayed in 2007 because of concerns about climate change, construction costs and transportation problems.

Coal, touted as cheap and plentiful, has been a cornerstone of President Bush's plans to meet America's energy needs with dozens of new power plants. Burned in about 600 facilities, coal produces more than half of the nation's electricity.

But urgent questions are emerging about a fuel once thought to be the most reliable of all. Utilities are confronting rising costs and a lack of transportation routes from coal fields to generators, opposition from state regulators and environmental groups, and uncertainty over climate-change policies in Washington.

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