The Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club has developed a policy statement on fossil-fuel fired power plants to provide a consistent basis for action when assessing specific proposals and projects. For the reasons detailed in this statement, the Sierra Club will oppose the construction of new fossil fuel-fired power plants in Kentucky, unless they are more efficient and less polluting than existing power plants, and their proposed operation is linked specifically, in a legally binding manner, to the simultaneous shutdown of an equal or greater capacity of such existing power plants.
Nuclear power, which the market has already determined to be uneconomical, will never be able to compete with efficiency and small-scale generating technologies. Any capital invested in new nuclear power plants could have produced a far larger quantity of energy services if it had instead been invested in small-scale renewables and on improving end-use efficiency; nuclear power therefore represents a misallocation of scarce resources that society cannot afford.
The Sierra Club recognizes that a new energy system based on energy efficiency and renewables will take several years to implement, and that therefore a transition period will be needed during which electricity will continue to be generated using coal and natural gas.
Certain methods of mining coal such as mountaintop removal and valley-filling, however, are so environmentally destructive that they must be ended now. Besides devastating mature forest ecosystems, mountaintop removal reduces the number of coal mining jobs and eliminates economic opportunity for many residents of the Appalachian Mountains.