Six Coal-fired Power Plants to Permanently Close by September
The Ohio Environmental Council is praising First Energy Corp. for its plan to permanently close six coal-fired power plants, including four along Ohio’s Lake Erie coast.
The Akron-based energy company’s announcement on Jan. 26 said that the shut down will take place by September for the Bayshore (Toledo), Lakeshore (Cleveland), Eastlake (Eastlake) and Ashtabula (Ashtabula) power plants. The company’s plans also include the retirement of a power plant in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Together, the six power plants have the capacity to generate nearly 2,700 megawatts of electricity—enough to power more than 600,000 homes.
“First Energy has made the right decision, and not just for its bottom line,” said Nolan Moser, clean air director and staff attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council.
“Pulling the plug on these dirty, old, outdated coal plants will deliver cleaner air to millions of Americans. It will mean less asthma, less lost work and less mercury emissions. We thank First Energy for doing right by the people of Ohio.”
First Energy indicated that it is cheaper to close the facilities rather than install modern pollution controls to control mercury emissions, as required by new federal air rules. The plants were constructed in the 1950s when few if any pollution controls were required. The utility also indicated that the plants were not used very much in recent years.
“It makes sense to finally retire these old plants,” said Moser. “Most of these facilities first fired up when IKE was in the White House and Edsels prowled the highway. These old plants’ technology is inefficient, outdated, and by today’s standards, downright dirty. First Energy has made the right decision to move towards newer, cleaner and more cost effective resources.”
First Energy noted that the low cost of energy available from other, newer power generating facilities was a factor in its decision.
“In the past few years, First Energy and Ohio’s other investor-owned utilities have made aggressive investments in energy- and cost-saving technologies and renewable energy generating facilities,” said Moser. “This boost in energy efficiency and new wind and solar farms are beginning to power Ohio with clean, affordable power. These new resources are adding power capacity, putting people to work, and keeping energy costs down. We hope that First Energy will continue to invest in a cleaner energy future.”
Moser compared these new resources to the older facilities that First Energy plans to close down. “On the one hand, Ohio is investing in clean, efficient new energy resources; on the other some utilities still have 1950’s era coal plants operating. First Energy deserves credit for moving away from old, inefficient facilities and investing instead in clean, new technologies. That’s good for Ohio consumers, our economy and environment.”
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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