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Published on April 23rd, 2008 | by Carol Gulyas


Wall Street Cools on Coal — Along with the American Public

April 23rd, 2008 by  

coalbarge.jpegI had read in Grist on April 15 that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway had cancelled six proposed coal plants, but now it seems that opposition to building new coal plants is spreading, among Wall Street investors and the American public. Back in August 2007, 1600 Utahans signed a petition asking Buffett to cut Rocky Mountain Power’s dependence on coal, with the added message that Utahans want their utilities to investigate cleaner energy sources.

The most recent issue of Solar Today includes an article by Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute about the public outcry all across American which, in addition to the cost of the plants, has led to the cancellation of hundreds of coal plant construction projects. And a survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation, published yesterday, shows that “79% of respondents would prefer to try and meet demand through greater energy-efficiency and conservation before building more coal-fired plants. Only 19% say they disagree.” With that kind of public opposition, it’s not surprising that Wall Street is cooling on coal plants, too.
According to Brown:

  • “In July, Citigroup downgraded coal company stocks across the board and recommended that its clients switch to other energy stocks.
  • In January, Merrill Lynch downgraded coal stocks.
  • In early February, investment banks Morgan Stanley, Citi and J.P. Morgan Chase announce that any future lending for coal-fired power would be contingent on the demonstration that the plants can be economically viable under future federal restrictions on carbon emissions.
  • On Feb. 13, Bank of America followed suit. “

Follow the money. It appears that Wall Street is ready to look toward the future; now the only question is: will our government stop putting up road blocks? 

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About the Author

Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.

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