Climate Shame: Four Years After Promise, Capitol Power Plant Still Burns Dirty Coal?


This article was published in partnership with

With President Obama still unpacking his suitcase in his new digs at the White House in 2009, the AP story headlined newspapers across the nation with great fanfare: Capitol Power Plant: A Symbolic Clean Energy Hurdle.

"Eliminating coal from the fuel mixture should also assist the City of Washington, D.C., in meeting and complying with national air quality standards," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hailed, "and demonstrate that Congress can be a good and conscientious neighbor by mitigating health concerns for residents and workers around Capitol Hill."

Yes, we didn't, yet.

When the public comment period closes next week for a series of air quality permits from the DC Department of the Environment, the century-old Capitol Power Plant will creep one step closer to a coal-free promise--made nearly four years ago.

If the US Congress can't even move off its own use of dirty energy--so symbolically small--is it any wonder that the annual UN climate talks result in such pathetic action?

In the meantime, while a much ballyhooed plan for a natural gas-powered cogeneration plan has been in the works for over a year, the Capitol Power Plant's primary fuel source remains natural gas, according to the Architect of the Capitol spokeswoman Eva Malecki, "but we have the capacity to burn 3 types of fuel." Read: Dirty coal, natural gas and diesel fuel. Below is the AOC's 2011 Energy Management Chart:


Meanwhile, at Germany's Reichstag government chambers, as author Osha Davidson reminds us in his new book, Clean Break: The Story of Germany's Energy Transformation -- and What Americans Can Learn From It, "a bank of solar panels, seamlessly embedded in the roof, powers a swiveling metal shade that reduces glare by tracking the sun's path and filtering its harshest rays."

Four years, folks. Four years, and the US Congress is still at the permit stage.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ }}