Mar 29, 2019

Converting coal-fired plants can save jobs and provide cleaner energy

A coal-fired power plant outside Delta, Utah. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

2018 was the second-highest year for retirements of coal-fired power plants in the U.S. In the wake of plant closures, some communities are converting these facilities into production sites for lower-carbon energy sources.

Why it matters: Coal-fired plants have long been seen as economic boons for rural counties, despite the harmful effects of their pollution on local residents. Converting them can both mitigate job losses and help meet energy demands more sustainably.

Coal-fired electricity generation initially created jobs and allowed for modest improvements in health and quality of life, largely due to increased electricity access, according to a study from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Montreal.

  • However, the plants' long-term effects include elevated air pollution, higher infant mortality rates and lower housing values.

What's happening:

Between the lines: These facility conversions could attract younger workers and their families, which would bolster school attendance, support local businesses and preserve many of the plants' original benefits, but without the pollution.

What we're watching: Successful conversion projects will need to continue focusing on reskilling plant employees to avoid disrupting local economies.

Karen Clay is a professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College and Tepper School of Business.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Infections number tops 140,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health