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Congress stops using coal in power plant

Associated Press / May 2, 2009
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WASHINGTON - The 99-year-old Capitol Power Plant, which provides steam for heat and hot water in congressional buildings, is ending its distinction of being the only coal-burning facility in the District of Columbia.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that the switch to natural gas as the sole fuel source used at the plant was part of their efforts to reduce the carbon pollution impact of Congress on the nation's capital.

The two Democratic leaders have for the past several years initiated steps to make the Capitol grounds more environmentally friendly. But moves to change light bulbs, use less paper, and buy fuel-efficient vehicles have in some respects been overshadowed by the smoke that continues to rise from the power plant.

The D.C. government has complained that the plant worsens air quality. The plant last year operated on about 65 percent natural gas and 35 percent coal. Pelosi's office said the plant has not burned coal since March and would continue to go without coal barring problems.