Sunday, June 29, 2008

'Clean Coal': a New Way to Pollute the Planet

Big Coal has lots of money to advertise the myth of 'clean coal' and fool some of the public. Coal companies would like to build new coal-fired power plants first, and test later whether or not they can actually 'clean' the coal by removing the global warming pollution and other pollutants. Coal lobbyists have fooled some governmental officials as well as the Presidential candidates to think that clean coal is real. But Big Coal can't fool all of the people all of the time. The chorus of people who say that there is no such thing as clean coal grows larger and louder every day! The Buffalo News "gets it", as evidenced by today's editorial that exposes the many 'ifs' associated with the unproven, 'clean coal' technology proposed for Jamestown, NY.

NY Governor Paterson and his advisers need to "get it" too. It makes no sense to back the Jamestown clean coal initiative with $6 Million before finding out the results of a much less costly initiative to determine whether the capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide is even feasible, let alone economical, environmentally safe and permanent.

Hooker Chemical Company previously thought that burying toxic chemicals in clay vaults would be safe too, but they were completely wrong. Remember Love Canal in the city of Niagara Falls? The toxic chemicals LEAKED out, and the people in the neighborhood suffered the consequences. Pumping toxic concentrations of carbon dioxide underground under pressure is no different in principle. It's just another way to pollute the planet.

What if toxic concentrations of buried carbon dioxide were to LEAK out? A leak of toxic concentrations of carbon dioxide buried under a crater lake in an extinct volcano did occur in Cameroon. Almost 1,800 people living around Lake Nyos died by suffocation. Scientists concluded that carbon dioxide, trapped at the bottom of the lake, had suddenly risen to the surface due to 'lake overturn'. The report is here.

Another major concern is what will be the impact of newly-built coal-fired power plants on global warming and climate change if the carbon dioxide (CO2) can not be sequestered? According to climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, "Coal will determine whether we continue to increase climate change or slow the human impact. As oil resources peak, coal will determine future CO2 levels." Hansen favors a moratorium on building new coal-fired power plants in the absence of a proven method for carbon dioxide capture and sequestration.

Let's forget about the 'clean coal' myth and the old fossil fuel economy, and push for a real clean energy economy, creating new jobs involving renewable energy sources like wind, geothermal and solar, that emit no global warming pollution.

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