“Clean Coal”? So Sorry…It Doesn’t Exist!

“Clean” Coal … A Myth!

Despite a multi-million dollar media campaign by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE),  Americans are catching on to the fact that there is no such thing as clean coal.  The ACCCE and its membership, consisting primarily of those with an economic interest in coal production and transport, have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to prolong the support for and use of coal. In reality:

  1. Per unit of energy produced, coal is the dirtiest fuel in commercial use today, responsible for nearly 40% of our nation’s carbon emissions, the polluter of hundreds of miles of streams, the single greatest source of atmospheric mercury emissions and a contributor to human health and respiratory problems.

  2. Path Although air quality regulations have resulted in lowered mercury, nitrogen and sulfur emissions relative to the 1970’s, coal is still far from clean.

  3. Technology for capturing and storing carbon emissions is still in the research and development stage, is not in general use now, and will not be in widespread use for perhaps decades, if ever.

Short Term Profits…
Long-Term Problems!

The coal industry would like us to believe that a whole new generation of clean-coal power plants are waiting to be constructed.  The truth is that the most promising technology for reducing carbon emissions, a process called carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), remains years away from widespread implementation.

A 2007 study from MIT called The Future of Coal says that “”the first commercial CCS plant won’t be on stream until 2030 at the earliest.” In 2007, the Edison Electric Institute, which represents most US power generators, admitted to a House Select Committee in Washington DC that commercial deployment will require 25 years, with research costing at least $20 billion.

Creating the perception that clean coal is real encourages the public to believe that coal is an easy solution to both our energy and climate change crises. At the same time, it invites us to continue to invest in and support those vested in the coal economy; a good deal for coal; a deadly deal for society.

Our current atmospheric CO2 levels peaked at 394.97ppm in May 2011. This is an increase of nearly 1.6ppm on last year and the highest ever recorded..  Scientist have warned us that if we continue to allow atmospheric CO2 levels to increase we risk irreversible and potentially catastrophic effects from a rapidly changing climate.

Continuing our commitment to coal will virtually guarantee that we will not be able to reduce our carbon emissions to safe levels.  Simply put -to stop global climate change we must stop using coal. Architecture 2030, an organization working to substantially reduce GHG emissions by changing the way buildings are designed and constructed, offers a plan to do just that, by placing a moratorium on the construction of new coal-fired power plants and beginning to phase out existing plants, while embarking on a nation-wide energy conservation and retrofit program and investing in renewable energy technologies.

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