THE BLOG

Clean Coal? Do You Think I Am an Oxymoron?

Feb 05, 2009 | Updated May 25, 2011

News junkie that I am, I needed a Wolf Blitzer fix so I turned on CNN only to see a commercial about the wonders of clean coal. Not that I haven't seen ads such as these before, the coal industry has spend a great deal of money to try and convince the American public that they have a product that is somehow environmentally friendly. Only weeks after the major environmental disasters caused by coal in Alabama and Kentucky it seemed that these ads were in particularly bad taste.

Does the coal industry really think we are this stupid?

Even after the TVA coal disasters, the coal industry appears to be stepping up their efforts to trick the American people into thinking that coal is a clean and efficient fuel. In what is by far the ultimate green washing, a new barrage of "clean coal" commercials tries to mislead the public that we have the technology to burn coal cleanly. This is such a blatant lie that it is almost painful to watch.

Around 600 coal plants in the U.S provide over half of our electricity and is a leading cause of global warming. Even the coal industry themselves do not have a way to reduce the carbon dioxide efficiently. For all their "clean coal" talk, the storing of these emissions would require so much energy that it would not be feasible to produce energy this way. In an ironic twist, "clean coal" would also increase the amount of waste coal plants create. Basically, this would pile up more of the type of sludge that is currently destroying ecosystems in Alabama and Tennessee.

In addition to their mounds of chemical ash, coal producers remove mountain tops for their mining. It just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy about "clean coal".

Under the Bush administration, the Department of Energy handed big coal just under two billion dollars to develop clean coal technology. Currently, there is not a single coal plant that has this technology ready to use, nor is there an immediate plan that could provide us with "clean coal" in the future.

What we do have is big coal with their hands out again. As much as I love Senator Robert Byrd, his efforts to give big coal 4.6 billion dollars under the economic stimulus package are beyond ludicrous!!

This money is designed to create jobs and provide loans now, so it shouldn't be a part of the economic stimulus package. It is also a huge waste throwing more money at a dirty industry of the past looking to make a profit at the expense of the American taxpayer. There is an even greater cost coal pollution brings. This cost is not only measured by what happens to the environment, but the health consequences that come from this type of pollution.

We must not provide any more funding to what really is a dying industry. As we are developing our new green economy, these types of toxic, harmful technologies have to be replaced with the clean energy technologies of the future, such as wind and solar.
The first thing that needs to be done is to let our senators know that we oppose our tax dollars being given to the coal industry under the guise of an economic stimulus.
We also need to stop any new coal plants from being built and support President Obama as he puts restrictions on coal plants. Our government should provide more benefits to clean energy technologies like wind and solar and begin to move away from fossils fuels. As new energy jobs emerge, we should also be sure that many of these jobs are in places like West Virginia that currently depend on coal for their economies. Mountains, clean air and water free from toxic sludge shouldn't become something that is reserved for the wealthy.

No matter how many "clean coal" ads the coal industry buys, American's know that coal is anything but clean.