Saturday, July 26, 2008

Coal Power: Clean and Green?

While traveling along Interstate 70 in Pennsylvania, I saw several billboards like the one shown here. The message reads: "Welcome to Coal Country. COAL. Pennsylvania's #1 fuel for Electricity. NOW Clean and Green with New Technologies".

Amazing! Coal power is not only Clean, but also Green? Really? Ironically, one of the billboards was sited right in front of a wind farm! The wind turbine blades were spinning around, generating REAL Clean and Green Electricity. No need for a billboard advertising clean and green wind power when you've got the real thing! Big Coal is funding ads for the clean & green coal myth in order to remain in power, in more ways than one. Who are they fooling?

I don't know about you, but my image of coal is quite different than that portrayed by the coal power industry and their advocates. Everything about coal is dirty, and certainly not green: from extraction (including mountaintop removal, mining, and toxic runoff into waterways), to transportation (CO2 emissions plus coal dust from open railroad cars), incineration (massive CO2 emissions plus mercury, oxides of sulfur and nitrogen causing smog and acid rain, ozone pollution) and waste disposal. The photo of the two coal miners portrays some of the realities of coal...Not clean, Not green. Everything about coal is also Not healthy for people and other living things.

Coal power is on the way out, and renewable energy is moving in. Al Gore recently raised the bar on the clean energy time-line, calling for 100% renewable energy within 10 years. The coal industry is desperately fighting this sort of thinking, and is struggling to clean up its act and even trying to green it's image. Don't buy it. There's no such thing as clean coal power, and there never will be. And coal will be green...when pigs can fly.

A transition to 100% renewable energy would mean that coal miners will loose their jobs. Aware of that important concern, Al Gore said "We should guarantee good jobs in the fresh air and sunshine for any coal miner displaced by impacts on the coal industry. Every single one of them." I agree wholeheartedly.

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