Clean coal is a dirty lie
Big coal companies come with big money -- and they’ve spent plenty of it trying to convince Americans that they're on our side. From a 1921 ad in The New York Times hawking "clean," washed coal to a slick 2012 campaign by the deceptively named "American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity" (funded, of course, by industry bigwigs), our nation has been fed billions of dollars worth of propaganda while the smokestacks keep on spewing.
Unfortunately, nobody's spending that kind of dough on the truth: Coal is not clean.
Coal is the single biggest contributor to climate change, and the Sierra Club reports that pollution from coal plants causes 13,000 early deaths per year and costs more than $100 billion in medical fees.
And although theoretic technology exists to capture carbon emissions from coal, no commercially viable technique has been successfully tested. Emissions aside, coal-mining companies devastate the landscape, blowing the tops off of entire mountains and dumping waste into water supplies.
On September 30, the EPA announced a grand scheme to reduce carbon emissions from new coal plants. But the problem is, it probably can’t be done with current technology.
In fact, Greenpeace calls all of the proposed solutions “dubious,” and notes that the myth of clean coal amounts to little more than industry propaganda that even the government has been sold on.
And even if new coal plants somehow find a way to comply with the latest regulations, what about the existing plants? Right now, coal accounts for 40 percent of the country’s electricity, according to ABC News, and is responsible for what Obama calls "limitless dumping of carbon pollution."
Unfortunately, the president still seems to believe that coal can be OK if we just clean it up -- Obama, I love ya' but please don’t buy into that trap.
If not coal, then what is the answer to our energy needs? Greenpeace would rather see us move toward truly clean sources like wind, solar and other renewable technologies, and notes that conservation is also part of the solution.
While we can’t count on the government or energy companies to fix the pollution problem in the foreseeable future, we at least have the power to minimize damage by using less electricity at home -- and by using our voices to demand the clean energy that we and the planet deserve.
[Image at top by Nick Humphries]