Wow, clean coal – sound great yes? You have probably heard one of the dozens of commercials touting the miracle of ’clean coal technologies’ and how not coal fired plants are in complete sync with nature. If you have not, I would be surprised because they have spent hundreds of millions of dollar over the past decade advertising this. Unfortunately, it is all industrial propaganda – CLEAN COAL DOES NOT EXIST.
Here is what you need to know about pollution – it is very simple. There are 3 main types of pollution:
- Particulate Matter – Particulate Matter (PM) is suspended fine particles, and soot that is suspended in a gas or liquid. Examples include dust, ash. These particles can get into your lungs.
- Toxins – these are substances that are poisonous like sulfur (which causes acid rain).
- Greenhouse Gasses – These include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. These gases have been shown to ‘trap’ heat in the atmosphere.
So where does coal stand? Well, they have improved over the years (thanks to the EPA). The level of particulate matter has gone down significantly. The toxins are even much lower than they used to be. Surprisingly this is because of a cap-and-trade scheme put in place many years ago to control acid rain. It has for the most part succeeded. So, two for two – the industry has been doing farily well. So what’s the problem then? CO2
This is where the coal industry not only has done nothing, but it has actively advertised in order to confuse the public. They advertise ‘clean coal’ , ‘environmentally friendly coal’ – it is all a scam. The biggest problem, CO2, is released when coal is burned. There is no way at present to capture the CO2 (which was previously trapped underground) before it goes into the air. Frankly, natural gas is guilty of this too.
Some in the industry talk about ‘CO2 Sequestration’. This refers to the ability to capture that CO2 and do something with in before it goes into the air – put it in tanks underground, compress it, smash it into nano-carbon structures - anything really that will keep it out of the air. This is fantastic, except for the fact nobody has ever figured out how to do it. There has been some research on this, but to date, nada, no solution.
In fact, if this was possible, it would almost be like a global warming ‘silver bullet’ – frankly it woud solve the biggest problem (if the solution really worked). So why isn’t the coal industry doing everything in its power to perfect CO2 Sequestration? 2 reasons – 1) it is cheaper to simply advertise ‘clean coal’ and confuse the public, and 2) the republicans are completely in their pocket. Since the Koch Brothers are in the fossil fuel industry, this is why they heavily fund both groups that promote ‘clean coal’ (and other fossil fuel propaganda) and GOP politicians in need of campaign cash. Classic ‘legal’ corruption.