Clean Coal: Lipstick on Coal

Is there really such a thing as “clean coal?” According to Appalachai historian, Jeff Biggers, there is not:

‘Clean’ Coal? Don’t Try to Shovel That.

Clean coal: Never was there an oxymoron more insidious, or more dangerous to our public health. Invoked as often by the Democratic presidential candidates as by the Republicans and by liberals and conservatives alike, this slogan has blindsided any meaningful progress toward a sustainable energy policy.

His argument is pretty simple: Take a look upstream from the power plants to the coal itself, and more specifically, coal mining. Sure, we can improve on how efficiently we burn the stuff, but it still has to be mined and transported. Neither of those processes are clean.

Black lung screening in Colorado
Photo via NIOSH – Nat Inst for Occupational Safety & Health

If we build a coal plant in Minnesota, we contribute to the shortened lifespans and deaths of coal miners in the states who provide us with the fuel. Labeling the plant as “clean coal” doesn’t change this reality.

Miner spirometry
Photo via NIOSH – Nat Inst for Occupational Safety & Health

Norm Coleman has helped spend $36,000,000 taxpayer dollars on a “clean coal” initiative in Minnesota. Personally, I’d rather see my tax dollars spent on truly clean energy initiatives rather than catalyzing the deaths of my fellow Americans.

2 thoughts on “Clean Coal: Lipstick on Coal”

  1. In addition, if my understanding of ‘clean coal’ is correct, the process of burning coal is no different (heat, flame, smoke).

    Instead, what is different is what they ‘try’ to do with the smoke–capture it into the earth. Where it sits idly, playing cards and drinking beer, kind of a coal smoke heaven, right?

    Honestly, smoke inside of the earth, same chemical composition, right? Ground water flow through the earth, right? And air can pretty much go anywhere water does, right?

    So, I’m thinking the pollutants aren’t going to hang around long playing cards before it gets back to its pollutant ways. It is bogus science.

    Invest in solar and wind–it will supply more and safer jobs with no pollution.

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