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Coal is DIRTY!!!!

by a siegel Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 06:43:59 AM EST

Coal is NOT Clean.
Coal IS Dirty!

Introducing the Clean Coal Body Slam.  Kevin Grandia of DeSmogBlog has put together an amazing team with a clear (not clean) agenda:

For a while now,
whenever I mentioned the term "clean coal" people would roll their eyes and groan, "clean coal," usually followed by a rolling of the eyes or a mock gagging, eyes bulging expression. Most people know coal isn't clean, but that hasn't stopped the coal industry from trying to convince us otherwise.

The Coal Industry is putting $10s of millions into truthiness campaigns (including paying for Presidential primary debates) to convince people that "Clean Coal" is the path to the future and that the promise of Carbon Capture and Sequestration in the future (sort of like fusion has always been around the corner) makes it acceptable (or even desirable) to accept new coal plants today because tomorrow (or the day after, or the day after that ...) coal will somehow be clean.  Well, the free ride for that truthiness campaign might be over.

In essence, this site exists to sell the idea that coal is dirty. Pretty easy to do when you consider the facts and clear out the rhetoric. Like the fact that mercury emissions from coal fired-power plants continues to rise and that carbon capture and storage remains an elusive pipe dream that will take another 40 years to deploy on a commercial scale.

We don't have $35 million (not even close), but I hope this site can serve as a nexus of information for people interested in knowing the dirty facts about clean coal.

Kevin might not have $35 million, but he does have an amazing team.  Take a look at this list and decide whether you agree:
Jeff Goodell, contributing editor at Rolling Stone and author of Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future.

Jeff Biggers, author of In the Sierra Madre and The United States of Appalachia and a regular contributor on Huffington Post.

Page van der Linden, contributing editor on Daily Kos and longtime campaigner on nuclear and coal issues.

Kert Davies, Research Director for Greenpeace in the United States and the architect for the well-known ExxonSecrets.org campaign and the recently launched StopGreenWash.org

JW Randolph, staff Legislative Associate for the powerful Appalachian Voices organization and manager of the Appalachian Voices blog.

Ted Nace, the director of Coal Swarm, a group that works to support the grassroots movement opposing coal.

David Novack, producer and director of the great new documentary, Burning the Future: Coal in America, which chronicles the environmental devastation of the coal industry in West Virginia.

Kate Rooth, who works for Greenpeace in the United States promoting climate, forests and oceans issues. She works with the Research Unit to support campaign and action work and is also a non-violence trainer.

Mark Fiore, who the Wall Street Journal recently called "the undisputed guru of the form," creates animated political cartoons from an undisclosed location somewhere in San Francisco.

Richard Littlemore, Senior Writer for the award-winning site, DeSmogBlog.com.

For a site that just opened earlier today, that is a pretty powerful team. Forget it, an extremely powerful team. Kevin might not have $35 million budget but he has a team worth millions in terms of quality.

What are some of the items already posted?

The facts section, with 10 "coal hard facts". #1: Coal increases rates of disease:

The United States burns more than a billion tons of coal each year - that's 20 pounds of coal for every person in the country, every day.

According to the American Lung Association, 24,000 people a year die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants. And every year 38,000 heart attacks, 12,000 hospital admissions and an additional 550,000 asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.

 Check out the other nine.

Ask Dr Coal with "straight talk about coal and your family's health." Answers to questions that everyone should be asking but for which none of us really seem to want to know the answers. Do you really want to understand the direct linkage between choosing to flip on the light switch and mercury in mothers' blood and breast milk?

 A Coal Myths section, blowing throw some of the coal industry's talking points that too many of our politicians seem to buy into.   How about Myth #5 about the great job creation of the coal industry?

Despite coal industry claims that coal mining creates lots of jobs, the truth is that coal mining employment has been declining for decades, due to increased use of machinery instead of manpower.

In West Virginia alone, coal mining employment has plummeted from 126,000 miners in 1948 (who produced 168 million tons of coal), to just 15,000 miners employed in 2005 (who, with the help of machinery, produced 128 million tons of coal).

Make sure not to miss the explanation of why Carbon Capture and Sequestration is a Myth!!!

The first post:  How Clean Coal Cooks Your Brain by Jeff Goodall.

Several years ago, in Gillette, Wyoming, I fell into a long conversation with the vice-president of a large American coal company about coal's public image problem. Gillette is in the center of the Powder River Basin, the epicenter of the coal boom in America, where 60 foot seams of coal sit just below the surface.

This vice president, who did not want his name to appear in print, was deeply concerned about coal's future and expressed frustration with environmental attacks on coal, suggesting that it was all a problem of perception: "People don't like coal because it's black," he told me.

"If it were white, all our problems would be solved."

Yes, "if [only] it were white" ... clean ... not black coal, "Clean Coal".

Goodall has, not surprisingly from him, written a powerfuland important post. Highlighting a critically true point.

In the end, the "clean coal" campaign is about using the tools of the 21st century to keep us locked in the 19th century. Like other greenwashing campaigns, it's about using the iconography of sexy technology and down-home Americana to maintain the status quo.

The goal is not to solve our problems, but to perpetuate our addiction ...

After decades of stoking the engines of denial and obfuscation on global warming, it's nice that Big Coal wants to be a good citizen. But just because your pusher decides to shower and shave, don't delude yourself into thinking that he cares about your welfare.

The pusher is still pushing a product that will kill us.
Now, however, we know that which is driving them to sell us (and the US) a bill of goods in new packaging.  Coal is Dirty will help us unwrap that fancy packaging and bring clarity to the discussion of the risks we face from our coal addiction.

Coal is Dirty wasn't on my blogroll this morning , but it is now. It should be on yours as well.

PS: Make sure not to miss Coal is Clean.  Well worth the visit as well.

How do you intend to deal with that Coal addiction?

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 09:56:52 AM EST
Personally?  I haven't figured out how to go cold-turkey, but my electricity use (for household) is down nearly 50 percent even as I moved about half my heating load from natural gas to electricity. (And, this coming winter, I'll probably have 50% as wood heating ...)  

Then, there are 'green credits' for electricity, thus 'in theory', my electricity becomes non-coal (my area is 50+% coal).  But, there is the office. Stores I go to. My children's school. Etc ...

But, here is an approach for the US to go coal-free electricity in 20 years:  http://energysmart.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/eliminating-coal-from-the-electricity-equation/  Let me know what you think. (There or here ...)

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 10:20:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How much cleaner is wood than natural gas for heating?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 10:24:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
RE wood vs natural gas: the prime difference is that I am burning wood that is harvested within perhaps 500 meters or less of my home. This is wood that might otherwise be trucked away and trashed.  Thus, I am burning biomass (rather than fossil fuel) which is 'net' low in terms of the carbon cycle.  Also, burning at high efficiency with low particulates.  

Without considering the carbon cycle, the natural gas is basically cleaner (although with greater impact in the drilling & distribution).  When considering carbon ...

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 11:52:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think you'll make it without coal because you are running out of conventional gas. There's still plenty of stranded gas in the US, but that, if exploited, will go mainly for Transport.

I see in the link you sent a move towards Nuclear. How many nuclear plants do you have to build to replace Coal in 20 years? And at the same cope with the gap left behind by the gas decline?

Sure, efficiency will help, but at the same time the link you sent calls for Trnasport electrification, in so being I doubt the overall electricity demand will go down. Most likely it will go up. Also mind that heating diesel will became really expensive in the next months.

The closest thing I've lately seen to an energy plan for the US was this:


Energyse America is nice initiative, but I don't think it properly addresses the electricity generation issue in the US.


by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 10:35:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear power is listed/discussed at a 50% increase, moving from roughly 20 to 30% of US electrical generation but offsetting 20% of current coal power.  

Efficiency gains (partially) offset by move to electrified transport.

You didn't mention/comment on that the vast increase in power generation suggested would be from a mix of renewables.

My viewpoint: NO SILVER BULLET!  That we need to be pursuing a range of options, a range of approaches, and there will be no single thing that miraculously solves the problems.

RE EA2020: problem that group has is that the 20 point plan is now dated in multiple ways. There is some good material, good paths to approach, but the overall plan needs to be revisited and revamped. The team, however, is working on specific initiatives rather than the entire plan.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 11:56:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear power plants of course.

And that was another episode of "simple answers for simple questions".

by Francois in Paris on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 01:55:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
clean coal is an oximoron.....

with CO2 secuestration we do not make coal clean... we just pick up the garbage efficiently.

And I do not have problems with coal power plants if they have full Co2 secuestration.. the problem is... there's none now.. and there will be none in the near future.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 06:29:31 PM EST
There will be none as long you don't put a price on dumping CO2 in the atmosphere.

Otherwise, carbon capture is technically easy, no matter what the power industry says. The chemical industry does it everyday to get CO2 out of their mass reactors. But you gotta pay for it and they don't wanna pay as long they can get away with it by bitching and moaning (and bribing politicians).  

Geological storage is an other story though. Easy in a oil or gas production regions where CO2 can be injected for enhanced recovery. But elsewhere...

by Francois in Paris on Fri May 23rd, 2008 at 07:41:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for this.

with CO2 sequestration we do not make coal clean... we just pick up the garbage efficiently.

An excellent way to summarize CCS.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 07:25:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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