Other forms of energy production cheaper, cleaner than coal
Coal is no longer the best option for energy creation.
It isn’t just that coal mining has polluted our streams, sickened our communities and left a scar on the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, it’s that coal just simply is not economically viable anymore.
In his op-ed, not only did Matthew Kandrach ignore the human costs of coal mining, he got it wrong about why the coal industry is declining.
When it comes to our environment and citizens, coal has had devastating effects.
While promoting coal as a part of our energy mix, Kandrach didn’t account for the lives lost in coal mining, the lives ruined by black lung disease, the communities dealing with the polluted water and air from abandoned mines.
For example, acid mine runoff from abandoned coal mines can often kill all aquatic life in nearby watersheds and pollute drinking water wells for many decades.
The clean coal technology the author cities as a means to capture greenhouse gases does not have a good track record, and it is a long way away from being a commercial success.
Four out of five plants in the U.S. and Canada testing carbon capture utilization and storage of carbon dioxide have been beset by technical problems and cost overruns and aren’t successfully producing power.
This is in spite of $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies spent by the Department of Energy since 2009 to bring online advanced, commercial-scale clean coal projects.
It seems that turning dirty coal into a clean fuel is a very complex problem.
All the author seems concerned about is new technologies that can help contain the greenhouse gases produced while burning coal.
But the coal mining companies are not interested in finding new technologies to address the problems caused by extracting coal from the ground because it isn’t worth the money.
Kandrach seems to ignore what the experts are saying: Coal plants are closing, other forms of energy are cheaper to access, coal production peaked in the late 1970s.
The reality is, coal as an energy source is dying not because of over-regulation, but because of shifting market demand, and no amount of new technology is going to change that.
If all the costs of coal mining are included in the equation, coal-fired power generation is not the “nation’s most affordable source of power.”
Rules and regulations to protect the health of workers and environment are not to blame for the move away from burning coal.
Other forms of energy production are addressing the issues regarding public health and are cheaper as well.
Yes, America needs a diversified mix of energy sources in the future, but energy production from coal has a high, hidden cost that should affect how much coal is in that energy mix.
Dana Wright is the water policy director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network.
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