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Monday, March 9, 2009

What is Clean Coal?

In a rare moment of peace while trying to catch up on some news, I caught an intriguing and clever ad. Although I rarely pay much attention to ads, this one definitely caught my eye. The ad was created by the Reality Campaign, a project whose organizational members include the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation, to expose the truth about "clean coal."

Although admittedly ignorant on the issue, I remember wincing the first time President Obama uttered the words "clean coal" on the campaign trail. It did indeed appear to be an oxymoron. The problem with burning coal is, according to the Reality Campaign, that it is anything but clean. In fact, coal burning is "a leading source of global warming pollution" and "CO2 emissions from U.S. coal-based electricity are greater than emissions from all the cars and trucks in America. "

So what's all the hype? Apparently, it's more spin than anything else. The notion that coal processing technology has improved still doesn't change the fact that coal burning plants are a major environmental hazard. Even the theory of carbon-capture technology, which suggests that "cleaner" coal with fewer emissions is possible, is not widely accepted as an honest and achievable goal. But the effort to put a positive spin on a deeply-embedded industry is more a reflection of our resistance to real and significant change. It's time to take a bolder step and rethink energy from truly green, clean, and renewable sources. If there is any time that radical change seems possible, it's now!

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