Coal Here vs. Coal Over There


Riddle me this: why is coal “the dirtiest fuel on earth” when Europe burns it but a potential global warming and “energy independence” solution here at home?
Elisabeth Rosenthal writes in the New York Times:

“At a time when the world’s top climate experts agree that carbon emissions must be rapidly reduced to hold down global warming, Italy’s major electricity producer, Enel, is converting its massive power plant here from oil to coal, generally the dirtiest fuel on earth.”

I don’t take issue with the characterization — coal is the dirtiest fuel on earth bar none. But would such a characterization ever appear in a debate over U.S. energy choices? I doubt it. Editors are generally reluctant to let their reporters weigh in so bluntly on such a controversial and high-stakes political issue.
“Clean coal” will probably be cost-effective at some point. It’s worth spending big money on research to make it so. But right now it is not.
Whenever coal industry execs push for incentives for new plants now in the U.S. on the strength of “clean coal technology” that is not yet available for large-scale commercial use, media outlets should display the same kind of candor that NYT is exhibiting in its European coverage.
For the time being, coal is dirty — no matter where it is burned.
— Scott Paul


4 comments on “Coal Here vs. Coal Over There

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    When Enron folded it stopped a coal plant being here near a WMA.
    Thankfully the Enron umbrella of companies that resulted from the fallout of its meltdown took it over.
    Jeb Bush’s state in particular.


  2. Kathleen says:

    Peabody Coal Co. is one of John McCain’s top ten contributors. They mine coal in Black Mesa, AZ. on tribal lands. They enjoy a really sweet deal.


  3. WigWag says:

    Steve, you ask a good question, why criticize the construction of coal burning plants in Europe but not the United States? There is simply no question about it; coal is filthy and it releases unacceptable amounts of carbon. But Europe claims to lead the world in addressing global warming. The EU has never shied away from lecturing others about the need to reduce carbon emissions. In light of this, you have to admit, the hypocracy of a major European power turning to coal is worth commenting on.


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