Clean Coal Debate

In response to the Oct. 10 editorial âÄúEnvironment takes backseat in debates,âÄù I agree that the environment is being overshadowed in the presidential debates by the economy and foreign policy. But once those crises are dealt with, the energy crisis will be at the forefront for both environmental activists and every citizen who wants electricity and heat. Unfortunately, neither the energy policies of Barack Obama or John McCain are very forward-thinking. Both mentioned âÄúclean coalâÄù again in the last debate, and ads about âÄúclean coalâÄù (put on by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which is made up of mining and electrical companies) have been airing as well. In the ads, happy families and intelligent scientists inform us that clean coal technology is out there, and we neednâÄôt worry about losing the wonderful energy source that is coal just because it has a bad track record of being a health risk and contributing to global warming. Of course, there was no time in the debates or the ads to mention that the few âÄúclean coalâÄù technologies out there, such as Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle technology, are only slightly more efficient and still emit enormous amounts of global warming pollution like other coal plants. Right now, there are no commercially available or widely demonstrated technologies, including carbon capture and sequestration that make it technologically possible or financially feasible to burn coal without accelerating global warming. There is no such thing as clean coal today, and other solutions like efficiency and renewables need to be implemented to slow global warming. We scrutinize the presidential candidates during the debate process, and we should make sure to scrutinize the ulterior motives behind the so-called âÄúclean coalâÄù ads as well. Gwendolyn Danfelt-Martin University student