Sunday, January 4, 2009

Coal is still ‘King’, despite what Obama says

When you are cold you want heat; that’s true all over the world. If nothing else is available, wood fires do the trick. Have you not seen a movie where one of the first things done in cold weather is to build a fire, usually with wood?

It’s impossible to know how much “damage” to the environment and how much global warming was caused by wood fires burned since man learned how to make fire. Natural fires also cause huge amounts of damage to the planet and can be assumed to be a major source of global warming but laws declaring natural fires such as caused by lightening will be ineffective despite what the Sierra Club may wish.

Wood fires were replaced with burning coal. The United States is blessed, or cursed depending on your point of view, with enormous reserves of coal. For decades coal has been a viable and relatively inexpensive source of heat. The coal industry thrived and coal still generates half of all US electricity, and 60-98% in twenty-two states, according to the Energy Information Administration. Alas, coal has now been deemed to be bad and President-elect Obama wants to put the coal industry out of business and make the coal industry extinct by taxing it out of existence. Environmentalists applaud and global warming sympathizers are ecstatic at the prospect because fossil fuels like coal emit nasty greenhouse gases and everyone should know how bad that is; oceans will rise eliminating coastal cities, polar bears will be left to a single block of ice and those responsible will be condemned to the place where it never gets cold.

Never mind that modern, state-of-the-art, low-pollution coal-fired generators have replaced both antiquated power plants and monstrous industrial furnaces that were the backbone of our nation’s steel-making and industrial might just two generations ago. Never mind new environmental regulations and closing coal-powered power plants does not affect climate change and produce no benefit, we must get rid of coal. Never mind that shutting coal-fired power plants would produce few health or environmental benefits, or that it would exact huge costs on society – and would shut down factories, offices and economies in states that are 80-98% dependent on coal like Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. The important thing is that we will be saving the planet from evil coal and will make environmentalists happy.

The very thought of coal is enough to cloud the brain and filter out all reason; after all, we must save the planet and if we have to kill the coal industry to do it, then so be it. That’s the view and intention of our incoming president and it will no doubt be echoed by the large Democrat majorities in congress.

Paul Driessen writing for says:

“Coal’s reliable, affordable electricity creates millions of high-paying jobs, and thus provides health insurance, rent and mortgage money, nutrition, clothing and retirement benefits for countless families. It keeps people warm (and alive) on freezing nights, and comfortable during summer heat waves like the 2003 scorcher that killed 15,000 elderly French citizens who didn’t have air-conditioning.

Thanks to coal-based electricity, CT scans, x-rays, colonoscopies and other examinations detect cancer, heart disease and other health threats, saving numerous lives every year. Life-saving and enhancing surgeries are performed because doctors have lights, lasers, computers, and sterile operating rooms and equipment. Premie wards and life-support systems carry people through critical illnesses.

Children and adults get vaccinations that remain viable because of dependable refrigeration. Millions avoid deadly intestinal bacteria, due to refrigerators and freezers, and water that is sterilized and piped in large measure because of electricity.”

But Barack Hussein Obama (it’s OK to use his middle name now) wants to tax the coal industry out of existence.

There are over 600 coal-fired power plants in this country generating over 2 billion megawatt-hours of electricity annually.

Most environmentalists don’t like nuclear power, which is second in their hate list only to coal. They oppose drilling for natural gas and oil that could partially substitute for coal and would be easily substituted for coal in coal-fired power plants. Geothermal and wind are good but how can they supply all the electricity coal generates?

Even construction of new state-of-the-art coal-fired plants we need to supply more power to serve a growing population is opposed. The governor of Kansas recently vetoed state passed legislation authorizing such new power plants.

Statistics show that even Boone “Wind-Power” Pickens home state of Texas
gets just 2% of its electricity from wind – versus 36% from coal. With Texas summer heat when air conditioning is a must, can Texans count on wind to cool the air?

Paul Driessen asks “How exactly will Texas replace 36% of its electricity with renewable energy? How exactly will Indiana and North Dakota replace the 94% that they get from coal?”

The world also needs coal; not just the United States but in poor countries as well. Two billion people virtually have no electricity at all. Without electricity for refrigeration, water purification and as a substitute for more polluting forms of heating millions of people, mostly children, will “die from lung infections caused by smoke, soot and other pollutants from open fires that heat their homes and cook their food.”

Driessen asks “What happens to all those benefits when coal power is legislated, regulated, litigated, priced or cap-and-traded to the sidelines to lives that are improved and saved with that electricity?”

A good question don’t you think?

As President Obama takes office in 2009 we can only hope reason will prevail over campaign rhetoric and that he will recognize the need to implement policies that correctly reflect the costs, benefits and power-generating capabilities of traditional energy options that exist in the real world – mainly coal.

1 comment:

RPaul said...

First of all, excellent blog! I read that Corning is researching a filter similar to what they manufacture for catalytic converters, that will remove the mercury from coal furnace exhaust. I don't know if this will be enough, soon enough, to allow coal to be used in the future.