No such thing as clean coal
With this year’s annual partisan charade otherwise known as the State of the Union speech, Trump followed his usual stance of patriotic hyperbole. And the Republican Congress followed suit by interrupting his speech with applause 117 times in 80 minutes. One example of Trump’s usual avoidance of the truth stood out when he said, “We have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.” In reality it is market forces, the country’s glut of cheap natural gas, increased energy efficiency and renewable energy that have all contributed to the decline of coal.

And there’s no such thing as clean coal. Coal is a major contributor to air pollution and climate change. The Associated Press fact-checked Trump’s statement, and wrote: “According to the Energy Department, more than 83 percent of all major air pollutants – sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, toxic mercury and dangerous soot particles – from power plants are from coal, even though coal makes up only 43 percent of the power generation.” Even carbon capture and storage, which collects and stores carbon emissions from coal-powered plants, fails the test. The process is more expensive than installing natural gas, wind or solar systems. Even Energy Secretary Rick Perry has slashed the clean coal budget from more than $200 million to only $35 million.

However, U.S. crude oil production is expected to surpass 10 million barrels per day this month, approaching an all-time record months ahead of previous forecasts, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. No wonder the worldwide levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continue to rise as well as global temperatures. Earth’s globally averaged temperature for 2017 made it the third warmest year in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 138-year climate record, behind 2016 (warmest) and 2015 (second warmest). Some locations experienced their warmest year on record, such as eastern China, the southwest U.S., and eastern Australia.

Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope. The last time I checked there was no renewable energy shortage. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing and the tides were still rolling.

Julius Neelley
Lake Monticello