COAL, GLORIOUS COAL
By Alan Caruba
Now I praise coal, and for reasons the mainstream press and other media will studiously avoid telling you. Coal, as you may recall, is on the Obama hit list because its use, according to the environmentalist loonies, will doom the Earth to a global warming that is not happening.
The United States is home to huge deposits of coal. It is second only to China in terms of total coal consumption. In 2007, the U.S.A. used about 1.1 billion tons of coal. According to an authority on energy, Robert Bryce, “That’s the energy equivalent of about 4.2 billion barrels of oil per year or about 11.5 million barrels of oil per day.” By way of comparison, “America’s daily coal ration contains more energy than Saudi Arabia’s daily oil production.” That’s a lot of energy.
Why, then, is the Obama administration and virtually all of the major environmentalist organizations opposed to coal? We know they oppose any use of oil, but coal, so abundant, so rich in energy, would seem to be a great alternative. The environmentalists oppose it because it emits carbon dioxide when burned (so do forest fires, etc.) and that contributes, they assert, to global warming.
Only there isn’t any global warming any more because the Earth is in a cooling cycle, so there must be another reason. The closest one I can come to is that they either want to return us all to the Stone Age or they are heavily invested in wind and solar industries.
In 2008, climate change alarmists proclaimed April 1st “Fossil Fools Day,” using it to protest energy projects like Duke Energy’s massive Cliffside coal-fired power plant just fifty miles west of Charlotte, North Carolina. How they expect consumer’s to get electricity, fifty percent of which is produced by coal nationwide, is anyone’s guess, unless they want to carpet all of North Carolina with solar and wind farms.
Led by a group calling themselves Rising Tide, a spokesperson said, “To survive climate change, we need to end the extraction of fossil fuels, reduce rich people’s energy consumption, localize economies, and revolutionize public transportation.” By “rich” they mean YOU.
Obama’s would not be the first administration to try to restrict access to America’s supply of coal, oil, or natural gas and prevent it from being used. Congress has done this for oil by banning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or off the North American continental shelf. The Clinton administration closed off the vast coal deposits in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante area and, unfortunately, the Bush administration would not revoke this travesty.
President Obama’s choice for Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, is a nightmare for anyone who doesn’t want to pay $8.00 a gallon for gasoline, as the Europeans do. He favors that, but he is on record as saying, “Coal is my worst nightmare,” attributing its use to greenhouse gas emissions. During his confirmation hearing, though, Chu was rapidly backpedaling, saying mushy stuff like, “I think it is imperative to use coal as cleanly as possible.” He even added that offshore oil and natural gas production might not be a bad idea. Can we trust this fellow? I think not.
Right now, however, in Europe, Germany is building 27 coal-fired plants, to be ready by 2020, and Italy plans to increase its reliance on coal from 14% today to 33% in just five years. Throughout Europe, 40 new coal-fired plants are set to be built in the next five years. China can’t build them fast enough, and India plans to boost coal production by 50% by 2012 and quadruple it by 2030.
Making sure Americans can’t use their own national resources seems to be a major mission for the U.S. central government. The U.S. Geographical Survey (USGS) has found a “high potential” for oil and gas in Colorado’s Canyon of the Ancients, Washington’s Hanford Reach, and Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks.
There are, however, some twenty-seven U.S. states in which coal is mined, with some 90% of the coal reserves concentrated in ten of those states. Montana is a big coal state, as is Wyoming. The USGS estimated the U.S.A. is home to 1.7 trillion tons of identified coal resources. They estimate the total amount, when new discoveries are included, could exceed 4 trillion tons. In other terms, the U.S.A. has more than a 250-year supply under current use.
But coal is bad, right? Just ask President Obama, any of his socalled environmental and science advisers, and any major environmentalist organization. This kind of thinking leaves America vulnerable, particularly in light of the fact that a growing population requires the production of more energy, particularly electricity.
What you’re not being told is that, ever since the enactment of the Clear Air Act in 1970, as amended in 1990, the most stringent air pollution law in the world has been in effect. American industry has spent an estimated $350 billion since 1970 to clean the air, and, each year, the cost for pollution control runs about $33 billion.
According to the Electric Power Research Institute, pollution control equipment accounts for up to 40% of the cost of a new power plant and 35% of operational costs. These costs represent about $10 billion of the nation’s electric bills each year and consumers will pay more, if the Clean Air Act is amended to be even more stringent. A single “scrubber” in a coal-fired plant can cost more than $100 million to construct and many millions to operate. There are at least 200 of these in operation or soon will be. Someone has to pay for all this clean air and that someone is YOU.
All around the world, coal continues to be the energy source of choice. Americans who have plenty of it should, by any rational standard, be thrilled to use it. When our domestic coal is exported, it generates $4.1 billion and presently represents 2.5% of all U.S. exports.
For these reasons -- the electricity it produces, the jobs it represents, the value as an export, and the way it does all this without polluting the air -- there is ample cause to celebrate coal, glorious coal.
The Earth's Natural History, Global Climate Changes,
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Alan Caruba is a veteran business, science and political writer, a Public Relations Counselor, and Founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs," posted on the Internet website of the National Anxiety Center, which is located at www.anxietycenter.com.
Caruba has a daily blog at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com.
Caruba’s most recent book, Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy, has been published by Merril Press. Books previously authored by Caruba include A Pocket Guide to Militant Islam, The United Nations Versus the United States: The UN's Plan to Control Planet Earth, and America: A Nation Without Borders -- A Pocket Guide to Immigration Issues.
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