Letter: Clean coal is like clean meth
To the editor:
I have met State Rep. Mary Franson on several occasions and she is a nice person. I like her. However, her Echo Press letter (Sept. 27) regarding clean coal technology, and her support for expanding coal-generated power, gets it terribly wrong.
Speaking of "clean coal" is like suggesting that "clean meth" can be a beneficial to humanity. An engineer from a coal-fired generating plant here in Minnesota recently told me that "we have the technology to clean 99 percent of the pollutants out of our discharges before they enter the atmosphere." I exclaimed with unfounded glee at this good news. Why, I asked, are we not promoting clean coal technology? He explained: Imagine that you skim off one quarter of an inch of water from the earth's oceans. While the water you collect accounts for only a miniscule fraction of the ocean's water, the total amount of water you collect would be massive.
That, he said, is how we should understand "clean coal." Even though the cleaning technology is highly developed, massive amounts of carbon still enter the atmosphere. Franson reports that we have 250 years of coal resources. That may be true. To use it would kill us. The days of coal are over.