Oklahoma's Grand Riverkeeper, Earl Hatley, signs his emails with the statement that Clean Coal is a Dirty Lie. In this weeks edition of High Country News, Greg Gordon says that it is an oxymoron. Take your pick.
Here is what I just do not understand. Politicians toss off the term "clean coal" is if it were just another grade, like anthracite or bituminous. However, the idea is much more than that. Mostly, they are talking about finding a way to sequester the carbon dioxide that comes from the combustion of coal.
So far, there are no power plants in existence that sequester the CO2. It would be an expensive process and the costs would have to be passed on to the customers, mostly utility rate payers. The Federal Government had a project called FutureGen run out of the Dept of Energy. Federal funding of that project was killed because it was costing too much money (needed for the Bush Wars).
FutureGen is a public-private partnership to build a first-of-its-kind coal-fueled, near-zero emissions power plant. The FutureGen plant will cost approximately US $1.5 billion to develop. It will use cutting-edge technologies to generate electricity while capturing and permanently storing carbon dioxide deep beneath the earth. The plant will also produce hydrogen and byproducts for possible use by other industries.
When politicians, like McCain, stand up and talk about the future of renewable energy needing large government subsidies, for which there is no money, they have already made decisions about Coal. The fact that the tentative site for this first of its kind plant is Matoon, IL probably has something to do with the favor that seems to have with Obama.
Even if they can meet the Alliance's schedule, this is still very for out when compared with the overriding need to halt the increase in emissions now.