Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rolling Stone hits "big coal", warns about carbon storage

Rolling Stone, in the August 7, 2008 issue (the one with the Jonas Brothers on the cover) has an alarming article by Jeff Goodell, “Big Coal’s Campaign of Lies”, on p 65. The by line is “while its fuel cooks the planet, the coal industry uses its clout to dupe customers and delay change.” The online version has a different title: “Big Coal’s Dirty Move: as the world heats up, Big Coal is racing to build more than 150 new plants before Congress decides to crack down on global warming.” The link is here. Carbon dioxide is much harder to scrub than sulfur dioxide (like on Jupiter’s moon Io!).

The magazine print edition has a nice cartoon to explain the “four hurdles to cleaning up coal.” One is just the waster energy from necessarily inefficient scrubbers; a second is huge underground dumps (7 miles square underground), a third is the risk of a carbon dioxide leak from a dump that could suffocate people (this has actually happened in Africa with an unusual lake); a last is polluted water.

None of this addresses the other issue of strip mining and, especially in Appalachia and in the Alleghenies, “mountaintop removal” which is extending the American Midwest to the East, almost to the Ridge and Valley Province west of the Shenandoah Valley.

There is, of course, the argument to make gasoline and jet fuel (and natural gas) from coal, because of the tremendous reserves in the northern Great Plains and in Wyoming.

Picture: Mt Storm W Va power plant in 2004. I was almost arrested for trespassing on a nearby stripmine in July 1971.

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