“clean coal”

November 1, 2006
I can’t wait until the campaign is over. Every time I watch Kent’s energy spot I think Jimmy Lange is turning over in his grave. “Clean coal.” There is no such thing. Spin. A clever phrase coined by a coal industry minion.

I wonder how many acres of coal have been strip mined since Montana Dakota Utilities opened its lignite coal fired electric generating facility in the early 50s. I wonder how many tons of sulfur and other toxic substances have gone up in smoke stacks? How many gallons of mercury or other toxic waste has gone into groundwater or been dumped in some other disposal site which is supposed to be safe?

I remember checking once about a year ago and being blown away by the number of acres of land which have been permitted to be mined by the state Public Service Commission but have not not been “released” as “reclaimed” under our state reclamation laws.

The coal gasification plant which everyone touts does not meet the “source” pollution standards. It never has complied with the regulatory statute since the day it began operating. I remember interviewing one of the upper management people in that plant years ago and him telling me the plant probably would never meet existing standards regulating source emissions.

Every second and every dime spent on trying to keep the world using fossil fuels is misspent. Severe and drastic action to create a world wide energy system not based on fossil fuels within the next decade is absolutely necessary.

It is of interest to me that the Homeland security antiterrorist types accept serious restrictions of civil liberties almost without consideration but scream and yell at anything near the same measures of seriousness applied to business. To my way of thinking the most significant thing we can do to make us safer is to remove all reliance on Mideast oil. I would make it unlawful or economically unfeasible to drive gas guzzling cars. I would support a statute if I were in Washington that told the automobile industry that they had just a few years to dramatically increase automobile efficiency. I would stick billions into mass transit. I would support severe and drastic energy consumption reduction statutes. All of this would certainly make it safer than keeping track of the time, location, and duration of every phone call made in America.

I remember years ago when I was much more involved the environmental movement, the Harvard business school published a book saying that America could reduce its energy consumption by 50% and not reduce its quality of life.

When I watch Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad talk about the energy future in North Dakota I can’t help but feel it’s like the barrel makers talking about new inventions when automobiles were about to take over the world.

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