Clean coal opportunities squandered by politics

The New York Times today has a good summation of how badly national politics mangles the public’s desire for a cleaner environment.The subject is clean coal, or coal gasification plants. The technology is proven, the designs ready to build, but squabbles over which state, Republican or Democrat, and environmental delusions have stalled implementation.

 Coal gasification can cut greenhouse gasses by a third and eliminate almost all the toxic chemicals and smog forming compounds (which constitute a far greater and more immediate threat to the environment than the greenhouse effect.) But Congress and state public utility commissions won’t pony up. Why? They are more expensive, true. But given the huge price tag the government wants to put on the energy/cap-and-trade bills, the cost of coal gasification is a pittance. Then there’s this:

“Much of the environmental movement clings to a fairyland notion that coal combustion can soon be eliminated, and therefore no coal-fired power plant of any kind, even an advanced plant, should be built.”

Think about that next time you read about mercury levels in fish. Almost all that mercury comes from conventional coal power plants. And we could eliminate that starting right now. If for no other reason the article is worth reading for its list of government supported environmental projects that turned into financial and engineering failures.

The U.S. has the best engineers and the most efficient and entrepreneurial economic systems for bringing technology to market, yet it all gets shot down by politicians and “fairyland” environmentalists who know less than your average teenager about science, business, engineering or how to get things done.

We could do better. There are people who know how.