Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: Coal in our stockings

‘ ‘Clean coal’ is a phrase that politicians who want to appear environmentally friendly while appeasing the coal industry love to use. According to the Energy Information Administration, coal use made up nearly half of the energy generated in the U.S. in 2007. Why wouldn’t one be in favor of making it cleaner? However, like most political catchphrases, ‘clean coal’ is nothing more than a gimmick.

In the midst of this financial crisis, environmental issues have been put on the back burner in the minds of many Americans. This mind-set must change, as the dangers of global warming and pollution are more relevant than ever. President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, though heavily focused on improving infrastructure and cutting taxes, also includes billions of dollars toward environmental and energy causes. Recently, $4.6 billion in support of clean coal technology was added to the Senate version of the bill.

Unfortunately, coal is not clean no matter what is done to it. Pollutants are still being released into the atmosphere, and the environment is damaged in the process of mining coal. Additionally, mining is a dangerous occupation; the Labor Department reported that in 2008, 29 coal miners were killed on the job in the U.S. This is five fewer deaths than in 2007, but still unsettling.

Obviously, coal is too large of an industry to disappear anytime soon, and as long as the industry is around, it might as well make its product more environmentally friendly. But this country needs to move beyond coal, because the resources that we are currently so dependent on, such as coal, petroleum and natural gas are all non-renewable ‘-‘- they will run out.

Investing in truly clean energies, such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power is what this country needs. None of these technologies have been perfected yet, but they are comparatively less harmful for the environment, and we will never run out of the sun, wind or water.’

It is true that it will be costly to build wind turbines, solar panels and dams, but it will also be costly to build expensive new coal plants that manufacture clean coal, which isn’t even clean to begin with. As long as Obama is intent on stimulating the economy, there is no better place to start than with clean energy.’

Obama and Congress need to be looking for ways to move away from our dependency on foreign oil and to reverse global warming. This must be done by investing in energy practices that are genuinely clean and renewable instead of wasting money on the oxymoron that is ‘clean coal.’

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