Carbon Crusaders


Obama and coal by ddelcourt
December 14, 2007, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In a recent NPR Democratic debate, candidates we’re asked to identify the “toughest issue” they faced. Senator Obama recently was quoted saying, “The issue of climate change.” Excellent answer. Now let’s see how his actions face up to his words.

According to Grist.com Senator Obama supports a cap-and-trade system, improved auto fuel efficiency, increased production of biofuels and nuclear energy as part of the general mix.

But what about the Senator’s thoughts on coal? Most environmentalists will agree that continuing to depend on coal as a primary energy source will inevitably lead to ecologically disastrous consequences. The dirties fossil fuel, coal remains king in the US and China, fueling the majority of energy demand. Obama supports “clean-coal”, meaning coal whose emissions would be scrubbed then pumped underground. In addition, he support coal-to-liquid fuels, which currently are no better, and can be even worse, then current coal alternatives. The senator supports the Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act, which would all but guarantee increased emissions. Of course, Obama’s home state Illinois is rich in coal reserves, which politically Obama is not ready to give up.

Until Obama shifts the discussion away from future technologies and unproven methods, such as “clean coal,” he can’t be considered a good environmental candidate. Current renewable technologies are capable of ramping up the level of clean energy in this country. With the disappearance of subsidies for coal and oil, alternative energy sources can become economically viable. This is the direction a candidate needs to be thinking, not directly back into the pockets of big coal.

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2 Comments so far
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What is the MMS solution?

As it stands right now, the US relies on coal to produce over 22.9 Quadrillion (American) Btu’s of energy.

By comparison, wind energy produces .14 Quadrillion Btu’s of energy. That’s not 14 Quadrillion, but 14 hundredths of a Quadrillion, or about 22.8 Quadrillion Btu’s short of how much energy coal currently produces. The rest of renewable energy does not bring much to the table either, as all wind, solar, biomass, and hyrdo make up about 7% of America’s total energy consumption; most of that coming from hyrdo which is seemingly maxed out.

Energy conservation will help, but it has a long ways to go. The coal issue will not be go away overnight. Perhaps Obama can be forgiven since green house gas emissions actually dropped in the US recently: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/12/us_leads_world_to_solving_clim.html .

Coal is going to be part of our immediate future whether we want it to be or not, dealing with it in the most responsible fashion may be the most sensible thing to do.

Comment by Jack

Not sure where else to contact you.
Great idea. I hope it spreads like wildfire and makes people think.
Is there any way to add things people can do that are green. E.g. using solar hotwater?
Alexander

Comment by Alexander Kohl




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