Clean Energy Sources

Is there such a thing?

Clean Coal

Coal is exceedingly dirty. Just consider the facts: Coal-fired power plants spit out 59 percent of the United States' total sulfur dioxide pollution, 50 percent of its particle pollution and 40 percent of its total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions [source: Sierra Club]. Factor in smog, ozone and health concerns and you have quite an environmental villain on your hands -- and that's not counting all the toil, danger and upheaval involved in mining it.

Can coal be cleaned up?

Clean coal technology

Problem solved, right? Wrong. A great deal of clean coal technology centers around capturing and storing pollutants that would otherwise be released in the burning process. With CO2, this involves either pumping the gas down wells to depleted oil fields or into deep-sea depths. Not only can the later option potentially endanger marine ecosystems, but also they both require care and monitoring to prevent polluting the environment anyway. Critics charge that all this amounts to a redirecting of pollution, not a true reduction of it.

Not really a solution, is it?

The myths surrounding clean coal tend to paint it as more of a solution than it is, as well as a cleaner energy source than it could ever possibly be.


"Dirty Coal Power." The Sierra Club. 2009. (July 24, 2009)

Mrs S