Is America Ready to Quit Coal?

Is America Ready to Quit Coal?

There are 415 comments on the www.nytimes.com story from Feb 15, 2009, titled Is America Ready to Quit Coal?. In it, www.nytimes.com reports that:

The coal industry, which powered the industrial revolution and supplied America with much of its electricity for more than 60 years, is in a fight for its survival.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at www.nytimes.com.

just an allusion

Prospect, KY

#23 Feb 16, 2009
Lance Winslow wrote:
Golly gee, if we cut back on coal, what'll we do to get mercury in our air ?
We could always catch more mercury infused fish and burn them instead of eating them...That should release more mercury into the air (he says tongue in cheek).,
MoreFactLessHype

Hamilton, Canada

#24 Feb 16, 2009
Coal is a fact of life. It isn't going to go away either in the U,S. or any other country with reserves.

That said, I'd like to recommend an article in the latest "American Scientist' on how to improve energy xtraction. Current estimates are that 7/8th of the power goes as 'waste'

http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/featu...
just an allusion

Prospect, KY

#25 Feb 16, 2009
Iria wrote:
Is America Ready to Quit Coal?
Yes, America IS ready to quit coal and actually has been for sometime now (as has been most, if not all, countries), though the oil companies have been feverishly burning reserves in hopes of recuperating some of the inevitable losses they're faced with on the backside of our full conversion to alternative fueling for our power generation by perpetrating a need for reversion back to petroleum fueling.

Let me explain...

Natural gas also offers a number of environmental attributes. Natural gas, due to its unique molecular structure, is the cleanest burning fossil fuel. During combustion, natural gas produces fewer polluting emissions than other fossil fuels and its combustion does not damage the ozone layer. Natural gas production and use contributes less to global warming, as compared to other fuels.

Natural gas, composed primarily of methane, exhibits the main products of it's combustion are carbon dioxide and water vapor, the same compounds we exhale when we breathe. Coal and oil are composed of much more complex molecules, with a higher carbon ratio and higher nitrogen and sulfur contents. This means that when combusted, coal and oil release higher levels of harmful emissions, including a higher ratio of carbon emissions, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Coal and fuel oil also release ash particles into the environment, substances that do not burn but instead are carried into the atmosphere and contribute to pollution.

The combustion of natural gas, on the other hand, releases very small amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, virtually no ash or particulate matter, and lower levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other reactive hydrocarbons.
just an allusion

Prospect, KY

#26 Feb 16, 2009
The use of fossil fuels for energy contributes to a number of environmental problems. As the cleanest of the fossil fuels, natural gas can be used in many ways to help reduce the emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere. Burning natural gas in the place of other fossil fuels emits fewer harmful pollutants into the atmosphere, and an increased reliance on natural gas can potentially reduce the emission of many of these most harmful pollutants.

Pollutants emitted in the United States, particularly from the combustion of fossil fuels, have led to the development of many pressing environmental problems. Natural gas, emitting fewer harmful chemicals into the atmosphere than other fossil fuels, can help to mitigate some of these environmental issues.
These issues include:

* Greenhouse Gas Emissions
* Smog, Air Quality and Acid Rain
* Industrial and Electric Generation Emissions
* Pollution from the Transportation Sector - Natural Gas Vehicles

Global warming, or the 'greenhouse effect' is an environmental issue that deals with the potential for global climate change due to increased levels of atmospheric 'greenhouse gases'. There are certain gases in our atmosphere that serve to regulate the amount of heat that is kept close to the Earth's surface. Scientists theorize that an increase in these greenhouse gases will translate into increased temperatures around the globe, which would result in many disastrous environmental effects. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts in its 'Third Assessment Report' released in February 2001 that over the next 100 years, global average temperatures will rise by between 2.4 and 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The principle greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, and some engineered chemicals such as cholorofluorocarbons. While most of these gases occur in the atmosphere naturally, levels have been increasing due to the widespread burning of fossil fuels by growing human populations. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has become a primary focus of environmental programs in countries around the world.
just an allusion

Prospect, KY

#27 Feb 16, 2009
One of the principle greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide. Although carbon dioxide does not trap heat as effectively as other greenhouse gases (making it a less potent greenhouse gas), the sheer volume of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere is very high, particularly from the burning of fossil fuels. In fact, according to the EIA in its report 'Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2000', 81.2 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2000 came from carbon dioxide directly attributable to the combustion of fossil fuels.

Because carbon dioxide makes up such a high proportion of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, reducing carbon dioxide emissions can play a huge role in combating the greenhouse effect and global warming. The combustion of natural gas emits almost 30 percent less carbon dioxide than oil, and just under 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal.

One issue that has arisen with respect to natural gas and the greenhouse effect is the fact that methane, the principle component of natural gas, is itself a very potent greenhouse gas. In fact, methane has an ability to trap heat almost 21 times more effectively than carbon dioxide. According to the Energy Information Administration, although methane emissions account for only 1.1 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, they account for 8.5 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions based on global warming potential. Sources of methane emissions in the U.S. include the waste management and operations industry, the agricultural industry, as well as leaks and emissions from the oil and gas industry itself. A major study performed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Gas Research Institute (GRI) in 1997 sought to discover whether the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from increased natural gas use would be offset by a possible increased level of methane emissions. The study concluded that the reduction in emissions from increased natural gas use strongly outweighs the detrimental effects of increased methane emissions. Thus the increased use of natural gas in the place of other, dirtier fossil fuels can serve to lessen the emission of greenhouse gases in the United States.

The part of the research/information on natural gas that is often omitted from what is disseminated to the public is that it is ostensibly renewable in nature in as it is formed as an "emission" of oil/petroleum deposits, the very same emissions that you see any number of drilling rigs, pumping stations, oil refineries, or even oceanic drilling platforms, wastefully burning off as they remove the oil from the ground.
just an allusion

Prospect, KY

#28 Feb 16, 2009
Conversion of the current oil drilling/pumping infrastructure to that of strictly gas pumping/storage would be as inexpensive as it would be cost effective to do so because it would be cheaper, providing us with all so many years more of an essentially "clean" fuel source than we could ever have hoped to achieve from petroleum solely...Think about it.
just an allusion

Prospect, KY

#29 Feb 16, 2009
Something else that alot of people do not understand is that our energy, our electricity, is produced by using coal to heat water, turning it into steam that is then used to turn the turbines that actually generate the electricity, whereas the heat generated from natural gas combustion alone (which actually burns much hotter than coal ever could) is enough to turn the turbines, making the process just that more efficient by eliminating the need for water evaporation.

We've endured far too long sufficing on insufficient sources of energy that only achieved but a fraction of their actual energy potential that we've resolved ourselves to tolerating because of the inexpensive nature of it's extraction and implementation, sacrificing efficiency and clean air in favor of an easy profit...We need to place intelligence ahead of laziness if we are to survive.

“Truth to Power!”

Since: Apr 07

United States

#30 Feb 16, 2009
Anti-Socialism wrote:
What an idiot to post this. Coal fired power plants are a staple.
Would take 3-4 decades to replace if started now.
iria has diahrea.
Agree.
He does post a lot of BS.
steve9901

Cliffside Park, NJ

#31 Feb 16, 2009
America needs to quit coal but the answer is not more Nuclear power plants! We need to come up with some new ideas! It’s nice to see that Mr. Chu and the Department of Energy are moving quickly to fund alternative energy projects. We do need a revolution in energy ,however most of what you see are the obvious and well known programs like wind and solar. We need to concentrate more on new technologies! Otherwise we will never really change the world! I recently discovered a company called Energetics Technologies. They have a process called SuperWaveFusion, which could be a possible breakthrough in cold fusion. The use of SuperWaves in the loading stage creates reported levels of excess heat that have never been obtained before. I am trying to learn more about this process and would like to hear from others about what they think. Their website is www.superwavefusion.com . Let me know your thoughts. Also please suggest other forms of alternative energy that we should be pursuing.
Mothra

Portland, OR

#32 Feb 16, 2009
just an allusion wrote:
One of the principle greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide. Although carbon dioxide does not trap heat as effectively as other greenhouse gases (making it a less potent greenhouse gas), the sheer volume of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere is very high, particularly from the burning of fossil fuels. In fact, according to the EIA in its report 'Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2000', 81.2 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2000 came from carbon dioxide directly attributable to the combustion of fossil fuels.
Because carbon dioxide makes up such a high proportion of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, reducing carbon dioxide emissions can play a huge role in combating the greenhouse effect and global warming. The combustion of natural gas emits almost 30 percent less carbon dioxide than oil, and just under 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal.
One issue that has arisen with respect to natural gas and the greenhouse effect is the fact that methane, the principle component of natural gas, is itself a very potent greenhouse gas. In fact, methane has an ability to trap heat almost 21 times more effectively than carbon dioxide. According to the Energy Information Administration, although methane emissions account for only 1.1 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, they account for 8.5 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions based on global warming potential. Sources of methane emissions in the U.S. include the waste management and operations industry, the agricultural industry, as well as leaks and emissions from the oil and gas industry itself. A major study performed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Gas Research Institute (GRI) in 1997 sought to discover whether the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from increased natural gas use would be offset by a possible increased level of methane emissions. The study concluded that the reduction in emissions from increased natural gas use strongly outweighs the detrimental effects of increased methane emissions. Thus the increased use of natural gas in the place of other, dirtier fossil fuels can serve to lessen the emission of greenhouse gases in the United States.
The part of the research/information on natural gas that is often omitted from what is disseminated to the public is that it is ostensibly renewable in nature in as it is formed as an "emission" of oil/petroleum deposits, the very same emissions that you see any number of drilling rigs, pumping stations, oil refineries, or even oceanic drilling platforms, wastefully burning off as they remove the oil from the ground.
You make some good arguments for natural gas as a fuel source, but it would be stronger if you would drop the whole global warming nonsense, and just focus on pollution, cost and energy potential.
Northie

Spokane, WA

#33 Feb 16, 2009
"Coal is 80 percent of the planet's problems...The number one enemy is coal and we should not forget that."
-Dr. James Hansen

And here is Hansen's letter to Barack Obama on what to do about this:

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/200812...
koz

Brecksville, OH

#34 Feb 16, 2009
steve9901 wrote:
America needs to quit coal but the answer is not more Nuclear power plants! We need to come up with some new ideas! It’s nice to see that Mr. Chu and the Department of Energy are moving quickly to fund alternative energy projects.
Mr. Chu also pointed out that more nuclear power plants are needed.
LessHypeMoreFact

Toronto, Canada

#35 Feb 16, 2009
koz wrote:
<quoted text>Mr. Chu also pointed out that more nuclear power plants are needed.
Nuclear power is a stopgap at best while alternatives are built. There are many of them. CHP can put electrity generation where the 'waste heat' can be utilised. Only a VERY small amount of global solar power is needed to replace ALL the fossil fuels with electricity or synthetic fuel cycles. Others like nuclear thermal, wind, biomass, water power, etc can be used where isolation or local siting is optimal.

Now, if it were ME spinning my 'agenda', I'd say that solar power satellites are the eventual end product so we might as well skip the intermediaries, but then I know that too much political opposition would be generated for it to 'get off the ground' in these times.
Earthling

Spain

#36 Feb 16, 2009
steve9901 wrote:
I recently discovered a company called Energetics Technologies. They have a process called SuperWaveFusion, which could be a possible breakthrough in cold fusion. The use of SuperWaves in the loading stage creates reported levels of excess heat that have never been obtained before. I am trying to learn more about this process and would like to hear from others about what they think. Their website is www.superwavefusion.com . Let me know your thoughts. Also please suggest other forms of alternative energy that we should be pursuing.
It sounds like an amazing idea, but having watched and listened to the video, much too complicated for a simple soul like me to comprehend.

Cold fusion is a principle that has been considered for years, but usually found wanting.
If there is anything worthy of further investigation in this experiment, I would imagine that any government would/should fund it in the blink of an eye.
Northie

Spokane, WA

#37 Feb 16, 2009
koz wrote:
<quoted text>Mr. Chu also pointed out that more nuclear power plants are needed.
So did Hansen. Along with most of the other leading scientists and activists trying to solve global warming. Even Greenpeace's founder is stumping for nuclear now.

Environmentalists are still split on nuclear, but they're rapidly coming around. Still, it'll be expensive, and it'll take 15 years or more to scale up.
Earthling

Spain

#38 Feb 16, 2009
Yeah, lets go nuclear and let future generations worry about nuclear waste, as long as we get (so called) clean energy now.
Great idea.
Northie

Spokane, WA

#39 Feb 16, 2009
Sure, why go nuclear when you can just deny the climate crisis and retire peacefully in Cloud Cuckoo Land?

“Obama said the USA is "one ”

Since: Mar 08

nation under Allah"? PROVE IT!

#40 Feb 16, 2009
Coal is in a fight for survival? yeah right.

Come down here to Kentucky.....Mr.Peabody's coal trains are running 24/7/365.

Americans are too lazy to fix anything until they are forced to....we will use coal until the last lump is dug up and we'll use oil until the last cup is sucked out.

“The future's not ...”

Since: May 08

... what it used to be.

#41 Feb 16, 2009
steve9901 wrote:
America needs to quit coal but the answer is not more Nuclear power plants! We need to come up with some new ideas! It’s nice to see that Mr. Chu and the Department of Energy are moving quickly to fund alternative energy projects. We do need a revolution in energy ,however most of what you see are the obvious and well known programs like wind and solar. We need to concentrate more on new technologies! Otherwise we will never really change the world! I recently discovered a company called Energetics Technologies. They have a process called SuperWaveFusion, which could be a possible breakthrough in cold fusion. The use of SuperWaves in the loading stage creates reported levels of excess heat that have never been obtained before. I am trying to learn more about this process and would like to hear from others about what they think. Their website is www.superwavefusion.com . Let me know your thoughts. Also please suggest other forms of alternative energy that we should be pursuing.
Wind and solar are working technologies, that will only improve with economies of scale and engineering improvements. They are both already in gigawatt scales, and both are growing exponentially. These are no-brainer "alternative energies" to support with better electricity grids and end-use meters.

The cold-fusion company you mentioned is nowhere near ready for prime time. Like hot-fusion, progress is being made, but no commercial power is yet generated - wind and solar are way past that stage of research.

Unlike many, I *do* think palladium lattices can concentrate deuterium enough to cause fusion, and perhaps this voltage pattern they are experimenting with will cause periodic maximums of fusion events.(I think lattice fractures are more important, and eventually doping to cause precise lattice fractures will yield more reliable fusion yields, but the whole enterprise seems more like a hot water heater for an individual house, not a gigawatt scale power plant for cities). Keep in mind "heavy water" is fairly expensive to separate out of regular water.

A lot more basic research is needed on so-called cold-fusion - many physicists still don't believe dozens of deuterium ions (proton/neutron) can be contained within lattice spaces closely enough that random Brownian motion will cause two to eventually fuse into Helium-4, rather than smashed together at high energies to form Helium-3 and a high energy neutron. The reason researchers all have a difficult time reproducing their cold-fusion results is that the palladium lattice impurities and fractures are different in different experiments, and *these* are the areas where the deuterium wavefunctions overlap most and fuse.
The Superwave voltage excitation is a nice additional twist, could be useful... but the basic physics involved still needs clarification. I wonder if anyone is modeling the "palladium lattice/deuterium diffusion leading to fusion" on supercomputers ? That would give more insight than dozens of frustrating heat generation experiments:

http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticl...
LessHypeMoreFact

Toronto, Canada

#42 Feb 16, 2009
mr mojo risin wrote:
Coal is in a fight for survival? yeah right.
Come down here to Kentucky.....Mr.Peabody's coal trains are running 24/7/365.
Americans are too lazy to fix anything until they are forced to....we will use coal until the last lump is dug up and we'll use oil until the last cup is sucked out.
Not really. They work it as long as they can make more money out of it and then go to Washington for more handouts.

If coal had to pay the FULL costs instead of having mining, health claims, and railroad hauling 'subsidies' they'd be out of business by now.

Coal is only 'cheap' when you externalise the majority of the 'costs' with government handouts.

Canada did the SAME thing for the SAME reasons in Nova Scotia, until the Springhill mining disaster in 1956 closed them down.

Same with the coal mining industry in the U.K. It always boils down to government subsidizing coal to 'generate jobs' until some disaster due to 'cutting corners' and a body count that is impossible to 'cover up'.

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