Clean Coal. Sort of Like Healthy Cigarettes.

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Photo: dirtybusinessthefilm.com

50 percent of the electricity that heats our houses, lights our schools and powers our industries comes from coal.

Yay for coal, you say. Clean coal. End of story.

Not. Jeff Goodall, author of Big Coal, the Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future, says:

…clean coal is sort of like healthy cigarettes or limited nuclear war or fat free donuts. It’s one of the great oxymorons of our time.

The documentary, DIRTY BUSINESS, investigates the true cost of our dependence on coal for electricity. Check out the trailer:

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If you’re not yet inspired to turn out a light or two, you may be interested in …

the side effects of coal:

Disappearing mountains. Already, over 500 historic mountains have disappeared, 2,000 miles of Appalachian rivers and drinking water have been poisoned and the health of countless families have been sacrificed to mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining. On the bright side…

Mountaintop removal has transformed mountains and hundreds of thousands of acres of forest into smooth, majestic tracts of land, greatly reducing travel time in Appalachia and providing an unobstructed view of convenient highway rest stops.

Coal Power: Warming America, Warming the Planet (parody website by the National Resources Defense Counsel)

Air Pollution. Every year coal-fired power plants release about 3.5 million tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide, 10 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 48 tons of mercury, 56 tons of arsenic, 134,000 tons of hydrochloric acid, 130 million tons of toxic-laden waste–some of it right into our air, ground and water supply.

Water Pollution. Caused by mining and use of coal. See two points above.

Astroturf (fake grass roots) organizations…

What? Watch the video clip below and you’ll know what I’m talking about. [NOTE: video gets stuck twice for a few seconds each time at the beginning of the Jon Stewart segment. Muscle through it. It’s well worth it.]

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Carbon capture and sequestration – the technology behind ‘clean-er’ coal…

Simple. Just stuff carbon dioxide deep into the earth’s crust. And call it carbon capture and sequestration or CCS.

“If we can do this, we’re done. We can have our carbon and eat it, too.”
–Dr. Julio Friedmann, director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Carbon Management program.

In more technical terms, CCS technology is designed to filter out–or capture–the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal-fired power plants. The idea is that once it’s captured, this CO2 gets compressed to a supercritical liquid state and injected–or sequestered–deep (sometimes around 2 miles deep) into porous sedimentary rock formations where it can be stored indefinitely. In theory, that is.

I say we call it Crazy Carbon Sequestration. Why? CCS essentially increases our dependence on burning coal–we’d have to use more coal to power the machinery to suck the CO2 out of the coal. The massive infrastructure required is mind boggling: twice as large as the entire existing petrochemical infrastructure.

I want to know how much can these “porous’ rock formations hold? We’ve never pumped that much CO2 (coal CO2 = 1/2 our entire CO2 emissions) into the earth’s crust. Even the best sponge has its limits. And how will all of this CCS be kept in check here in the U.S., much less globally? Could CCS cause earth quakes? Or oil gushes?

Not sure whether CCS is crazy or not? Decide for yourself after watching this

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Your voice counts! Taking action is easy!

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably interested in taking action. Here are just a few quick ways to speak up for real clean energy

  • Tell the EPA: No more mountaintop removal! Just sign this Rainforest Action Network letter.
  • Let President Obama know you stand with him for clean energy. Sign this Environmental Defense Fund’s letter.
  • Call your senator today in support of a strong clean energy jobs bill at RepowerAmerica’s hotline: 1-877-9-REPOWER. You’ll get talking points and simple instructions on how to leave a message with your Senator. The Senate is working on landmark clean energy and climate legislation. We need this bill to create jobs and to end the destructive cycle that hurts our planet and our economy by sending millions of dollars overseas that could support clean energy produced by American workers.

More ways to help…

  • Share the link to this post with your friends, family and neighbors.
  • Share this link on facebook, digg, anywhere and everywhere (share buttons can be found at the end).
  • Tweet about it. Here’s a suggested tweet: Clean coal. Sort of like healthy cigarettes. http://bit.ly/cfb8cr #ic4me
  • Contact info@dirtybusinessthefilm.com if you’d like to request a screening.

More about DIRTY BUSINESS. The first major public media project to explain and demystify “clean coal” and to explore the extent to which increased energy efficiency and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar thermal power might make “clean coal” unnecessary and uneconomical.

The film was written, produced and directed by Peter Bull and co-produced by Justin Weinstein, the team that produced the PBS FRONTLINE and CIR co-production, Hot Politics, about the politics of global warming. The narrator and editorial consultant on Dirty Business is Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal, the Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future and contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine (www.jeff-goodell.com). Alex Gibney, producer/director of the 2008 Academy Award winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side, is consulting producer on DIRTY BUSINESS.

The project received funding from The 11th Hour Project, Cow Hollow Fund, Deer Creek Foundation, Educational Foundation of America, Fledgling Fund and the Fred Gellert Family Foundation.

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2 Responses

  1. […] in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal and gas and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, […]

  2. […] If you think coal is clean, think again. […]

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