Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bill Maher: "There is no such thing as clean coal"

On November 16th, 2012 during episode 267 of Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill Maher made the following assertion:

 "There is no such thing as clean coal"
Maher is right. He dropped this bombshell while expertly executing one of his trademark comedic rants, this time about America's energy future. He chided the clean coal euphemism and furthermore insisted that President Obama no longer kiss the asses of the coal industry.

Despite the purported war on coal the Romney campaign accused Obama of during the presidential election, he does have a history of puckering up to backers of coal.

Jeff Briggers of the Huffington Post railed the president, rather unapologetically, to stop backing clean coal permits in areas like the Powder River Basin and Appalachia because coal kills both people and the environment. These permits are part of a plan the president laid out in a 2011 state of the union address where he said that all energy sources needed to be considered in the nation's energy future.

But clean coal was not always part of the president's game plan. Obama has always supported green energy sources, such as wind, solar, and nuclear energy, but only added a section in his energy plan about clean coal after a firestorm of criticism from republicans, who consider him anti-coal.

Obama was only anti-coal when it was called dirty-coal, yet is pro-coal when it is called clean coal. The problem is this-all coal is dirty coal.

His apparent flip flop on coal shows that Obama knows clean coal is a myth. Bill Maher also knows it. They know it because facts show the words 'clean' and 'coal' to be inherently contradictory.

The best example of this contradiction is the regulation recently enacted by the EPA on carbon dioxide emissions for newly constructed power plants. The regulations cap the maximum allowed CO2 levels so that they not exceed 1000 pounds per megawatt-hour of electricity. This is crippling to the clean coal industry because most plants simply cannot get their levels below that mark. The EPA's regulations are not too stringent . The coal is just far too dirty. The following charts put the numbers in perspective.

Power source life-cycle emissions GHG Emissions per kWh

Truly clean sources of energy that Obama has always supported emit exponentially less co2 than even the cleanest of clean coal. The numbers show that coal emissions are about 70 times higher than that of wind, solar, hydro or nuclear. It is about 10 times higher than all of the real green energy sources combined. To call it clean would be like calling a hummer fuel efficient because it has fuel efficient tires.

Obama flip flops on coal because of the lie disseminated by the coal industry that coal could ever be called clean. Until the public is told the truth, he will have to continue his political dance between championing green energy sources and relenting to pressures from the coal industry.

Side note: also in this episode, Michael Moore bolstered a claim I address in an earlier post that a disproportionate amount of the money generated in America is in concentrated in the blue(democratic) states and supports red(republican) states.


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