Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Blog of the Week: ClearFish Research

Dirty Rotten Coal

Coal. Dirty, old world coal. Surely, after a couple hundred years of use, there's nothing particularly interesting about such an anti-environmental dirty, destructive (strip mining and acid rain, particulates and mercury) commodity. Solar and ethanol are the way to go, right? Well, yeah, except for one little niggling bit about them both being completely uncompetitive with coal based on price alone. So there are lots of market manipulations (taxes, 'total environmental impact accounting', etc.) to try and make the 'green' energy sources look price competitive with the 'dirty' sources. But at the same time, there has been 30 years of work (since the 1971 Clean Air Act) to make those 'dirty' sources clean, and those efforts have been enormously successful.

Today, the drivers toward 'clean' energy are not really pollution derived, since almost any energy source can be used today in a relatively pollution-free fashion. They are rather price-based, and more nebulously political. On the political front there is the environmental contingent that is wedded to particular 1970's based ideas (that are seeing a current resurgence), and not wholly disjointed from that movement there is a wider dislike for sending petro-dollars to distasteful foreign regimes. That's the 'energy independence' crowd. Coal dovetails with both those desires.

The energy independence bit is easy. The US has more energy reserves in the form of...

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