How to clean coal

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It suddenly became apparent, just a couple of days ago when President Trump was ranting and raving at a political rally, that the man does not know what clean coal is.

This is a concern because his entire energy policy stems from the assumption that we can mine lots of coal in West Virginia and use that for energy, that this is OK because it will be clean coal.

The term clean coal has been used in three ways, but really, is correctly used in only one way (number 2 of the three below), and when used that way, it is still bogus.

1) The term clean coal, or phrases very close to it, have been used by the energy industry to refer to their cleaning up of coal plants to have them put fewer nasty particulates and chemicals into the air. Clean plants produce clean effluence while burning coal. This is nice and all, but it has nothing to do with the fundamental problem that burning coal is a major contribution to global warming, because when you burn coal you take Carbon that is attached mainly to other Carbon atoms in solid form, and combine it with Oxygen, to make heat and CO2. The CO2 is the greenhouse gas.

2) The term clean coal refers to burning coal and somehow making the CO2 not go into the atmosphere. A method that makes the Carbon not become CO2 is essentially impossible because it is the oxidation of the Carbon that is the energy production process. You can not turn coal into heat energy without making CO2. It. Is. Not. Possible. But, some say it is possible to make the CO2 go away or not be a problem in some other way. If we were talking about a small amount of CO2, that might be possible. We could store it underground or something (never mind that this takes energy too). But for burning a lot of coal, for keeping coal as a major part of our energy policy, we simply can’t do that. You cant store away a gazillaton of a gas every year and expect it to stay stored.

3) This is the newest definition. This is Trump’s definition. You dig the coal up, then you wash it so it is clean. Then you burn it and everything is fine.


By the way, the photo above is of the harvesting of sea coal in Hartepool. That, apparently, was a thing.

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8 thoughts on “How to clean coal

  1. I would love to read the article but there is a Camery ad that will not let the page scroll. It seems that more and more sites have so much crap on them that they can’t even be navigated properly. If you visit a porn site you pretty much expect to have to wear a virtual condom to keep control of your computer. But here? You – like the coal companies – are responsible for the world that your choices create.

    Sorry, feeling grumpy tonight. Truth is this place is much better than many. But then that’s why I’m grumpy.

  2. We had Reagan, the “Great Communicator” (of a lot of lies and bullshit), now we have Trump, the “Great Obfuscator” (through accident or design). Is he really as ignorant as he seems of so many important things which are part of his job?

    He’s shown lately that he has remembered how to say “you’re fired” from his tv years but that’s a tool of limited usefulness for the problems facing him and the U.S..

  3. Scores are just resigning first. He’s lost, what, four? five? of the advisory councils now because they’ve all just sodded off because the orange turd is not listening to anyone.

    Smaller government is what the Republicans wanted. They just wanted to get the tax cuts and pork barrel sorted out first.

  4. Re #5: “Scores are just resigning first.”

    Oh yes, resignations galore. Maybe that’s a sign that some Trumpcateers do have limits in what or how much they can stomach.

    “Smaller government is what the Republicans wanted.”

    That’s what they say they want/wanted but in actual fact government has gotten bigger during Republican administrations since Reagan.

    Republicans also say they want to decrease the national debt but it has risen through all the Republican administrations beginning with Reagan. You can credit that to the supply-side economics idea that Bush the 1st correctly labeled as “voodoo economics” during his battle for the GOP presidential nomination. During his post-Reagan administration he was later condemned for raising taxes to avoid the crash to which the Reaganomics voodoo led.

  5. It seems to me that the original definition of clean coal was either low sulfur coal from certain sources or coal that had been treated before burning to reduce the sulfur content. Low sulfur content coal releases less particulate and less SO2, which were the main concerns with coal before we started looking at CO2 and climate change.

    I’m not a big fan of the carbon capture and sequestration plans. It seems to me like it’s just pushing the problem further into the future and setting us up for a big fail at some point.

  6. Tyvor Winn:

    “You can credit that to the supply-side economics idea that Bush the 1st correctly labeled as “voodoo economics” during his battle for the GOP presidential nomination”

    Looks like we might be in for a second dose because Laffer, believe it or not, has risen from the politically dead and the Trumpsters appear to pay attention to what he says.

    So, another round of tax cuts for the wealthy with fingers crossed that trickle-down will work this time.

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