no clean coal

Now that the cat blogging is out of my system, I can go back to the doom and gloom environmentalism that you all love (I’m assuming).

The recent announcement that regulators nixed development of the Red Rock coal power plant is wonderful news. To understand why, see this ad (PDF) from Architecture 2030. Some excerpts:

Home Depot has funded the planting of 300,000 trees in cities across the US. Each tree will absorb and store about one-third of a ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) over its lifetime. In addition to the coal plants that already exist, there are now 151 new conventional coal-fired power plants in various stages of development in the US today. The CO2 emissions from only one medium-sized (500 MW) coal-fired power plant, in just 10 days of operation, would negate the Home Depot’s entire effort.

Wal-Mart, the largest “private” purchaser of electricity in the world is investing a half billion dollars to reduce the energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of their existing buildings by 20% over the next 7 years. “As one of the largest companies in the world, with an expanding global presence, environmental problems are our problems,” said CEO Lee Scott. The CO2 emissions from only one medium-sized coal-fired power plant, in just one month of operation each year, would negate Wal-Mart’s entire effort.

That isn’t to say these and other efforts don’t help. Energy conservation by both corporations and individuals means using less power, so we don’t need as many coal plants to begin with.

But it gives a sense of the scale of the problem. Coal plants provide half of American electricity. To truly reduce emissions, we need a huge overhaul of our energy infrastructure. It’s not impossible, but it requires serious effort. Right now we are not making that effort.

Thomas Friedman said it well in a recent speech at the Aspen Ideas Festival:

I am not a skeptic about global warming. It’s happening. I am a total skeptic that we are really doing anything about it. I think we are in the middle of a huge green bubble … You’ll pardon me when I hear people say, “We’re in the midst of a green revolution.” Oh, green revolution.

Did you ever study a revolution in history? You ever seen a revolution in history where nobody got hurt? That’s the green revolution. In the green revolution, nobody gets hurt—we’re all winners … Exxon’s green. They give $100 million to Stanford … Dick Cheney’s green. He’s for alternative fuels, yeah. He’s for liquefied coal. Dick Cheney’s green. We are all green now. Welcome to the green revolution, where nobody gets hurt.

… And that’s why we are having a green party, not a green revolution. Do not kid yourself for one second.

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