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Celebrate clean coal, come on!

Diane Silver, Salon
The coal industry has turned up the heat on its ad campaign and apparently McCain, Clinton and Obama are buying.

In one TV commercial, Kool and the Gang warble their celebration of good times because coal, yes, coal, makes the party possible in America. In another, white and black, young and old, male and female, and even someone in a doctor’s green scrubs, stare into the camera and soulfully declare: “I believe” American know-how will make coal clean and stop it from contributing to climate change. Not sold? Maybe you missed the newspaper ads and billboards warning that turning away from coal could mean blackouts, unemployment and higher electric bills.

These messages and other variations on the coal-is-great theme are flooding the nation courtesy of the coal industry, coal-fueled utilities, railroads and related industries. The pro-coal marketing campaign — known by its tag line “Clean Coal” — has kicked into high gear as prospects for new plants have turned bleak.

… At the heart of the Clean Coal campaign are two ideas: 1) We can’t stop using coal because it is abundant and cheap, and non-polluting sources like wind and solar power can’t meet our needs; 2) technology will fix everything. …

The savior of the Earth will be a collection of technologies that will enable plants to capture the carbon they currently send into the air. The carbon would then be stored underground. “There has never been a technological challenge facing the coal-based sector where technology hasn’t solved the problem,” Lucas says.

The problem with the “trust us, we’ll fix this” approach is that carbon capture and storage isn’t close to being technically perfected or to becoming economically feasible.
(15 May 2008)

True or False: Coal

EcoSolutions, CNN
True or False: The world has enough proven coal reserves to last for the next 100 years.

The answer is: FALSE

Contrary to traditional beliefs the world may have less coal than previously thought. New data from the Energy Watch Group — a coalition of scientists from around the world — says that instead of the world having 100 years’ worth of coal reserves, the reality is we only have about another 20 years’ worth.

It is now forecast that after a peak of 30% above current production levels, that coal production will plateau and then decline from 2025.

It is believed this situation has been driven by increased global consumption and in many countries, outdated statistics on proven coal reserves. The most up-to-date data from China, for example was issued as far back as 1992.

The vast majority of the world’s coal reserves — 85% — can be found in just 6 countries. These are the U.S, China, Russia, India, Australia and South Africa. The largest coal producing nation by far is China.

(Source: New Scientist; Energy Bulletin)
(12 May 2008)
Contributor driller writes:
This looks like the beginning of a closed loop: EnergyBulletin citing CNN citing EnergyBulletin…

BA: Since Energy Bullletin is a “clearinghouse for information regarding the peak in global energy supply,” we post information from multiple sources. Estimates of the coal supply vary widely. Richard Heinberg has written several pieces on the subject, such as The great coal rush (and why it will fail).

Why investors worship Old King Coal

Edward Silver, Los Angeles Times
Coal producers are riding high for an industry that a growing throng of Americans wish would just go away.

Year to date, shares of Arch Coal Inc. are up 41%. The biggie of the industry, Peabody Energy Corp., has waxed 24% — and 94% from its August trough. A broader measure of the sector’s stocks, the Market Vectors Coal exchange-traded fund, has advanced 26% since its January launch.

All this bullishness is based on the dark rock’s own surge in value. Benchmark prices for some grades of electricity-generating steam coal are more than $100 for a metric ton, double September’s price. Metallurgical coal, the type used in steel making, has tripled in some contracts.

Oil attracts the anger and the ink, but coal, mined here in the U.S., has joined the club of rudimentary resources blessed by the energy crisis.

What we are paying up for is the dirtiest fossil fuel in the ground, infamous for wielding a heavy hand in the planet’s warming. In Beijing they wear surgical masks to ward off the soot from coal-fired plants, which drifts across the Pacific to further foul the air over Los Angeles. That’s not all. Black lung disease, mercury and sulfur emissions and the ravaging of Appalachian mountaintops are part of the legacy that keeps our lights on.

Coal provides about half the electricity in the United States, though not in California,
(16 May 2008)