Monday, September 21, 2009

Give Up Coal? No, Let's Not

Give up coal? No, let’s not

By Hasso Hering, Commentary
Posted: Sunday, September 20, 2009 3:00 am

The Sierra Club is trying to get students at universities including Oregon State to agitate against the use of coal as an energy source. The campaign is misguided. Let's hope it fails.

The organization has launched what it calls a coal-free campus campaign. There's no coal at Oregon State, so the campaign has won before it started. But if they mean they don't want colleges to buy electricity generated from coal, OSU would have to give up buying from Pacific Power.

Pacific has sources of alternative energy, but by far most of its supply, some 70 percent according to one recent brochure, comes from burning coal, mostly in Wyoming.

Coal has environmental drawbacks, but so do other forms of generating vast amounts of electricity. Writing in the Wall Street Journal last week, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee notes that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced plans to cover 1,000 square miles in the desert Southwest with solar collectors. Other federal energy goals call for 186,000 50-story windmills, covering an area the size of West Virginia. Alexander calls this a "massive intrusion into the natural landscape." By comparison, coal plants and the mines on which they depend occupy only a few square miles each. Read More

There are many environmentalists that would try to tell you it’s impossible to use coal energy and not destroy the planet. However, there is technology to deal with many of these environmental issues. It’s irresponsible to advocate for the elimination of a energy source that powers half the country without first having an equally affordable system ready to replace it. There is no doubt that our society will evolve into using different forms of energy, but it shouldn’t be done if it is going to bankrupt our nation and leave us with massive amounts of people that can't afford electricity.

1 comment:

caheidelberger said...

It's easy to argue against the extremes, but can you beat the middle position? There are some of us who are not arguing for the elimination of coal, but for the recognition that it is a finite, nonrenewable energy source. The more coal we use now, the less coal future generations will have available for their energy choices. It makes great sense to conserve energy and vigorously develop alternative sources now to reduce our coal usage, while we still have economic wiggle room. If we don't, our kids will be forced to take those actions in an economy where coal will be rarer and more expensive.