Coal must be dismissed as a viable energy source

During the presidential election, the phrase “clean coal” was used during talks and debates on how to regain energy independence and decrease carbon emissions, and several ad campaigns have been launched with green pastel color schemes promoting coal as a clean form of energy.

Unfortunately, clean coal does not exist.

Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club’s Global Warming and Energy Program, said to Grist magazine, “There is no such thing as ‘clean coal’ and there never will be. It’s an oxymoron.”

According to the Energy Information Administration, Florida used coal to produce nearly 19 percent of its energy in 2005. Unfortunately, that same year, coal plants produced more than 25 percent of Florida’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Practically speaking, it makes little sense to admonish the implementation of cleaner coal technologies until there are immediate alternatives.

However, while every effort should be made to reduce carbon emissions, coal should be actively replaced with other, cleaner forms of energy.

So far, Florida has been active in creating policies with an emphasis on environmental energy reform. In 2007, Gov. Charlie Crist signed an executive order in an effort to lower greenhouse gas emissions. He suggested that the Public Service Commission adopt a 20 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2020, with an emphasis on solar and wind energy.

Florida’s government also released a plan last October with the explicit purpose of curbing global warming. The plan, consisting of 50 recommendations, could potentially save $28 billion and reduce emissions by 64 percent by 2025, according to official state documents.

These measures show promise, but they may not be enough. As growth increases, so does the demand for energy. Electricity from coal plants is affordable and available — and as such, it may seem like quick fix for increasing demand. It seems even more appealing when it is portrayed innocently as a “clean” solution to a looming energy crisis.

This is unacceptable. Every consumer has a moral obligation to dismiss environmentally subversive advertising and demand a higher standard of energy production.