Well let us employ a bit of “Good” sense considering that “Common” sense doesn’t seem to be quite so common given what we are really talking about. First of all this material is extracted from the ground in one of two ways. A) Open Pit mining where they strip the land, blast it with high explosives which releases extremely dangerous methane gases, and then strip off the layers of earthen materials with giant mining shovels until they get down to where the coal bed begins. Then they blast that with more high explosives releasing more dangerous methane gases so that the coal bed is reduced to a coal gravel bed that makes it easier for them to shovel that up and put it into giant dump trucks to be hauled off to their processing plant where it is cleaned, crushed, tested, and then loaded into train coal cars to be taken to the power plant who has purchased it. B) Shaft Mining where they dig shafts into the ground for both transport of personnel, extraction of the coal that is mined, and air vents so the mine workers can breath hundreds and sometimes thousands of feet below the surface.
There are a large number of dangers to the earth and the people who work in these environments but by far the greatest danger resides in how they are now attempting to make us believe that burning this CARBON based fuel is now somehow to be considered as a CLEAN technology. It is true that they very well maybe much cleaner than the coal usage methods of the 50′s and 60′s but lets face facts! Calling any kind of coal burning a Clean technology makes about as much sense as saying that a used yet rinsed off dinner plate is also clean. Burning ANY kind of carbon based fuel releases CO2 into our atmosphere plain and simple as it always has in the past and as it always will in the future if they continue using it as a source of energy.
It has been estimated that there are approximately 400 years worth of coal to be harvested in the State of Wyoming alone. Our planet is already teetering on the brink of an ecological collapse with global warming being just the proverbial tip of the ice burg and our lives the Titanic that is about to crash and sink because of it. At no other time in this worlds history has it ever been more imperative for all societies in the world to take immediate and permanent actions in moving to REAL clean technologies such as those provided by wind, solar, and geothermal systems. A real clean energy system has absolutely NO carbon emissions of any kind whatsoever nor does it require the careless destruction of entire ecosystems to harvest and I think it is just plain “GOOD” sense to say that clean energy systems do not kill people in underground mining cave ins or high wall collapses that are caused by poor management of strip mine operations.
The number of jobs alone that are about to become a reality for many Americans alone as a result of Green energy initiatives and company start ups will dwarf those of the entire coal mining industry by 20 to 1 and that is just a conservative estimate. If as much effort that was used in propagating this entire clean coal technology myth were instead used in the promotion of real CLEAN energy solutions employing Wind, Solar and Geothermal means we could completely reverse the effects of global warming permanently instead of seeing time and time again the band aid ideas that focus primarily on minimizing the effects of carbon based fuel sources use globally.
Furthermore, let’s not leave out the facts that the general public is not aware of regarding the harvesting of coal bed methane gases otherwise known as Natural Gas. These gases are made up of a rather large list of various gases
that are present in every coal bed in the world. By themselves, unprocessed, these gases are in fact deadly to any living animal. They are in fact extremely dangerous to our atmosphere and unless they are released through high explosive charges typically used in every coal mining operation known to man they pose a serious threat to anyone who comes into contact with them. So how do these gases burn in our homes, businesses, and in some hybrid vehicles you might ask? They are piped through what is more commonly known as a compressor station that takes this gas and compressed until they become concentrated enough for the gas companies to pipe on down the line into your homes and businesses for use in them to heat our buildings. During this compression process there are numerous times when each and every one of these compression stations runs into technical problems whether they be mechanical break downs or control issues that simply will not allow these units to continue running. The ecological problem aside from the obvious is that in order to service this compressor station it must let off the gas pressure that is in the compression equipment before the engine can attempt to start again.
A few facts about the dangers of any kind of irresponsible release of methane gases into our atmosphere. We all have been hearing of the dangers associated with the increased emissions of CO2 into our atmosphere through the burning of carbon based fuels and while all of this data is very true what you do not hear all that frequently is that methane all by itself is 28 times stronger than CO2 in our atmosphere and will lock in much more heat within our atmosphere than CO2 is capable of and these irresponsible companies are making these releases on a daily basis on thousands of gas wells across our country all to save a few dollars while damning the rest of us to living with the end results of their greed!
Now in Canada where they do just as much gas compressing as we do here in the US they have taken on a far more responsible means of letting off this pressure without polluting the air with raw gases. They burn it plain and simple as it is being released so any toxic effects it may have are dramatically reduced. What do we do here in the US? They just plain old fashioned open the valve and release the raw gases into our air with little thought of even trying to handle this in a more responsible manner. Now I am sure you are wondering why with all of this technology available to them would those in charge allow this to happen and the answer to that is so typically American if you happen to own several thousand gas wells. The cost of the equipment needed to allow them to safely burn off this gas in a responsible manner would cost them too much per compression station and keep in mind you as a public citizen doesn’t know this is going on and well I guess their thinking is what you don’t know won’t hurt you or they just haven’t been caught by the EPA yet.
The bottom line is this. There is no such thing as clean coal!