Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Coal and Corn


As a resident of Central Illinois, I guess I have to chime in on the "clean coal" FutureGen plant site awarded to Mattoon, IL about 45 minutes south of here. The story was reported on Tuesday's ATC. Melissa Block spoke to Matt Wald of the New York Times. It was a frustratingly 'pro-coal' report.

Wald said, "so you then end up with carbon dioxide, nicely separated, and more hydrogen...and then you have this nice, clean flow of carbon dioxide that you can dispose of....eventually, chemically is absorbed into the rock and never bothers us again."

Block, at least interjects "Theoretically?"

Wald then goes on to insist that "we're going to have to test this out." He ends his interview with sarcasm aimed at critics of "clean coal" saying, "the leading candidate for replacing fossil fuels right now is what I like to call WT, it all sounds better as an acronym, that's wishful thinking."

NPR should have had some spokespeople on from Greenpeace who could have offered some correctives to the myth of clean coal. There is a place for discussion of the pros and cons of carbon sequestering and coal, but all this "nice" "clean" sarcasm is really not helpful.


Today NPR talked with a Midwestern corn farmer (and ethanol investor) about the energy bill. Living in Central Illinois, one hears a lot about the glories of ethanol - but very little about the many downsides (this link is worth visiting just for the photo of Bush huffing ethanol!). NPR has done a somewhat better job on ethanol, as in this piece from about two years ago, but they will need to have a lot more about the health and environmental problems of ethanol specifically and corn in general which Michael Pollan writes and lectures about extensively.

I'd be happy to hear from readers who know more about these two subjects than I do.


big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Of course no one ever brings up the potential of industrial hemp as an alternative fuel source in the mainstream media clown caravan - with the emphasis on "industrial" - the fiber that made this country great (for a while anyway).

Porter Melmoth said...

Sorry b!p!f!B!, but the War on Drugs prohibits workers getting high in service to their country.

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Right, Port. Just please forget that I even said anything. ;-)

b!p!f!b! said...

... never mind the quandary of what constitutes a plant as a drug when it carries zero narcotic content (hence 'industrial' hemp). Well, there is that switchgrass too - but does it make a compatible rotation crop with corn as much as hemp does?

counterculture bunny