Coal supplies an extensive amount of energy to America and other parts of the world. Due to worldwide environmental awareness companies such as Clean Coal Technologies Inc. have been promoting their new clean coal procedures. The coal industry is now pitching the idea that their filthy coal can be cleaned to become less hazardous to the environment. Most clean coal processes involve carbon sequestration type solutions. The company called Clean Coal Technologies Inc. claim to posses the ability to remove almost 90% of pollutants from coal before the burning process.
Does the coal industry want to mislead the public with their promise of a future with clean coal? The act of cleaning coal is a very complex and uncharted area of development. Not only is it extremely expensive but the proper research needed to execute this technique in a way which will not cause additional environmental issues are years away. There are many environmental clean coal advocates supporting this new process. Although, the idea of cleaning up a major energy source such as coal sounds groundbreaking it only focuses on carbon and not the other impacts that it has on the environment.
Coal remains a danger to the environment cleaned or in its normal state. The process of mining, burning, breathing it, and even carbon sequestration of it is still a potential environmental risk. It has various waste products which contain numerous heavy metals that are dangerous when released into the environment. Mining is one of the most dangerous occupations. Many miners suffer from chronic lung disorders and diseases such as cancer and heart disease from breathing in coal dust particles.
The act of mining not only risk the lives of miners but it can radically change the natural landscapes and habitats for wildlife. Ash and boiler slag wastes from coal mining are often dumped in nearby valleys and streams. This practice virtually destroys forest areas and creeks. Mining also produces acid rain. Acid rock drainage or AMD occurs when water drains from a mine creating sulfuric acid. This condition can pollute rivers killing plants and aquatic species that are unable to survive pH shifts. One single coal-fired plant pulls in an average of 2.2 billion gallons of water every year to produce steam for mobile turbines. An estimated 1.5 million fish die when the water is drawn from rivers and oceans. Water levels may even shift. The method used to transport coal is railroad locomotives which run on diesel fuel. Millions of toxic particles are distributed throughout the air during the transportation of coal.
The leading cause of global warming, smog, and air pollution is the act of burning coal. Methane along with carbon dioxide is released into the air through burning coal. Methane contributes for 9% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is considered to be more dangerous than carbon dioxide in promoting global warming.
If the coal industry does perfect a method to clean coal it will still be a dirty process polluting our environment and damaging our precious ecosystem.