Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Other Pollutants in Coal

I was looking through the web site of the American Clean Skies Foundation and came across an interesting table. Much has been made about the release of carbon from burning fossil fuels, especially in regards to power generation. What's most telling about the chart (below) is the difference between natural gas and coal in other, really nasty pollutants.

Carbon is getting the press now, but mercury and sulfur have been long-standing environmental culprits. For years the EPA has been working on legislation to limit the emission of these chemicals from coal smokestacks. Carbon is the newcomer to the conversation. Much of the mythology of "clean coal" is to counter mercury and sulfur. Of course "clean coal" is more of a marketing platform than a real technology.

I don't make it a habit to cruise industry-sponsored public service group web sites (in this case, Chesapeake Energy is a big ACSF supporter), but the numbers did come from the Energy Information Administration.

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