The Austin American-Statesman reported in a recent article that environmentalists are raising a red flag to the construction of dozens of new coal power plants across the country. Supposedly, construction of coal plants is booming right now, and environmentalists are disgusted at the prospect of such polluters going online in the near future. Collectively, nearly 50 plants in 29 states are being contested. Supporters on both sides of the issue are pouring money into their respective efforts to either save the atmosphere from greenhouse gases or save the U.S. population from experiencing electricity outages.
Currently, coal provides over half of the nation’s power needs while contributing approximately one third of the country’s carbon dioxide tonnage. Although coal plants are heavy polluters, ways exist to cut back their emissions. The article points out that environmentalists are not a discriminating bunch, so every new coal plant is seen as a carbon dioxide monster. Such behavior shows a lack of cooperation (and communication) among opposing sides of this issue.
Yet another point that stood out was the promotion of coal in the name of national security. Coal is a domestic resource, and supporters claim that dependence on foreign fuel decreases with the construction of plants which burn it. Only a small percentage of foreign oil is used for power plants, as Dr. Webber mentioned, so this statement is nonsensical.
Additionally, this article made me realize that, although energy is at the forefront of this country’s pressing issues, the focus is on producing more energy rather than transmitting it. Although the construction of new power plants will help meet rising energy demand, how will the power grid deliver this extra electricity? Superconducting wires are currently being integrated into the northeastern U.S. power grid, but heightened efforts in updating transmission infrastructure would not hurt.