Coal makes a comeback

Marketplace Staff Apr 26, 2007

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Congress is taking a closer look at the future of coal as an energy source. It’s not renewable, but it’s cheap and there’s lots of it. Today Congress will hear that coal may actually be more green than black. Jeremy Hobson reports from Washington.


JEREMY HOBSON: The U.S. has more coal than any other country. $27 billion worth is mined every year.

That’s why everyone, from unions to politicians to scientists, is getting on the coal bandwagon.

People like MIT chemical engineer Gregory McRae. He says more coal use could actually cut the nation’s carbon emissions.

GREGORY MCRAE: There’s no question that coal has adverse environmental impacts, but we believe that technology exists to mitigate most of those.

One of those technologies, sequestration, would store a coal plant’s carbon emissions underground.

Some environmentalists still have questions about it. So do the nation’s big energy companies — they’re been hesitant to invest.

That’s where the government comes in, says Jonathan Banks of the Clean Air Task Force.

JONATHAN BANKS: Once you have a policy in place that addresses global warming pollution, there will be an incentive for companies to build power plants that allow for the sequestration of their CO2.

But industry insiders say that could drive up coal’s price tag and drive down its allure.

In Washington, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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