While testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee today, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich added a new to term the clean coal debate. At one point, he referred to the need for Congress to fund green coal, but there is no such thing as green coal. Coal can be cleaner, but it can’t be greener.
Here is the video from Think Progress:
One of the most difficult areas of the green energy debate is the question of what to do about coal? The United States has enough coal to power the nation for 50-100 years, but coal is responsible for 40% of the CO2 that is released in the US each year. The reality is that there is a big difference between green coal and clean coal. Coal can be made cleaner through various expensive processes, but there is no such thing as green coal.
When the industry talks about clean or green coal, what they are actually referring to is coal that is cleaner than the pre-1990 Clean Air Act standards in terms of reducing sulfur dioxide emissions, not CO2. Coal power plant emissions of CO2 have increased by 25% since 1990, so in the area of CO2, coal has become a bigger not smaller polluter.
I have a hunch that the term Gingrich used today is going to become a new talking point for the anti-alternative energy movement, so while Republicans and some coal state Democrats are filling your head with dreams of green coal, remember that green and clean aren’t the same thing.