Coal-Fired Air Quality Facts   6 comments

Drawn from a report by the Institute for Energy Research

http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/pdf/the-facts-about-air-quality-and-coal-fired-power-plants-final.pdf

Coal-fired electric generation is far cleaner today than ever before, despite the popular misconception that our air quality is getting worse. The EPA’s own data shows this to be untrue. Modern coal plants, and those retrofitted with modern technologies to reduce pollution, are a success story currently providing 50% of our electricity.

Even before Congress passed the Clean Air Act (CAA) Amendments in 1970s, air quality had been improving for decades. Since 1970, coal-fired electric generation has increased 180%, but the six “criteria” pollutants have declined significantly (sulfur dioxide [SO2] by 80%, nitrogen oxides [NOx) emissions by 70%. At the same time gross domestic product increased by 128%, vehicle miles traveled increased by 94%, energy consumption increased by 26%, and population increased by 37%, while aggregate emissions DECREASED by 63%.We produce more energy, drive farther, and live more comfortably than we did in 1970, while enjoying a cleaner environment.

How is that possible? Technology!

According to the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NELT), a new pulverized coal plant reduces emission of NOx by 86%, SO2 by 98%, and particulate matter (PM) by 99.8%.

I think it’s important to note that air quality was improving PRIOR to the CCA of 1970. Why? Businesses saw certain types of pollution as waste and worked to reduce them through technological improvements increasing efficiency and state and local policymakers advanced regulations that reduced pollution. When federal regulation kicked in, the process continued as states to set their own policy for meeting federal emissions standards. Power plants and manufacturers availed themselves of existing technology that has continued to improve and the low-sulfur coal found in abundance in Wyoming.

Believe it or not, coal plant operators like breathing clean air too.

6 responses to “Coal-Fired Air Quality Facts

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  1. Pingback: Citizen Tom

  2. Excellent post, Aurora.
    Are you on Twitter, partner? When I Tweeted this, I got the generic “WordPress” Titter account.
    Would like to be able to include yours, if you have one…

    Many thanks…

    Like

  3. Argghh.. Do me a favor, will ya’?
    Add in the “w” that I missed in “Twitter”…

    **blush**

    Like

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