Can Coal Ever be Clean? Tuesday's Access Utah

Mar 25, 2014

Michelle Nijhuis writes in the April edition of National Geographic (“Can Coal Ever Be Clean?”) that “During the next two decades several hundred million people worldwide will get electricity for the first time, and if current trends continue, most will use power produced by coal...Coal, to use the economists’ euphemism, is fraught with “externalities”—the heavy costs it imposes on society.  

Credit National Geographic

It’s the dirtiest, most lethal energy source we have.  But by most measures it’s also the cheapest, and we depend on it.  So the big question today isn’t whether coal can ever be “clean.”  It can’t.  It’s whether coal can ever be clean enough—to prevent not only local disasters but also a radical change in global climate.” Utah is among the top coal-producing states and a large percentage of our electricity comes from coal.  Michelle Nijhuis writes on science and the environment, is a two-time winner of the AAAS/Kavli Science Journalism Award, and is a contributing writer for Smithsonian, National Geographic, and many other publications.