Coal has slowly been backed into a corner that will be hard to escape from. With recent government regulations put in place alongside major funding, cleaner forms of energy are now a requirement for most organizations and energy providers. Natural gas has become a legitimate alternative to more pollution prone forms of energy, and some major coal organizations are being muscled out of their previously steadfast energy positions.
With the ever rising price of oil and gas, complimented by global warming and other eco-friendly concerns, politicians have aligned themselves with environmental activists and organizations to preserve the planet and cut energy costs. Environmental issues have been instituted in the past by the E.P.A. and various other political campaigns, including the National Environmental Protection Act and George Bush’s Clean Air Act, to force major industries to cut back on emissions and be more environmentally conscious. Unfortunately for the coal industry, in this instance they are one of the major offenders and in the direct line of fire.
According to the New York Times, currently one third of the nation’s power is provided by coal where-as four years ago it was nearly half. There are currently 500 coal burning plants in the U.S. and more than 100 are expected to shut down within the next few years. The city of Seattle recently voted to curb the development of coal export terminals across Washington State. It seems coal is on a steady decline to be removed entirely from energy usage and has nowhere to hide.
Cleaner energy and protection of the environment are requirements that the coal industry simply cannot fulfill. On the other hand, natural gas and other renewable forms of energy meet government rules and regulations as well as the growing public mentality of going green. Major corporations and individuals as a result are more actively trying to reduce their carbon footprint through more efficient fuel management systems, energy sources, and other avenues that directly affect the environment. Instances like reserve overflow into neighboring waterways and massive pollution that the coal industry is known for have become a black mark in the eyes of the government and the public.
Coal plants, while producing a significant amount of energy, also produce an equal amount of pollution that can harm the surrounding area and the planet. One coal plant can spill thousands of tons of pollutants each year including mercury, uranium, and arsenic causing serious health problems and developmental disabilities. Even by making the necessary environmental adjustments, coal plants would still produce a remarkable amount of carbon dioxide which causes global warming.
Natural gas companies and lobbyists are now being aided by the funding of Michael Bloomberg to cut coal out of the equation. A push toward public awareness and increasing sway with politicians has put major constraints on coal plants and their subsequent pollution emissions, making them too costly to maintain.
The switch to natural gas and other natural fuels is a big step to reducing America’s carbon footprint. However, as we transition and innovate we need to keep in mind that fuel management systems and engineering for fuel economy are key in the short term. The coal industry is currently taking a beating for not being environmentally friendly. In order for companies to survive they will need to adopt cleaner forms of energy and be more conscious of environmental contamination in the future.