Coal Mining: Can Clean Be The New Green?
When trying to choose a topic for my Response Paper, I came across the article on the SEED Magazine website titled “The Lesser Evil: Nuclear or Coal?” Because I not only live in a coal mining town, but also in a county that would no longer exist without the coal industry, I wanted to not only see what exactly was so “evil” about coal, but also how it could be made safer.
With global warming, acid rain and other issues coming into view in the present, I have mostly focused on the effect that coal mining has on the environment. The environmental effects that come from mining coal include the release of carbon dioxide and methane that are both contributing to the greenhouse effect. Hazardous gasses are not only released when burning coal, but also when pockets of gasses are released during mining. Soil and water tables are also harmed when acidic runoff drains into the subsoil and into water sources and changes the pH levels. When the soil table is changed, the soil can become infertile. The lack of vegetation can cause erosion, and can harm the chances of ever having agricultural biodiversity. When the pH of water is changed, the aquatic life may also die off. Mining not only changes the pH of water, but can also include draining or contamination of usable underground water.
The article from the SEED Magazine site brought up the fact that there is research going on right now that would help make mining clean. The mining would be cleaner in the fact that the emissions wouldn’t be so hard on the environment. When looking into the research a little further, I found that there have been plenty if ideas on how to make coal energy better for the environment. Wikipedia gave some examples of these ideas which included “chemically washing minerals and impurities from the coal, gasification, treating the flue gases with steam to remove sulfur dioxide, carbon capture and storage technologies to capture the carbon dioxide from the flue gas and dewatering lower rank coals to improve the calorific value, and thus the efficiency of the conversion into electricity.”
Gasification is a process that turns coal into a gas that can be used as a fuel. The gas can then be ran through turbines and used for power. The high temperatures, which are used to convert the coal to a gas, help give out a cleaner energy source by removing corrosive elements from the coal, and giving a cleaner and more efficient source of electricity.
Carbon capture and storage takes carbon dioxide from large producers, such as coal plants, and stores it away from the environment. Carbon capture and storage is also described by Wikipedia as the non-biological processes of capturing carbon dioxide from combustion at the source. It has been estimated that if modern...