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By Clayton Cross
There have been several articles in the Kernel recently that speak poorly of the coal mining industry.
The common theme of these articles has been a call to replace coal-fired power plants with more environmental friendly means of power generation, and I could not agree more.
The current electricity demand of the U.S. is being met with outdated and inefficient coal-fueled power plants.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration approximated that at the end of 2010, 73 percent of all coal-based generating capacity were 30 years or older.
Thankfully, there is a straightforward solution to replace these aging operations with more efficient and environmentally friendly electricity generation — new coal-fired power plants.
Technological advancements have improved the operation of these plants such that they emit 90 percent less pollutants (SO2, NOx, particulates, mercury) than those from the 1970s.
This is in addition to the fact that coal-fueled power generation has tripled in the past four decades, yet primary emissions fell 80 percent.
Currently, there are 430 highly efficient coal-fueled plants under development, most in China and India.
The U.S. accounts for very few of these projects, many being canceled or delayed because of the Environmental Protection Agency, at the direction of President Barack Obama and his administration.
The current administration is preventing job creation and could potentially drive businesses out with higher electricity costs.
With demand for electricity in the U.S. projected to increase 30 percent over the next 25 years, it is physically impossible to replace nearly 50 percent of our nation’s power generation with renewable sources.
With such a large domestic supply, coal is the backbone and the future to electricity generation in our great nation.
It’s time to move forward and allow for the construction of new, more environmentally friendly, coal-fueled power plants.
Clayton Cross is a mining engineering graduate student. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.