Yesterday's editorial in the News-Register, "Get Coal Back In Energy Mix," begins by praising President Trump for his efforts to wipe-out Obama's actions on the environment:
He is working energetically to win half the battle on that. He is rolling back illogical Obama-administration rules that were intended to destroy the coal industry. He has revealed the United States will not go along with the Paris Accords on climate change.
Ah, but the locals are not happy about the Trump Administration's action to significantly cut funding for the research and development of clean coal:
But the president seems to have declared “mission abandoned” on the other, crucial, half of the equation.
Unless “clean coal” technology is improved, there is little chance utilities will build new coal-fired power plants. They have been closing them by the dozens. The trend is toward generating stations fueled by natural gas, which is both cheap and more environmentally acceptable.
The editorial discusses the likely huge cuts in clean coal research by the Trump administration but it doesn't explain "why." The attempt to develop "clean coal" has always been easier-said-than-done; it's even difficult to find estimates of just how much money has been sunk into research with no workable results. The final straw may have occurred last week when the model for a clean coal power plant, the Kemper Plant in Mississippi, gave up and decided to use natural gas to generate 100% of its power. Here's the Associated Press headline that a number of newspapers used last Thursday:
Southern Company's $7 billion clean coal plant to run on natural gas
Of course, neither local "newspaper" ran this AP article. On the other hand, the abandonment of this way-over-budget clean coal plant did get significant national attention. For example, the New York Times' article on the Kemper plant detailed the cost of the plant:
The Kemper County plant, built to take advantage of a strip coal mine next door, was three years behind schedule and, at a cost of about $7.5 billion, $4 billion over its projected budget.
Equipment meant to turn the coal into gas and remove at least two-thirds of the carbon dioxide from it to keep it out of the atmosphere never worked as designed.
How badly did the "clean coal" plant fail?
The lignite coal that is mined adjacent to the Kemper County plant emits more climate-warming carbon dioxide per unit of heat than other coal, and far more than natural gas. Southern had intended the plant to demonstrate how even the dirtiest coal could be cleaned up. But in their statement last week, the state regulators referred to it as “unproven technology” that put shareholders and customers at financial risk.
The more you read on the subject, the more you conclude that clean coal isn't workable and there's nothing the Trump administration or anyone can do to make it work. To its credit, the Trump administration will significantly cut the research into the technology.
On the other hand, the News-Register is still into denial and refuses to deal with the clean coal reality -- its only solace coming from invoking the mantra that blames its favorite scapegoat:
But it also would be a disaster for tens of millions of Americans — whose electric bills already are climbing because of the Obama administration’s war on coal and affordable power.
As with everything else that goes wrong, its all Obama's fault.