Lots of coal-based projects have been killed or delayed this week. I am not sure that coal is the solution to all problems, but I think we need to be rational about what we are doing around it. We are killing coal mines in BC that are doing coking coal, and we are exporting petroleum coke vs. processing it into electricity in America or Canada where we will scrub it and clean it.
You want your iPad, iPod, car, house, light bulb, TV…. You want your food to come in a box and be affordable, you want your meat to be clean and fairly cheap. You want electricity to come out of the wall without any fuss. The key is that you want EVERYTHING to happen somewhere else.
We are busy exporting stuff we can process at home because we cannot get the environmental permit to process it here. Let’s start with the petroleum coke. If we mine it with the oil sands, we are left with a product and two choices on what to do with it: burn it in North America, or burn it in China.
In North America, you will be FORCED to scrub the sulfur and the other non-CO2 contaminants. China is going to use the petroleum coke to power older plants that are going to pump that SOX right into the air we breathe as Americans.
So Mr. NIMBY, go right ahead and block that project, ban that process, but understand when you make that choice, you will be getting your waste back via a nasty smokestack from 8,000 miles away that will remind you of Victorian England. This is vs. an American or Canadian smokestack that will clearly pollute, but the magnitude is completely different.
Europe is taking a different approach; they are burning trash and making clean power, or at least more carbon-neutral power. They are learning how to process stuff for the maximum energy with the minimal footprint. Somehow that makes so much more sense than just exporting dirt and relying on the maxim “out of sight, out of mind”.
For further consideration: