Sunday, February 10, 2013

Clean Coal For An Energy Independent Future

I’ve passed the Cholla Power Plant, a coal fired energy behemoth, many times as I’ve driven across northern Arizona between New Mexico and California.  I’ve always found the thing compelling in a post apocalyptic Blade Runner sort of way but have never stopped long enough to capture its wonders.  When I got in the patience line they were fresh out.  However, this past Tuesday I finally shot it at its belching, spewing best, opaque plumes soaring into the sky near Holbrook and a thin blue ooze blanketing the ground for half a mile or so.  I’ve never been able to reconcile the term “clean coal.”  Isn't that an oxymoron?  Let's just say that the eruption shown above did little to assuage my skepticism.  I guess it depends on what your definition of clean is.  Clean compared to what exactly?  Chernobyl?  Bhopal? 
That fact is that polluters can profess anything they wish and, according to the gospel of Karl, if they say it often enough it will be true.  The inconvenient real truth is that the Cholla Plant is ejecting vapor, smoke and particulate matter into the heavens.  It is what it is.  The glass eye does not lie. 

Hey, I totally get the desire to achieve energy independence and can even accept some give between unyielding environmentalism and damn the torpedoes exploration.  It’s just that I don’t buy that coal can be clean or that fracking doesn’t endanger our ground water.  Or maybe it’s that I don’t trust producers to do it cleanly even if it is technically possible.  As long as a cheaper is better ethic prevails energy companies will inevitably cut an important corner somewhere along the line.  Think Deep Water Horizon.
That headline just drips with sarcasm doesn't it?


Daryl A. Black said...

Frequently some of the most stunning images come from human-made disasters, of which CLEAN COAL is one. I love the "post-apocolyptic in a Blade Runner sort of way" text, and the image itself is quite impressive. There are so many oxymorons, like clean coal, in our society that most of us just gloss over them. Another favorite is "right to work". A whole conversation could develop from oxymorons in current usage.

Thanks, Steve, for keeping it real through photography.

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