Thomas Friedman Doesn't Get It, Clean Coal is Impossible

<p>Sunday's NYT brings with it (nearly every week) <a href="">Thomas Friedman's column</a>. Each week an opportunity for me to get frustrated and angry at Friedman. I've often joked that I am going to start critiquing every column, calling attention to his mixed metaphors and verbose prose.</p>
<p>While I haven't gotten around to the weekly critique, every few weeks I do get frustrated enought to send a letter to the editor, and this is one of those weeks.  <a href="">Friedman's column, "Dreaming the Possible Dream"</a> is another one of those doozies where he takes two particular case studies and tries to build a hypothesis about something way bigger, and usually unsubstantiated by the evidence presented.</p>
<p>Let's ignore for now the case he tries to make, because frankly I'm not sure if it is: <strong>a)</strong> Immigrants have not given up during this bust cycle and continue to innovate, or <strong>b)</strong> A price on carbon is necessary to unleash a raft of creative solutions to climate change and investment in renewable energy (which would seem to be disproved by the two cases he presents of innovative solutions despite a price on carbon emissions). But I digress. </p>
<p>The issue that I am pissed about it "clean coal".  Most people recognize that even if you can reduce or eliminate the CO2 emissions caused by burning coal, and reduce or eliminate the the other post combustion polution, you still need to get coal out of the ground and to the power plants that burn it.  In the United States coal companies have figured out the easiest way to do this is to blow the tops off mountains with blatant disregard for nature, human and animal safety. Then coal is moved by truck and train and is burned.  So unless we figure out a way to get coal out of the ground without destroying entire ecosystems (and the carbon sequestering forests that support them and happen to live on top of coal deposits), then teleport the coal to the power plant, coal will never be clean. "Cleaner" perhaps, but not "clean.  (<a href="">Learn more about dirty coal</a>.)</p>
<p>So here is my letter to the New York Times:</p>
<p> </p>
<p>To The Editor:</p>
<p>In "Dreaming the Possible Dream," Thomas Friedman asserts that if Calera's  process for creating CaCO3 from CO2 and salt water can scale "it might actually make the heretofore specious notion of 'clean coal' a possibility." Has Mr. Friedman forgotten that the combustion of coal and the resulting emissions are only the last dirty step in the dirty life cycle of coal? American coal is too often extracted using damaging mining techniques like mountain top removal which despoils our landscapes, eliminates carbon trapping forests and pollutes streams and groundwater with mine waste endangering countless species of wildlife as well as people. "Clean Coal" will never be possible, I would think that Mr. Friedman would understand this by now.</p>
<p>Gregory Heller</p>