Top reasons coal power plants aren’t bad but very bad | Letters To Editor


To the editor: Coal is generally regarded as one of the most dangerous and harmful energy sources.

In 2009, the EPA designated parts of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, including the UAF campus, as a PM-2.5 non-attainment area. This fine particulate matter is directly linked to the for health problems including lung and heart issues.

Air contaminants/pollutants emitted by the burning of coal contributes to air pollution

Air pollution from coal-fired power plants is linked with asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, neurological problems, acid rain, global warming, and other severe environmental and public health impacts. (Union of Concerned Scientist).

Impact of air pollution on human health.

Environmental Protection Agency, as many as 36,000 people a year die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants. And every year 38,000 heart attacks, 12,000 hospital admissions and an additional 550,000 asthma attacks result from power plant pollution. (EPA and Huffington Post).

Cost of air pollution on the health system.

By world standards health care cost is $800 million every year. (National Institute of Health Federal Government)

Greenhouse gases emitted by the burning of coal contributing to climate change and global warming.

Coal is the dirtiest form of energy generation there is (although some sources indicate natural gas could come close if you include methane leaks at the natural gas mining/extraction stage and not just the burning of natural gas).

Burning of coal and associated emissions contributing to acid rain, and other environmental problems (like water and soil pollution).

These pollutants can lead to acid rain, which can in turn pollute water sources and soil.

Impact of coal mining on the environment, wildlife and local communities.

Coal mining causes a number of environmental issues in the immediate area of mining i.e. land degradation, damage to wildlife and their habitats, and water pollution. It also displace local communities.

Coal waste from power plants has to be treated and managed properly.

Burning coal produces waste such as coal ash. This is a problem if the waste is simply dumped into the environment coal ash is costly to treat, manage and dispose of or even recycle/re-use. Coal is a finite resource. Current confirmed resources of coal in the ground may only last another century or so.

Comparatively, renewable energy is an almost infinite resource.

Thermal coal plants use a lot of water.

Whether or not water use in a coal plant is a big problem depends on the type of water it uses, and whether that water gets re-used or recycled.

But, the use of freshwater or scarce water resources is obviously an issue going into the future.

What is argued by some is that we have access to far less water intensive energy production in the form of wind and solar voltaic (amongst other energy sources).

Ron Arnold,

Fairbanks



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