Clean coal provides little to fight climate change

Alden Marshall

Republicans seem to be experiencing trouble on how to spin their climate change denial. Ohio Gov. John Kasich debuted a new line of attack on climate change at the Texas Tribune Festival in late September, saying that he believes “we have an obligation to take care of [the Earth], but not worship it.” Comments like these are not only disingenuous but are downright harmful to the fight against climate change. 

In case Kasich and his Republican colleagues don’t know, climate change is a real, pressing threat. Sea levels are rising, oceans are facing acidification and our government has even categorized climate change as a national security issue. If we don’t take decisive action soon, the effects of our emissions will become irreversible. But even with an overwhelming consensus that yields an undeniable conclusion, Republicans still don’t see an impetus to act. To complicate matters even further, Kasich, along with Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence, are introducing a new factor into the equation: clean coal. 

As keynote speaker at the Texas Tribune Festival, the Ohio governor said that we should continue to depend on coal and just “dig, clean it and burn it.” Now that seems just lovely, until you get past the spin and into the specifics. Coal provides almost half of the energy needed to produce electricity and has earned the title of being the biggest air polluter we have. Even if we clean it, it’s just like putting a dress on a pig because the problem still remains. 

By some estimates, clean coal would increase mining operations because it requires an estimated 25 percent more energy to produce the same amount as the regular coal we are used to. Combine that with our crumbling infrastructure that we would need to transport the increased tonnage, and you have something as messy as a conservative trying to dodge an answer to fixing our climate. 

Now don’t get me wrong, fixing coal would be better than doing absolutely nothing with it — especially while it still makes up a substantial portion of our nation’s energy infrastructure. In fact, President Obama’s climate plan includes provisions that incentivize the use of carbon capture technology, demonstrating our reliance on coal for the near future. But we cannot sit idly by and allow politicians like John Kasich and Mike Pence tout these buzzword technologies without also proposing plans that include renewable energy solutions that are proven to help combat the issue of climate change.

By making the bold move to transition our nation to a green future, we would see a renewed boom in the global economy, improved living conditions and an increase of jobs that could be measured in millions, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency

In the end, our politicians hold the power to dictate the future of our world. It’s about time that Kasich follows his own advice, in that “when you get responsibility, put your hands on the wheel and drive the car.” Let’s just hope that car runs on renewable energy.

Marshall is a government freshman from Mabank. Follow him on Twitter @AldenMarshall.