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Rural Missouri Magazine

Energy and the environment

Frank Stork
by Frank Stork

Those in charge of our electric power supply find it rewarding to convert our nation’s most valuable natural resource into low-cost energy for Missouri consumers.

Those who monitor and enforce clean-air standards find it just as rewarding to work on projects that improve our environment.

If we could combine the conversion of coal to electricity with projects to achieve super clean air through one single endeavor, the rewards of the two would be squared. Such a project was announced just a few weeks ago.

When the nation’s electric cooperatives joined with the coal and railroad industries, other electric utilities and the United Mine Workers asking President Bush to adopt a coal technology “roadmap,” they laid the foundation for this challenging project.

They explained that by following certain guidelines, this whole new process could lead to cost-effective generation from coal with near-zero emissions. A spokesman for the group said, “This is the first time that a single comprehensive plan for the future of clean coal development has been achieved through a broad consensus process.”

The roadmap sets forth guidelines to measure the effectiveness of clean-coal technologies. Their goals include: generating electricity virtually free from scientifically identified harmful emissions, developing coal products that are cost competitive with other energy forms and converting coal to energy with increased effectiveness.

The group supports the $20 billion, 10-year Clean Coal Initiative announced by President Bush last month. Along with that, they suggested that an adequately funded industry and government research and development program would be even more effective. The group said the private sector would make significant financial contributions to the total cost of the project to ensure its success.

In recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in our coal-fueled generating plants to meet and exceed clean-air standards. Plans are on the drawing board to invest hundreds of millions more to meet even higher standards. As these investments increase the cost of electricity to consumers, it is imperative that we accelerate research to meet the ultimate goal of zero harmful emissions at the lowest possible cost.

As we struggle to reduce our dependence on imported oil, our vast coal resources become even more valuable. It is worthwhile for President Bush, Congress, electric utilities, manufacturers and the coal industry to invest additional time and capital in this important clean-energy endeavor.

Stork was executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.

Rural Missouri magazine - April 2014 issue
 
 
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