Energy and the environment
Those in charge of
our electric power supply find it rewarding to convert our nations
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 nations
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
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.