More Bad News for the Environment

On December 28, 2018, the Houston Chronicle reported that the Trump Administration has pulled the plug on Obama-era regulations that would have required coal-fired power plants to retrofit their facilities with air-pollution scrubbers designed to reduce the emission of sulfur dioxide.

This “rollback” will affect 9 power plants in Texas. Sulfur dioxide, which is colorless as it comes out of smoke stacks, turns into sulfate particles small enough to pass through lungs and enter the bloodstream. Sulfate particles aggravate asthma, heart and lung disease, and other serious health problems.

Obviously, elimination of this regulation benefits the coal industry and those power plants that burn coal.  What are the human costs of this policy? Scientists estimate that every year the W.A. Parish coal-fired plant near Houston operates 180 people die prematurely.

On January 3, 2019, the Houston Chronicle reported that researchers at Rice University have concluded that Texas could meet a significant portion of its electricity demand from renewable power without extensive battery storage. “There is nowhere else in the world better positioned to operate without coal than Texas,” said Dan Cohan, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, a co-author of the study.

The idea of “clean coal” is, of course, a farce and nothing more than an advertising slogan, but the Trump Administration is taking us backward toward the distant past even though a cleaner future is realistically possible.