The Kingston Fossil Plant, part of the Tennessee Valley Authority, is proud of its record in reducing certain emissions at this coal fired plant as expressed in their website. Yet, and a big yet, they have not reduced the emissions of CO2, that greenhouse gas that is the main culprit in global warming. Overall, in 2008, the plant produced 9,409,452 pounds of toxics as stated in their “Toxic Release Inventory.” This figure does not include the approximately 22,000,000 pounds of Carbon dioxide released. It also appears that the 20,000 pounds of Nitrogen oxides and 100,000 pounds of Sulfur dioxide are not included in the toxic release inventory.

There is an infrastructure in this country that supports the use of massive amounts of coal as the fuel source for much of our electrical generation. This is not going to change anytime soon. Yet for every bit of coal that is burned, we put toxics and other chemicals into our air, ground, and water. Yes, the coal industry is doing much to mitigate this problem; but the fact remains that these toxics and chemicals, even if properly sequestered, are still admitted into our environment.

The long-term solution is to leave the coal in the ground and find other non-hazardous methods of energy production. Solar and wind are the best long-term solutions we have right now. Nuclear fission is not the long-term solution. However, if nuclear fusion comes into play, it may become a viable option.

Once a solar generating site has been set up, train-loads of coal need not be shipped to it. Here is a link to a Google map image of 2 such locations a few miles east of Barstow, California.

Certainly there are maintenance costs associated with all generating costs; but solar and wind plants emit no toxic chemicals or CO2.

Think “Photovoltaic.” That’s direct conversion of solar energy to electrical energy. Pioneering relativity theorist Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921 – but not for his famous theories of relativity and the iconic equation E=mc2. The prize was for his 1905 discovery of exactly how light caused what was then called the photoelectric effect (photovoltaics). This is the wave of the future, and the sooner we jump on that bandwagon, the sooner we get away from relying on coal.

I’m sorry Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and all the other states that dig coal. Start building plants to manufacture solar panels and wind generators. That’s the future.

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