Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lump of coal

The Denver Post delivered a lump of coal in its editorial pages on Sunday, an op-ed piece by Daniel Firger who gave "Colorado citizens" some bad advice.

"What can be done?" Firger asks rhetorically about improving Colorado's already limited dependence on coal as an energy source. "Colorado citizens can push to phase out dirty coal, not just in the state's power plants but also in its mines and transmission lines. ... No state is better suited to lead this charge."


Colorado ought to be leading the charge to use every energy source available to it not only to wean the United States off foreign sources of energy, but also to solve the world's climate problems by cleaning up its continued use of all fossil fuels.

Firger, associate director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University in New York, offers faint praise to the state for its efforts to clean up its energy markets, but suggests it go further to eliminate "dirty coal" from its industry mix.


Firger evidently missed James Fallows' article in the December Atlantic Monthly that recognizes "dirty coal" will continue to be a worldwide source of energy and should be as long as efforts continue to clean up its dump of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It's cheap and provides jobs worldwide, including in Colorado.

Colorado Public Utilities Commissioners also must have missed the article before voting earlier this month to force Xcel Energy to reduce its use of coal to fire up six metro-area power plants. Not that the vote isn't healthy for the state; it just seemed uninformed.

Colorado coal miners would argue that technology is catching up to a sustainable use of coal to produce electricity -- adding that jobs and wages could be preserved if state officials would take cognizance of such developments.

Environmentalists in Colorado tend to be all-or-nothing types, and their influence on state government has been overwrought for the past four years. For the new Hickenlooper administration, it's time to balance that act.

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