Focus Point - Burning Coal

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. The fashionable energy for years has been renewable energy: wind, solar and so forth. The media have been fascinated by them. Taxpayers have subsidized billions in research. Trouble is, they provide less than five percent of U.S. energy supplies.

Since U.S. electricity demand could increase 45 percent in the next 20 years, we're going to keep burning coal.

Coal is not fashionable. The media do not dote on it. Coal has a bad reputation. But we have a 250-year supply of it. Coal accounts for 50 percent of total electricity generation. And despite the bad image coal has, for past 20 years coal-fired plants have been required to install scrubbers, which eliminate 95 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions. So-called clean coal technology, which converts coal to gas rather than burning it directly, reduces sulfur dioxide emissions by 98 percent.

The Bush Administration, not swayed by fashion, has requested $2 billion in tax credits for clean coal technology. Here's hoping congress won't be swayed by fashion either.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, capital gains.