NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Coal Will Continue to Power America

September 21, 2001

Despite media fascination with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power --which have seen 30 years of taxpayer-subsidized research totaling billions of dollars --these alternatives contribute less than five percent of U.S. energy supplies. Yet over the next 20 years, U.S. electricity demand could increase 45 percent, leading to serious energy shortages. Thus, if Americans are to continue to enjoy reliable, affordable energy, coal must continue to be an important part of the energy mix.

  • Coal now accounts for 50 percent of total electricity generation.
  • There is a 250-year supply, making it our most abundant energy source.
  • For the past 20 years, new coal-fired power 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, nitrogen oxides by 90 percent and particulates below detectable levels.

Recognizing the importance of improved coal technology, the Bush administration has requested $2 billion in tax credits for clean coal technology.

Source: Sterling Burnett and Jason Meyer (NCPA), "Coal Will Power America's Future," Charlotte Gazette, September 10, 2001.


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