NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 20, 2006

According to an atmospheric scientist interviewed by the New York Times, the filters in the mountains of eastern California near Lake Tahoe contain so many sulfur compounds and other coal-related pollutants that they "are the darkest (filters) that we've seen" outside smoggy urban areas.  These pollutants are exported to the western United States by Chinese coal-fired power plants. 

"Unless China finds a way to clean up its coal plants and the thousands of factories that burn coal," says the Times, "pollution will soar both at home and abroad," including throughout the western United States.

  • Already, China uses more coal to power its factories and generate electricity than the United States, Japan and the European Union combined; recently, China's coal consumption has been rising 14 percent a year.
  • Other developed nations essentially kowtowed to China by exempting it from the Kyoto treaty; citing its status as a relatively poor, developing, emerging-market economy, China claims it cannot afford the more effective, more expensive pollution-control equipment.
  • The real question, however, is whether the world can afford the consequences of China's failure to curb its pollutants; the increase in global warming gases from China will likely "surpass by five times the reduction in such emissions that the Kyoto Protocol seeks" from advanced economies.

Source: Editorial, "A Sooty Position," Washington Times, June 13, 2006.


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