David welcome to forum. Opposing opinions are welcome here but be prepared to defend then. If this is a "drive by" post just to a get a link to your site it will be removed.
I don't know what your motives are and I'm not specifically accusing you of anything but I get the feeling this will be the new tactic of environmentalist in the future, they will kill coal by promoting "clean coal". Increasingly activists no matter what the cause are using tactics similar to this where they achieve their goals through the backdoor, instead of outright banning something instead they are opting to try and make it very expensive. For example you don't ban guns, you ban the lead in bullets under the guise of environmentalism.
DavidStang wrote: Did I get anything wrong?
Kind of hard to get something wrong when you're making vague statements. For example let's take the bogeyman mercury that you mention here:
Mercury causes neurological damage, including lost IQ points, in unborn babies and young children exposed during the first few years of life. Mercury is taken up by fish and wildlife, and accumulates in the food chain. Coal-burning power plants are the largest point source category of mercury
Without context or a perspective this is useless information to the reader BUT I'll be glad to provide it for you so you can in turn provide it to your own readers. First and foremost the most important thing to understand about mercury emissions is it's a global issue, it's not a confined local issue. According to the EPA very little of the mercury emitted form US coal plants is deposited within the US and in the global context US coal fired power plants are responsible for only 1% of the global pool. Even If we were to completely eliminate all emissions it's going to have little effect on the deposition rates here in the US or globally. I'd argue that the stricter emissions standards here could in fact produce more emissions. Energy costs are not the only consideration a company makes but it's certainly one of the bigger considerations, as energy costs rise here it's just that much more incentive to move manufacturing overseas.
Mercury Emissions: A Global Problem
* Mercury emitted from coal-fired power plants comes from mercury in coal, which is released when the coal is burned. While coal-fired power plants are the largest remaining source of human-generated mercury emissions in the United States, they contribute very little to the global mercury pool. Recent estimates of annual total global mercury emissions from all sources -- both natural and human-generated -- range from roughly 4,400 to 7,500 tons per year. Human-caused U.S. mercury emissions are estimated to account for roughly 3 percent of the global total, and U.S. coal-fired power plants are estimated to account for only about 1 percent
* EPA has conducted extensive analyses on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants and subsequent regional patterns of deposition to U.S. waters. Those analyses conclude that regional transport of mercury emission from coal-fired power plants in the U.S. is responsible for very little of the mercury in U.S. waters.
That small contribution will be significantly reduced after EPA’s Clean Air Interstate Rule and Clean Air Mercury Rule are implemented.
o U.S. coal-fired power plants emit mercury in three different forms: oxidized mercury (likely to deposit within the U.S.); elemental mercury, which travels hundreds and thousands of miles before depositing to land and water; and mercury that is in particulate form.
o Because mercury can be transported thousands of miles in the atmosphere, and because many types of fish are caught and sold globally, effective exposure reduction will require reductions in global emissions
Despite this analysis the EPA has recently instituted new regualtions to reduce mercury emissions. The primary issue with mercury is neurological which you have mentioned, so what do we as a nation get in return for these new regulations? Not a whole lot, according to EPA estimates the increase in IQ is immeasurable using any testing standard. This is from the EPA's own cost/benefit analysis for these new regulations.
Astounding isn't it? What do you think the error bars on those estimates look like? We're going to spend 10's if not hundreds of billions to increase the average IQ in the US an entire 2/1000 of one point if the EPA's estimate was to be taken at face value. The reason for such low numbers goes back to the fact this is a global issue and US coal fire plants account for so little of global emissions. Total reductions in the deposition of mercury inside the US is estimated from 1% to 10%.
Economic Valuation of Human Health Benefits of Controlling Mercury Emissions from U.S. Coal-Fired Power Plants
Changes in mercury deposition rates associated with reductions in power plant
mercury emissions are based on regional deposition modeling results from the EPA's
analysis of the Clear Skies Initiative. In its analysis, the EPA simulated current mercury
deposition rates and the changes in these rates that would result if power plants
reduced their mercury emissions from the current rate of 49 tons per year to either 26 or
15 tons per year. We used these predictions to estimate changes in deposition rates for
the freshwater regions, the Atlantic Coastal Region, and the Gulf of Mexico. Estimated
decreases range from approximately 1% to 10%.
The change in deposition rates to the
All Other Waters region is assumed to be proportional to the change in total global
emissions that would result from U.S. power plant emissions reductions, which is less
Let's take another one:
Acid gases cause lung damage and contribute to asthma, bronchitis and other chronic respiratory disease, especially in children and the elderly. In humans, acid gases irritate the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and breathing passages. In the environment, acid rain from NOX and SO2 damages crops and forests. Coal-burning power plants are the largest point source category of hydrochloric acid in the US
The old lets blame coal for asthma. Despite the fact the 6 most common air pollutants have decreased as an aggregate by 67% since 1980 and asthma diagnosis have increased substantially in that time the EPA still tries to lay the blame on coal? The specific reductions for NOX is 52% and SO2 is 69%.EPA Air Quality Trends
I'm no doctor or scientist but I think perhaps the blame lays elsewhere? I would suggest it's a combination of a few factors. Firstly in this time span houses have become much more efficient but they trap indoor air pollution, the use of forced air for both heat and AC has increased dramatically and kids simply spend more time inside. Sound like a reasonable explanation?
Somewhat unrelated but since this is forum for burning coal it's pertinent, there is medical study
that found people in homes using coal or wood for heating had less asthma cases.
Particles cause premature death and a wide range of lung and heart diseases. Particle pollution from power plants is estimated to kill approximately 13,000 people a year.
As far as this goes do you know how they arrive at these figure? Obviously there is no one that has "died from coal particulates" on their death certificate. They use what is called a linear dose assessment which makes the assumption that every particle is equally as dangerous
, the amount of exposure is not a factor. They take a known value, for example suppose we have a 20 foot cliff that ten people have fallen off and five of them die. From this it is determined that for every 200 feet a population is to fall 5 will die. If twenty people fall off a 10 foot cliff 5 of them die, if forty people fall off a 5 foot cliff 5 people still die. If 1 million people fall off a crack in the sidewalk 5 still die which is absurd, this last example with a million people would be most comparable to saying 13,000 people die from particulate emissions.
While there *may* be a small potential for health effects nobody dies from particulate emissions. Trying to accurately gauge such health risks is all but impossible and when you try and quantify the risks for individuals you get infinitesimally small numbers like 2/1000 of IQ point. There is only one purpose for such estimates which is to give the media, environmentalist and others ammunition in their crusade to kill coal regardless of the fact they are bogus.