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Lead way on coal standards

Waco Tribune Herald
Monday, January 16, 2006

Texas has an opportunity to strengthen national security, improve the environment and prevent long-term health problems by adopting the highest possible standards for burning coal.

With plans on the drawing boards to build seven new coal-Ūred power plants in Texas, every effort must be made to build state-of-the-art plants that produce power without endangering the health and safety of citizens.

Despite warnings for more than a generation that the United States needs to depend less on imported energy, this nation has become even more dependent.

Energy is not just oil needed to make gasoline for American motorists. In large measure, this nation's greatest energy need is the fuel required to produce the electricity that heats and cools U.S. buildings and powers the marketplace.

The nation's security is jeopardized when energy supplies cannot keep up with the demand.

The United States just happens to have an abundance of energy in the form of coal. What Saudi Arabia is to oil, the United States is to coal.

The problem, as everyone knows, is that coal is an extremely dirty fuel. Even coal designated as "clean coal" produces a variety of health and environmental hazards when burned.

Fortunately, methods have been developed to prevent many of the dangerous pollutants from escaping modern coal-fired power plants.

The Bush administration is considering nine Texas sites for the future home of a coal-fired power plant that produces no pollution.

Texans should welcome this coal-fired power plant. This $1 billion model plant not only will produce electricity, it also will utilize a gasification process that produces hydrogen, another form of fuel that can be used to power fuel-cell cars and other devices with zero pollution.

Bush announced this $1 billion demonstration project two years ago. When finished, this prototype, called FutureGen, will be the cleanest coal-fired power plant in the world.

The U.S. Department of Energy will lead the effort along with eight companies from the United States, China and Australia.

Texas should make an effort to become known as the state with the strongest pollution standards for coal-fired power plants in the nation.

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