’60 Minutes’ clean-coal story sparks debate on enviro blogs

The CBS news mag “60 Minutes” aired an interesting primer on the debate over so-called “clean-coal technology” Sunday night, interviewing some of the heavy hitters in the industry and scientists calling for a moratorium on all new coal-fired power plants.

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers acknowledged the urgency of slowing carbon emissions and dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 – certainly a step in the right direction for the head of the third largest power provider in an industry that for years has fought to deny global warming.

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But as the program pointed out, Duke has spent nothing on carbon-sequestration technology – basically injecting carbon emissions into underground reservoirs – and recently cut the ribbon on two new coal-fired plants.

The enviro blogosphere was largely underwhelmed by the piece, with earth2tech.com pointing out that the story failed to mention any of the companies such as PowerSpan or GreatPoint Energy that are doing truly groundbreaking research in the clean-energy arena.

Still, from a general-public perspective, the story should have served as major eye-opener. There needs to be much more mainstream reporting along these lines to educate people like the Intermountain Rural Electric Association board members and the rural co-op’s voters who backed the status quo last week, instead of choosing green candidates.

Or for that matter the proponents of using nuclear energy to power the oil shale industry on the Western Slope. How many truly “clean-coal-fired” power plants could be built for the billions it will take to get oil shale production up and running, with nuclear plants powering the industry to boot?

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