We Should Be Changing the Conversation about Coal Plants!!
Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
I have been talking about the effects of “Dirty Coal Plants” production of pollutants that precipitate the onset of diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, autism, learning disorders, and attention deficit syndrome to name a few. At the present level of pollution in America, it is estimated that diseases related to Dirty Coal Plants costs the healthcare system $34 billion. With the new Dirty Coal Plants proposed in Texas and the nation, the avoidable cost to the healthcare system could triple.
Everyone is talking about a “broken healthcare system” with out of control costs. Few are trying to do anything to fix it. However, one giant step in the right direction would be to decrease the pollution in the nation and avoid diseases and the costs to the healthcare system precipitated by the resulting pollution.
There are two potential solutions. One is to produce clean coal plants using proven IGCC technology. Utility companies in general and TXU in particular do not want to use this technology because it is cheaper to build and more profitable “Dirty Coal Plants”.
Market forces drive the motivation. However, government should set parameters that are in the best interest of the people and then market forces should drive the motivation.
Thomas Freidman in his October 20, 2006 column “ Make History Arnold” states; “The reason that Mr. Bush’s call a year ago to end our oil addiction has been a total flop has to do with a struggle in his administration between foolish market worshipers led by Dick Cheney—who insist markets will take care of everything—and wiser, nuanced policy makers who understand that government’s job is to set broad goals and standards, and then let the market reach them.”
In my opinion, I think Mr. Cheney’s heart is in the right place. However, I do not believe he sees the whole issue. Adam Smith was correct to a point. With appropriate government rules market forces can be more powerful than complete government control.
The government should have something to say about these “Dirty Coal Plants” for the health and welfare of its citizens. No one has said anything yet. It looks like our political system is also “broken”.
The second solution is embodied in a comment I received for my blog “Review. What I Have Said Recently” from Jay Draiman Director of US Gas & Telecom. It is a wonderful comment. Essentially, it says we need to redirect our thinking.
Americans are a very smart and innovative people. We all understand we need to decrease our dependence on foreign oil. We also understand the oil industry is not very interested in the concept of change. There are other industries linked to the oil industry. The automobile industry has a huge investment in oil dependent cars. All the automobile support industries might not be interested in reducing our dependence on oil because they could also be destroyed by a change in focus away from oil.
We have to decrease our dependence on fossil fuel because of what it does to our environment and subsequently our health. One could think that the healthcare system would be adversely affected by a reduction in disease burden if we decreased pollution. However the physicians mission to preserving the health of our citizens. We are all for decreasing unnecessary healthcare costs by decreasing pollution.
Therefore it is to the advantage all of these vested interests and many others to either keep silent or at least be passive in demanding a change leading to the elimination of our dependence on fossil fuel.
All of us have been exposed to the potential of the kinetic energy that surrounds us. I will define kinetic energy as potential sources of energy we have available to us that have not been harnessed and will not pollute the environment. These energies include wind, sun, water and biodegradable regenerating substances. Technologies are available that make this kinetic energy easy to harness. I suspect we have been very slow at its adoption because the vested interests of the powerful groups have legacy domains threatened by a paradigm change.
It would be interesting if some bright and innovative person like a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates figured out how to generate a paradigm shift to change the conversation. I do not believe it will be done by the present powers driving fossil fuel use unless our government wakes up and does its job.
Eight year old children do not know what a typewriter or a 78 record is. CD’s will soon vanish from the universe.
I think it is about time producing electricity with fossil fuel became the dinosaur it is. The paradigm shift will create a very different world just asl PC and IPOD have.
Repairing the Healthcare System should not be far behind. I believe the stimulus to these paradigm shifts will be the virtual communities of the blogosphere. People like you and me networking and demanding change from our politicians.
I do not think it will be done by our politicians unless we stimulate them to do the right thing.
Jay Draiman’s comment deals with these energies and deserves the spot light and not simply appear in the comment section.
MANDATORY RENEWABLE ENERGY – THE ENERGY EVOLUTION -R
In order to insure energy and economic independence as well as better economic growth without being blackmailed by foreign countries, our country, the United States of America’s Utilization of Energy sources must change. Our continued dependence on fossil fuels could and will lead to catastrophic consequences.
The federal, state and local government should implement a mandatory renewable energy installation program for residential and commercial property on new construction and remodeling projects with the use of energy efficient material, mechanical systems, appliances, lighting, etc. The source of energy must by renewable energy such as Solar-Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Wind, Biofuels, etc. including utilizing water from lakes, rivers and oceans to circulate in cooling towers to produce air conditioning and the utilization of proper landscaping to reduce energy consumption.
The implementation could be done on a gradual scale over the next 10 years. At the end of the 10 year period all construction and energy use in the structures throughout the United States must be 100% powered by renewable energy.
In addition, the governments must impose laws, rules and regulations whereby the utility companies must comply with a fair “NET METERING” (the buying of excess generation from the consumer), including the promotion of research and production of “renewable energy technology” with various long term incentives and grants. The various foundations in existence should be used to contribute to this cause.
A mandatory time table should also be established for the automobile industry to gradually produce an automobile powered by renewable energy. The American automobile industry is surely capable of accomplishing this task.
This is a way to expedite our energy independence and economic growth. It will take maximum effort and a relentless pursuit of the private, commercial and industrial government sectors commitment to renewable energy – energy generation (wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, energy storage (fuel cells, advance batteries), energy infrastructure (management, transmission) and energy efficiency (lighting, sensors, automation, conservation) in order to achieve our energy independence.
Northridge, CA. 91325
Wake up America!!
President Bush did when he was Governor of Texas.
Time for another news quiz: Which American state produces more wind-generated electricity than any other? Answer: Texas. Next question — this one you’ll never get: Which politician launched the Texas wind industry? Answer: Former Gov., now President, George W. Bush.
Yes, there are many things that baffle me about President Bush, but none more than how the same man who initiated one of the most effective renewable energy programs in America, has presided over an administration that for six years has dragged its feet on alternative energy.
He fell asleep when he became President.
Deborah A Delp • December 28, 2006
Bush didn’t fall asleep, he was bought.
I have a child with autism and aside from the vaccines I am convinced the biggest contribution to this epidemic issue is the mercury emissions released by coal-burning power plants in this country. The states with the most coal-burning power plants have some of the highest percentages of autism. Add other learning disabilities and you would have to have been living under a rock to not notice this trend.