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Is clean coal a long-term solution to pollution?

How much do you know about clean coal?
How much do you know about clean coal?

There's a short and long answer to this question, and they both start the same way. If you came looking for the short answer, a succinct, unequivocal 'No' will do. If you're interested in the longer one, you'll need the basic background info first:

Clean coal, you may know, is most often the term used to described the process of Carbon Capture and Sequestration or CCS. Just as it sounds, it involves trapping the carbon pollution emitted as a byproduct from coal-fired power plants, and 'sequestering' the stuff underground. Coal plants are the number one worldwide contributor to climate change, since coal emits much more carbon dioxide than its fellow fossil fuel mainstays, oil and gas, when burned. And since 30% of the world's energy is generated in coal plants, the proposition of hacking already existing coal plants to be clean power sources is an alluring one indeed.

And that's why politicians love the idea of clean coal, because it would let them have their cake and eat it too. They can promise miners, plant workers, and industry that we won't have to kill coal power to save the environment -- we just need to fix it with some shiny new technology. Unfortunately, that's just simply not the case. For many, many, many reasons.

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