Clean Coal: Reality or Rhetoric?
What is Clean Coal?
While this new spin on the idea of clean coal has been thrown around
the media so often lately, the phrase is actually over fifteen years
old, but its meaning has shifted since the phrase’s initial
introduction. The term “clean coal technology” technically refers to
any technology that reduces pollutants produced by coal-burning plants
that was not widely used before the Clean Air Amendments of 1990.
Soon after the phrase’s introduction, it was originally focused around
the problem of acid rain, which can be a consequence of the emissions
like sulfur and nitrogen produced by coal-burning power plants, and its
effects on forests and watersheds. However, now society is
aware of additional problems that are associated with the burning of
coal for fuel, such as those associated with mercury emissions (health
effects of mercury in fish that is consumed), microscopic particles
causing smog and problems for people with respiratory illnesses, and
the impact of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide on climate
 America's Power. <http://www.americaspower.org>.
 “Clean Coal Technology and the President’s Clean Coal Power Initiative.” Fossil Energy. US Department of Energy.
Figure 1: A forest destroyed by acid rain
Figure 2: More icebergs like this one are melting faster as a result of climate
change caused by carbon emissions