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TXU's Coal Plans

Several weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal ran this article, detailing TXU, the big Dallas-based power utility's plans to build 11 new coal-fired power plants in Texas.  Soon.  In fact, this would amount to about a doubling of existing coal plants, and would certainly be the most rapid buildout of power plants in the history of the State.  Why are they in such a hurry?  The plot thickens when you throw in the fact that Governor Rick Perry last year signed an executive order "fast-tracking" the permitting process for these plants.  TXU says it's just trying to meet demand.  But it appears that TXU is trying to get under the regulatory wire, because the plants it proposes will use the old way of burning coal, pulverizing, rather than the new, developing, cleaner, but more expensive way, gasification.  To help us understand the drama playing out, of which you are a part, Randy Loftis of The Dallas Morning News, who is covering this story extensively, will join me.  I asked environmental and business reporters at The Houston Chronicle to join too: they, regrettably, are not on the story and declined.  I asked the Wall Street Journal reporter to join us, but she declined.  And I asked General Electric to come on and discuss the state of its gasification technology, upon which clean power will depend.  They declined too after I mentioned TXU.  I sense that this issue is getting too hot for some to handle.  But not for New Capitalists.

Also this week:

LISTEN: New Capital Show (August 10, 2006)

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Reader Comments (18)

Regarding your comments on air about the windmill not working well enough -
Unfortunately, you might have bought one too big. I just saw a posting on the Houston Renewable Energy Group's yahoo group about a windmill that is very small & responds to light breezes. The nice thing about it is that it has two sets of blades so it generates as well as a bigger one.
At the moment I can't find the url, but I'll look for it as soon as I can.
Aug 10 | Unregistered CommenterRandy Scott
Missed your show this week. My beloved pursuit of capitalism interfered, in other words I was creating wealth. Yes, I will redistribute through the channels of the market.
But I thought I'd check in and see what gives. Glad I did.
One of the reasons normal people dismiss the envirowhackos so regularly and easily is because of their tendencies to say some really obviously stupid things. Gosh, I hope your not one of them.
So the envirowhackos claim that the Chileans are going to dam Patagonia, eh?

"And in environmental news, protests come to Chile over plans to dam up Patagonia, one of the most dazzling natural places on the Earth."
And, you blithely pass this on as something to be taken serious? LOL!
Patagonia is a fairly substantial region in the South of South of America, it is principly in Argentina, but Chile does share the region.
Just on the Chileans side, if one were to (quote) "dam patagonia" one would need a dam running some thousands of mile along a twisted tortured coast in some really hostile environment, plus if the objective is to get all of Patagonia under water...the dam would have to be some 19,000 to 20,000 feet high. Quite an undertaking, eh what?
So, obviously and instantly, an educated and aware person knows that some one making the above claim is full of it.
But, lets assume the envirowhackos are talking about a river that would flood a large part of the Chilean Patagonia, and the envirowhackos really aren't stupid just bad at communications.
Oh no, that doesn't work either because there are no really big rivers in the Chilean Patagonia that would flood much of anything, much less a substantial part of Patagonia! So, I guess we are stuck with the theory it was really stupid people sending communications to really ignorant and gullible people.
You know it is so easy to just pop up Wikipedia on your computer and check out the facts of geography of things like this, or just reach back and grab an Atlas and look it up.
Or, is it really about facts and truth?

Is it really about beating the drum about an issue that is hoped will frighten or worry enough fools to eventually put idiots like Al Gore back in the seat of power so he can save Patagonia from being flooded? So he (or someone equally foolish) can save the Greenland icecap, or the whales, get rid of them nasty old combustion engines, and make nature stop erupting volcanos all over the planet, any one of which spewing more crap into the air in just a brief moment than man has since the industrial revolution? This is the one I want to see, legislation from a democratic led Congress prohibiting the eruption of volcanos. Perhaps even a ban against tides and earthquakes.
LOL, God help us all.

Aug 12 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

The article I refer to (and which you yourself can certainly read) discusses six dams to be built in the Aysen region, four dams on the Baker River and two on the Pascua.

Leo Gold
Aug 12 | Registered CommenterLEO GOLD
And that article reference would be found where? Certainly not in the only mention you made.
"And in environmental news, protests come to Chile over plans to dam up Patagonia, one of the most dazzling natural places on the Earth."

Nor, anywhere else above, not even in your response. If you had that information why not be specific in your announcement and then provide the link. I am aware of the region and its topography, very high mountains and consequently deep narrow valleys, so even if they build the dams you speak of it won't flood but a miniscule part of the region. There will be plenty of "pristine wilderness" for rich tourists to enjoy.

It is ironic that you make no connection between this and your words about "coal fired power plants" causing more pollution that you wrote just above the little teaser items about which we are talking.

We could discuss Chile and its history from the 1970s to today, but that would certainly get involved. However, just suffice it to say that a nation needs funds to operate, the funds come from production/creation of wealth, and that requires energy. Energy produced by hydroelectric plants in dams is a very clean source of electricity as opposed to coal fired plants, is it not? Chile needs energy for the wealth it is going to need to fund the socialist programs that are turning the enriching Pinochet reforms around. you can't give away what you don't have, but that doesn't stop a socialist. So Chile needs energy and hydroelectricity for them makes sense. In final analysis, if you're going to dam, why not in a sparsely populated region?

The envirowhackos will damn people when they do and will damn them when they don't and both on the same issues.

But, tis neither here nor there. My amusement comes at the phrase "dam up Patagonia".

There it is my friend, careless words or ignorance, which is it? I know my mind instantly pinged when I saw that. "Patagonia, isn't that a region in mostly Argentina?" Just to make sure I grabbed my atlas and checked my memory.

My observation of the envirowhacko movement is that this is recognized tactics in making announcements. Make drastic vague claims that they know most of their audience will not have a clue about, and who will then run off and protest to keep "Patagonia" from being dammed up. Most excellent for the envirowhackos, especially if one of the ignorant misguided youth mangaes to get his/her head whacked so a little blood flows. What a propaganda coup for the envirowhackos, something like should make a ten second spot on the evening news!

The sad part is that the ones protesting and getting their heads whacked never are bright enough to suspect anything, step back, and check out the facts, the reality, and blame themselves for getting whacked for nonsense.

How about that link?

BTW I did check out the peak oil link, and even read the article on Zimbabwe being the first victim of "peak oil". Gotta tell you that the guy that wrote that article had to do serious mental distortions to come up with the statement that Zimbabwe is a victim of peak oil. Oh, he brushed across the real reason Zimbabwe is a basket case but then took you right back on to the "peak oil" idea for why they are suffering and will suffer more. What I am saying is that the piece is an excellent example of intellectual dishonesty to equal Al Gore and his little film. Once out of cuiosity I attended a gathering at St. Thomas U., and heard a zany Anarchist lecturing the collected youth that "we have to kill capitalism!" Well, Zimbabwe is a classic example of what happens when you kill or drive away the "wealth creators", and the wealth creators are always capitalist. Stupid government leaders is what is wrong with Zimbabwe. They have the resources to reverse their decline into hell, but it would take a black Pinochet to get it done.......and then listen to the socialist scream!!!! The Sudan, Rawanda, Somolia, et. al., would drop right off the socialist radar screen if a black Pinochet took power in Zimbabwe, after all people are just getting slaughtered in those places but that would pale in significance compared to having socialism proven a failure and capitalism a success, again as it was in Chile.


Aug 13 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
Energy from Coal.

The reason that TXU is building 11 more power plants is so they can maximize there profits, and sell it to other states, since coal is cheap. One problem with this type of thinking is that coal is a finite resource. From my findings we (as in the US) has enough coal to last us for around 250 years. This article did not say at what consumption rate that the coal would last though. My guess is at current rates. The one thing not looked at is when we start consuming more and more coal (like for liquid fuel, replacing natural gas and so forth), this will deplete our reserves more rapidly. It is time to start looking for renewable energy resources and use our finite resources more conservatively.

I have looked on the net for some information on the subject of coal gasification. From my findings this is actually an old technology (discovered in the 1800’s). It was also used during World War II to power vehicles and was used in stoves as a gas before the use of natural gas was used.

Gasification in general (not just coal) may be one solution to our future energy needs. The fuel used in the gasification process are hydrocarbons (coal, petroleum products, biomass and many waste products). The gasification process breaks down the fuel into several gases and leaves minerals that do not gasify as waste (which is said to be “marketable”).

A coal gasification plant would be a good way to start using algae as an energy source. The advantages of algae is that it can be grown almost anywhere, can help reduce CO2 emissions from coal power plants by at least 40% (and more if you count the carbon pumped into the ground which can also be used to feed the algae) and can also be used to treat water in water treatment plants. After the algae grows to a certain amount you would just extract the algae out of the water and then place it into the gasifier. To help keep cost on the algae down you can grow it in an open pond system with little worry about contamination (a problem with using it to replace gasoline). If you build the power and water treatment plants, together, in an area that is most favorable (as possible) to the algae would also help reduce cost. Once the process is started better and cheaper ways will be found to improve the system in time.

This would reduce the need for coal power plants of any type, conserve the use of coal (A FINITE RESOURCE), generate more electricity with less emissions (with sequestration and the algae consuming it) and produce more usable “waste”.

If anyone is interested in a discription of the process of coal gasification or just the gasification process you can go to the web site:


Samuel Davis

The article on Patagonia is clearly marked in this week's post among the other articles, right under your nose, if you will take the time to stop ranting, look, and some additional time to read.

I also want you to shorten up your posts (make them more to the point) and remove the hostility from them. This forum is not for rants, and I believe you have something to contribute to the discussion if you will edit yourself first. Thanks.

Leo Gold
Aug 14 | Registered CommenterLEO GOLD
You are right and wrong. The wrong first. It is not, in my MHO "clearly" marked. The color difference between the words linking to the article is so slight that I truly missed it. Sorry about it.
You, obviously, are right, it was there. When I actually put my cursor on the words "dam up Patagonia" lo and behold as it were, I saw, where previously I had not even suspected.
Thank you.

Aug 14 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

No problem. You're right about the subtle shading but I don't know how to fix it right now. As I say, you are a welcome visitor to this forum and I hope you will keep contributing. I'll be interested to hear your reaction to the article on Patagonia.

Leo Gold
Aug 14 | Registered CommenterLEO GOLD
Your request puts me in an impossible position. Saying what I think (not what I feel) without including the "why" I think it is reducing the communications to a "he said" "she said" level and that is more than useless in my opinion.
I am resaonably educated, have an extremely high cultural awareness, very well traveled, very well experienced, and have developed an ability to articulate my ideas with reasonable clarity.
Because of my background and my training I exercise care in what I say and how I say it because I want you to understand me in one shot and not to have to go back and forth on an issue trying to get a simple point clear.
I realize that trait is a rarity today when most people learn to communicate from listening to TV scripts.
If you and I were sitting on a patio sipping the beverage of our choice and just shooting the breeze then a certain amount of vagueness wouldn't be that important because we would have the opportunity to interrupt or ask immediate questions. Because of my training, communications such as we are doing here requires more precision in expression and reliablility in content, if that is lacking then we are back to the "he said" "she said" level and nothing is ever really accomplished.

I confess that many of my communications are politically incorrect and are designed to cause discomfort and maybe even a little embarassment in the reader. When some one says or writes something that is patently ridiculous and obviously impossible they deserve the needle. How a person responds to the needle tells you how intellectually honest they are plus how well versed they were in the subject in the first place.

My respnse to the article about placing multiple dams on two rivers in the Aisen region of Patagonia is pretty much what I think you already suspect.
My first reaction was on reading the source, the N.Y.Times, the most liberal paper in the nation and a known controller, distorter and even manufacturer of information/"news".

My second reaction was in response to the claim "Patagonia is one of the most beautiful and few pristine wildernesses left in the world", which is exactly the same thing said about every place on Earth where progress is desired by one faction and resisted by the envirowhackos as the other faction. The wording is exactly the same, one just needs to plug in a location to fit the new circumstances.
A look at the map and the geography makes it evident that flooding caused by damming would be very contained in area and while it would certainly alter the areas flooded it would have little affect on the beauty of Patagonia in its entirity. I believe it is a trade-off that is reasonable and practical unless one is a devout Luddite and thinks grubbing in the dirt all day and sleeping in hovels at night is a desirable lifestyle.

As an old timer I have observed that typically when we hear or read something we agree with and like, then it is "righteous"; but, when we disagree with it and don't like hearing it, it is "rant".
In other words so many people, especially leftwingers, love the 1st amendment to the Constitution and believe that everyone has the right to say "what they agree with", but you need special blessings to survive the viciousness of the attacks when you say something they don't agree with. This attitude is particularly prevelant on and in the very institutions where one would think openess and competition of ideas would be desired, I speak of college and university campuses....and as it is turning out now even on primary school campuses.
I give you credit for this so far, you seem to recognize that only through abrasion can an edge be made sharp.
I honestly am grateful for all the abrasion that I have undergone throughout my life, the needles I had shoved into my ego, the embarassment I suffered for speaking out when I was unprepared to justify or prove up what I said or because of my own carelessness in how I said something thereby reducing it to gobbledegook. If one didn't want to be viewed as retarded then getting it right the first time was essential in growing up in central Texas ranch/farm country in the late forties and early fifties. Political correctness and coddling didn't exist then. Go from that to the military at age 17.5 and into a select group where everyone carried an IQ that put them well above average. Talk about abrasion and competition. Careless talk and lazy thinking could get one in in a lot of trouble instantly. I am not lamenting it, I am rejoicing in it because it sharpened my edge.

I won't bother you guys all that often, but I make you a promise that if I do communicate I will have my facts straight and will be able to prove up my ideas. I will be intellectually honest with you.

You see what I mean. Impossible for me.

Aug 15 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

A friend of mine, a conservative whose father is extremely prominent in Republican politics, married an Argentine woman. He has spent a lot of time in Patagonia, as well as all over the world. He has told me many times that Patagonia is simply beyond all else that he has seen, and he has been everywhere.

Also, your use of the word "envirowhackos" is disappointing. Perhaps you will feel better if you stop using it.

Leo Gold
Aug 15 | Registered CommenterLEO GOLD
The problem with our little conversation is simple. We are using the same words but they have different meaning to you than to me.

When a man tells me that they are going to "dam up Patagonia", and I know what Patagonia is, my mind immediately says to me, "Does this guy have any idea of that which he speaks?"

Knowing Patagonia is a large region I expressed my doubts to you that that would be possible and spoke of the difficulties.

You pointed me to a more clarifying document that specifies daming of specific rivers. Okay, I accept that and pointed out that even daming those specific rivers would not really change Patagonia enough to worry about and the trade-off for the energy produced would most certainly benefit the Chileans.

Now you come back with the blanket Patagonia statement again. Yes I know Patagonia is beautiful and spectacular and I also know that the Chilean portion it is very much an up and down geography, from the high Andes in the East sloping rather quickly down to the Pacific ocean in the west. Not much flat land there, and all those slopes are cut with valleys. Dam any particular river in a valley and you don't affect much outside that valley.

So, can we agree that Patagonia is beautiful but damning specific rivers isn't going to ruin Patagonia?

Here is further thought on the subject and why I think that you and the people quoted in the N.Y.Times story on daming the rivers are shallow thinkers who do not use your imgaination much.

Let's just focus on the Baker river and four dams. Here is the scenario. The dams are built, flood the valley up to specific depths, and this is repeated four times. That is four dams producing hydroelectric power for all of Chile. The valley is pretty much dominated by the lakes created and some beautiful scenery is gone. This is not exactly a great tragedy in the large scheme of things.

Use your imagination and move forward in time a mere six years and imagine a family of Chileans driving up into the Andes and they pass the valley of the Baker river. The family's six year old child looks out the car window and crys with joy, "Momma Daddy, look at the lovely lakes!" To him/her and all of her contemporaries and their future children the valley that holds the lakes created by daming the Baker river will be to them as beautiful as the current valley is to you. I can guarantee you that this little scenario will happen over and over in Chile after the dams are built and time passes.

No loss will occur to Patagonia in the long view and Chile will benefit. Why is it that the left is so unimaginative and static in their thinking?

Only by intensely indoctrinating him/her and those around him/her in your viewpoint will you turn that lovliness into ugly and hateful. It is generally true that children have to be carefully trained to hate.
Now to the North of Chile in the nation of Equador, today this happened:(houstonchron.com-World news)

Aug. 17, 2006, 11:12PM
Eruption sends Ecuadoreans fleeing
Volcanic flow destroys villages and dams rivers

Associated Press

BANOS, ECUADOR — A volcanic eruption in Ecuador's Andes mountains showered incandescent rock and lava on nearby villages, smothering houses and burning residents as thousands tried to flee to safety. At least one person was killed and 60 were missing.

The Tungurahua volcano exploded overnight, raining ash for miles and sending molten rock flowing down its slopes for hours. The fiery mountain was still unleashing a blast of gas and ash Thursday that reached 5 miles into the sky.

"This is an indescribable catastrophe. The houses have collapsed. The rocks that fell caused injuries and burns," said Juan Salazar, mayor of Penipe, one of the villages.

In the village of Palitagua, roofs were perforated by flaming rocks, and there was heavy damage to the villages of Bilbao and Penipe. Chilibu, Choglontuz and Palitagua "no longer exist — everything is wiped out," Salazar said.

The ash cloud reached almost all the way from the Andes to the Pacific, forcing flights from Quito to Ecuador's largest city of Guayaquil to be suspended due to poor visibility.

Again in one swoop Mother Nature pollutes her skies with more chemicals and particles than mankind has in driving autos since they were invented. But in their constant efforts to run the lives of others according to their beliefs the envirowhackos (the Al Gores of the world) will ignore this pollution and concentrate on the lesser pollution of mankind.

Why did I bring this up? It was your request or wish that I not use the term envirowhackos.

The problem is that "Truth in labeling" laws preclude me calling them anything else. And, I feel fine obeying the law.

I am a conservationist. I rejoice in the Uinta Wilderness Area in Northeast Utah. I think it is great that there is a place where no automation is allowed, and it is also a "pristine" and beautiful piece of land.

I rage when I see public land torn up by dirt bikers and four wheelers who believe that they have a right to put their treads on every piece of land on Earth. I rage when enjoying a natural quiet hike up one of the canyons in the Rockies and out of nowhere some total A..hole comes roaring by on a dirt bike from which the has torn the muffler (which BTW is undoubtedly the first action taken by idiots of that level.)

That being acknowledged and said, I am not one who would fraudulently put lynx hairs on a trap in an area to make it appear as if there were indeed lynx in that area, and therefore have justification to declare the area off limits to humans. Who did this you ask? Employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife dept. did. But, happily they were caught in their hoax and it backfired on them.

Now those employees can only be labeled "envirowhackos".

I told you about the meeting at St. Thomas U. that I attended and heard the idiot Anarchist calling for his sycophants to "kill capitalism". Well in attendance at that meeting were whackos of many varieties, PETA, ALF, ELF, Anarchists, Communists, Socialist Workers Party, and some I had never heard of.

It is enlightening to take their literature and learn exactly what they believe and stand for. Envirowhackos is a mild term for people who are in the mix that the FBI says commits 85% of the violent political/social crimes in the USA.

Ahhh, those irrepressible rascals on the left. Chuckle! Chuckle!
Their mainstream media sycophants have the nation convinced that it is rightwing militias that constitute the biggest threat to peace, prosperity, stability, and devotion to human rights.

I personally think it is envirowhackoism when a huge raging forest fire is burning in the Northwest and a group of firefighters have been trapped by encircling flames and the airborne firefighters are refused permission to scoop up water from a nearby river, water that could be used to save the firefighters. Why the refusal? The river had a so-called endangered species of salmon in it.

No, Leo, I am sorry there are envirowhackos out there and some are of immediate danger to human life, I speak of ELF in particular. But, there are other envirowhackos less obvious and less immediately dangerous, but because they have managed positions of influence cause longterm severe damage to our society.

Aug 18 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
Mr. Gold & any one else interested:

I purchased the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine (September 2006) titled “Energy’s Future Beyond Carbon” which might be of some interest since it is on the subject of clean energy.

On the subject of Nuclear Power: The current process of generating electricity by nuclear power (I believe) is called fission (splitting the atom). There is a new way to produce Nuclear Energy called Fusion (forcing two atoms to combine). The material used would be seawater and lithium (a common metal). The “Waste” that it would produce would be a “Low Level Radioactive Waste” which would last about 100 years. If there is an accident or an attack at a plant, the radiation level is suppose to only be dangerous for about a mile.

This is an experimental project.

My take on this.

This is a safer way to produce electricity than nuclear power plants but as far as the nuclear waste goes, while it may not be AS RADIOACTIVE as current radioactive waste, it is still radioactive. Radiation is not good for anyone or anything even at low levels. Low levels may not kill you quickly but it can complicate your life. It can cause leukemia, cancer (many types) and birth defects.

As far as NOT PRODUCING CARBON, I would like to ask you which would you consider worse: Radioactive Waste, or Carbon?

I view Radioactive waste worse than Carbon. Why? Carbon can be controlled. It is consumed by plants through photosynthesis, it is used to produce steal, carbon fibers, diamonds, nanotubes, bucky balls, baking soda, the phiss in sodas, we eat it in our food (CARBO-hydrates) and so on. We could also develop a way to produce a liquid fuel system that would help us control and possibly reduce the carbon in the atmosphere (algae). Carbon is one of the building blocks of life. There is a natural system which helps to control the gas, PHOTOSYNTHESIS.

What methods have been developed to deal with Radioactive Waste? The only one I ever hear of is burry it, hide it, ignore it. Even if the waste is a low level radiation that last for only 100 years, it can still cause problems.

Samuel Davis
Mr. Davis,
I find it interesting that you are willing to focus on the "which is best" in reference to the production of energy/power. Good for you.
The above is a rather lengthy article on cold fusion that (for me) can get into some heavy sledding in technical jargon or ideas. I admit that I am not a physicist.
However the logic and pros Vs cons is not too difficult to follow.
With cold fusion I believe that there would be no radioactive waste.
Here is my belief. The theory is there. Some experiments have shown results.
It will happen. Maybe not real real soon, so don't sell your Toyota. But the capitalist in me says watch the news and invest in the first company that can deliver on its promise when it happens.
From observations in the past I draw this conclusion about the viability of cold fusion and its future. From the announcement of Laser capabilities to useful lasers was only a matter of months, no more than a year or two at best. From there to actual Lasers of weapons grade strength took longer, approximately 20 years. The identical scenario in other technical fields has happened with the time from discovery to use being flexible, but never too long that I did not receive the benefit of them.
I am betting on the ingenuity and inventiveness of the American scientist. You will see it.
BTW, were you aware of the Woods Hole Research Institutes discovery in the early ninties that the Amazon basin (longs of the Earth) reverses its inhaling carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen and becomes a net producer of carbon dioxide during El Nino years?
In normal times the Amazon takes in approximately 900 million tons of carbon dioxide, during the El Nino it is a net producer of 700 million tons of Carbon Dioxide.
What this logically means is that during the El Nino years there is 900 million tons of carbon dioxide that does not get converted and it is joined by another 700 million tons of carbon dioxide. That is a total of 1600 million tons of carbon dioxide during the El Nino years to grow the "greenhouse affect" without man's contribution or cause.
We think we know so much and then we find out that we don't even suspect so much that counts.
Thanks for your info.

Aug 23 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
Thank you George for answering my post and for the information as well. The subject of Cold Fusion is in and out of the media and it seems a lot of scientist have a problem believing in it. The truth is I don’t really know what to think about it but I can tell you I would never count it out as a way to generate power. We both agree that mankind does not know everything and sometimes we (in general) do get arrogant.

As far as the “best way” to produce energy goes, I try to get all the information I can about the production of it including the byproducts of it (good and bad) as well. I really do not understand why anyone would trade one problem for another. As I typed in my post before this one we can handle the carbon if we really want to, radioactivity we cannot. The only solution I have ever heard for radioactive waste is burry it. That’s it. That is not a solution. That is giving my children my problem that I did not have to create in the first place. My question to anyone that reads this is when you clean you house do sweep the dirt under the carpet? I you do you will have a very big lump in a very short time. We as a Nation try to Burry, Hide, Ignore many of our problems. We are losing a lot of land because of this foolishness alone. This is Foolishness that we all play a part in and need to change, AND I DO MEAN ALL.

Here is another bit of Foolishness that I cannot understand. There are environmentalist that go out there and proclaim that we are destroying the environment by burning coal to generate electricity (that they are using themselves) and we must stop coal as soon as possible. Now that we have developed a way to generate electricity completely devoid of carbon (wind power) that will help reduce the use of the coal do they embrace it? No. They are now complaining that this will kill birds and that they are an EYE SORE! I understand the killing of birds as a possible problem that some are trying to minimize but and EYE SORE! Don’t build it because it is not pretty to look at is foolishness. What is more important, scenery that is cluttered with wind mills or electricity? I am beginning to believe that at least some “environmentalists “ are just going to appose everything.

I do agree that we do not know everything about this earth but we do know some things. As far as my knowledge goes I do understand that there is more than one gas (carbon and methane) that trap heat on the earth. Methane is suppose to trap 10 time the heat that carbon dose but it degrades fairly quickly while carbon is suppose to last longer. Something that I did hear on NPR is that forest also produce methane as well. My belief on the subject of carbon is that we can affect the environment by artificially over producing the carbon or any greenhouse gas. Nature works in a balance. The question is can we affect that balance and my answer is yes. We have been changing the environment around us for a long time, possibly since mankind’s beginning (or fall). As far as I can tell man is different than the rest of “nature” in a few ways. The most important is that we have choices that the creatures do not. We also can affect our environment in “unnatural” ways as well. The truth is I do not believe that we can do anything without consequences, good or bad.

Thank you again for the information and answering my post George and everyone have a good day.
And Mr. Gold thank you for this website. Thank you for giving me a place to say my peace.

Samuel Davis.
I have been thinking about the use of the phrase “Clean Energy” for a while now. When I hear the term “Clean Energy” now, it is mainly applied to how much carbon is produced as a by-product. I understand that this is due to the concern of global warming, but I believe that if the focus is just on one of the waste by-products instead of all (ozone, particulate matter, suffer, mercury, nitrogen oxides), this weakens your hand. Most of these pollutants cause physical harm to people as well as heat up the environment and should help strengthen your case in reducing the emissions.

I believe it is a mistake to call Coal Gasification a “Clean” or even a “Cleaner” energy source. I say this not to appose this (I believe this to be a good idea) but because I believe it to be a bit misleading since all of the pollutants are removed before the finished product is burned (with the exception of the nitrogen which is produced from just burning the coal in our atmosphere, in its original form). I think it would be better to use a term like “Manageable” since instead of eliminating the waste by-product it is simply being removed.

From what I have learned about coal gasification I do not see a reason for TXU to “Stay the Course” on burning pulverized coal to generate electricity. From my findings there is one Coal Gasification Plant (the Dakota Gasification Company) that has been running for 20 years now, “as the only commercial coal-to-natural gas facility in the United States.” The technology is proven. TXU would benefit as well since they would be using 2nd generation technology to produce the gas (reducing the expense that the Dakota Plant had to endure). I believe it to be a short sited view that this company is taking. Much of the waste produced from the gasification process can actually be sold as marketable products (suffer to produce sulfuric acid, a tar like substance used in constructing roads, carbon gas to help pump out the rest of the oil in our spent wells). Since pressure is mounting on reducing carbon emissions it would be wiser for TXU to go this process. Even if they get what they want now, it is not guaranteed that they would be able to keep their grandfathered status (If necessary I would challenge them on how they got their grandfather status seeing they got it before being built).

On the issue of sequestering the carbon gas as I believe I said before while I’m not totally against it I believe that just pumping it into the ground is a mistake. We actually do this with a lot of our waste. We burry our trash that we as individuals produce (much of which could have many different uses or even recycled), we dump waste from plants into lakes and streams, and we burry the radioactive waste that is produced from electricity (because we do not know what else to do with it). I believe it to be better that we follow the natural process of sequestering carbon. A way that you could do this is by feeding the carbon into something that would consume it, basically a plant. If you sequester the carbon in this way there is less chance of it escaping into the atmosphere than if you burry it underground, and this plant would continue to sequester carbon until it died. After its death you could then take it to a bio-mass gasification plant that would transform the plant into a hydrogen and carbon gas, which the hydrogen could be used to generate electricity and the carbon gas could be used to feed more plants, thus the carbon cycle.

Re: TXU's Windmill Farm

I caught a TXU commercial on TV last night (9-13-06) showing lots of windmills for generating electricity and saying that TXU's windmill farm is a project they are working on. Researching the matter, I find they have been talking about a Texas windmill farm since 2000 and maybe earlier. They want people to sign up for their electricity to support this projected farm.

I'm not that rosy about the actuality of windmill farms. In theory they are wonderful. In practice, the giant electric companies are exploiting the idea, selling themselves as producers of clean energy, and engaging in maximum price gouging.

And, of course, these companies are not exclusively wind farms, they continue to burn hydrocarbons to generate enough electricity to accomodate all their customers. (All the electricity from all sources just goes into the general power supply - all mixed together - and you pay the company of your choice.)

I used wind electricty from Green Mountain Electric in Houston for a number of years and finally gave up on them when their price went HIGHER than Reliant Energy's, making wind electricity the most expensive electricity in the Houston area - by what was to me $100 a month more.

As I understand it, the investment in windmill farms is recouped in something like 5 years, after that there is only maintenance. The wind is free.

I don't think that grossly overcharging for wind electricity is much of an impetus to the general public to change to wind energy - especially not in a place like Houston where electric bills commonly run $400 and up for air conditioning from May through October.

I'm highly suspicious of TXU's motives in creating a Texas wind farm. Time will tell.

There is no free lunch. If the true costs of burning coal were part of its price, including the costs of its pollution, its retail cost would be much higher too. People need to learn to conserve energy.

Leo Gold
Sep 19 | Registered CommenterLEO GOLD
Your advice is excellent!

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