"Will It All Come Down to Coal?" by David Roberts (Oct. 28 Forum) was a factual piece that set out the realistic picture of coal's declining position in the energy situation of this country. However, the term "clean coal" implies a condition that does not exist and never did. It is used as a propaganda tool.
In the 1970s I worked as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy at Morgantown, W.Va., to develop a process for making gas from coal that was free of organic and inorganic pollutants including sulfur and nitrogen oxides and generated as a waste product only ash. However, all the carbon dioxide was still part of the gas, and at that time no one thought seriously about removing it and storing it underground or in the ocean. Our process was not inexpensive, but adding the removal and disposal of CO2 is out of sight cost-wise. It also would pose a hazard that has not been discussed seriously: the possibility of a blowout from the storage facility when gas pressure built up as the amount stored increased with time. That could release tons of concentrated nonbreathable gas that could result in many fatalities.
Clean coal does not exist and never did.