Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Plug-In Hybrids: The Dirty Elephant in the Parlor

If you have read much of my blogging you'll notice that I feverishly oppose coal as a source of electricity. Our new film Keeping Coast delves into the environmental and social problems of coal-fired power plants in coastal Chile, where I've witnessed firsthand the major pollution they create in communities and ecosystems. Living back in the USA I'm hearing lots of people, including Barack Obama, promote plug-in hybrid electric cars. (this is a hybrid gasoline-electric car that runs on rechargeable batteries until they run out, then switches over to gas. Purported to provide 100 mpg although there are major doubts about their 100 mpg claim, too) I'm introducing the "elephant in the room" on this issue:

Where is the electricity coming from that powers the plug-in hybrid car? Mostly from dirty coal. Forty to 50 percent of US electricity comes from coal burning power plants. Coal electricity is one of the largest contributors to global warming; it destroys mountains and valleys in the coal mining process, and dirties rivers and coastlines with pollution; coal releases highly toxic sulfur dioxide and heavy metals into the air where they create birth defects in babies and destroy clean drinking water. Not to mention the toxic solid waste and ashes created by coal burning plants.

That sexy 100 mpg plug-in hybrid car that greenies and car manufacturers and politicians are hyping is actually more polluting and creates more global warming due to the coal-powered electricity connection. For now I'm still sticking to walking, biking, carpooling with friends and using public transportation. I meet cool people that way. Clean coal is a dirty lie and plug-in cars will create more demand for coal.

Dios mio, imagine the amount of coal we would have to burn to fuel Obama's vision of 1 million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015. It makes one wonder if the coal lobby is actually pushing plug-in hybrid cars to create more demand for their shitty product. Maybe plug-in cars will help usher in the "end to the age of oil in our time" as Obama hopes, but it will also create a revisit to the Age of Coal. What an incredibly bad idea.

USA Today even published an article about this hybrid car coal connection. also has a "sort of" balanced article on the issue, even though they conclude that plug-ins are still cleaner based on a lot of circumstantial evidence and subjective analysis.

Let's promote solar and all other forms of totally clean renewable energy, because I'm never buying a plug-in hybrid if it means more demand for coal.

Coal for electricity is a disaster and it will kill the human race: