Tim Murphy is on vacation all this week, but his mind seems to have started vacation early last week, as shown when he rose to give his opinion on U.S. energy policy. He said, “They say that we’re going to get 200 tons of steel to build a windmill, and that’s true, but it takes 90 tons of steel to build a clean coal power plant. What we ought to be doing is spending our money tearing down our old dirty coal plants, building new ones, and using our massive resources. Let’s use the oil off our shores to fund clean coal technology, build nuclear power plants, get a million more jobs in America, and clean the air in our country.”
Hmm. Where did Representative Murphy get that figure of 90 tons of steel being used to build a clean coal power plant? An operational and profitable clean coal power plant has never been built. Not ever. Windmills of one variety or another, on the other hand, have been built for centuries.
I searched and searched for some kind of source for Murphy’s 90 tons of steel claim, but I couldn’t find it. What I did find was an article reporting that the coal sludge lagoon at Kingston, Tennessee, the sort of lagoon that would still exist under so-called clean coal, contained 90 tons of the heavy metal vanadium… before the dam containing the lagoon burst open and spewed its toxic contents across the countryside. I also discovered that a new coal-burning power plant proposed for the town of Roundup, Montana is expected to emit 90 tons of hazardous air pollutants every year.
Oh, but let’s move on. Tim Murphy proposes using crude oil gathered from expanded offshore oil drilling to fund clean coal power plants. Pretend for a moment that clean coal power actually exists. How, exactly, does Congressman Murphy propose that offshore oil drilling will pay for new coal power plants? Does he mean that the money from federal leases, instead of paying for environmental cleanup required as a result of the drilling, will be given to Big Coal, to pay for its private, for profit coal burning plants? Does Murphy suggest that the American people just hand out the money, or that the government nationalize the coal industry?
I’d also love to know how oil drilled along America’s shores is going to be used to build nuclear power plants. Are there new designs in which the nuclear plants’ cooling towers are made of asphalt?
How, also, does Representative Murphy propose that the crude oil pumped out of the ocean floor, shipped in big tankers across American waters, refined, and then sold at gas stations, will “clean the air in our country”? Is there now clean gasoline, as well as clean coal, that uses new technology from the land of Honalee to remove pollutants from the air?
If crude oil can build nuclear power plants and clean the air, can it also teach my two year-old son to use the potty? Could I use it as a conditioner for my hair? Perhaps it could clean the dishes, file my paperwork, and walk the dog. Oooh, the possibilities! Thanks for being a big thinker, Congressman Murphy.