Nature Editorial: Obama should tell the coal industry to ‘clean up or fade away’

But he should approve Keystone XL to get credibility with industry and conservatives.

“First, the administration should issue strong regulations for power plants and send a message to the coal industry: clean up or fade away. The energy utilities will duly cry foul, but the same companies are already powering down old and inefficient coal-fired power plants in favour of natural-gas plants. Why? Because natural gas is cheap and burns more cleanly than coal, helping companies to meet increasingly stringent air-quality regulations.

Second, regarding the Keystone pipeline, the administration should face down critics of the project, ensure that environmental standards are met and then approve it. As Nature has suggested before (see Nature 477, 249; 2011), the pipeline is not going to determine whether the Canadian tar sands are developed or not. Only a broader — and much more important — shift in energy policy will do that. Nor is oil produced from the Canadian tar sands as dirty from a climate perspective as many believe (some of the oil produced in California, without attention from environmentalists, is worse).Tar-sands development raises serious air- and water-quality issues in Canada, but these problems are well outside Obama’s jurisdiction.

By approving Keystone, Obama can bolster his credibility within industry and among conservatives. The president can also take advantage of rising domestic oil and gas production to defuse concerns over energy security.” [Nature]

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One response to “Nature Editorial: Obama should tell the coal industry to ‘clean up or fade away’

  1. Nothing Obama can do should bolster his credibility with the energy industry. He has made his views and wishes clear enough.
    Coal-fired utility plants already remove an awful lot of the real pollution from coal smoke. We’re well down the curve of diminishing returns; at this point, any additional tightening of regulation needs some significant evidence of actual health or environmental benefit. Not speculation, evidence.

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