By some measures coal produces more than half of the nation’s electricity. It has long played a critical role in President Bush’s plans. But now decisive questions are being asked about the fuels suitability.
Regulators in Washington and Kansas have refused to build any more coal-fired power station because of concerns about carbon dioxide emissions. In Kansas this decision was supported by a 2 to 1 ratio according to a Democratic political consulting firm.
In Colorado Xcel Energy has told officials that it plans to close two coal plants and add 1,000 megawatts of wind and solar power, in addition to a new natural-gas plant. The company wants to cut its carbon dioxide emissions 10% by 2015.
Coal has also become an issue in the US presidential race. The Democratic outsider John Edwards is against the building of new plants. However Barack Obama, who is calling for an 80% reduction in US CO2 emissions has refused to rule out the role of coal.
In the UK, the government is considering whether to open the first new coal fired power in 34 years at Kingsnorth in Kent. Greenpeace claims it will emit as much carbon dioxide as the 30 least polluting nations in the world.