Letter to the Editor: The Mesaba clean coal myth

Also from today’s DNT: A great letter to the editor from one of northern Minnesota’s best known writers:

‘Clean coal’ project is too good to be true

As society begins its vital and inevitable transition from fossil fuels, the Mesaba Energy Project of Excelsior Energy is a litmus rest of collective intelligence and will. Politicians from Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Norm Coleman to Iron Range Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party legislators have been seduced by the phrase, “clean coal.” I don’t believe there is such a thing.

Excelsior’s proposed coal-gasification generating plant on the Iron Range would fail to achieve the primary purpose of such a facility. The draft Environmental Impact Statement reads: “Excelsior has not established a specific, detailed design for carbon capture, transport, or sequestration.” Why not? Because the geology of Northeastern Minnesota prevents it. So why build the plant here? The essential point of coal-gasification is to sequester the carbon, thereby reducing the production of greenhouse gases that contribute significantly to global warming. If you don’t do that, you’ve accomplished nothing but the destruction of another tract of Minnesota forest and wetlands — besides fouling the atmosphere.

There is no demand for the potential electricity. A few weeks ago the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission denied Excelsior’s petition to force other power companies to buy its electricity.

So will elected officials finally dismount this dead horse? No doubt government funding will play an important role in encouraging the development of alternative energy sources, and such will be worthy endeavor. But the Mesaba Energy Project is not worthy and not smart. It should be given up. Too much taxpayer money already has been wasted.

Peter Leschak
Side Lake

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