In the early 1900s, coal was the nationâ€™s major fuel source, supplying almost 90 percent of its energy needs. When the cleaner, more efficient petroleum and natural gas came into play, the demand for coal declined. Today, nearly 55% of the nationâ€™s electricity is generated using coal. So what happened?
In 1999, natural gas was the most expensive fossil fuel, petroleum was second and coal was the least expensive, according to the Department of Energy. Although the cost of generating electricity from coal has increased through the years, it is still lower than the cost of generating electricity from either natural gas or petroleum.
As for cleaner air, coal has long been unpopular with environmentalists who argue the fossil fuel produces the greatest amount of mercury and carbon dioxide emission, associated with global warming. Current energy bills, however, propose clean coal power initiatives, which would implement high-tech ways to reduce pollution when electricity is generated from coal.
Unfortunately, to build these new high tech pollution free coal fired plants will cost 25-40% more to produce the same amount of electricity as the ones being used now. There are no requirements anywhere to enforce their use and especially unlikely in the USA, India and China, the worldâ€™sÂ biggest polluters.