Background and Question
Ohio emits the largest amount of mercury from coal-fired generation, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Defense Council, followed by Pennsylvania and Indiana. If the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can pass Clean Air Act's updates in Congress, 90% of the emissions from plants in these states could be eliminated through technology improvements. (Ohio Tops Coal-Fired Emissions, 2012) The impacts of Ohio’s coal firing plants to the air quality are clear. How can environmental laws change and evolve to lower the greenhouse impact of coal burning power plants while preserving a locally-produced and low cost energy source such a “clean coal”?
Clean coal technologies are various processes implemented in order to reduce the harmful air emissions associated with burning high sulfur coal. These technologies may be employed prior to the coal burning process or installed as controls after the coal has been burned. In some cases, coal gasification is employed prior to burning to significantly reduce high amounts of sulfur. Selective Catalytic Reduction technologies are employed during the burning process to reduce NOx emissions from high sulfur coal fired boilers and power plants. (Energy Issues in Ohio, 2012)
Research and Monitoring
The need for research in the area of clean coal continues to increase as domestically-produced energy initiatives build momentum. This research can serve as a guide to how future environmental law can be crafted. Much of the research into how clean continues to be university research driven. In 2007, the Air Quality Development Authority approved nearly $2 million in Ohio Coal Development Office (OCDO) funding for 16 clean-coal research projects at seven Ohio universities. Nine projects were funded for the 2007-2008 academic year, with the other seven funded for each of the next two academic years. (Ohio Approves Clean Coal Study Funding, 2007) This research continues today and can provide the foundation of...