A modern coal fired power plant burns its fuel at a very high temperature so that the products of combustion are reduced down to CO2, water vapor, small amounts of SO2, and fine noncombustible ash. The exhaust gasses are then further scrubbed and filtered to remove the SO2 and the trace amounts of other gasses and virtually all of the ash. Most of the ash and residue from the scrubbers and filters are then used for building materials such as wall board. Far less particulate matter is released into the atmosphere than what comes from a typical diesel locomotive, which so called “environmentalists” favor. Older coal fired plants have either been retrofitted or regulated out of existence.
So what do they mean by “very dirty”? They are talking strictly about the CO2 emissions. CO2 is of course a trace gas in the atmosphere that has been on the rise. It is of course... harmless to living creatures at the trace levels currently in the atmosphere. CO2 is essential for the photosynthesis process in plant life which virtually. Even if all known coal, oil, and natural gas reserves were burned over the next year, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere would still not reach a level that would be close to being harmful for humans and animals to breath.
The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has been many times higher in previous times than it is currently currently. Where did it all go? Plant life, algae, and plankton absorb much of it and convert it back into carbon and oxygen, but an even larger amount is absorbed by the oceans especially during times when the planet is cooling as it did during the so called “little ice age” which from approximately 1350 to 1800.
When there is a warming trend as there has been for approximately the past two hundred years... the oceans release vast amounts of this stored CO2. That is most likely why there is a lag of a hundred years or more between the levels of CO2 found in ice samples found deep within glaciers in Greenland and proxy signs of increasing global temperatures.
There actually is no empirical data that shows that CO2 warms the earth's atmosphere. The theory that CO2 causes “global warming” is a theory that so far the data cannot confirm. Conversely, the empirical evidence from ice cores does show that when the planet warms CO2 levels increase.
The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has steadily increased at the same rate... despite the world wide economic downturn that along with “fracking” has actually decreased the amount of CO2 introduced into the atmosphere by the United States and most other developed countries. Mankind is only responsible for a fraction of the CO2 released into the worlds atmosphere.
Despite cherry picked data suggesting otherwise... we have seen temperatures level off over the past 16 years. This has been acknowledged even by many of the main characters caught up in the co called “climategate” scandal such as Phil Jones head of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University. So why hasn't CO2 measurements leveled off as well? Think of when you open up a can of pop that has been shaken. The syrupy liquid continues to bubble out for a while even after the shaking has stopped. The natural cyclic global warming we have seen over the past couple hundred years may have taken a pause for the past couple of decades, but the oceans are still releasing far more CO2 than mankind and will continue to do so for many many decades after we enter the next cooling cycle.
Volcanic activity and natural decay from plant and animal byproducts also release far more CO2 into the atmosphere than mankind. But do not fret for if history is any indicator... it is virtually assured that at some point in the future the oceans will again cool and CO2 levels will decline. So in the mean time lets worry about something real.
If the TEA Party wanted to make waves and get inside some heads they would run an advertisment that start with the Colorado governor testifying in congress that he DRANK fracking FLUIDS and they are safe!! Then declare the federal government could pay down debt by $_____ each year if all we got was the royalties, but what about jobs - those people tah want to work would pay taxes too. “Tell your congressman and the President to OPEN FEDERAL lands.” TEA party people need to have an agenda - “PAY OFF THE DEBT” and they need to tell the tax payer there are solutions that have not been attempted.