Increasing our use of coal would increase concern
over several environmental issues. Two main environmental concerns
associated with the use of coal are:
Pollution, caused by emissions of contaminants such as sulfur
dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury, which affects human
and environmental health
Greenhouse gases, emissions of which contribute to global
The main legislation that applies to air pollution is the Clean
Air Act (CAA). Under the CAA the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency set limits on the amount of certain pollutants that
can be released into the air. By using technology that either
traps the pollutants before they are released into the air
or that changes them into less harmful pollutants, the amount
of air pollution can be controlled. Burning greater amounts
of coal however, would mean that more pollutants would need
to be controlled through these methods.
Burning greater amounts of coal would also release greater amounts
of greenhouse gasses, especially carbon dioxide which is the
main gas associated with global warming. Little legislation
exists in the U.S. right now that applies to global warming.
Therefore, increasing our coal use could contribute greatly
to global warming and cause major environmental problems.