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Carbon tax could be a life-saver for coal industry

Tom Keane’s July 7 op-ed “Say yes to the carbon tax” explains the advantages of a proposed tax on carbon dioxide in Massachusetts.

I would like to add one advantage of a carbon tax that would help the coal industry.

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Without a carbon tax the coal industry is doomed by the availability of abundant, cheap shale oil and gas. It cannot compete. The elimination of coal is good for atmospheric carbon dioxide, but bad for the industry, which employs many workers.

With a carbon tax coal can survive. How? By economically forcing carbon dioxide from both natural gas and coal to be reduced. Although coal produces twice as much carbon dioxide per unit of energy, it produces it in large power-generating plants, where the carbon dioxide can be collected and piped to a sequestration source. Such sequestration is more difficult for natural gas.

If the coal industry waits too long to embrace a carbon tax, it will have no power plants producing carbon dioxide for sequestration. Coal and natural gas can both be the bridge to renewables. Without the carbon tax or cap and trade, there will only be natural gas.

Further, by embracing a carbon tax or cap and trade, the United States could develop sequestration technology, which it could sell to the world.

Frank J. Elvin

Watertown

The writer is a retired refinery engineer.

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