Yes, there might be 250- 300 years worth of coal reserves in the United States as noted in a 1974 study – but new findings show the reality is that only a percentage of that coal is a viable resource, Robert B. Finkelman said during his talk at the Energy Minerals Division’s luncheon during the recent AAPG convention in San Antonio.
Due to technical, cultural, economic and infrastructure limitations, presently there is actually more likely sufficient coal energy through 2030, with reserves for probably 100 years, he said.
Finkelman, who recently retired from the U.S. Geological Survey and is currently affiliated with the University of Texas at Dallas, said the recent report requested by the U.S. Senate “is an opportunity for attention,” even though “the findings don’t convey a sense of crisis.”
In noting some of the hurdles coal faces, Finkelman cited studies correlating various diseases with the trace elements present in coals – including arsenic, selenium and mercury.
For “coal to burn brightly in the future,” which was the title of his talk, he called for expanded research into the critical issues facing coal, including health and environmental effect, systems for advanced mining and processing and CO2 sequestration capacity.