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Ban the use of coal in energy production

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/18/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 986 times Debate No: 49357
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




1) The use of coal in energy production causes severe air pollution.
2) The use of coal in energy production results in a heavy waste discharge that harms the aqueous environment.

C) Coal should be banned from being used in energy production.


P1: There are more severe causes of air pollution such as cars, planes, oil, natural gas etc. so why should we ban the use of coal if it's an effective source of energy?
P2: Coal is by far the cheapest energy to use and has the potential to be the cleanest source too.

C: Coal shouldn't be banned from being used in energy production.
Debate Round No. 1


Addressing P1: The use of coal in energy production results in the most carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the United States (1.7 billion tons per year). It is also responsible for acid rain, smog and toxic air pollution through emissions of other dangerous substances including sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), particular matter and mercury. The sources of damage that you listed are no better, however coal remains to be the worst of them all particularly in CO2 emissions. Its efficacy does not change the fact that it is harmful to the environment and there are alternative energy sources such as wind and hydro that are also effective, but not as harmful.

Source: same as in previous round

Addressing P2: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wind and hydro energy sources are and will be cheaper than coal.

In addition, while coal may become a clean energy source in the future, there is no chance that the thousands of damaging coal production industries will quickly and easily switch to the futuristic "clean" coal. The price of altering the entire energy production process just for the sake of "clean" coal will be costly and it is not a given fact that all production outlets will switch to it. By the time they do so (minimum of between 5 to 10 years, according to your article), billions of tons of CO2 and other dangerous chemicals will further damage the air and water on this planet. Furthermore, there is no absolute guarantee that coal will be ever be fully "clean" in energy production, but an alternative to ensure coal is not responsible for any further damage to the environment would be to ban coal entirely from energy production.

My second premise regarding the damages to the planet's water due to coal was not addressed.


Cars are the biggest source of air pollution, all the exhaust emissions that come from these vehicles destroy the ozone layer. "Fossil fuel combustion, particularly as it occurs in motor vehicles, has been identified as the LARGEST contributor to air pollution in the WORLD." These cars run on oil and this has been a huge problem for the environment, not coal. There are two types of pollutions that come from them, exhaustive emissions and evaporative emissions. Exhaustive emissions come from the tailpipe of the cars while evaporative emissions is any fuel vapor that isn't burnt and is released into the atmosphere. There are approximately 1 billion cars in the world, if there's 1 billion cars emitting hazardous gases, that's the main cause of air pollution.

Clean coal energy is a very realistic possibility for society. Ohio State University worked with only 5 million dollars to develop this technique., There is no way to transition from coal to any other energy source if it provides for almost half our energy production. It is just too much of a leap for society and the country to take. Despite all the talks about alternative energy sources, solar and wind energy only make up 4% of our energy source. That alone costs tax payers and funders millions of dollars. There is no economic benefit either by replacing coal with another source of energy. If coal continues to save the country a large amount of money, why should we throw that away to experiment with other alternatives that are costly and aren't nearly as effective. For example, "That means that from a pure economic standpoint, the upside of replacing coal with natural gas is zero, while that of replacing oil with natural gas is $12.7 per mmbtu" We lose by switching from coal to an alternative energy source, instead of replacing oil (in cars).

Conclusion: We shouldn't ban the use of coal in energy production.
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Debate Round No. 2


I stated that using coal for energy production is the biggest source of CO2 emissions in the US. This information is correct as is yours about cars being the largest source of air pollution in general in the entire world. I'm glad we established that car emissions are globally worse than coal emissions, however that steers us away from the main issue which is whether or not the use of coal should be banned from energy production. Cars being worse does not change my evidence of the severe damage of coal emissions to the environment and I maintain that the air and water pollution that result from it are strong enough reasons to ban the use of coal in energy production. The issue of cars is for another debate. To alleviate environmental damages measures must be taken one step at a time. Banning coal from energy production is a step of many that can be taken involving cars amongst other pollutants.

As for the second portion, it seems that the argument has become whether or not economic benefit is more important than environmental benefit. You're looking at the picture "from a pure economic standpoint" while I am more concerned about the environment that is being destroyed due to coal being used in energy production. I argue that the economy is not as important as the planet we humans inhabit and are steadily destroying.
Nevertheless, even from your economical standpoint, the economy does not have to suffer if proper measures are taken. Many of these potential measures such as the Google Clean Energy Proposal are outlined and planned out so that energy production does not fall behind and hinder the economy. They can be found here and outline legitimate possibilities of clean, efficient energy production without the damaging effects of coal.
All alternatives:
The Google Plan:
Furthermore, the proposition you mentioned of "clean" coal is the equivalent of switching to alternate energy sources because it would require an entire upheaval of all the existing coal production agencies. Switching to the unproven to be entirely "clean" coal would be as much of a transition as it would be to follow the Google Proposal and thus a significant leap for society to take as well. One of the many alternative proposals could be followed and the economy does not have suffer from the transition from coal to clean energy. The environment still trumps the economy in importance on a global perspective, but since it is possible to help both without damaging either, coal should be banned from being used in energy production.


Coal isn't the biggest source of pollution if there are a billion cars on the road emitting hazardous gases. As I stated before, coal makes up forty to fifty percent of our energy source, if we invest into cleaning coal it can be a major global discovery. America has an abundant source of coal and it's saving the tax payers millions of dollars by using it. So why should we switch to an alternative if we have other major sources of pollution that need to be tended to? Switching from oil to a natural gas would be a greater impact than changing from coal to natural gas. Especially if we can introduce a technique that can change the world.
Coal has been the nation's staple of energy since it's discovery. If we don't use coal for energy, what alternative options do we have? As I state before our alternative energy sources are ineffective and expensive. We can simply use techniques like the one used by Ohio State University to make coal less "harmful" to the environment. This would save everyone the pain of transitioning and funding another energy source. In addition, if cars are the biggest source of pollution we should ban the use of oil rather than coal by this logic. We shouldn't ban the use of coal in energy production.
Debate Round No. 3
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Zarroette 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: The overall structure of this debate was excellent. Pro kept on topic, giving strong reasons as to why coal should be banned. Con's car emission argument is irrelevant to the resolution, as Pro pointed out. Con's clean coal argument, whilst a bit idealistic, wasn't ridiculously, and Pro didn't really get a claw into it. I honestly think this debate was tied, in terms of arguments. Good job to both sides! Sources were used, by both sides, consistently and relatively effectively throughout the debate.