The topic of environment-friendly extraction and industrial application of coal has been gathering steam in political circles. But realistically, clean energy from coal is probably farther beyond reach than the grandest pipe dream. Here's why:
The technology to clean up coal use is still very much in the research stage
There's been no breakthrough of any significance in a long while when it comes to technological advancements to achieve clean energy from coal. Even greatly touted processes such as carbon capture sequestration are nowhere near ready for implementation.
Nothing will change without reforming the economics of coal usage
The bottomline remains that using any new technology for cleaning up the use of coal is several orders more expensive than existing practices. Any viable implementation of clean technology would require massive reform on the part of the government to make such technology cheaper, and at the same time remove coal subsidies and introduce heavy penalties for pollution charges.
Coal mining activities should be regulated
The mining for coal is perhaps the most destructive aspect of the coal industry, causing irreparable damage to landscapes, the ecology of the mining sites as well as the health of workers. Things cannot change without sweeping policy changes on the part of the government to check the damage.
In any case, it's hard to imagine that energy from coal could be cleaned up as effectively as purported by the politicians. As long as we remain this dependent on it, there will be no meaningful progress in the fight against climate change and fast depleting resources.