《经济学人》:美国煤炭遭遇的燃眉之急
日期:2012-02-01 10:46

(单词翻译:单击)

A FREIGHT train, its dozen cars loaded with coal covered in a light dusting of snow, snaked through the narrow valley, sometimes following the two-lane highway and sometimes crossing it. The valley was silent and snowy, and though it was two days into 2012 it could easily have been 1982, 1942 or 1922: coal has been mined in Appalachia and carried out by rail for well over a century.
一列货运火车装载着十二车煤炭,煤炭上覆盖着一层薄薄的白雪,火车迂回地行进于狭窄的山谷之间,时而沿着这一条双车道高速公路行驶,时而又穿过那一条。峡谷寂静而多雪,尽管这已经是进入2012年以来的的第二天了,然而在阿帕拉契亚,这样的一天也可以发生在1982年,1942年或者是1922年:一个世纪以来,煤炭在这里挖掘,并不断用火车运走。

And by some measures, coal is still going strong. It provides more of America’s electricity than any other fuel. Production has fallen off since 2008, but it remains high, as do prices, for which thank the developing world’s appetite. In Appalachia, coal remains a source of well-paid jobs in a region that needs them: for the first three quarters of 2011 employment in the Appalachian coal industry was at its highest level since 1997. And the Powder River Basin, which spans Wyoming and Montana, has become America’s major source of coal in the past decade, relieving overmined Kentucky and West Virginia. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reckons America has enough coal to meet current demand levels for the next 200 years.
然而在某种程度上,煤炭业依旧很昌盛。较比其他的燃料,煤炭为美国提供了更多的电力资源。自2008年以来,煤炭产量逐渐减少,但仍能维持较高的生产量,而且价格也没有大幅跌落,这都得益于发展中国家对于煤炭的广泛需求。在阿帕拉契亚那些需要煤炭的地区,煤炭一直是高收入工作的主要来源:在2011年的前三个季度,煤炭产业的就业状况达到了其自1997年以来的最高水准。在过去十年里,横跨怀俄明州和蒙大纳的粉河盆地已经成为了美国重要的煤炭来源,缓解了肯塔基州和西弗吉尼亚州的重度开采。能源信息管理局则认为,美国有足够的煤炭来满足其未来200年的需求。

But if the raw numbers look good, the trends tell a different story. Regulatory uncertainty and the emergence of alternative fuel sources (natural gas and renewables) will probably make America’s future far less coal-reliant than its past. In 2000 America got 52% of its electricity from coal; in 2010 that number was 45%. Robust as exports are, they account for less than one-tenth of American mined coal; exports cannot pick up the slack if America’s taste for coal declines. Appalachian coal production peaked in the early 1990s; the EIA forecasts a decline for the next three years, followed by two decades of low-level stability. Increased employment and declining productivity suggest that Appalachian coal is getting harder to find.
但如果原始数据前景看好,那么未来趋势则另当别论。管理规章的不确定性和可替代燃料能源的出现可能会使美国不再会像过去一样依赖于煤炭资源。2000年美国52%的电力资源来自煤炭;2010年这一数字是45%。尽管出口很强劲,出口的煤炭量不到美国开采煤炭量的十分之一;然而如果美国自身对于煤炭的需求量逐渐减少,对外出口也不会缓解这一萧条景象。阿帕拉契亚的煤炭产量在20世纪90年代初达到顶峰; 美国能源信息管理局预测未来三年煤产量会减少,之后会迎来二十年的低水平稳定期。就业增加,生产率降低,预示着阿帕拉契亚的煤炭会越来越难开采。

Toughening regulation has an effect, too. Coal-fired power plants are the source of more than one-third of greenhouse-gas emissions in America. Last July the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a rule that requires 28 states to reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide they emit; in December came another, reducing the amount of mercury and other toxic air pollutants that power plants can puff out.
加强管理也具有一定的效用。美国三分之一以上的温室气体排放来自燃煤发电厂。去年七月,环境保护局发表了一项规章,要求28个州减少二氧化硫和氮氧化物的排放;在接下来的十二月份,又要求发电厂减少汞和其他有毒空气污染物的排放。

Many plants have already made the necessary upgrades and retrofits; around 53% of America’s coal-fired capacity comes from units fitted with scrubbers. But others, particularly older plants, will have to decide whether such expensive upgrades are worth doing at all. Most of America’s coal-fired capacity comes from plants at least 30 years old, and as much as 14% of existing coal-fired plants, accounting for 4% of America’s generation capacity, will have to be retired in the next five to eight years. Energy providers face a stark choice. They can fight these regulations in court (outcome uncertain). They can retrofit old plants: plenty have done that, too. Or they can build new plants—in which case, far more are choosing plants that burn natural gas or use renewables rather than coal.
许多工厂已经做了必要的升级和改进;大约53%的美国燃煤生产力来自装有洗涤器的装置。但是其他的工厂,尤其是一些历史更久远的工厂,必须得决定这样昂贵的升级到底值不值。大多数的美国燃煤生产力来自于30年余久的工厂,这样的工厂占现有燃煤工厂的14%,发电量占美国发电总量的的4%,然而这些工厂在接下来的5到8年内必须淘汰。能量供应商面临着一个严峻的抉择。他们可以上诉公堂,与这些规章条例作斗争。他们也可以改进这些工厂:很多人也已经这么做了。或者他们可以建造新的工厂—— 在这种情况下,更多人会选择烧天然气或使用可再生能源,而不是煤炭。

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重点单词
  • toxicadj. 有毒的 n. 有毒物质
  • powdern. 粉,粉末,细雪,火药 vt. 洒粉于,使变成粉,重
  • decaden. 十年
  • alternativeadj. 两者择一的; 供选择的; 非主流的 n. 替换
  • stabilityn. 稳定性,居于修道院
  • administrationn. 行政,管理,行政部门
  • currentn. (水、气、电)流,趋势 adj. 流通的,现在的,
  • productivityn. 生产率,生产能力
  • uncertaintyn. 不确定,不可靠,半信半疑 (学术)不可信度; 偏差
  • emitvt. 发出,放射,吐露