Coal is mostly carbon and perfect burning of carbon produces only carbon dioxide and water. Unfortunately there are lots things in coal in addition to the carbon that, unless removed at a considerable expense, are belched into the atmosphere when the coal is burned. The most toxic like heavy metals and radioactive heavy metals are present only in small amounts, but when you burn coal 24/7 in numerous power plants even trace amounts add up to many tons of these things put into the atmosphere over time. Even the carbon dioxide we used to think was harmless is now linked to global warming, so even perfect combustion of pure carbon in large amounts has a down side. It's worrisome alright.
There are about 6.5 billion people on this planet now and in about 50 years there will be twice as many. On top of that, energy use per person is climbing sharply and will continue to do so as the rest of the world becomes more like "us". New technologies help make everything more efficient, but they will never level or decrease total energy consumption, which is already unsustainable. In total, things like wilderness, wildlife, clean air, and clean water have only decreased and/or degraded through all of recorded history. If you think that's going to change I truly hope you're right, but I'm afraid these are the good old days.
So Lonnie, I know there's no exact answer, but if you had to guess, how long do the inversions usually last? For instance, if a person were to spend a couple of weeks around Moab this winter would the chances of getting some truly clear air be at least "pretty good"?