Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Traveling through Pennsylvania mining country during the 1970's, I was shocked at the ugly slag heaps and stagnant pools of water scarring the landscape. Living in a Western state gives you a rosier view of what the country could and should look like. Mining may be a necessary and dirty business but lets not call it clean.
There is an army of lobbyists descending on Washington to prevent any legislation to clean air (read curb climate change) at the expense of coal. The brazen rebranding effort by The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity is un-American. Peddling lies is so common by major corporations, we don't even notice it any more. Let no one be convinced there is such a thing as a healthy cigarette or clean coal. The American coal industry pumps 2 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, 1/3 of the nations greenhouse gas emissions. They are spending millions on this slick campaign to convince you they are committed to clean coal instead of investing in technologies to help curb their emissions.
Looking at coal another way, in 1955, the Kingston, TN. mine infected an area forty times larger that the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska when a billion gallons of toxic sludge broke a dike and rolled down hill into the ground, water, and homes of Eastern, Tennessee. As recent as last year, miners were killed in an underground mine with multiple safety violations. Black lung, battered and exploited communities, explosions and brutal strikes for fair wages is the true legacy of coal. And, yes, power transmission.
How serious is the coal industry about cleaning up its act? Can it happen? Or, are they just pushing a crafty makeover that will negatively impact our energy future and way lay cleaner energy for years to come?

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