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King Coal

Jul 15, 2008
In 2007, the U.S. produced 1,145,600,000 tons of coal. That's over 2 trillion pounds of the stuff, and we've been digging more or less that amount out of the earth for years. We burn most of it, primarily to produce electricity, sock some of it away against a rainy day, and export a bit.

Appalachia still produces a hefty portion of our coal (377 million tons in 2007), but a lot more of it comes from the Western states (621 million tons), with the rest coming from in between.

In 2007, we relied on coal-burning plants to generate 50% of our electricity; nuclear power and natural gas generated about 20% each, and the rest was generated by hydro (6%) and "petroleum and other," (3.6%) where I guess they tuck away solar and wind. It is sobering to realize how little of what we depend on so heavily comes today from renewable sources such as hydro, wind, and solar.

Meanwhile, scores of new coal-fired electricity generating plants—perhaps the worst contributors to global warming—are in various stages of production, including over 100 in proximity to our national parks, as reported in this July 8 ATN News Item.

These numbers come from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), an arm of the Department of Energy. You can read the 2007 report, and access earlier ones, at the link below.
tags: Coal | Electricity | Environment

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