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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

Read the Report

Park in the Dark

Jul 08, 2008
The Environmental Protection Agency is at it again, attacking our environment, proposing regulatory changes that will make it easier to build new coal-fired power plants near national parks. Over 100 of these mega-greenhouse-gas-polluters are in various stages of development now, and the National Parks Conservation Association wants you to know about it. Their new report, “Dark Horizons,” identifies the 10 national parks most at risk from these new plants.

An interactive map included on their web site shows in graphic and scary detail what will soon become obvious over all our heads. It's not enough that one in three national parks already has air pollution levels that exceed health standards. When 100 new plants come online, including eight just upwind of Mount Rushmore, we'll be lucky if we can tell one president from another in ten years.

Meanwhile, in May the federal government froze new solar development on public lands for two years. They give all sorts of reasons, and there are even some environmental groups that sympathize with those reasons to an extent. However, between the freeze and the upcoming end-of-year expiration of the federal solar investment tax credits, the fledgling industry, which was just starting to make real progress and attract major investment, is taking a one-two punch on the chin.

And here comes King Coal.
tags: Coal

See the Map and Download the Report

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