The Cleanest Coal Is None
March 28, 2010 - 7:08pm ET
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West Virginia is having to build a new, $8.6 million school because the Marsh Fork Elementary School in Raleigh County is threatened by an enormous coal impoundment pond, with its hundreds of millions of gallons of coal slurry. As described at the link, Massey energy has given the state a $1 million, tax-deductible gift to help defray the costs.
A spill like the billion gallon Tennessee TVA spill in 2008 would probably wipe the school out, could cause injury or death, and would certainly contaminate streams and drinking water for miles around.
The embedded photo montage of a 300 million gallon Massey slurry spill in Kentucky, in 2000, shows an aerial photo of the Marsh Fork School and the slurry pond in question at about the 1:40 mark:
The expense of cleaning up after one of these disasters, let alone the health costs of coal mining operations to local residents, won't be gotten rid of by any of the 'clean' coal projects Congress wants to waste money on. But that hasn't stopped the dying coal industry asking for handouts at a time when the popular and economic tides have turned against them.
Coal has been a declining part of US energy production since 1987, with 90 percent of coal power plants having been built before 1985.
Not only do these plants burn fossil fuel, they're verging on becoming antiques. Cutting edge society we're running here. Very inspiring.
Would we be better off taking the cues of the natural gas industry to shower them with favor, instead? Well, maybe instead of coal. But I'd rather leave the extremely mature, and heavily subsidized fossil fuel industry to fend for itself, and give the renewable energy industry a bigger jump start.
This past February, manufacturing accounted for 24% of all mass layoffs, led by the machinery sector. Creating a bigger market for wind turbines and solar power will fix that both better and more directly than throwing more money at fossil energy production.
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