Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite Save As Favorite View Article Stats
8 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

Clean Coal--The Ultimate Oxymoron

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; ; ; ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

Well Said 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to H2 3/19/09

opednews.com

A little over a year ago, I was in West Virginia driving slowly behind my husband. He was on his bike near the end of his cross-country bike race. As you can imagine, driving behind a bike never allowed me to go much over 10 miles per hour. So I did a lot of looking around. The two lane road took us through a lush, green forest that felt almost primordial. From my interest in biodiversity, I knew this region of Appalachia was one of the most biodiverse in North America. It is a way station for countless species of migratory birds and its waters are habitat for an amazing array of fish and amphibians.

I don't remember how many miles of that exquisite forest we drove through before coming to an opening where I beheld the strangest site; so strange, in fact, I had a hard time computing what I was seeing. Then I realized what it was. Between two prominent mountain peaks was a bare, brown, flat area, not half as high as the two peaks.

I had read about mountaintop removal of coal; had even seen photos of it. But nothing could have prepared me for the surreal sight of an actual missing mountaintop. Gone! Probably 800 to 1,000 feet of elevation not there. It was then that I remembered with rage what coal companies do with the detritus from the mountains they blew up. They bulldoze it into the surrounding valleys, filling in the streams that are the life source for the region's biodiversity.

It turns out that since this insane way to retrieve coal started in the early 1970's, more than 450 mountain tops have been blown up. More than one million acres of land flattened. Try to imagine a swath of denatured land a quarter of a mile wide stretching from San Francisco to New York. That is what has been inflicted on Appalachia. I find it so instructive as a political activist that this region has one of the lowest per capita income levels in the country. Tremendous riches are being extracted from the land that is home to some of the poorest Americans. We see this phenomenon all over the world. Mega-corporations descend on third world mineral-rich countries and, in cahoots with the corrupt governments, rape the countries and leave nothing for the people but environmental devastation.

And what do the people of Appalachia get for it? Certainly not jobs. The rape is so mechanized that it takes very few workers to do the deed. What they get are non-stop nightmares. Flooding is common because over 1,200 miles of streams, many of which are headwaters, have been filled in with the mining waste. (W. and his pals ruled in 2002 that mine waste--which includes such delicacies as arsenic and mercury--is not a pollutant under the Clean Water Act.) In fact, flooding is so common that hundreds of people have drowned since the practice began and thousands have been left homeless.

The consequences of Mountaintop removal have completely compromised property values throughout the region. The force of the blasting does significant structural damage to homes. Over 100 drinking wells dry up every year. What water is left is contaminated. All over the region are hundreds of facilities euphemistically called "impoundments". These earthen ponds hold the highly toxic coal slurry left over from the extraction of the coal.



Do you remember what the biggest man-made environmental disaster EVER east of the Mississippi was? Probably not. The coal companies called it an act of God when one of the earthen ponds broke during a rain storm in 2000. Imagine that! Earth being disturbed by a little rain! God did it. "It" was the release of 300 million gallons of toxic coal slurry into the Big Sandy River in Kentucky, destroying over 70 miles of river. That is more than 30 times what the Exxon Valdez disgorged into the waters off the coast of Alaska.

Can you believe that there is even one person outside of the coal industry who thinks there is a place in our energy future for coal? "Clean coal" is a myth and always will be. There is nothing clean about coal. From cradle to grave, it is a disaster we can't afford.

SARA NICHOLS is a former public interest environmental attorney who ran for Congress in 1994. She's co-founder of Los Angeles Bioneers and a full-time environmental and political activist who serves on the boards of several public interest organizations.

 


Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Clean Coal--The Ultimate Oxymoron


Strict Standards: Non-static method DomAnalyze::removeStyles() should not be called statically in /home/opednews/public_html/populum/classes/DomAnalyze.inc.php on line 163

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
5 people are discussing this page, with 8 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

I worked in a coal coking (purification) plant for... by Matthew Peters on Thursday, Mar 19, 2009 at 11:47:15 AM
There is nothing clean about coal, or oil. Especia... by Steve Windisch (jibbguy) on Thursday, Mar 19, 2009 at 1:25:46 PM
Steve Windisch says... "Why has nothing been said... by lupe wadosy on Thursday, Mar 19, 2009 at 2:02:40 PM
It's not hard to say how much of last summer's spi... by Scott Baker on Thursday, Mar 19, 2009 at 4:09:39 PM
did you take a look at that graph "trigger motive"... by lupe wadosy on Thursday, Mar 19, 2009 at 4:37:23 PM
trigger motive long-term motive... by lupe wadosy on Thursday, Mar 19, 2009 at 2:30:29 PM
oil graph: production, drills working, price. gold... by lupe wadosy on Thursday, Mar 19, 2009 at 4:49:42 PM
clean coal. But I would not venture to say that th... by Steven Leser on Thursday, Mar 19, 2009 at 6:38:37 PM