The coal industry is often criticized as a global warming villain, but that is the least of its problems. Coal is filthy and clean coal is not possible. They can installs scrubbers to clean their emissions, but at the end of the day, pollution is inevitable. Between the mines, transportation, carcinogenic chemicals, mountain top clearing and destroyed ecosystems – there is nothing good about coal. Add onto this fact that the coal industry is notoriously careless with wastewater regulations and their neighbours’ health.
A recent New York Times article outlines how the Clean Water Act in the US has been violated over half a million times. People are dying. One tidbit of info from the article concerns coal companies in West Virginia,
For instance, three coal companies — Loadout, Remington Coal and Pine Ridge, a subsidiary of Peabody Energy, one of the largest coal companies in the world — reported to state officials that 93 percent of the waste they injected near this community had illegal concentrations of chemicals including arsenic, lead, chromium, beryllium or nickel.
Here is an image from the NYT interactive series on clean water act violations and enforcement levels:
On top of this disheartening news, it was just announced that Duke Energy and Alstom have quit the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) due to its stand against climate change regulation and its practice of forging letters to congress. Article here.
Coal is a cheap and abundant energy resource, so it is a tempting option, but so was slavery.