Sunday, March 04, 2007

Where "Clean Coal" Comes From

The News Journal today ran two significant stories about the economics of the energy options on the table; one on the reports from the consultants hired by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the other on the difficulties faced in evaluating the economic merits of the proposals. I'll have more on the PSC's consultant's report in the near future.
But before I do, I'd like to highlight this op-ed from Nick
DiPasquale, who is conservation chairman for Delaware Audubon and served secretary of DNREC a few years ago. Nick reminds us that even "clean coal" involves destruction of the earth on an almost unimaginable scale:
Coal mining is particularly destructive to the environment. About 60 percent of U.S. coal is stripped from surface mines. The rest comes from underground mines. Surface mining, especially mountaintop mining, dramatically alters the landscape and wastes are often dumped into valleys and streams.
In West Virginia, more than 300,000 acres of hardwood forests and 1,000 miles of streams have been destroyed by this barbaric practice. The destruction of forests also contributes to global warming, erosion and flooding.
The practice is called mountaintop removal; the horrific results are visible from earth orbit.
A good source for information on this method is the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, which features photos of the damage including this aerial photo of the Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment, designed to hold 8 billions gallons of coal waste sludge:
This manmade lake of untreated waste sits directly upstream from the town of Whitesville, WV.
Photo: Vivian Stockman, OVEC


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are more interesting, albeit unproven, destructive human costs of coal. Leakage of certain chemicals into the water supply, may be (preliminary) linked to heart attacks.

Most of West Virginia's river ways are dead, if they are down stream from coal induced runoff. West Virginia has one of the highest rates of heart attacks in the nation. Looking at the national map showing fatal heart attacks by county, one sees the highest rate emerging in West Virginia, and following the Ohio, Mississippi, rivers down to the Gulf. The state of Mississippi gets most of its drinking water from the Big Muddy, and is second to West Virginia in fatal heart attacks by county.

For some reason there is a three county anomaly along the Ohio River, and but further south, several other Southern River systems whose sources lie near mountain top coal mines, also carry the highest rate of heart attacks in counties meandering along such rivers.

Coincidence? Perhaps. So far not many have seen the correlation. But further research is necessary and you can be sure the coal companies will do everything to stop that from happening.

But the clincher to the above argument is that those who live in Cajun country, where any afficiendo of excellent food knows that the heart attack rate should be the highest in the nation, drops considerably as one moves away from water that may have originated in West Virginia or other areas where coal runoff leaches into water supplies.

3:00 AM, March 05, 2007  

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