More Reasons to Get Rid of Coal

In an earlier post today, I noted that West Coast cities want to wean themselves off coal.

“End of Big Coal?”

A related article in Yes! magazine (“End of Big Coal?” [winter 2010], originally published in E/The Environmental Magazine, September-October) puts forward the hope that mountaintop mining for coal will stop before the number of mountains leveled goes over 500.

The article has one very encouraging statistic about green jobs: “wind power now employs more people than the country’s coal mines. The American Wind Energy Association says the industry employed 85,000 in 2008; coal-mining jobs numbered 81,000 in 2007, according to the Department of Energy.”

Interested in finding out what’s going on in the fight against coal? Check out the Coal Swarm website.

“A Fast Track from Coal to Clean Energy”

More stats from the same issue of Yes! magazine, but a different article:

1. “For the first time, renewable energy production, at 11.37 percent of U.S. supply, surpassed nuclear energy production, which was 11.18 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And throughout 2008 and 2009, new renewable energy installations grew faster than new fossil fuel production.”

[Yet President Barack Obama still thought it necessary to open the coasts to oil drilling. Maybe he figured it was a safe move to get Republican support for the climate change bill because he knew environmentalists would sue. We’ll see.]

2.”In September [2009], a broad coalition of environmentalists, investors, farmers, faith congregations, policymakers, and local officials celebrated their 101st success at stopping planned U.S. coal plants in their tracks. In 2010 they are targeting 22 operating coal plants: We’re truly seeing the beginning of the rapid end of coal in the United States.”

3. “Solar will be cost competitive with coal and nuclear across the country by 2015.”

“All good news. But we need an accelerated transition strategy here in the United States—and an enabler that makes the cost of the transition less than or equal to what we’d otherwise pay, providing a backup to wind and solar until energy efficiency and renewable energy can carry the whole system.”

[Amen to the accelerated transition! Not so much to the enabler, which in author Alisa Gravitz’s opinion is natural gas. If you live in Colorado, especially on the Western Slope with all the gas wells, you’d understand.]

How Is This Restoration?

It’s preventive—less extraction and pollution now, less need for restoration later. It’s indirect—as pollution from coal diminishes, public health will improve.