This week a double tragedy has struck the coal mining industry.
On Monday night in West Virginia, a coal outburst at a Patriot-operated mine killed two miners. And on Tuesday an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Western Turkey killed at least 245, with hundreds more still missing.
Our hearts and minds are with the miners and their families.
These disasters underscore the horrific cost of “cheap” and dirty energy. Miners’ deaths such as these are preventable. We call on coal companies to immediately improve labor conditions, and on the governments of Turkey and the United States to strengthen their regulatory oversight of the coal industry.
At the same time, here at Rainforest Action Network, we are reflecting on the less noticed human cost of coal. Every year, more than one million people die of the air pollution that comes from burning coal. 150,000 more die from the extreme weather events aggravated by climate change–and coal is the single biggest driver of global warming.
All of this points to an obvious conclusion. We must not continue to make these sacrifices in order to produce energy from such a dirty and unsustainable source. Coal is a dangerous and outdated fuel, and in the 21st century we should not be using it to power our homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. It is past time for us to shift our energy production to clean, safe renewable power.
Ignoring Human Rights Abuses and Coal’s Uncertain Future, Big Banks Line Up for Piece of World’s Largest Coal Miner
We’ve just confirmed that retiring Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship no longer plans to appear next week to be questioned by state and federal investigators who are looking into the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. C.A. Phillips, acting director of the state Office of Miners Health, Safety and Training, said his agency was informed just a little while ago that Blankenship would invoke his 5th Amendment rights and not answer questions from the investigation team. UPDATED: Here’s a copy of a letter from Blankenship’s attorney to the state Office of Miners Health Safety and Training.