In these days where much attention is focused on oil (oil wars, auto emissions, oil addiction, etc etc) one of the potential problems that could arise is a new dependency on coal and coal-fired power plants. When burned, coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel. It releases toxic mercury, acid-rain producing sulfur dioxide, and much more climate-changing carbon than either oil or gas combustion. Even the conservative British financial magazine, the Economist, has called coal “environmental enemy #1”.
Currently, the US emits about 30% of the world’s CO2 emissions. Much of it comes from the coal burning power plants that generate a lot of electricity for the country. Now think about further climate destabilization once Bush’s 100 new coal-fired power plants go on line. Think about sooty skies, poisoned waterways and asthmatic communities. The construction of these plants will cost approximately $92 billion and is being funded, in part, by our friends at banking giant Wells Fargo with their customer’s money.
Besides that, the extraction of coal also is devastating to local ecosystems and communities. Coal companies, like Massey Energy, use a landscape clearing method know as “mountaintop removal“. Mountaintop removal uses the same concoction of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel to blow the top off mountains for coal extraction that Timothy McVeigh used in Oklahoma City. Along with the subsequent bulldozing for a small amount of coal pollutes streams with mercury, wrecks the habitat of rare animals and plants and ruins the local landscape.
Ending America’s addiction to oil is one part of the process, but where would a whole generation of electric be plugging into? Electricity generated by the Bush’s dirty energy plan. We don’t need to JUST get off oil, but also search for energy alternatives to coal. As Jumpstart Ford campaigner Sarah Connelly has said “greening the grid should be the ultimate goal”.