Not so Clean Coal

So I do really try and keep things on the light and positive side, but sometimes there’s just something that has to be addressed no matter how ugly it is. If (we) can’t look at the problem and see how we got here, how can we hope to make it better?

Yesterday, a blogger I follow on Twitter wrote an article about the myth of Clean Coal, and the number of deaths attributed to coal particulates was a shocker, even for me.
See, I have a little pet issue with things like smog and particulates, so getting cars off the road and not using toxic household chemicals were a big focus for me. However, changing the really big stuff seemed a little more daunting. I could write my congresscritters and do my best to support alternative energy sources, but trying to change the way our city gets it’s power seemed something best left to the professionals.

Well, then pictures started rolling in from that Coal Ash spill in Tennessee.


My family is from there, and some of them get their drinking water from the very sources now thought to be contaminated. While it shouldn’t take it hitting so close to home to get the point across, sadly sometimes it does, and this is what it took to make me wonder who exactly these “professionals” are, and to question whether or not I can actually make a difference with the big things.

So, I started looking around to see just how many coal plants were near where I live. 10. The answer is 10. And more than a few of those are close enough to contaminate my city’s already stressed drinking water system, should anything go wrong. Egads.
Beyond that, my city already has one of the worst smog counts in the country.
(creative commons flickr by MrSpinch)
It’s so bad that going outside on a hot summer day and doing anything remotely strenuous is no longer something I can do without making myself very sick. Most people (including me) focus on car emissions when talking about smog, but I started wondering just how much of it is from supposedly “clean” coal?
Turns out it’s a good bit, and it’s about to get worse if we choose new plants over conservation technologies.

So what do we do? Well, for starters, keep up what we have been doing. Focus on conservation and reduced consumption to keep the need for new power plants down. When you hear the words “Clean Coal”, don’t be fooled, call them out on the fallacies. Support bans on mountaintop removal (yep, it really is what it sounds like), and support (well-written) legislation for stricter air pollution standards, and call out our public officials when they write bad laws. We can also get more vocal in our push to get those laws written. They promised us Change, so hey! Let’s hold them to change for the better!

We live in such a beautiful world, and together we can keep it that way!

(flickr creative commons photo by hachimaki)

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