Coal. It's nasty stuff and it's responsible for 80 percent of the total greenhouse gases that come from the generation of electricity in the U.S. But even if carbon capture and sequestration technology existed to remove these emissions, it still wouldn't make coal clean. From cradle to grave, coal is inherently filthy. That fact should be obvious to everyone. Yet, the coal industry has spent millions trying to convince the public that coal can be clean, that coal is the energy of the future, and that we must rely on coal for the sake of energy independence
A new national campaign, www.thedirtylie.com, exposes "clean coal" for what it is: a dirty lie. It shows that the devastating impacts of coal go well beyond coal's impact on our climate. Coal destroys our waterways, our wild places and our communities:
- U.S. coal-fired power plants spew 48 tons of mercury into our environment every year and are the largest source of mercury air emissions in the U.S. And recent EPA-sponsored studies have shown that around 70 percent of these mercury emissions end up in waterways within a couple of hundred miles of these plants, leading to mercury hotspots across the country.
- All 50 states have issued advisories against eating mercury-contaminated fish, and the EPA reports 1 in 6 babies in the U.S. are born each year with unsafe levels of mercury in their bodies, causing brain damage, low IQ and developmental disorders.
- In the past 20 years, mountaintop removal has obliterated an estimated 470 mountains in Appalachia, crushing one million acres of the world's most productive and diverse temperate hardwood forests and smothering 1,200 miles of streams.
- As of 2006, only 5 percent of acres destroyed by mountaintop removal were used for economic development, while other mountains were left flattened and barren with only scrub grass and shrubs, even though the law requires that land be restored to conditions equal to or better than those prior to mining.
What is even more disturbing is that moving away from our dependence on coal is not an expensive proposition:
- The U.S. Department of Energy reports that, on average, state renewable-electricity standards, which require electricity providers to increase the amount of renewable energy, raise consumer bills by just 38 cents a month.
- In fact, the DOE compared 28 studies and found that in 20 of the studies, consumer costs rose by less than 1 percent.
See what the coal industry doesn't want you to see. Visit www.thedirtylie.com. Take Action. Tell President Obama that his leadership is critical in moving our nation and the world beyond coal. Tell him that we must develop an energy plan that rapidly reduces our dependence on coal as our primary energy source and commits to clean, renewable energies.
Help spread the word: Clean Coal is a Dirty Lie.
Follow Steve Fleischli on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NRDCWater