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Trading Clean Energy for a Lump of Coal

The Union of Concerned Scientists has a snazzy new interactive slideshow on its website, highlighting states that are bypassing opportunities to ditch dirty coal and embrace clean energy. The slideshow is both interesting and an office-safe distraction good for at least a five-minute break from your spreadsheet formulas.

Go ahead, call it up on your browser and if your boss asks: “Hey, you fooling around on the Internet again?” You can say: “No, I’m reviewing the Union of Concerned Scientists’ analysis of the nation’s energy infrastructure.” There’s no good comeback to that line; the only conceivable rejoinder is, “Really, what does it say?”

Well, it says that a large portion of the country is foregoing clean energy resources in exchange for lining the pockets of the coal industry.

Primarily targeting Midwestern and Southeastern states, the slideshow offers informative (and slightly depressing) factoids about the flow of clean energy resources going out of the states and the flow of polluting coal coming in. For example, the slideshow notes that New Hampshire is “more dependent on coal imported from Venezuela than any other state” although it has the “technical potential to generate 100 percent of its 2008 electricity needs from in-state renewable energy resources."

As the slideshow illustrates, it’s not a matter of having the capability to implement a clean energy infrastructure, the real quandary is countering the power of the coal industry, which isn’t going to bid adieu to the profits it has been enjoying for decades without a fight. That’s why Earthjustice is working in the courts and on Capitol Hill to stem dirty coal’s massive toll on the environment and its serious threats to human health.

Most recently, EPA vetoed what would have been West Virginia’s biggest mountaintop removal mining operation. The rejection of Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 Mine is a landmark victory that offers hope for the health and safety of Appalachian communities. It also illuminates the need to embrace a clean energy infrastructure to prevent catastrophic climate change and to keep our air and water clean.

Tags:  Coal