Share this Post:

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

As Coal Exports, Its Dark Legacy Stays Home


    SIGN-UP for our latest news and action alerts:
   Please leave this field empty

Facebook Fans

Related Blog Entries

by Liz Judge:

President Obama won the White House on a platform of hope and change – promising an end to dirty corporate influence over our political system a...

by Maria Beloborodova:
The Top 10 unEarthed Stories of 2012

Blog posts about Earth's magnificent places and creatures were the most popular themes for unEarthed readers in 2012. By far the most-read post concer...

by Trip Van Noppen:

(The following is a statement from Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.) We are ...

Earthjustice on Twitter

View Tom Turner's blog posts
13 August 2013, 3:48 PM
Earthjustice challenges industry plans to increase world market
Companies are eyeing overseas markets for America's coal. (Aleksey Stemmer / Shutterstock)

The use of coal in the U.S. has declined over the past few years, and orders for new plants are being cancelled at an increasing rate, owing to pressure from Earthjustice and others and competition from cheaper natural gas. Meanwhile, President Obama has made increasingly stern pronouncements about moving toward a renewable energy regime.

Big coal, hoping to shore up its bottom line, has turned its attention abroad: Exports of coal from the U.S. to the Far East have increased, subsidized by the U.S. Export-Import Bank (a federal institution), and there are proposals pending to establish coal-export facilities in the Pacific Northwest. China and the other importers have far laxer pollution laws than ours; that too is another story. The impact of burning the coal affects us all.

There are so many things wrong with this picture it’s hard to grasp them all. Bad for climate. Bad for communities near the mines. Bad for people living near the tracks that carry the coal trains (which spew vast quantities of coal dust as they travel from mine to port) and others who live near the export facilities (read four personal stories here).

Earthjustice is working to force complete, comprehensive reviews of the impacts of these plans in the Northwest and is challenging the Export-Import Bank’s irresponsible loan guarantee to boost production and export of coal from Appalachia.

It’s past time to stop playing games and face these problems head-on.
 

Nature has deviced a low cost carbon sequestration system: it's called coal. Maybe we should use it.

We no longer need coal. It is not only dirty, but the very mining of it kills those who work in the mines and permanently destroys the beauty of land it is taken from. Mountain top after mountain top are being carried of to burn as fuel and what is left behind is a ravaged landscape.

And we certainly do not need any more Nuclear reactors! We have the largest Nuclear reactor anyone could ever want in the Sun and its energy is shining down upon us every day. There is also wind power and wave power and we have just begun to tap the possibilities of sustainable, clean, renewable energy sources sources.

Why should we invest in more Nuclear plants of any kind? Admittedly, MSRs might turn out to be safer than conventional reactors but they still produce a lot of radioactive waste which would have to be stored securely, even if the length of time these products need to be stored is in the neighborhood of 300 years vs the 10s of thousands of years needed for typical nuclear waste to decay.

Also, MSRs haven't been researched that well as of yet and require a lot more research before we can be sure we know all we need to know about the technology to use it safely.For example, remember that salt is corrosive and corrosion might be a serious problem after several decades of use. Even the Lithium used to moderate the salt to prevent corrosion can itself be the cause of corrosion. Only pure Lithium-7 can be used since any Lithium-6 will result in the production of tritium and the tritium will combine with fluorine to become the highly corrosive hydrogen fluoride.

That's not saying that solar, wind and water energy are without problems, just that they are much more manageable and don't have nearly as much potential to cause the death of workers should there be a problem.

Perhaps this is why Germany is committed to becoming 100% reliant on Solar Power by 2050. One wonders how much faster we would be progressing in the use of renewable energy sources without the support given to energy companies to continue their use of coal, oil and natural gas. These companies will make more money from selling their products than they would if our utilities had equal access to renewable sources of energy. And, with corporate lobbying being the number one reason for our nation's continued political support of non-renewable energy, we may not make much progress in developing renewable energy in the near future.

I don't believe big business! If they can't sell their dirty coal here, they're exporting the problem to some other country. They're bound and determined to get their money no matter who they have to hurt!!

We in the "first world" countries, especially in the US, must admit to the world's developing countries that we've made bad mistakes over the past 150 years (especially the last 90 or so years). That's no reason they should make the same mistakes: They should learn from from our errors.

Nuclear, as mentioned in several comments, does have much, safer and great potential. Investigating, building on its potential deserves more funding. (Unfortunately most people equate nuclear with only weapons. How wrong!) It'll be a hard sell, but expanded "new" nuclear is much needed.

I just read about the potential of thousands of former garbage dumps - hills - near cities, for wind energy. Sounds like that should be checked into, too. Pronto.

I lived in Appalachia for nearly 50 years, and witnessed the various problems with coal. Many are noted in other comments. I drove past the Kingston Steam Plant (TN) many many times, never thinking about all the potential problems AFTER the coal was burned. And then the storage area gave way.

How come no one can understands that the same wind blows around the WHOLE world...Why aren't we finding better cheaper ways to add pollution controls instead of taking more jobs from America and polluting other countries?????

Stop killing fish if not we will be fished out

Even if we clean up our country, how do we impact poorer countries who are desperate for energy? What do we tell them; that they cannot cool/heat their homes, etc.

I have no answers; only questions.

Thank you.

There is an answer:

What about a SAFER and CHEAPER kind of nuclear reactor than what we have been using all these years? Most people don't know that we had a proof of concept MSR (molten salt reactor) nuclear reactor that ran during the 1960 at Oak Ridge National labs for 4 years. It proved that we can have a nuclear reactor that does not use superheated water and that does not produce free hydrogen when something goes wrong. In other words, it can't blow up. It uses a liquid salt solution instead of fuel rods, so it can't melt down. A MSR will run on any nuclear fuel, but most important, it will run on thorium. There is hundreds of times more thorium in the earth's crust than the uranium 235 that is use now in nuclear reactors.

We can and should resume the MSR research that was started and get MSRs under construction world wide.

See:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOoBTufkEog

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS2JrWa_Wkc

ThoriumEnergyAlliance.com

Rudy Stefenel
Milpitas CA

The terms "Clean Coal" is laughable. I grew up in Eastern Kentucky in the middle of 3 generations of coals exploitation of people, culture, and the environment. My father, grandfather, and great grand father were treated as slaves to mine this filthy source of fuel. As a child we burned coal to heat the house. Anyone who has or has been around coal know about it's dirty nature. There was no white clothing. It had a darkened coal dust stain. The snow had a film of coal dust on it and when you played in the snow it stained your clothes with soot. Coal destroys the Earth retrieving it, poisons the ecosystems around it, kills it's workers with black lung and emphysema, gives off huge amounts of CO2 when it's burned, and the ashes are toxic. This does not even mention the release of Mercury, a heavy metal that is a neurotoxin that damages the brains of children. The coal industry owns Kentucky politics with huge contributions to Senator McConnell, Congressman Rogers, and nearly every state legeslator. The "Citizens United" ruling made our government a puppet for corporate rule, and by definition that's Fascism. Don't look now but the coup already happend. It began with Dallas in 1963 that gave birth to Vietnam, our first corporate war.

we need not only to turn away from fossil fuels hear in America ,but around the world,for we all live on the same planet,and breath the same air and suffer the same cosequences of polution.We citizens of the world must each do our part to clean up our enviroment.

There is an answer:

What about a SAFER and CHEAPER kind of nuclear reactor than what we have been using all these years? Most people don't know that we had a proof of concept MSR (molten salt reactor) nuclear reactor that ran during the 1960 at Oak Ridge National labs for 4 years. It proved that we can have a nuclear reactor that does not use superheated water and that does not produce free hydrogen when something goes wrong. In other words, it can't blow up. It uses a liquid salt solution instead of fuel rods, so it can't melt down. A MSR will run on any nuclear fuel, but most important, it will run on thorium. There is hundreds of times more thorium in the earth's crust than the uranium 235 that is use now in nuclear reactors.

We can and should resume the MSR research that was started and get MSRs under construction world wide.

See:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOoBTufkEog

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS2JrWa_Wkc

ThoriumEnergyAlliance.com

Rudy Stefenel
Milpitas CA

Protect Orcas.

If you don't want the people or companies that own the coal to sell it to Asia where they will burn it for energy, then you need to buy it. To stop or interfere with the sale is just another form of fascism. That has always worked out so well in the past.

If you don't want the people or companies that own the coal to sell it to Asia where they will burn it for energy, then you need to buy it. To stop or interfere with the sale is just another form of fascism. That has always worked out so well in the past.

How can we justify shutting down coal power plants and loosing American jobs before we have something to replace the coal system (wind,solar) Yet cause extended damage to the environment by spreading the coal around to other places?

I'm from W.V. & don't like the coal industry in ANY form! Strip mining levels the mountains. They're dumping what's left of the mountain tops into the valleys & turning it into flat ground. They're killing my beautiful mountains & that breaks my heart. The health risks involved in every step of the mining process are unbelievable. This should have been stopped years ago. The mining companies are leaches, not caring who they sicken & kill with their pollution. Now they're willing to kill people on the other side of the world for the sake of the all mighty dollar. Why not? They don't loose a wink of sleep over killing off our own!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <p> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.