Top Ten Reasons Clean Coal is Dirty
#1: "Clean" Coal Increases Rates of DiseaseThe United States burns more than a billion tons of coal each year – that's 20 pounds of coal for every person in the country, every day.
According to the American Lung Association, 24,000 people a year die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants. And every year 38,000 heart attacks, 12,000 hospital admissions and an additional 550,000 asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.
#2: "Clean" Coal Kills JobsDespite coal industry claims that coal mining creates lots of jobs, the truth is that coal mining employment has been declining for decades, due to increased use of machinery instead of manpower.
In West Virginia alone, coal mining employment has plummeted from 126,000 miners in 1948 (who produced 168 million tons of coal), to just 15,000 miners employed in 2005 (who, with the help of machinery, produced 128 million tons of coal).
#3: Burning "Clean" Coal Emits Mercury
Mercury in mothers' blood and breast milk can interfere with the development of babies' brains and neurological systems and can lead to learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, problems with coordination, lowered IQ and even mental retardation.
#4: Burning "Clean" Coal is Fuel for Global WarmingThe U.S. produces about 25 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.
Burning coal contributes 40 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions. Coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel. According to the United Nations Environment Program, coal emits around 1.7 times as much carbon per unit of energy when burned as does natural gas and 1.25 times as much as oil.
#5: "Clean" Coal Kills MinersThe Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 12,000 coal miners died from black lung disease between 1992 and 2002.
#6: "Clean" Coal Wastes Huge Quantities of WaterCoal mining requires an estimated 70 to 260 million gallons of water every day.
#7: "Clean" Coal Pollutes Seafood and Freshwater Fish49 U.S. states have issued fish consumption advisories due to high mercury concentrations in freshwater bodies throughout the country.
Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of human-generated mercury pollution in the U.S.
#8: "Clean" Coal Destroys Mountains
Instead of traditional mining, many coal companies now use mountaintop removal to extract coal.
Coal companies are increasingly using this method because it allows for almost complete recovery of coal seams while reducing the number of workers required to a fraction of what conventional methods require.
Mountaintop removal involves clear cutting native hardwood forests, using dynamite to blast away as much as 800-1000 feet of mountaintop, and then dumping the waste into nearby valleys, often burying streams.
#9: "Clean" Coal Kills Freshwater Streams
More than 1,200 miles of Appalachian streams have been buried or damaged by mountaintop removal mining. At least 724 miles of streams were completely buried by valley fills from Appalachian mountaintop removal between 1985 and 2001.
400,000 acres of rich and diverse temperate forests have been destroyed during the same time period as a result of mountaintop mining in Appalachia.
#10: "Clean" Coal Costs Billions in Taxpayer Subsidies
The U.S. government continues to aggressively fund coal-related projects despite all that is known about coal's impacts on health, climate and the economy.
The Department of Energy is currently seeking $648 million for "clean coal" projects in its 2009 budget request, "representing the largest budget request for coal RD&D in over 25 years."