Big Coal Giveaway

This week, in the heart of one of the nation's best potential wind energy-producing regions, the Powder River Basin, the Obama administration handed away thousands of acres of federal land –- land owned by you and me –- to the coal industry.

Coal companies have been pushing to expand mining in the West, and they are no doubt uncorking champagne right now in celebration of this enormous gift. But for those of us who aren't coal executives, the giveaway comes at a high cost.

The new coal will spew nearly 4 billion tons of carbon pollution into our air -- the equivalent of building 300 new coal-fired power plants, or twice the amount of new coal plants proposed by the Bush-Cheney Energy Plan back in 2001. It's not just this pollution's contribution to climate disruption that's worrisome. Burning coal produces all kinds of other toxic chemicals linked to serious health problems. In fact, coal pollution contributes to four of the five leading causes of death in the United States, and is responsible for an estimated 300,000 preventable birth defec....

Just pause for a second and consider that last statistic. Coal pollution causes an estimated 300,000 birth defects every year. Imagine how you'd feel if you were the parent of one of those children, knowing that their suffering could have been avoided.

We know that there's a solution to coal-fired pollution. But spurring new coal development undercuts the good work President Obama has done to transition to a clean energy economy.

The West, in particular, holds so much promise for a healthy and abundant clean energy -- and the good, safe jobs that come with it. In fact, the West alone holds enough renewable energy potential to fully power our entire nation. But we need to get serious about developing wind and solar in the West. And we can't get serious about clean energy while continuing to let coal companies wreak havoc.

There is no greater enemy to our clean energy economy -- and our children's health -- than dirty coal. President Obama has shown he's committed to a healthy, prosperous clean energy future. Expanding coal development in the West -- or anywhere -- has no place in that vision.



Tags: Obama, birth defects, clean energy, coal, dirty energy, energy, pollution

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Replies to This Discussion

Insight: U.S. taxpayers poised to subsidize Asian coal demand

As you predicted, Dallas, coal from the Powder River Basin on Federal land is poised for rapid exploitation, without adequate compensation to taxpayers, so our Asian competitors can save on their energy bills and pump even more CO2 into the air.

Asian economies, hungry for coal, stand to gain from a U.S. program meant to keep domestic power cheap and abundant.

At issue is how much miners pay the government to tap the coal-rich Powder River Basin in eastern Montana and Wyoming.

Much of the basin is on federal land. That dynamic raises questions about whether taxpayers are essentially helping Asian economies save on energy costs, according to six former officials who served both Democratic and Republican presidents. Officials tasked with seeking fair market value said exports were not factored into a process that has frequently been faulted by regulators as giving miners undue leverage.

... more coal from federal land is being sold overseas and Asian economies anticipate gains from the program meant to keep lights on in American homes.


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