THE DIRTY TRUTH ABOUT COAL Why Yesterdays Technology Should Not Be Part of Tomorrows Energy Future Explore enjoy and protect the planet ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The project was made possible through the hard - PDF document

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THE DIRTY TRUTH ABOUT COAL Why Yesterdays Technology Should Not Be Part of Tomorrows Energy Future Explore enjoy and protect the planet ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The project was made possible through the hard

3 million of your friends and neighbors Inspired by nature we work together to protect our communities and the planet The Club is Americas oldest largest and most in64258uential grassroots environmental organization This report was made possible by f

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THE DIRTY TRUTH ABOUT COAL Why Yesterdays Technology Should Not Be Part of Tomorrows Energy Future Explore enjoy and protect the planet ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The project was made possible through the hard

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DIRTY TRUTHABOUT COAL: Why Yesterdays Technology Should NotBe Part of Tomorrows Energy Future Explore,enjoy and protect the planet ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThe project was made possible through the hard work of many people,including:AUTHOR:Alice McKeownRESEARCH:Alice McKeown,Rachel Sauter,Peter KatzDESIGN:Michael MolanphyCOMMUNICATIONS,EDITORIAL,AND OTHER ASSISTANCE:Kim Haddow,Ed Hopkins,Dave Hamilton,Virginia Cramer,Verena Owen,Marti Sinclair,Pat Gallagher,Oliver BernsteinThe Sierra Club's members and supporters are more than 1.3 million of your friends and neighbors.Inspired bynature,we work together to protect our communities and the planet.The Club is America's oldest,largest and mostinuential grassroots environmental organization.This report was made possible by funding from The Sierra Club Foundation.85 Second Street,Second Floor,San Francisco,CA 94105,(415) 977-5500408 C Street NE,Washington,DC 20002,(202) 547-1141www.sierraclub.orgJUNE 2007 3 t was more than 100 years ago on theshores of the lower East River in NewYork City that Thomas Edison opened thePearl Street Station,the rst centralizedcoal-red power plant to come on line.Although this new plant served just a fewblocks,Edison had jumpstarted a newindustry and set off a wave of power plantbuilding across America.From thatmoment on,burning coal fueled ourIndustrial Revolution and forever changedthe landscape of energy production.Today, 125 years later, coal continues to play a hugerole in fueling America. Coal-red power plants pro-duce about half of our nations electricity,2006 a record 1.161 billion tons of coal was mined,most of which went directly to electricity genera-Unfortunately, coal is also one of the most pol-luting sources of energy available, jeopardizing ourhealth and our environment. Long known as a major source of air pollution,coal-red power plants are also major contributorscent of our nations carbon dioxide pollutionButthe truth is that the pollution created by generat-ing electricity from coal does not start or stop atthe power plant. It stretches all the way from theMining and burning coal scars lungs, tears up theland, pollutes water, devastates communities, andDIRTY TRUTH ABOUT COAL:Why Yesterdays Technology Should Not Be Partof Tomorrows Energy Future 4 Gallons of water used for coal mining in the U.S.every day Tons of solid wastes produced every year by burning coal Gallons of waste slurry produced every year while preparing coal to be burned People in the U.S.who live within ve miles of a coal-red power plant Gallons of water used per hour at an average coal-red power plant Miners who died from black lung disease between 1992 and 2002Miles of streams that have been buried or polluted in Appalachia because of mountaintop removal miningU.S.states and territories with mercury sh consumption advisories for at least some of their waters New coal-red power plants proposed for the U.S. Percent decrease in number of coal miners employed from 19852000Percent increase in coal mining production from 19852005 Unfortunately, the list is much longer. As thisreport documents, our current use of coal is nei-ther sustainable nor cheap. Claims of clean coaland carbon free coal are misleading, servingmore as a marketing tool than as an honest changein dirty practices. The good news is that we do not have to continueenergy needs. We can reduce our dependence oncoal by increasing efciency and relying more onclean energy power, and we can minimize the dam-age coal causes by ensuring it is mined responsibly,burned cleanly, and does not take us backward onAs we choose our energy future, we need to make surethat we consider the full impact of each decision.the damages incurred by our society and our environ-ment. We must shift from the polluting fossil fuels ofthe past to new sources of energy like clean fuels andsave us money, cut pollution, improve public health,employ new technologies, create new industries andjobs, and put us on a path that will stabilize our climate.Many of these environmental and societal consequences have devastating characteristics that may never beremedied. Consider these numbers: 5 Coal is mined from the earth by one of two min-ing techniques. Surface mining, which is used forcoal that is relatively near the surface of theground, involves scraping away earth and rocks toaccess coal seams buried below. Undergroundearth, and usually involves a system of tunnels andenormous underground rooms. About two-thirdsof U.S. coal is from surface mining, while the otherthird comes from underground mining.Coal mining can cause irreparable harm to the nat-ural landscape, both during mining and after. Trees,plants, and topsoil are cleared from the mining area,destroying forests and wildlife habitat, encouragingsoil erosion and oods, and stirring up dust pollutionthat can cause respiratory problems in local commu-nities. In mountaintop removal mining, a coal com-pany literally blasts apart the tops of mountains toreach thin seams of coal buried below. Undergroundmining, including an intensive method known aslongwall mining, leaves behind empty undergroundspaces which can collapse and cause the land aboveto sink. Known as subsidence, this process can causeserious structural damage to homes, buildings, androads when the land collapses beneath them.It canalso lower the water table and change the ow ofgroundwater and streams. Like mountaintopremoval, longwall mining has become increasinglypopular because of low costs and high yields, and inspite of growing environmental destruction.FROM GROUND TO TRAINhe rst stage in the dirty life cycle of coal begins when it is mined irresponsibly fromthe earth.Beyond the damage to our lands,water,and air,coal mining also jeopar-dizes the health and safety of workers and nearby communities.Unfortunately,thesecosts of coal are only one part of a larger story. Mark SchmerlingErnie Sistek/ Kennametal 6 MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL MINING DESTROYS APPALACHIA One of the most devastating types of coal mining is knownas mountaintop removal mining,a technique common inAppalachia.Mining companies literally blow the tops offmountains to reach thin seams of coal and then,to mini-mize waste disposal costs,dump millions of tons of wasterock into the valleys and streams below,causing perma-nent damage to the ecosystem and landscape.Thisdestructive practice has damaged or destroyed approxi-mately 1,200 miles of streams,disrupted drinking watersupplies,flooded communities,eliminated forests,anddestroyed wildlife habitat.Coal companies have createdat least 6,800 lls to hold their mining wastes,and the gov-ernment estimates that if this mining continues unabatedin Appalachia it will destroy 1.4 million acres of land by2020the date when the coal is expected to run out.Beyond these environmental concerns,mountaintopremoval mining poses other dangers to local communitiesas well.One stunning example is Sundial,West Virginia,where Marsh Fork Elementary School lies a mere 400 yardsdownhill from a massive coal waste impoundment contain-ing 2.8 billion gallons of toxic sludge.The state acknowl-edges the facility would likely cause deaths if it fails,estimates students and teachers would have only aboutthree minutes to escape if a breach occurred.Alarmingly,almost a third of impoundments in the state built since 1972have ruptured,spilling more than 170 million gallons ofsludge.Even worse is the track record of the parent com-pany,Massey Energy,which owns the impoundment;it isresponsible for over half of the states spills.Impoundmentdam breaks have caused widespread devastation in WestVirginia before,like the Buffalo Creek disaster that killed 125people and left thousands more homeless.Central Appalachia is home to some of the poorest countiesin the nation.Interestingly,while mining production rosein West Virginia 32 percent over a ten-year period,the num-ber of mining jobs dropped by 29 percent because moun-taintop removal mining relies on machinery and explosivesrather than experienced miners.Mountaintop removalmining has also caused the value of some homes to drop 90percent,and is responsible for cracking the foundations andwalls of nearby houses.This mining also jeopardizes themuch needed income brought into the region from tourism.Mountaintop removal mining is simply the most destruc-tiveand irresponsiblemining technique used today. Mark SchmerlingVivian Stockman / courtesy SouthWings Marsh Fork Elementary School,shown to the right of the silopictured above,lies only 400 yards downhill from a coalwaste impoundment. 7 Coal mining is frequently associated with water pol-lution, including acid mine drainage. One source ofacid drainage is from gobs, or piles of waste coal andother rocks that are cast aside during mining.Another more common source of mine drainage isacidic and mixes with heavy metals and minerals.When this toxic water leaks out, it combines withgroundwater and streams, causing water pollutionand damaging soils. Acid mine drainage can harmplants, animals, and humans. For example, inPennsylvania alone acid mine drainage has pollutedmore than 3,000 miles of streams and ground waters,which affects all four major river basins in the state.The toxic pollution has even led to places termed nosh, or streams where sh cannot survive becausethe water is so polluted. Acid mine drainage has alsobeen a problem for the past two decades in westernMaryland, where ofcials have documented 342leaks of toxic water and where a new discharge killedall of the sh in the Georges Creek in 2006.Coal preparation, or washing, isanother source of water pollution.Coal preparation uses large quan-separate impurities from minedUsing anywhere from 20 to 40ponents, which can be up to 50 percent of what isprocessed, and typically washes them away in asludge known as slurry.Up to 90 million gallonsof slurry are produced every year in the U.S.slurry is stored in large waste pits known ascoal mining wastes. Some of the risks involvedwater supplies and impoundment breaks that cansend wastes barreling down mudows, destroyingproperty and lives in its path. One such incidenthappened in 2000, when a 72-acre impoundmentin Martin County, KY breached, killing sh andaquatic life in the Big Sandy River and disruptingshedover twenty times the amount of oil spilledwhen the Exxon Valdez ran aground.Other types of pollution are also caused by coal min-ing, including different types of air pollution.Explosives used during underground and surfacemining release carbon monoxide pollution, a healththreat for workers.both stir up small dust and coal particles, whichcause serious and potentially fatal respiratory prob-Harmful air pollution is alsoreleased when coal is transported.About 75 percent of all coal ship-ments in the U.S. are made viarailroads,which are one of thenations largest sources of soot andsmog can cause health problems,including respiratory problemsand increased risk of asthma attacks.blows off into the surrounding air, a substantialproblem considering that a typical coal plantrequires 40 railcars per day to deliver the 1.4 milliontons of coal needed each year.The problem ofblowing coal dust from trains and trucks is clearlyseen in some communities where residents routinelywipe thick layers of coal dust off their houses. Vivian Stockman / 8 BLACK LUNG PUTS COAL MINERS AT RISK Black lung is a group of respiratory diseases incoal miners that can cause serious lung diseaseKnown technically as pneumoco-niosis or silicosis,black lung is caused by repeatedexposure to coal dust and other small particlesstirred up during coal mining.Symptoms includecoughing,spitting up black material,shortness ofbreath,and eventual hardening and scarring ofthe lungs.Although some of the symptoms canbe alleviated,there is no known cure for blacklung and no reversal of the symptoms.The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimatethat about 12,000 miners died from black lung inthe the ten-year period ending in 2002,while other estimates put the toll at about 1,500per year.There is a strong correlation betweenlength of exposure (years in the mine) andprevalence of black lung,with about eight per-cent of long-term workers affected by the dis-ease.Although the prevalence of black lunghas decreased since federal mining legislationwas passed in 1969,a report released in August2006 by the CDC showed a new resurgence ofthe disease,with many miners aged 3060developing a progressive form of the disease ata much higher rate than expected.Mining reg-ulations require that coal mining dust exposurebe limited,but evidence suggests that thesetests are faulty and sometimes even falsied. Beyond conventional air pollution, coal mining isalso a source of global warming pollution.Methane, a global warming gas more than 20 timesas potent as carbon dioxide, is found trapped aroundIt is released from the surroundingrocks when coal is mined, as well as during coalwashing and transportation. Coal mining releasesabout 26 percent of all energy-related methane emis-sions in the U.S. each year.In addition to pollution and public health issues,lies in other ways, too. For example, coal miningcan destroy sources of local revenue, including lossesfrom tourism and recreation, such as the estimated$67 million lost annually in Pennsylvania from sportshing because of streams too polluted from acidhomes and decrease property value, making it hardfor people to sell their houses and move. For peoplewho remain, coal mining becomes a threat to localof water per day.Finally, every year dozens of peo-ple are seriously injured or killed near coal mines,including drowning and falling into mine shafts.Contrary to many claims, coal mining has been adecreasing source of jobs over the last two decadesand is still considered to be one of the most dan-gerous jobs in America.Estimates of mining pro-duction and working coal miners show thatbetween 1985 and 2005 mining production in theU.S. increased 22 percent,coal miners decreased by about 55 percent.average income of coal miners has also been on thedecline, with estimates putting the average weeklywage of a coal miner in 2004 20 percent lower thanFinally, although federal and state laws require recla-mation plans for coal mining sites, there is little evi-dence to show that these programs are effective atundoing all of the environmental harm caused duringthe mining process. Damages to water supplies,destroyed habitats, and poor air quality are often hardto remedy in the short term, and require intenseinvestments over the long term to solve. Additionally,in the 25 years since the abandoned mine provisionsof the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Acthave been in place, only about one third of the knownmine sites have been restored.million Americans are currently living within oneFrom polluted water to damaged communities, coalmining is leaving a legacy of destruction in its wake. 9 BURNING COAL:OUR NATIONSPOWER PLANTSbout 90 percent of the coal that is mined and produced in the destined for our nations power plants,where coal is used to generate about half of ourenergy.50,51Unfortunately,from toxic air and waters to global warming,burning coal continues to be one of the dirtiest sources of electricity used today.From smog to mercury to carbon dioxide, coal-red power plants are one of the largest sources ofair pollution in the U.S. The consequences forhuman health are staggering, especially withregards to particle pollution, one of the most dan-gerousand deadlytypes of air pollution in ourcountry. Particle pollution, also known as soot,can be released directly from smokestacks or indi-rectly through other pollutants like sulfur dioxide) that react in the air to form tiny particles.Soot is particularly dangerous to people because itcan be inhaled deep into the lungs where the small-est of particles cross directly into the blood streamjust like oxygen.Soot can trigger heart attacksand strokes, worsen asthma, cause irregular heart-beat, and lead to premature death.Particle pollu-tion also harms the environment, and is the leadingcause of haze and reduced visibility in the U.S.,including in our National Parks.from particle pollution continue after it has settledto the ground, where it causes acidication ofwaters, soil nutrient depletion, and destruction offorests and crops. 10 AIR POLLUTION AND COMMUNITIES OF COLOR Many scientic studies have shown that com-munities of color are disproportionatelyexposed to harmful air pollution,including pol-lution from coal-red power plants.Over half ofthe nations population lives in counties thathave unhealthy levels of air pollution like sootand smog.Furthermore,one study found that60 percent of Latinos and 50 percent of African-Americans live in areas that are failing two ormore national air quality standards,as com-pared to only 33 percent of whites.One of the contributing factors may be thatcommunities of color and low income communi-ties tend to live in areas that are closer to harm-ful sources of pollution.African-Americans aremore likely to live within 30 miles of a coal-redpower plant.African-Americans and Latinosalso tend to live closer to other sources of toxicpollution like waste sites and bus depots,whichmakes them more likely to develop health prob-lems from air pollution.In addition to livingcloser to coal-fired power plants,African-Americans also have one of the highest rates ofasthma among any cultural group,and are threetimes as likely as whites to die from asthma.68,69Numerous studies have shown that smog andsoot pollution can trigger asthma attacks andincrease the need for hospitalizations.also causes acid rain. Acid rain occurs when powerplant emissions like sulfur dioxide and nitrogenoxides react with water and oxygen in the air toform acidic compounds that fall to the ground.Acid rain falls onto plants and trees and eventuallyends up in lakes, streams, and the soil. Once in theenvironment, the acidic compounds cause differ-ent kinds of environmental damage, includingdamage to trees, loss of aquatic life, and detrimen-U.S. has decreased since air protections were putinto place, emissions are still relatively high com-pared to normal conditions and continue to harmthe environment.And, unfortunately, repeatedacid rain over time can suppress the resiliency ofnatural systems, meaning that over time it takeslonger and longer for nature to recover. In addition to being the largest source of sulfurdioxide pollution,coal-red power plants are thesecond largest source of nitrogen oxides (NOx) inthe nation, earning them a reputation as a majorSmog, or ground levelozone, forms when nitrogen oxides emitted by theplants react with sunlight and other chemicals inthe air. Smog causes a wide range of symptoms likeshortness of breath, increased risk of asthmaattacks, permanent lung damage, and prematureScientists have compared exposure toIn addi-ronment and can destroy entire ecosystems.Smogharms plants and trees, making it hard for them tomake and store food, and can damage leaves, mak-extreme weather. Persistent smog pollution canalter and disrupt plant growth over time, leading toreductions in crop yields.In the U.S., smogreduced crop production every year. NREL 11 CULTURAL IDENTITY AND TAINTED FISH:MERCURY EXPOSURE AMONGAMERICAN INDIANS Mercury exposure is directly linked to eatingcontaminated sh,and people who eat moresh have more mercury in their blood.In turn,this means that families who rely more heavilyon sh in their diets are at greater risk from mer-cury pollution.In addition,studies have shown acorrelation between sh consumption and eth-nic identity,with African-Americans and Latinostopping the list for exposure.One group that may be at particular risk frommercury pollution exposure is American Indians,especially individuals who live on reservations orin communities that depend on sh for subsis-tence.Studies of the Seminoles,Chippewa,andother native groups show that American Indianstend to eat many more sh meals per year thanaverage,putting them and their families atgreater risk from mercury pollution.In additionto being a staple of the diet,sh and shingamong indigenous groups also may serve aspart of a strong cultural identity,connecting theindividuals with the land and the seasons.Forinstance,in Florida,Seminole Indians living nearthe Everglades continue to rely on sh as a majorpart of their traditional diet,even though studieshave linked mercury pollution to the death ofendangered Florida panthers and local bird pop-ulations.Another example is in the Midwest,where Chippewa Indians depend heavily on shfor cultural identity,including during annual rit-ual ceremonies.Every year the seasonal breakup of ice is celebrated through a community-wide feast of walleye sh that are caught duringa big spearshing event.Fish that is not eatenat the feast is often taken home and frozen forfuture meals.In both examples,testing hasshown that people in these areas who eat a lot ofsh have mercury levels well above the safe limit.One sample from the Chippewa indicated that36 percent were at risk. Additionally, coal-red power plants emit largequantities of toxic air pollutants such aschromium, lead, arsenic, hydrogen chloride, andmercury. In fact, they are one of the largest sourcesof man-made mercury pollution in the U.S.After mercury is released in the exhaust, it entersthe air and then rains down into our streams, lakes,and other waters where it poisons the sh andseafood that eventually make their way to our din-ner tables. Mercury accumulates in sh and thedamage, mental retardation, and other develop-mental problems in unborn children and infants.It has also been linked to a greater risk of coronaryheart disease in men.The mercury problem inthe U.S. is so widespread that every year one in sixwomen of childbearing age has mercury levels inher blood high enough to put her baby at risk.Moreover, in 2004, forty-seven U.S. states and ter-ritories had mercury sh consumption advisoriesUnfortunately,certain populations may be at greater risk frommercury pollution, including African-Americansand American Indians.New plants that burnwaste coal for energy will make the problem eventrations of mercury. 12 Coal-red power plants also require huge amountsof water for cooling and other purposes. An aver-age 500 megawatt (MW) coal-red power plantuses more than 25 gallons of water for each kilo-watt hour produced, which translates to 300 mil-of water per hour.In the U.S., electric powerplants account for 48 percent of total water with-drawals every yearan astounding 195 billion gal-lons of water every day.Coal-red power plantsuse so much water that some have had to limittheir operations because of water shortages, whileother new plants have faced opposition due to localIn addition to short-ages, water use at coal-red power plants can harmand when it is discharged after cycling through theWater that is discharged is typically muchwhich raises the overall water temperature. Amongsh, this can decrease fertility and cause changes inheart rates.Burning coal also releases carbon dioxide (COpollution, a primary culprit in global warming.Even though coal-red power plants generate justabout half of our nations electricity, they accountfor over 80 percent of the carbon dioxide pollutionfrom electricity production in the U.S.In fact,coal-red power plants have the highest outputrate of carbon dioxide (or carbon intensity) pergers of carbon dioxide pollution and global warm-ing are becoming clearer every day, and scientistscontinue to report on the effects of global warmingthat are already being observed around the world.grow, and will lead to increased water shortages,widespread malnutrition, increased deaths fromintense weather events, widespread ooding ofcoastal areas, increased rates of extinction and lossof biodiversity, and changes in precipitation pat-terns, among other problems.Unaddressedglobal warming will have serious consequences onour health, food, water, ecosystems, and coasts.From deadly soot and smog to mercury pollutionin our waters, coal exacts an expensive toll on oursociety and our environment. And, unfortunately, THE COAL RUSH Even though coal-red power plants alreadyproduce about half of our nations electricity,there are plans on the drawing board to buildmore than 150 new plants in the next fewyears.If they are all built,the new capacitywould be 90 gigawatts (GW) of new power gen-erationan amount equal to about a fourth ofall of the currently operating coal-red powerplants in the U.S.Of these plants,a signicantnumber are slated for the Midwest,with 16 pro-posed in Illinois alone.The cost to build all ofthese plants is nearly $150 billion.Unfortunately,most of these new plants woulduse the same technology that was used to buildcoal-red power plants a generation ago.If allof these plants are built,they will increase carbondioxide pollution from electricity production inthe more than 25 percent from 2004 levelsand our nations total carbon dioxide pollution by10 percent.The projected carbon dioxide pollu-tion from only 72 of these new plants is equal tomore than half of the emissions reductionsexpected under the Kyoto Treaty,and to all ofthe emissions reductions that could be made ifCalifornias clean car standards were applied tothe rest of the U.S.and Canada.Building just twoof the biggest new plants would cancel out all ofthe reductions proposed by Northeast states aspart of their Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.Add to this the fact that coal-red power plantshave a lifespan of 5070 years,and the total car-bon dioxide pollution of these plants will exceed35 billion metric tons. David Parsons/NREL 13 WHAT REMAINS:THE LEGACYOF COAL COMBUSTION WASTEShe nal stage of the life cycle of coal is the wastes that remain after coal is turnedinto electricity.Known collectively as coal combustion wastes,these toxic byprod-ucts are a combination of solid and liquid wastes produced at coal plants.Although thechemical composition of coal wastes is dependent on a range of factors like coal originand pollution controls,the types of wastes produced are nearly identical at all coal-red power plants.For example,these wastes include parts of the coal that do not fullyburn during generation like y ash (from the smokestacks) and bottom ash (from thebottom of the boiler).They also include the particles and chemicals trapped by airpollution controls,like scrubber sludge or ue gas desulfurization sludge.Finally,theyinclude many low-volumewastes,including runoff from coal reserve piles and liquidwastes that are formed during cleaning and routine operations.Taken together, the amount of coal combustionwastes produced every year is staggering: more than120 million tons of solid wastes are produced everyyear.railcars every year, or a train that is 9,600 milesIn addition, the amount of wastes and theirtoxicity are expected to grow signicantly every yearas dirty old coal-red power plants are forced toclean up and install modern pollution controls thatconvert air pollutants to solid materials, most coal wastes are des-tined for landlls or surface impoundments.Surface impoundments are large open waste pitsthat are used to hold both liquid and solid coalwastes. Over time, the solids settle to the bottomof impoundments, where they may be removedand transferred to a landll. Landlls are used toreduce the amount of dust stirred up during dis-posal. The size of surface impoundments andments covering 1,500 acresthe size of over 1,100football eldsand an average landll holding 3.8million cubic yards of wastes.In 1999, therewere at least 600 coal waste impoundments andlandlls located onsite at 450 coal-red power 14 ities are concentrated in the Midwest, where thereis a greater density of coal-red power plants.that has been gaining increasing attention is aban-In theory, coal wastesmine rooms and walls, forming a layer to help trapcoal mining residues from leaking.enormous voids formed when the coal wasremoved during mining.However, because thereenvironmental dangers of these applicationsremain undocumented and need to be studied.Not only is it challenging to nd a place to store somuch coal combustion waste safely, but even afterit is stored coal combustion waste can leak out andpollute the surrounding environment and ground-water. At landlls, leaks can occur when contami-nated water percolates through the wastes or whenwater washes over exposed areas and carries offThe opportunities for leaks atsurface impoundments are even greater becausethey are often exposed, increasing the likelihood ofpolluted runoff into ground and surface waters.In 2005, there were 24 acknowledged cases of envi-ronmental pollution from leaking landlls andimpoundments, and many more suspected cases.These leaking coal wastes and polluted runoffs canbe extremely toxic and dangerous. Containing ele-ments like lead, mercury, and arsenic in toxiction have been shown to cause illness and death inplants and animals. Direct exposure to these tox-ins and others causes lower rates of reproduction,tissue disease, slower development, and evenThese damages are signicant both indi-vidually and collectively, where coal waste contam-concentrations and disruptions in entire ecosys-Vegetation growing on or nearby coalincluding reduced growth and die offs.toxic compounds can accumulate in exposed ani-mals and plants, causing the toxics to make theirway up the food chain when they are eaten. 15 COAL COMBUSTION WASTES AND THE CHISMAN CREEK SUPERFUND SITE Located 15 miles northeast of Norfolk,Virginia,the Chisman Creek Superfund Site provides agood example of the hazards posed by coalcombustion wastes.More than 25 acres insize,the Chisman Creek property is part of theChesapeake Bay watershed,including a tribu-tary that drains into the bay.The site was for-merly a favorite recreation spot among localresidents for shing,gardening,and riding off-road vehicles.Unfortunately,during a periodspanning almost two decades,the site wasused as a dumping ground for more than500,000 tons of y ash produced at a nearbypower plant owned by Dominion Resources.141 In 1980,six years after the site was abandoned,local residents noticed changes in the color oftheir drinking well water.Testing revealedtoxic levels of several metals,including arsenic,selenium,and vanadium,and in 1983 the sitewas listed as hazardous under the Superfundprogram.Although Dominion tried unsuc-cessfully to challenge the listing,cleanup beganthree years later,starting with extending publicdrinking water lines to 55 homes and installinga water treatment system.Other cleanupmeasures included covering and sealing off they ash pits and diverting part of the tributary.In 1991 the site was partially rededicated as alocal recreation site,but 25 years afterSuperfund designation there are still restric-tions on groundwater use in the area.tion is the lack of stringent federal regulations andsafety requirements. In 2000, the EPA reafrmed a20 year old decision not to regulate coal combus-tion wastes as hazardous, choosing to continue side-stepping meaningful protections by classifyingthem as special wastes. One indication of theinadequacy of this approach is that many of theseof lining to prevent leakage, including about half ofthe landlls and over three fourths of the impound-Furthermore, most states do not requiregroundwater monitoring, and many do not requireUnfortunately, this nal act in the life cycle of coaldoes not come to a convenient conclusion. Mostcoal combustion wastes are stored indenitely, andmay continue to jeopardize the environment andhumans for generations to come. Ironically, ratherthan returning neatly to its buried origins, coal thathas passed through this life cycle is in the end con-verted into something more dangerousand per-The same toxics that harmPeople are exposed to thesewastes through contact withand animals that have beenSome coal combustion wastes areapplied directly to agricultural elds, and evidencemay have greater risks of exposure than other peo-However, the single greatest threat of humanexposure is from polluted groundwater and drink-ing waters sources.The toxins found in coalwastes have been linked to organ disease, increasedcancer, respiratory illness, neuro-logical damage, and developmen-tal problems.Additionally,children who are exposed to coalcombustion waste toxins aremore likely to experience adversereactions than adults.In themid-90s, the EPA estimated thatmore than 21 million people, including more thansix million children, lived within ve miles of acoal-red power plant,a daunting gure consid-ering that most coal combustion wastes are storedonsite. Pollution has been so bad in some locationsthat sites were classied as hazardous and drinkingwater wells had to be closed. 16 CONCLUSION:CLEAN COALOR AMERICAS LEAD ENERGY MISNOMERrom cradle to grave,ground to ash,the damages coal causes to our environmentand society are enormous.Unfortunately,the consequences of burning coal forelectricity do not normally weigh into our national discussions about our energy future.As this report shows,the costs of using coal are high and are continuing to rise,especiallyas our understanding of the consequences of global warming grows.The coal industry knows that the equation mustthey are pushing putative clean coal. But, coal asit exists today is anything but clean. Ambiguouslydened, clean coal has become little more thanan empty technological promise of a different wayof doing business. Coal advocates, including thepeople and politicians who benet the most fromBig Coals checkbook, point to technological inno-vations they claim can help lessen the worstimpacts of burning coal. Ironically, what they donot reveal is that industry has been ghting stan-dards to clean up coal plants tooth and nail sincethe Clean Air Act was passed, and that a lot ofolder plants still do not have even the most basicand readily availablepollution control devices.These coal advocates also fail to look at the full lifecycle of coal, focusing their sight on the more well-known damages caused during the burn. The two supposedly clean coal technologies thathave attracted the most attention in recent years arecarbon capture and sequestration (CCS) andIntegrated Gasication Combined Cycle (IGCC).Carbon capture and sequestration is a processwhere carbon dioxide produced at coal-red powerplants is captured from the plants exhaust and thenstored underground to prevent it from entering theatmosphere. Although in theory CCS soundspromising, the challenges are enormous, rangingfrom separating out the COand transporting it toguring out how to make sure it stays sealed off forthousands of years to come. In addition, the scaleneeded to store all of the carbon dioxide pollutionfrom our nations coal-red plants is massive, andwould require huge undertakings to ensure that itdoes not leak into the atmosphere. As of now, car-bon capture and storage has not been demonstratedwith anything approaching the emissions of a coal-red power plant and remains an unproven tech-nology. Experts also disagree as to how long it willtake for this technology to be available for com-mercial and wide-scale use.The second technology, Integrated GasicationCombined Cycle (IGCC), is an alternative systemfor coal-red power plants that converts coal to agas that is burned to produce electricity. IGCC is Moorhead Public ServiceAspen Skiing CoCielo Wind PowerSacramento Municipal Utility District 17 often promoted as the easiest system to retrot tocapture carbon dioxide emissions in the futureshould CCS work out. Proponents also like IGCCbecause it can emit lower amounts of soot andsmog pollution. However, it emits just as muchto mention the environmental and societal dam-ages caused by mining the coal to fuel the plantUntil carbon capture and storage technologies arebetter developed, the carbon dioxide emissions willThe truth is that promises of these and other futuretechnological innovations that will allow us to usecoal with less pollution are not available today.Not surprisingly, these same clean coal advocatesare also behind efforts to jumpstart a new coal-to-liquids industry. Liquid coal creates almost dou-ble the carbon dioxide emissions per gallon asregular gasoline, and replacing just 10 percent ofour nations fuel with it would require a more than40 percent increase in coal mining.On top ofthese environmental damages, liquid coal needsbillions of dollars of government subsidies andincentives to be viable, money that could be muchbetter spent cleaning up our current use of coal andshifting toward cleaner sources of energy.Taxpayers gambled on liquid coal synfuels 30 yearsago and lost billions of dollars, a lesson we shouldnot have to learn twice.Finally, as this report documents, the inescapableconclusion is that mining coal leads to environ-mental destruction, polluted waters, and devas-tated communities. Burning coal causes serious airpollution, jeopardizes our public health, and con-tributes substantially to global warming. Coaling water and harming people who live near land-lls and impoundments. These dirty secrets havefuture we are building now.The challenge of cleaning up the way we mine anduse coal is not small by any means. On average,our country consumes more than three milliontons of coal every day, or about 20 pounds of coalfor every person in the nation every day of theyear.We mine more than 1.1 billion tons of coala year, and generate about half of our electricityfrom coal. To minimize the devastating effects ofthe way we currently use coal, we need tostrengthen our nations laws and put policies intoplace to protect our communities and our environ-ment. Some of these have already been proposed,like restoring the Clean Water Acts prohibition onlling streams and wetlands with waste. We owe it to our children to consider smarter,cleaner, healthier options for meeting our energyneeds rather than locking ourselves into using apolluting, backward technology for the next 50years that harms people, damages our environ-ment, and makes global warming much worse. Atthe same time, we need to be wary of continuing tohitch our future to nonrenewable resources or buy-ing into false promises about dealing with pollu-tion somewhere down the road. We must makesure that coal is mined responsibly, burned cleanly,tinues to be part of our nations energy equation. Tom Hall,DOEBeck EnergyCraig Miller Productions 18 1 Energy Information Administration, Electric PowerAnnual: Summary Statistics for the United States,October 2006. 2 Energy Information Administration, Quarterly CoalReport: October - December 2006, March 22, 2007. 3 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Inventoryof U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2005, April 2007. Based on calculation of COemissions from tables 3-1 and 3-3. 4 Energy Information Administration, Coal: A FossilFuel, updated February 2007. 5 Pennsylvania Department of EnvironmentalProtection, What is Mine Subsidence, accessed April2007 at Energy Information Association, LongwallMining, March 1995, DOE/EIA-TR-0588. AlsoDon Hopey, How Longwall Mining Works,Pittsburgh Post Gazette, November 23, 2003.7 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, DraftProgrammatic Environmental Impact Statement,2003 and Final Programmatic EnvironmentalImpact Statement, October 2005.8 Id.; U.S. Geological Survey, 2000 ResourceAssessment of Selected Coal Beds and Zones in theNorthern and Central Appalachian Basin CoalRegions, updated May 2003. 9 Appalachian Voices, Mountaintop Removal SiteTour #1: Sundial, West Virginia, accessed April2007 at John Mitchell, When Mountains Move, NationalGeographic, March 2006.11 Appalachian Voices, Mountaintop Removal SiteTour #1: Sundial, West Virginia, accessed April2007 at Michael Shnayerson, The Rape of Appalachia,Vanity Fair, May 2006.13 West Virginia Archives and History, The BuffaloCreek Flood and Disaster, 1973.14 Appalachian Voices, Mountaintop Removal SiteTour #1: Sundial, West Virginia, accessed April2007 at Appalachian Voices, Economics of MountaintopRemoval, accessed May 2007 at Id.; U.S. EPA, Mid-Atlantic IntegratedAssessment: Mountaintop Removal/ Valley Fill,updated March 3, 2006.17 Tom Pelton, Maryland Coal Minings ToxicLegacy, Baltimore Sun, December 8, 2006.18 U.S. EPA, Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment:Acid Mine Drainage, updated March 3, 2006. 19 U.S. Geologic Survey, Coal-Mine-DrainageProjects in Pennsylvania, updated January 2007.20 David Fahrenthold, A Mines Still-Toxic Legacy,Washington Post, November 3, 2006.21 U.S. Department of Energy, Report To CongressOn The Interdependency Of Energy And Water,December 2006.22 National Research Council, Coal WasteImpoundments: Risks, Responses, andAlternatives, 2002.23 Id.24 Id.25 Id.; U.S. EPA, Exxon Valdez, accessed April 2007at National Institute for Occupational Safety andHealth, Protecting Workers from Toxic FumesGenerated by Explosives, December 1999.27 National Institute for Occupational Safety andHealth, Dusts, accessed April 2007 at National Coal Council, Coal: Americas EnergyFuture: Volume I, March 2006.29 U.S. EPA, Control of Emissions of Air PollutionFrom Locomotive Engines and Marine Compression-Ignition Engines Less Than 30 Liters per Cylinder,Proposed Rule, April 2007. 72 Federal Register 15938. 30 American Lung Association, State of the Air: 2006.31 Union of Concerned Scientists, Brieng: HowCoal Works, accessed April 2007 at Michael Shnayerson, The Rape of Appalachia,Vanity Fair, May 2006.33 United Mine Workers of America, Black Lung,accessed April 2007 at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coalworkers pneumoconiosis, accessed April 2007 at United Mine Workers of America, Black Lung,accessed April 2007 at Kentucky Courier-Journal, Dust, Deception, andDeath, 1998. 37 Kari Lydersen, Renewed Concern over BlackLung, Washington Post, November 28, 2006. 38 Kentucky Courier-Journal, Dust, Deception, andDeath, 1998.39 U.S. EPA, Coalbed Methane Outreach Program,accessed April 2007 at U.S. EPA, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse GasEmissions and Sinks: 1990-2004, April 2006. 41 U.S. Geological Survey, Pennsylvania, accessedMay 2007 at U.S. Department of Energy, Report To CongressOn The Interdependency Of Energy And Water,December 2006. 43 Mine Safety and Health Administration, Stay OutStay Alive, accessed April 2007 at Jeff Goodell, Big Coal, 2006.45 National Mining Association, Trends in U.S. CoalMining 1923 - 2006. 46 National Mining Association, Mining IndustryEmployment in the United States by Sector, 1985-47 Jeff Goodell, Big Coal, 2006.48 U.S. Ofce of Management and Budget, ProgramAssessment: State Managed Abandoned Coal MineReclamation, 2002. 49 Gale Norton, Cleaning Up After Coal,Pittsburgh Post Gazette, July 6, 2004.50 Energy Information Administration, U.S. CoalConsumption by End-Use Sector, March 23, 2007.51 Energy Information Administration, Figure ES 1.U.S. Electric Power Industry Net Generation,October 4, 2006. 52 American Lung Association, State of the Air: 2006.53 Id.54 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ParticulateMatter Website, accessed April 2007 at Id.56 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NationalAir Quality and Emissions Trends Report. 2003.Appendix A.57 U.S. EPA, NOx: How Nitrogen Oxides Affect theWay We Live and Breathe, September 1998. 58 American Lung Association, State of the Air: 2006.59 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ozoneand Your Health, September 1999. 60 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, OzonePollution Website, accessed April 2007 at 61 U.S. National Park Service, Effects of Air Pollutionon Ecological Resources, accessed April 2007 at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, OzonePollution Website, accessed April 2007 at Id.64 American Lung Association, State of the Air: 2006.65 American Lung Association, Lung Disease Data inCulturally Diverse Communities: 2005.66 Id.67 Id.68 Centers for Disease Control, Asthma Prevalence,Health Care Use and Mortality: 2002.69 American Lung Association, Lung Disease Data inCulturally Diverse Communities: 2005.70 American Lung Association, State of the Air: 2006.71 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Acid RainWebsite, accessed April 2007 at Charles Driscoll et al., Hubbard Brook ResearchFoundation, Acid Rain Revisited: Advances inScientic Understanding Since the Passage of the1970 and 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, 2001.73 Id.74 Id.75 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA toRegulate Mercury and Other Air Toxics Emissionsfrom Coal- and Oil-Fired Power Plants. DecemberENDNOTES 19 76 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry,ToxFAQs for Mercury, April 1999.77 American Heart Association, Mercury, Fish Oils,and Risk of Acute Coronary Events andCardiovascular Disease, Coronary Heart Disease,and All-Cause Mortality in Men in EasternFinland, November 11, 2004.78 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Methyl-mercury: Epidemiology Update, presentation byKathryn Mahaffey, PhD at the National Forumon Contaminants in Fish, San Diego, CA,January 25-28, 2004. 79 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ofce ofWater, 2004 National Listing of Fish Advisories,September 2005. EPA-823-F-05-004.80 Amy Roe, Fishing for Identity: MercuryContamination and Fish Consumption amongIndigenous Groups in the United States, Bulletinof Science, Technology & Society, Vol. 23, No. 5,October 2003, 368-375. 81 Robert Wayland, U.S. EPA, Mercury and Utilities:Current Control Technologies, July 31, 2001.82 Amy Roe, Fishing for Identity: MercuryContamination and Fish Consumption amongIndigenous Groups in the United States, Bulletinof Science, Technology & Society, Vol. 23, No. 5,October 2003, 368-375. 83 Id.84 Id.85 Id.86 Id.87 Id.88 Id.89 Id.90 Thomas J. Feeley, III et al., NETL, Department ofEnergy/Ofce of Fossil Energys Power Plant WaterManagement R&D Program, July 2005. 91 Susan S. Hutson et al., U.S. Geological Survey,Estimated Use of Water in the United States in2000, revised February 2005. 92 U.S. Department of Energy, Report To CongressOn The Interdependency Of Energy And Water,December 2006. 93 U.S. EPA, Cooling Water Intake Structures,accessed April 2007 at Union of Concerned Scientists, EnvironmentalImpacts of Coal Power, accessed April 2007 at Id.96 Environmental Information Administration, U.S.Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Energy Sources2005 Flash Estimate, June 2006. 97 U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency, Carbon Dioxide Emissions fromthe Generation of Electric Power in the UnitedStates. July 2000. 98 See for example, Intergovernmental Panel onClimate Change, Climate Change 2007: Impacts,Adaptation and Vulnerability, Summary forPolicymakers April 13, 2007. 99 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ClimateChange 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,Summary for Policymakers April 13, 2007. 100 Id.101 National Energy Technology Laboratory, TrackingNew Coal-Fired Power Plants: Coals Resurgence inElectric Power Generation, April 12, 2007. 102 Id.; and Energy Information Administration, ExistingCapacity by Energy Source, October 4, 2006.103 National Energy Technology Laboratory, TrackingNew Coal-Fired Power Plants: Coals Resurgence inElectric Power Generation, April 12, 2007. 104 Id.105 Id.106 New Jersey Public Interest Research Group Law &Policy Center, Making Sense of the Coal Rush:The Consequences of Expanding AmericasDependence on Coal, July 2006.107 Dr. Gavin Schmidt, Goddard Institute for SpaceStudies, Christian Science Monitor, December108 New Jersey Public Interest Research Group Law &Policy Center, Making Sense of the Coal Rush:The Consequences of Expanding AmericasDependence on Coal, July 2006.109 National Research Council, Managing CoalCombustion Residues in Mines, 2006. 110 U.S. Ofce of Surface Mining, Mid-ContinentRegion, CCB Information Network Website,accessed May 2007 at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Reportto Congress: Wastes from the Combustion ofFossil Fuels Volume 2, 1999. 112 National Research Council, Managing CoalCombustion Residues in Mines, 2006. 113 Id.114 Thomas J. Feeley III, Coal Combustion ProductsChallenges to Increased Utilization, presentationto EUCIs Coal Combustion Product OptimizationConference, August 31- September 1, 2005. 115 National Research Council, Managing CoalCombustion Residues in Mines, 2006. 116 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Reportto Congress: Wastes from the Combustion ofFossil Fuels Volume I, 1999. 117 Id.118 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Reportto Congress: Wastes from the Combustion ofFossil Fuels Volume 2, 1999, gure 3-5. 119 National Research Council, Managing CoalCombustion Residues in Mines, 2006. 120 Id.121 Id.122 Id.123 Id.124 Id.125 Id.126 Id.127 Id.128 Id.129 Id.130 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Reportto Congress: Wastes from the Combustion ofFossil Fuels Volume 2, 1999. 131 Id.132 Id.133 Id.134 National Research Council, Managing CoalCombustion Residues in Mines, 2006.135 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Reportto Congress: Wastes from the Combustion ofFossil Fuels Volume 2, 1999. 136 Id.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,Chisman Creek Case Study, March 1999,accessed at Id.139 Id.140 Robert J. Williams, Dominion Resources Services,Chisman Creek Superfund Site: A RetrospectiveReview, accessed May 2007 at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ChismanCreek Case Study, March 1999, accessed at Id.143 Id.144 Id.145 Id.146 Virginia Department of Environmental Quality,Chisman Creek Superfund Program Site Fact Sheet,accessed May 2007 at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Reportto Congress: Wastes from the Combustion ofFossil Fuels Volume I, 1999. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency andDepartment of Energy, Coal Combustion WasteManagement at Landfills and SurfaceImpoundments: 1994-2004, August 2006. 149 See for example, MIT, The Future of Coal,March 2007.150 Williams, Robert et al., Synthetic fuels in a worldInternational Conference on Greenhouse GasControl Technologies, June 2006.151 The National Coal Council, Coal: AmericasEnergy Future, March 2006.152 Calculation based on U.S. coal consumption (seeEIA Quarterly Coal Report: October -December 2006) and U.S. population. Inspiredby similar calculation performed by the Union of For more