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Does W.Va. need to ‘move on’ from coal?

February 2, 2013
The Inter-Mountain


The Jan. 28 editorial in The Intermountain merits a response, as I watched the Obama inaugural address and did not hear him say anything about coal. He did make statements about climate change and the need for sustainable energy. But publishing so many inaccuracies and untruths makes me disappointed in the Intermountain. Plus this "War on Coal" rhetoric is getting old. Let's see, where do I start:

Plus, the ecomomics of coal just don't add up when taking into account the full costs, i.e., externalities. Sorry to say this, no offense, but coal is just dirty-dirty to mine, causing damage to stream and water quality, and still dirty to burn (unless the real clean coal plant technologies start coming on line). Hate to point this out, but natural gas is much cleaner to burn: less CO2, little mercury, NO2, SO2, etc. Don't get me wrong, I think coal is an amazing fuel and it drove the industrial revolution. Heck, I even like the smell of it wafting out of someone's fireplace.

But let's just face it. Coal is on the decline. Let's stop the denial and get on with the necessary gradual shift away from dependence on coal mining and burning for our economy. Yes, this is scary and will be hard. But "with crisis comes opportunity." So here are a few suggestions on how to go about this:

It's been a great run of coal in the Mountain State. And all the miners deserve to be proud of their hard dangerous work as the backbone industry in the development of America. But can we just start getting on toward the future already?

Andy Stump




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