Thursday, April 8, 2010

Coal



And another reason we should not use coal is that it is very dangerous to mine the stuff. President Obama and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter keep saying "Clean Coal" when, in fact, that is a myth perpetrated by the coal industry. There is no such thing as "clean coal" and everyone should stop using the term. Coal has always been dirty and will continue to be dirty. Colorado just passed a bill requiring Xcel to convert three coal fired power plants over to natural gas. That is a step in the right direction but natural gas is not clean either. It is merely cleaner. I have been watching the news reports of the mine disasters in China and West Virginia in the past week. I can't imagine what that means to the families and to the men and women who have to go underground every day and risk their lives to mine coal. When I was working in the oil shale in 1979 in Parachute many of my fellow workers had left the coal mines in Hayden and Somerset to work in the shale because it was safer. The stories they told about having to ride into the mine on their backs staring at the roof of the tunnel a few inches from the tip of their nose gave me chills. Then after enduring the claustrophobic trip into the mine they spent the entire day stooped over because the mine was only four feet high. They said that after eight hours of that they could hardly stand up after work. Yes, they were paid well but it was hardly worth the pain and stress on their bodies. One driver told me about three of his friends who were crushed to death in a mine over by Carbondale even after warnings from the workers that the ceiling was going to fall. He packed it in that day and came to work in the shale. At least in the shale you could try to run if you were about to die.

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