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Reading the Pamphlet

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In response to reading the pamphlet "Top Ten Reasons Coal is Good" I have developed my own opinions originating from the facts I read in the book "Big Coal." After reading the book, I read the pamphlet and will share my opinions based off of the factual evidence and experiences presented in the book "Big Coal." I will describe each separately and distinctly from each ultimately reaching my final opinion of how I feel that coal is not nearly as great as the pamphlet would like people to believe. The pamphlet fails to mention the thousands of lives that the mining and production of coal has killed and affected negatively.

The first point of the pamphlet begins to make a statement on how nuclear power is more expensive than coal power, and how tree-huggers support coal power as opposed to hydro-power because of the damming of rivers. I am sure that tree huggers would a much easier time supporting hydropower vs. the after-effects of coal mining. The damming of river valleys does have minor direct effects on the immediate area in which the dams are being built. But by no means does the damming of rivers and lakes have as great effect on the surrounding ecosystem that coal has. Hydropower doesn't contaminate the water, it doesn't consume nearly as many lives of animals and people, and there is also no air pollution created from hydropower. The damming of rivers may temporarily affect the surrounding ecosystem but after it is finally built, the ecosystem eventually returns back to the point of homeostasis. Can users and producers of coal say the same thing?

Over the years the production of coal has ruined the environment and surrounding ecosystems. It pollutes our rivers, air, and lives of thousands or people living near coal mines across the country. For example a method of producing steel involves burning coal to extremely high temperatures improving the quality of the steel being produced. It is good for the owners of the steel companies because they in turn are able to produce a more reliable product. The negative effects are that the burning of coal creates a gas called sulfur dioxide. Sulfur Dioxide is gas that has been responsible for creating thicker smog and even directly related to deaths that had taken place in London in the early 1950's. It had become so bad the United States had to amend the Clean Air act in the 1970's ensuring the reduction in the production of such gasses primarily created by the burning of coal. Companies like Southern spend billions of dollars making every attempt to make the process of burning coal as clean as possible. Although it has helped it is still not nearly as environmental friendly as hydropower, and 2 billion dollar doesn't seem very cheap either (Goodell, Page 168-169).

The United States is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Yet we still rely on the burning of rocks and fossil fuels that we dig and retain from the ground. The deeper we dig the more expensive if becomes to reach such depths. Companies mining coal spend millions of dollars developing some of the most advanced technology ensuring better methods of mining coal. These same companies spend millions more transporting coal across the country via the railroad. When one spends 3 million dollars building only small portions of rail tracks to enable better transportation of coal (Goodell, page 79) some would consider the money spent it an inefficient allocation of resources.

Just the railroad congestion alone that takes place in Wyoming and in the East induced lost revenues in 2004 of right over $8 million. This is supposed to be efficient for our economy (Goodell, Page 79). The pamphlet even says that coal is better for the economy than natural gas, oil, nuclear, and hydropower. While they may not completely be false, coal is by no means an efficient form of power. The congestions prevent these railroads from transporting other goods and services that I would consider as equally if not more important than the transportation of coal. The more our nation mines the less efficient future reserves of coal remain.

With nuclear power the transportation costs aren't nearly as high, and the methods used to retrieve such resources aren't nearly as difficult and expensive. With natural gas and oil, the companies drilling such have developed pipelines by using pressure to transport gas and oil across the country. Hydropower doesn't even require the transportation of water to create hydropower. Hydropower uses the natural processes and flow of water on earth to help create electricity. Coal on the other like I stated before requires millions if not billions of dollars spent on just transporting to its final destination along. Not to mention the extensive process it takes to mine the large quantities of coal required to ensure people dependent on electricity produced by coal continue to receive power from the nearest coal plants.

In order to make the mining of coal more efficient, coal companies expense the environment in the process. While the cleaner classifications of coal remain towards the east coast, coals companies move toward regions like Powder Basin strip mine larger amount of coal, by techniques such as strip mining.



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