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Page added on May 31, 2010

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Coal Hard Facts


More than six thousand workers are killed every year in China’s coal mines.

The World Health Organization estimates that in East Asia, a region made up predominantly of China and South Korea, 355,000 people a year die from the effects of urban outdoor air pollution.

All over China, limestone buildings are dissolving in the acidic air that results from burning coal.

Pollution from China’s power plants blows across the Pacific and is inhaled by sunbathers on the beaches of Hawaii and California.

Toxic mercury from Chinese coal finds its way into polar bears in the Arctic.

America’s per capita consumption of coal is three times higher than China’s.

The average American consumes about twenty pounds of coal a day.

About half the electricity we consume in America comes from coal–we burn more than a billion tons of it every year.

In 2005 electric power generation in the United States produced more than $380 billion in revenue.

Between 1950 and 2000, as the world population grew by roughly 140 percent, fossil fuel consumption grew by almost 400 percent.

By 2030, the world’s demand for energy is projected to more than double, with most of that energy coming from fossil fuels.

In 2005, the world consumed more than 82 million barrels of oil each day, about 30 percent of which came from the Middle East.

There are an estimated one trillion tons of recoverable coal, by far the largest reserve of fossil fuel left on the planet.

The United States, called by some “the Saudi Arabia of coal,” has more than 25 percent of the world’s coal with more than 270 billion tons. Russia is next with 176 billion, China with 126 billion tons. India and Australia have less than China and Western Europe has only 36 billion.

Coal is an extremely plentiful but inefficient fuel source. We only obtain about 3 percent of its energy. Ninety-seven percent is wasted in the process of mining, hauling, burning and delivering its precious capacity to our homes for our energy needs.

Just the energy wasted by coal plants in America would be enough to power the entire Japanese economy.

Coal plants are responsible for nearly 40 percent of America’s emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global climate change.

The collapse of Enron, “a den of thieves” and Big Coal’s arch nemesis, produced one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history, sent natural gas prices skyrocketing and made coal extremely cheap by comparison.

Big Coal supported George W. Bush not Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election and helped him gain a decisive edge in key industrial states like the ultimate coal state, West Virginia.

Once elected, Vice President Dick Cheney’s National Energy Policy Development Group called for the building of 1,900 new coal plants, and recommended that the Department of Justice “review” enforcement action against dirty coal burners.

As of 2006, more than 150 new coal plants, representing more than $130 billion in investment were either planned or under construction in the United States.

Since 1900 more than 100,000 Americans have died in mining accidents.

Black lung disease which affects many of our coal miners has killed another 200,000 Americans.

In just the last twenty years, air pollution from coal plants has shortened the lives of more than 500,000 Americans.

In Appalachia alone, the waste from mountain top removal mining has buried more than 1,200 streams, polluted the regions groundwater and rivers and turned about 400,000 acres of some of the world’s biologically rich temperate forests into flat, barren wastelands.

Coal-mining has not benefitted the average West Virginian who has the lowest median household income in the nation and a “literacy rate in the southern coalfields that’s about the same as Kabul’s.”

Half the electricity in Los Angeles comes from coal-fired plants in Nevada and New Mexico.

According to the American Lung Association, 24,000 people Americans die each year from the effects of coal-fired power plant pollution, more than AIDS, murder or drug overdose.

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