I grew up in South Florida, a place where the only hills are overpasses. Nearly every summer, we traveled to northeast Georgia or western North Carolina where Dad, a good ol’ boy from southern Georgia, shared his love of mountains with all of us. We played in mountain streams, fished for trout, dove off of rafts in the middle of lakes, and hiked until our feet hurt.
As I listen to people who talk about scrubbers and carbon capture and sequestration as ways to make coal burning “clean”, I think about all of the other negative effects that we are accepting by continuing to supply 50% of the electricity in the US by extracting and burning coal. If there was no option, I might feel differently, but we have known about a terrific alternative to coal for more than 50 years. Nuclear fission requires orders of magnitude less fuel, it does not release any air pollution, and it operates when and where humans need power.
Next time you see a coal train, pass by a smokestack, or turn on your computer, please think about the people in Maytown and hundreds of other small towns. When people talk about how the US is “the Saudi Arabia of coal” think about what it takes to keep those coal cars full.