Naughty or Nice…What’s Hard About Dealing with Coal?
According to Sierra Club's Bruce Nilles, there's really no such thing as "clean coal." Pollution from the coal-fired power plants —which are often located in poorer communities, such as in West Virginia —creates smog, which can cause chest pain, coughing, and breathing difficulties, and worsen conditions like bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. The coal mining process also takes its toll on the natural environment, especially in low-income areas. Beyondcoal.org reports that during the past 10 years, 500 of the biggest mountains in West Virginia have been destroyed as part of coal mining efforts.
Nilles points to a number of factors -- such as powerful monied interests, a "broken" political system and competing global agendas -- as barriers to overcoming the coal problem. Though some disagree with the "Beyond Coal" platform, Nilles stands firm in his belief that coal is a major threat to the global environment.