Do No Harm?
Sometimes a statement in the media really catches your attention. For me, it was the following:
“When policymakers look for new ways to add jobs to the economy, they need to remember the critical role that American coal is already playing in protecting our jobs and helping our economy. Just as the Hippocratic Oath compels doctors to “first, do no harm,” so, too, must our elected and appointed officials ensure that any actions they take will not harm coal and, by extension, our nation’s economy.”
The statement is part of a recent article in EnergyBiz magazine by Steve Miller, President of the American Coalition of Clean Coal Electricity. The article goes on to praise the industry for cleaning up coal-fired emissions and promising that new technologies will make coal even cleaner.
What the article leaves out are the facts. The only reason that coal is now burning cleaner at all is due to EPA regulations, which the coal industry continues to fight. No matter how cleanly coal can be burnt, it still results in massive amounts of mountain top removal mining that devastates communities. The coal ash that results from burning coal is stored in impoundments that threaten communities nationwide. The list of real harms of coal to our economy and health, and the degree to which the industry opposes necessary regulations, could fill pages.
As I wrote recently on this blog, coal is unique in creating the worst cost benefit ratio of a number of polluting industries and causes up to one-half trillion dollars in damage per year to the American economy. If Mr. Miller were being honest, he would quit his day job and advocate for a shift to truly clean energy sources, since these will clearly benefit our economy the most.