Grist Interview: Jeff Goodell, Author of Big Coal

July 15, 2006 at 1:14 am Leave a comment

DR: Is mountaintop-removal mining reaching the point of diminishing returns? Or are there plenty of mountains to go if no one stops it?

JG: They’re going to keep mining as long as they can, but there’s going to be real conflict there, because as I said, the easy stuff is gone. The stuff they’re getting is more and more destructive, closer and closer to communities, so it’s going to engender more and more conflict. It’s a volatile situation.

It’s not mined out, but of all the regions in America where coal production is declining, central Appalachia … That’s why they fight so hard against these mountaintop-removal regulations. If you put any restrictions on it, more and more of it becomes unmineable. They’re being done in by Wyoming, because in Wyoming it’s so easy to get to all this stuff, and the railroads are so good at shuffling it around.

Goodell raises doubt about the coal industry’s claims that there exists 250 years or 270 billion tons worth of mineable coal in the U.S. claiming these figures are based on studies from the 1920s and ’30s that haven’t been updated since the ’70s.

The problem with that number…is that it doesn’t take into account where it is and what it will take in environmental and economic terms to get it out of the ground. Vast coal reserves are buried under towns, under state parks, under forests. We’ve been mining coal for 150 years. We start with the easy stuff, and it gets harder and harder to get out.

Read the entire interview at Grist Magazine.

Jeff Goodell is the author of the just released:
Big Coal : The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future


Entry filed under: Media.

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