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03/05/2016

Comments

Cara Hayes

I was very alarmed by this piece because it not only pointed out how widespread the use of coal is and how dependent the U.S. is on it for energy, but also explained its incredibly harmful impact on the environment. One statistic that jumped out at me was that, in the U.S., coal produces half of the nation's electricity and is responsible for 81% of CO2 emissions. Considering all of the activities that cause CO2 pollution, 81% is a staggering amount. Considering the fact that electricity demand worldwide is expected to double by 2030, this is very frightening. I agree with Epstein that coal needs to be measured at its true cost, including externalities. Because this is expected to double or triple the price, this would make coal economically competitive and possibly bring more money back to the people in Appalachian communities.

Another aspect of this essay that jumped out to me was the information on mountain top removal. After Professor Casey mentioned it in class the other day, I looked up pictures of what this process looks like. From the images alone, it is obvious that the impacts to the local ecosystem must be enormous but Epstein pointed out the full extent of this damage. Deforestation, landscape change, mudslides, flash floods, and increased heavy rainfall are some of the few environmental changes that areas with MTR experience. I was also shocked to learn there are over 500 sites across Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee. That amounts to an entire region of the U.S. that is altered because of MTR. The authors recommend to end MTR completely and I have to agree them with after reading this essay.

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