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Don't Get Duped Like Obama: Here're the Top 5 Myths About Coal

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By Tara Lohan, AlterNet

The coal industry has spent millions trying to fool the

American public, Congress and the president. Here's how to

beat the hype.


Disposal of coal combustion waste in coal mines is poisoning streams and drinking water supplies across the country. The solid waste generated by burning coal in power plants is the second-largest industrial waste stream in the United States. ... the waste's toxic contaminants, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, selenium and thallium, can readily pollute streams and drinking water. These chemicals can result in a number of health effects in humans, including neurological damage, cancer and reproductive failure, as well as widespread ecosystem damage.
"Power plant pollution is responsible for 38,200 nonfatal heart attacks and 554,000 asthma attacks each year."Many know of the hazards coal poses to miners -- the risks of injury and death from accidents, and the health concerns, like black lung. But it is not just those in the mines who are at risk.

Last year, a study by Dr. Michael Hendryx of West Virginia University found that when there is an increase in coal production in an area, there is also an increase in chronic illnesses. Here are some of the more shocking findings of the study, which that found those in coal production areas:

  • have a 70 percent increased risk for developing kidney disease;
  • have a 64 percent increased risk for developing chronic lung diseases such as emphysema;
  • are 30 percent more likely to report high blood pressure (hypertension).

There is also a risk to those who live near where coal is burned. In its report, "Dirty Air, Dirty Power: Mortality and Health Damage Due to Air Pollution from Power Plants," the Clean Air Task Force revealed that:

  • Fine-particulate matter pollution from U.S. power plants leads to more than 24,000 deaths each year.
  • The elderly, children and those with respiratory disease are most severely affected by fine particle-pollution from power plants.
  • People who live in metropolitan areas near coal-fired plants feel their impacts most acutely -- their attributable death rates are much higher than areas with few or no coal-fired plants.

Mountaintop removal is a mining technique designed, from the very start, to take the labor force out of the mining operation. What used to take hundreds of miners employed for decades, now takes a half-dozen heavy-equipment operators and blasting technicians a couple of years. According to the bureau of labor statistics, in the early 1950s there were between 125,000 and 145,000 miners employed in West Virginia; in 2004 there were just over 16,000. During that time, coal production has increased.

Again, a great big fuck you to W Va. They'll die in their filth.


                                               Look at the flowers

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