Coal and power industries at war on health, land

I am writing in response to the concerns expressed by some about EPA’s plan to reduce C02 emissions which will result in the shutting down of coal fired power plants and the hardship for seniors created by the a possible increase cost of electricity. While it appears that coal fired plants produce inexpensive electrons in our electric bills, it really is a very expensive way to produce electricity if one considers externalities.

Seniors especially will benefit greatly by cleaning up power plant pollution. These pollutants cost us in this country an estimated $200 billion a year in health care costs. We seniors are most likely to suffer one of the 200,000 heart attacks each year to which this pollution is a causative factor. We are most likely to suffer one of the 25,000 pre-mature deaths that result from the very fine particles emitted by power plants that settle deep in our lungs. These are just some of the health consequences coal’s pollution.

The mountain top removal coal mining to our south produces all kinds of dust which creates health concerns. What about those whose homes and towns are destroyed in the flooding that results when mountains are blown apart? Do the defenders of coal like our Senator Toomey care about the children who go to the emergency room with an acute asthma attack? What are the health consequences for the seniors who live in one of the 200 communities who have had their water supply polluted by coal ash?

The defenders of coal always use “jobs” in their defense of the industry, but it is the industry’s use of mechanization, mountain top removal, and strip mining which has done the most to eliminate jobs. Clean energy can provide good paying jobs in the manufacture, installation, and maintenance of installed renewable energy equipment.

Is there a war on coal? Well, one thing I am certain of is that the coal and power industries are at war upon our health and our land. I am a senior on a fixed income who, through the Pennsylvania choice program, pay for clean solar produced electrons with my electric bill. I would urge all who can to protect the health of others by doing the same with wind or solar energy. The production and use of natural gas creates a whole new set of health and environmental problems.

Jack D. Miller, Center Township, Snyder County 

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