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Are You a Closet Coal-Burner?

A coal miner ready for work.Oh, the irony! Mere days after a billion gallons of coal fly ash sludge floods rural Tennessee, The New York Times runs a story about the joys of heating with coal.  But before we tsk-tsk people who invite coal into their lives, we should all take a look at the skeletons in our own fuel closets.

Find Your Coal Profile.

About half of the electricity generated in the United States comes from coal.  Chances are that coal produces at least part of your home electricity.  Or, it helps produce the goods and services you use.

It’s easy to find out for sure if your home electricity comes from coal.  A kid can do it!  Go online and enter your zip code in the U.S. EPA Power Profiler.  You’ll see how your power company stacks up against the national average.


The Trouble(s) with Coal

You might have caught those goofy TV ads touting “clean coal.” Well, there is no such thing.  Some time way, way ahead in our sparkling green future, a cleaner burning process might be developed, but there is still the problem of fly ash disposal – just ask a Tennessean.

And there’s also the global problem of out-of-control underground mine fires – just ask a Pennsylvanian.

And finally, there’s the problem of blowing up hundreds of pristine mountains for coal – just ask a West Virginian.

What’s a Kid Supposed to Do?

We can’t snap our fingers and cut coal out of our lives.  Kicking the fossil fuel habit will take time.  But we can cut down right here and now.  This is where every child can feel like they are part of the solution:

1.  Start in the bedroom with simple energy saving actions that every kid can do.

2.  Kid-friendly water conservation actions save energy, too – just think of all the pumps and equipment used to transport and treat your water supply.

3.  Bringing a zero-waste lunch to school – even just once a week – is another easy way for kids to get involved in more mindful, less wasteful ways of doing things.

Friends: Many thanks for sharing your green timesavers in my last post.   Switching from paper napkins to cloth popped up a couple of times.  It’s a great idea (you’ll never run out of napkins again!), and kids can personalize their own with permanent markers.

Image: j3net at flickr.com under Creative Commons.


  1. Informative article, especially the link to U.S. EPA Power Profiler – gives you lots of information on power generation in your area and the level of pollution produced.


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