Coal at the Crossroads
QUEST investigates coal, the most plentiful–yet dirtiest–fossil fuel in America. Coal generates nearly half of all electricity nationwide. Yet with mounting new pollution regulations, health concerns and the rise of renewable energy, is America starting to turn against coal the way it slowly turned against tobacco? Find out with four different reports.
Coal produces nearly half the electricity in the U.S., but the mercury, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide it emits also makes it one of the most controversial energy sources. For many environmental activists, coal represents an old, dirty source of power, but for coal-mining communities around the country, the story is different.
Coal generates half of all the electricity in the U.S. It’s also the biggest source of global-warming emissions and other air pollution. The coal industry says the answer is not to phase out coal, but instead to produce “clean coal.” Anne Glausser of QUEST Ohio reports on the difficult path for clean coal.
Half of the airborne mercury pollution in the US comes from coal-fired power plants. After years of study and debate, the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to announce new limits on mercury from coal plants in November. Meanwhile, utilities are scrambling to meet other new federal regulations and industry groups are asking the government to slow down.
California is known for its "green" reputation, so it might be a surprise that residents in Southern California still depend on coal power when they turn on the lights.