Our dependence on coal raises troubling moral and ethical considerations, because coal is responsible for significant pollution and human health impacts:
Coal combustion waste accounts for the second largest industrial waste stream in the U.S. and contains several pollutants including heavy metals, fine particulates, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.2 In fact, accordingto the Environmental Protection Agency, residents living near unlined coal waste ponds experience excess cancer risks of up to 1 in 50.3
Destructive coal mining, including mountaintop removal, has already damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 miles of streams4 and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of land by 2020.5
Burning coal accounts for almost 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.6
Burning coal here at ISU undeniably puts our campus, our community and our planet at risk. Therefore, we ask our university’s decision-makers to become responsible leaders by moving us beyond coal towards a clean energy future.
1.Conrad, Schneider and Banks, Johnathan. 2010. Clean Air Task Force. “The Toll From Coal.” .Avaialable at: http://www.catf.us/resources/publications/view/138
2 US EPA, Human and Ecological Risk Assessment of Coal Combustion Wastes, August 6 2007 (draft).
3 Environmental Integrity Project, Analysis of U.S. EPA Risk Assessment Document. http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/pub640.cfm
4 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on Mountaintop Mining / Valley Fills in Appalachia,” 2003 and “Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Mountaintop Mining and Valley Fills,” October 2005.
5 U.S. Geological Survey, “2000 Resource Assessment of Selected Coal Beds and Zones in the Northern and Central Appalachian Basic Coal Regions,” updated May 2003.
6 U.S. EPA, “Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2005.” April 2007. Based on calculations from tables 3-1 and 3-3.