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People living near mountaintop-removal mines have way more cancer

Mountaintop-removal mining is not only bad for the environment, it's bad  -- very bad -- for the health of the people who are exposed to it. A new study, based on a door-to-door survey, found that in communities exposed to this type of mining, cancer rates were twice as high as in communities that weren’t exposed. That's after controlling for all of those other cancer-causing factors: age, sex, smoking, occupation, etc. Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones puts this in context: Nationally, 3.9 percent of Americans are cancer survivors, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but the rate in West …

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Industry threatens university over anti-coal sculpture

Chris Drury, a British artist, created this sculpture, entitled Carbon Sink: What Goes Around Comes Around, to express the idea that (JUST POSSIBLY) Wyoming's coal industry and its contributions to climate change had something to do with the explosion of pine beetles in the state. (Warmer winters have allowed them to thrive.) The sculpture happens to be installed at the University of Wyoming, which receives just a tiiiiiny bit of funding from the coal industry, like only a couple million dollars. If the university's leaders thought principles of academic freedom and artistic expression would give them a pass on this …

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NYC Mayor Bloomberg gives $50 million to fight coal

Michael Bloomberg has always wielded his power as mayor of New York to fight climate change, but now he's putting his personal fortune where his mouth is. In a gift that represents a substantial portion of the organization's $80 million annual budget, he's granting the Sierra Club $50 million over the next four years specifically to fund their Beyond Coal campaign. The gift will allow the nonprofit to hire 100 new people for the project, doubling the number of employees working on the campaign. New hires will include everyone from lawyers to social networking experts. The industry's predictably hilarious response: …

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Blockbuster news for the anti-coal movement: Bloomberg is all in

When I was in Brazil last month, I had a chance to talk to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and I asked him what the federal government can do to help cities. His answer had to do with federal regulations; specifically, he said something like, "cities can't force a dirty coal plant to shut down." I thought, hm, what an interesting example! Sounds like coal is on his mind. Turns out I had no idea. Bloomberg, through his Bloomberg Philanthropies, has just committed $50 million over four years to the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. Fifty million f'ing dollars! I honestly …

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More coal in the U.S. means more pollution for China

A young coal worker in Linfen, Shanxi, China.Photo: Andi808 Cross-posted from Sightline Daily. One of the nation's most respected resource economists, Dr. Thomas M. Power, just released a new white paper [PDF] showing that coal exports to China will increase that country's coal burning and pollution, and decrease investments in energy efficiency. In a nutshell, Power demonstrates that the planned coal export facilities in the Northwest would add to the supply of coal to China, thereby pushing down the cost of burning it. And because China is highly cost sensitive, even relatively small changes in price could result in significant changes …

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Quiz: How much coal is in your life?

It's not always this obvious how much coal is in your life.Photo: Mark HobbsWhen we talk about the horrible effects coal can have on your life, maybe sometimes we get a little too technical. For the sake of our fast-moving culture today, how about we put your coal risks on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst? Well, the Sierra Club has done just that with our new "Coal In Your Life" quiz. Simply go to CoalInYourLife.org, enter your zip code, and answer the three questions regarding where you live, what you eat, and how you …

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North Korea runs on wood-burning trucks

If you've ever wondered what we'll do after we've run out of cheap oil, other than eat each other, you have only to look to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, a.k.a. North Korea. Ever since the shipments of crude from the USSR and China dried up, they've had to improvise. So Dear Leader has once again demonstrated his Everlasting Beneficence and Ingenuity, pioneering the use of trucks that run on firewood and/or coal. Nowadays, if you see a truck, especially in a rural area, it’s probably running on “wood gas.” That’s carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas, produced by burning …

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Ain’t no mountain high enough: Taking down Massey Coal

Rainforest Action NetworkTaking down Massey requires outside protest and inside strategy. It's not quite as elusive as the ivory-billed woodpecker, but in activism, an effective "inside-outside" strategy shares some of the same attributes as that storied bird: It's highly sought after and much talked-about, but rarely seen. First, some background. The basic idea of the inside-outside strategy for environmental reform is this: Some folks work inside legal channels, such as litigation or legislation, while other folks create outside public pressure through civil disobedience or protest. The outside folks bring attention and generate public interest, while the inside folks provide the …

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Critical List: Republicans vote to give states power over clean water; deer ticks in the Great Lakes

House Republicans voted yesterday to let states decide whether a company is living up to the Clean Water Act or not. The EPA's decision to prevent West Virginia coal companies from dumping waste into rivers prompted the bill to begin with, so it's pretty safe to assume that the bill's not meant to strengthen CWA protections. The federal government says the cost of carbon is $21 per ton; a group of pro-environment economists says the cost is closer to $900 per ton. China's feeding its "strategic pork reserve" with soybeans grown in Brazil on environmentally sensitive land. As Moscow more …

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Coal company: 'Birth defects aren't from mining, they're because you're inbred hicks'

Babies born in areas with mountaintop-removal mining have higher rates of birth defects -- we know that from a study that came out last month. But, say coal companies, that doesn't mean the mining CAUSES the birth defects! They could easily be caused by something else -- like, say, rampant inbreeding. A letter from law firm Crowell & Moring, representing the National Mining Association, rebutted the study's findings by saying they failed to account for "consanquinity." That is not a thing, but "consanguinity" is inbreeding. And inbreeding is a nasty (and false) rumor about West Virginia, where a lot of …

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