Originally posted at the Wonk Room.
The coal industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to get out the message of “clean coal” through front groups like the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, campaign contributions, and an army of lobbyists. But the devastating Dec. 22, 2008, coal ash slurry spill of the Kingston Fossil Plant in rural Tennessee broke through the cacophony of clean coal carolers. The sludge came from “cleaning” coal of toxic metals like arsenic, mercury, and lead so less went into the air. This ThinkProgress Wonk Room video is a stark reminder that in reality, coal isn’t clean.
This week the news of progress away from dirty coal has reached a fever pitch:
- A new report shows high levels of arsenic and other toxins in rivers downstream of the Kingston coal ash spill. “TVA says no drinking water standards were violated, but tests done by the nonpartisan, nonprofit group Environmental Integrity Project say otherwise.”
- A Montana electric utility decided to “scrap its plans for a $900 million coal-fired power plant east of Great Falls and turn instead to renewable energy to meet the needs of its 65,000 Montana customers.”
- In Pettus, West Virginia, five Coal River Mountain activists were arrested and charged with trespassing after locking themselves to a bulldozer and a backhoe at a Massey Energy mountaintop-removal mine site — that could instead be a wind farm.
- Two hundred fifty people in the towns of Prenter and Seth, West Virginia “with orange and black water in their taps, tubs and toilets are suing eight coal companies they believe poisoned their wells by pumping mine wastes into former underground mines.”
- Saying, “Coal makes no sense in this day and age,” Georgia Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D) introduced legislation to “limit then ban” coal from mountain-top removal and “place a moratorium on new coal-plant construction in the state.”
- In her State of the State address, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) called for “a near-moratorium on new coal-fired power plants and a major reduction in reliance on coal for electricity generation over the next decade.”
Green Inc.‘s Tom Zeller Jr. notes, “The coal industry — which suffers from an image problem to begin with — has had a particularly rough few days.”