A coal-powered electrical plant.

Three updates on the coal industry. If you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing, here’s a summary. Coal: Ugh.

Americans see more future in renewables.

A poll from Rasmussen Reports indicates that Americans see investment in renewables as a better plan than investment in fossil fuels like coal.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 55% say investing in renewable energy sources like solar and wind is a better long-term investment for the United States than investing in fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. Thirty-six percent (36%) think fossil fuels are a better long-term investment.

What’s particularly remarkable about this finding is that Rasmussen is often considered to be more friendly to conservative issues. In fact, Nate Silver, the Times’ polling wunderkind, wrote that the firm’s 2010 election polling was “biased and inaccurate,” “overestimating the standing of the Republican candidate by almost 4 points on average.” He goes on: “The discrepancies between Rasmussen Reports polls and those issued by other companies were apparent from virtually the first day that Barack Obama took office.”

If Rasmussen says that Americans prefer renewables, then you can take that to the bank.

India is falling out of love with coal.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

A few years ago, India began resorting to importation to meet demand, having seen coal consumption nearly double since 2000. Today, the picture is very different: Import costs are rising, and India’s large supply of coal turns out to be ill-suited for modern plants. From National Geographic News:

Coal power is no longer looking like cheap power.

Although India has seemingly abundant coal reserves, the low-quality, high-ash fuel causes problems when it’s used in state-of-the-art power plants. Instead, companies like [India’s largest electric utility] Tata are looking overseas for coal, and import prices have been rising steadily. Tata’s chief executive officer says Tata Mundra won’t be financially viable unless it gets a hefty rate increase to offset the soaring prices of imported Indonesian coal.

Coal suitable for fueling these new plants is turning out to be scarce and expensive, leaving many in India to ask if it has any selling point left at all. It also is losing its luster as certain renewables, such as wind and solar, become more cost-competitive.

Of course, given how much coal the U.S. is exporting, it’s quite possible that India’s complaints will only be short-term.

A Siberian coal mine caught fire.

The mine, in the remote Kemerevo region of Russian Siberia, erupted into flames early this morning. All 263 miners on the job were rescued, happily.

It’s unclear whether or not the fire was extinguished. A fire in an old coal mine in Centralia, Penn., has been slowly burning since 1962. It’s one of scores of coal mine fires burning in the United States.

Here’s another summary that’s more helpful than the one that started this article. Coal: Expensive, unpopular, combustible.