Front Porch Blog

Bad Coal Boyfriend Doesn’t Want Change His Dirty Ways!

Our letter about the EPA’s new Mercury and Air Toxics Rule was published in the Charlotte Observer last week.

In response to “EPA limits toxic plant emissions” (Dec. 22):

Thanks to EPA, it just got easier to dump that ‘bad boyfriend’ coal

The coal industry reminds me of a controlling, abusive boyfriend when it complains about the EPA’s new guidelines to reduce coal plants’ mercury emissions. He tries to convince you that you can’t live without him. But the toxins he emits give you bronchitis, give your children asthma and poison the fish you eat. Fortunately, the EPA just performed an intervention. Big Coal has known for two decades that he’d have to make changes to stick around. If he can’t treat you better, there are better options out there. Thanks to the EPA, it will be a little easier to break the cycle of abuse. Now you can breathe a little easier – and maybe one day, eat the fish again.

Sandra Diaz Boone

Now, what I couldn’t fit into a 150-word letter is all the false arguments our bad boyfriend coal makes for not being able to make these changes. Like it’s going to cost him too much. And because of that, you will end up freezing in the dark.

Joe Romm cuts through the industry talk with aptly titled blog post: Big Coal: Children’s Health and Clean Air Are Not Worth Our Spending One Penny of the Billions in Cash We’re Sitting On, he shows that the utilities overall have the cash reserves to make these changes.

Right now, that cost is being paid- by us, by the American people. When mercury and other toxins enter our air, water, and food supply, there is a cost to that. When we and our children get sick, there is a cost to that. To that child missing school, from the adult missing work. There is the cost of going to the doctor, to the medicine that will be needed, to the hospital stay that may be required. The coal industry wants YOU to keep footing that bill, not them. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Coal isn’t really becoming more expensive, in that regard. It just coal always has been that expensive, we were just blind to the cost. Let’s make the transition to new sources of energy, wind, solar and energy efficiency (which I know isn’t a a source of energy). It can be done, and it is being done, all across the world.

Businesses that adapt make it in the world, the ones who cling to their old business models, will not. The people are demanding cleaner air, cleaner water, and the jobs that come with making those treasure. Coal is a dead man walking, and there are other sources of energy eagerly awaiting to take its place.

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