Coal is considered a fossil fuel that traces back to prehistoric times. Coal is formed from the remains of vegetation life that grew over 400 million years ago. Coal is a very abundant natural resource for the United States. Over 90 percent of the coal that is consumed in the United States is used to generate electricity. Coal has an important role in energy in the United States because of our increasing dependence on this natural element. Coal’s role in the United States economy is either positive or negative depending on whose view you take political and socially. The question we must ask ourselves and society is the financial gains that can be made by coal production worth the impact on our health and environment.
There are two methods to remove coal from the ground: surface mining and deep surface mining. The United States Department of Environmental Protection defines surface mine “the removal of soil, sub-soil, and other strata and then extracting a mineral deposit found fairly close to the earth’s surface”. Surface mining is removing the mountain top to expose the coal seams and then disposing of what you do not want from the mountain top to other areas. Mountain top removal is a very profitable procedure. The process of mountain top removal can be performed quickly and is very economical for the companies who own the land. According to the United Stated Department of Environmental Protection the following steps are involved in surface mining:
• Layers of rock and dirt above the coal (called overburden) are removed. • The upper seams of coal are removed with spoils place in an adjacent valley. • The draglines excavate lower layers of coal and spoils place in spoil piles. • Regarding begins as coal exca...
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... adopted in the 1980s devised to ensure competition, more than 80 percent of sales in the past 20 years had received only one bid. The report said the process for computing the value of the leases was faulty, costing the government millions. At the current rate of coal leasing, the inspector general found, every penny-a-ton undervaluation costs taxpayers $3 million”(Broder 2013).
The scandal involving the leases is additional support for the political power that the coal industry has.
Political or Social
The issues discussed on the safety of coal production on the health of the United States citizens and the environment is enormous. The fact that over 90% of coal usage is to generate electricity and at a cheaper cost . Coal is like a four letter word depending on your political and social views. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
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