Global coal industry using as much water as a billion people each year

map: coal-fired power plants and regions of water scarcity in the USA

We already know that coal-fired power plants are bad for the planet, but that’s usually because we are just thinking about the enormous amounts of carbon dioxide emissions they contribute to our atmosphere. A new Greenpeace report entitled The Great Water Grab sheds light on another terrifying aspect of the coal industry – its astronomical water consumption. The report suggests that the global coal industry uses the same amount of … [more…]

“Wild, Wonderful” West Virginia’s Decapitated Mountains and Deformed Fish

photo: mountaintop removal by coal mining industry in "Wild, Wonderful" West Virginia - possible cause of deformed fish in the area

Photo credit: Mandel Ngan Getty Images

A scientist documents the poisoning of the state’s waters by the coal industry

I spot a mountain peak covered in dense forest, then another and another. But then, where I expect to see yet another forested mountaintop, I see instead a stunted plateau—a mountain whose once distinct peak has been chopped off, flattened and denuded of vegetation.

My eyes continue to scan the distance … [more…]

Navajo Water Supply is More Horrific than Flint, But No One Cares Because they’re Native American

photo: Navajo Water Supply is More Horrific than Flint, But No One Cares Because they’re Native American

The news out of Flint, Michigan brought the issue of contaminated drinking water into sharp focus, as it was revealed that officials at every level—local, state and federal—knew about lead-poisoned water for months but did nothing to address the problem.

Under state-run systems like utilities and roads, poorer communities are the last to receive attention from government plagued by inefficiencies and corrupt politicians. Perhaps no group knows this better than … [more…]

New Tests Reveal 15 out of 15 of Indiana’s Coal Ash Ponds Are Leaking

photo: glass of drinking water. New Tests Reveal 15 out of 15 of Indiana’s Coal Ash Ponds Are Leaking

Photo: Barbara Deardorff draws water from her tap in Wheatfield, Indiana. Dangerous chemicals from a nearby coal ash pond have leached into the local groundwater.

As new research reveals widespread contamination, pro-coal industries are pushing to weaken federal rules on coal ash and give regulatory authority back to states like Indiana, which has a dismal record on regulating this toxic waste.

As a writer for Earthjustice, I often tell stories … [more…]

You probably have no idea how much water is needed to produce electricity

photo: power plant emitting steam (not smoke or carbon dioxide) from cooling towers

Photo: That’s not carbon dioxide. It’s steam.

You’re likely within a few feet of an electric switch. When you turn it on, some power plant many miles away starts producing the electrons your device needs. Despite the growth of renewable-energy solutions, most of those electrons are still generated by fossil fuel or radioactive fuel.

The trouble is that thermal electricity generation—a category that includes coal, natural gas, and nuclear power—doesn’t

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