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The Dirty Truth About Coal
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by Alice McKeown, National Staff Coal Specialist, and Paul Wilson, Chapter Chair | 2007

In a new report, the Sierra Club documents the devastating impacts of our nation's dependence on coal.

The new Sierra Club report, The Dirty Truth About Coal: Why Yesterday's Technology Should Not Be Part of Tomorrow's Energy Future, details the serious societal, economic and environmental tolls of coal.

A copy of the report can be found on-line

"The coal industry marketing machine is working overtime to convince Americans that coal is the magic solution to our energy needs," said Alice McKeown, coal specialist for the Sierra Club. "With its multi-million dollar advertising campaigns the industry is presenting a new, 'clean' image. Unfortunately the change is only skin deep. Despite claims of 'clean coal' and 'carbon free' coal, the old, dirty practices of the coal industry have not changed."

From the time it is mined to when it is burned in over 500 power plants nationwide, coal leaves a path of pollution and destruction in its wake that damages public health, tears up the land, pollutes our waters, devastates communities and makes global warming worse.

"Coal is one of the dirtiest, least efficient sources of energy available," said Sierra Club energy program director Dave Hamilton. "Fortunately we don't have to continue sacrificing our health and communities to meet our energy needs; we have better, cleaner options."

We have the technology and the know-how to meet our energy needs while improving public health, creating jobs, and reducing our global warming emissions. Investing in efficiency and clean energy could create thousands of new, good-paying jobs across the country and contribute millions to our economy.

"As this report shows, coal that is not mined responsibly or burned cleanly so as not to contribute to air pollution and global warming, is a bad investment," said McKeown. "It's time to look beneath the fašade and see the true cost of our dependence on coal."

The world's scientists agree: Global warming is real, here and happening faster than anyone predicted. But scientists also say we can curb global warming and its consequences --if we take bold, comprehensive action now that add up to an 80 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2050. That's a do-able 2% percent cut a year, each year starting in 2007. Cutting emissions 2% a year will enable us to build a cleaner, smarter and safer energy future and stronger economy, to meet and overcome the most urgent challenge facing us, to protect our children and theirs. But to reach our goal means we must start right now to make different, better decisions about the energy we use at home, at work and as a nation.

A copy of the report can be found on-line at . If you would like a paper copy, please contact any Chapter Executive Committee member.

In addition, a new PowerPoint companion presentation to the "The Dirty Truth about Coal" report will be available soon on the Sierra Club website.  This new presentation outlines the highlights of the report, and provides notes on the slides to help you talk about some of the biggest environmental and societal

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