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The Environment


Why Anthracite coal?

A major reason is the abundant supply. If we used all the recoverable coal we have in the United States at the same rate we are using it today, there is enough coal to last more than two hundred years. We have much more coal than oil or natural gas, in fact the State of Wyoming alone has more coal than Saudi Arabia has oil. And even though nuclear power can be used to generate low cost electricity, it has become more and more expensive and difficult to build this type of power plant.

What about the sun or other renewable sources?

In some places, wind power, geothermal energy, wood, waste and solar technologies supply energy directly to homes and businesses. These alternative sources are spread out geographically, vary with the weather and the seasons, and produce expensive energy. Therefore, no single current technology can supply a major portion of the huge amounts of energy demanded by homes, factories and businesses.

Does the coal require exploration?

We already know where most of the coal is located, and that’s the good news. Two thirds of the world’s coal is located right here in the United States. If you owned a company that was looking for oil or natural gas, you might spend millions of dollars trying to find these fuels, many times without any luck. Looking for coal costs money, but it is easier and cheaper to find than oil and natural gas.

Can we protect the environment?

Early in the 20th century, coal use had a bad image because of the soot, dirt and pollution it created. Because of continued investment by the major coal users in advancing technology, coal use has tripled since 1970, but the air is cleaner.

This investment has paid off. Between 1980 and 2001 (the last year data were available) emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOX), and particulate matter (PM-10) from electricity from coal have dropped.
(* Measured by the pounds of emissions per KWh generated by coal.)

  • The SO2 emission rate has dropped 38%
  • The NOX emission rate has dropped 32%
  • The PM-10 emission rate has dropped 25%
    Source: EPA, National Emissions Inventory, Average Annual Emissions, February 2003

In the same way, great care is taken by coal companies to restore the land, which is temporarily disturbed during mining. Coal is a logical fuel because we have lots of it, we can afford it and we know where it is.

Why use Anthracite coal?

Anthracite coal is your best choice because it burns clean, it burns hotter, and there is an ample supply (several hundred years of reserves are available).

What happens to the land after the coal has been removed?

The reclamation process begins. The rock and dirt is returned to the same area from which the coal was removed. Next, bulldozers smooth the filled-in area. Topsoil is replaced and the area is seeded and fertilized.

Before too long, the land looks the same or better than it did before mining. Reclamation is the last phase of modern surface mining. Examples of successful reclamation are throughout the country. If you live in Ohio, there is a huge campground and a wildlife preserve that was once a surface mine. In Pennsylvania, a golf course was built on mined land. Indiana has several parks in the southern part of the state that are reclaimed areas. In West Virginia, there is a high school built on a mountaintop, where not too long ago, draglines and trucks were mining coal; and a hospital built on reclaimed land. Out west, in Arizona, there are cattle grazing on land restored by coal companies. If you drove past these places, you would not be able to tell the reclaimed land from land that had never been mined.

Is it safe?

Anthracite is a safe fuel for use in all applications. Anthracite is easily stored with little or no deterioration. It does not contaminate soil. It is not volatile and will not explode, and because it has no creosote, the risk of chimney fires is eliminated. The byproduct, ash, is completely safe. You can use it as compost for your lawn or garden or it can be disposed of with your trash collection.

And as proof of its environmental soundness, Anthracite has been exempted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from any cleaning requirements when burned, even in large quantities for power generation purposes.