Monday, August 1, 2011

I can feel it coming in the air tonight: It's coal.

Two weeks ago, the Natural Resources Defense Council listed the 20 states with the highest levels of toxic air pollutants. For Midwesterners, the list looks somewhat familiar: 1. Ohio
2. Pennsylvania
6. Indiana
7. Michigan
17. Illinois
18. Wisconsin
20. Iowa

Besides Minnesota, am I missing a Midwestern State? (No, Missouri doesn't count, but they were #16.) The cause that is cited is coal fired power plants.

Coal, burned in the Midwest, while increasingly, the farmland looks more and more like this:

There are detractors who say that the windmills are a blight on the landscape. Um, what exactly are they blocking? More endless sky and flatness? Normally, visiting relatives around the Midwest, there are three of these wind farms that I have to pass through. I cannot remember ever seeing these windmills standing still. Day and night, they are moving, producing power, and the only adverse effect is blocking the horizon and paving some access roads.

Meanwhile, a study at IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis... because Indianapolis State University was too long?) on soil samples near coal fired power plants found mercury deposits. With coal, we are poisoning our air, soil, and water. With wind, there's a swooshing sound and the ability to be hypnotized while driving between Rockford and Madison. So why do we still subsidize coal to the tune of $345 billion (according to a Harvard study)? Sure, we get cheap energy, but the cost of that cheap energy is being borne in higher health costs by the entire population, not just those who leave too many lights on around the house.

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