Letters in the Dominion Post, Morgantown, West Virginia. From my friends Betsy and Mike Breiding

Shelley Moore Capito is a republican congresswoman from West Virginia. Daughter of former Governor and convicted felon Arch Moore.

China no poster child for coal-fired plants, by Betsy Breiding 

With interest I read Shelley Moore Capito’s comment on coal in the Oct. 30 edition of The Dominion Post. Capito says “Our coal is good enough for China. … Why can’t we burn it here in America?”
Think about that. China is a nation which gets 70 percent of its energy from coal.
The news has recently been flooded with photos and stories telling of extreme levels of air pollution which forced the closure of schools, roads and the airport in the city of Harbin (population 10 million) in northeastern China. It happened immediately after the heating systems of the city’s homes and businesses had been turned on for the first time this year.
Beijing also recently had an emergency in which the air pollution was 45 times the level recommended by the World Health Organization.
And a recent study has shown that severe air pollution has slashed an average of five-and-a-half years from life expectancy in northern China.
The Washington Post states that “the real problem (in China) is large scale coal burning.” China is now attempting to address its pollution problems with a new plan which, among other strategies, prohibits the building of new coal-fired power plants in certain areas. A “Clean Air Action Plan” in Shanghai will completely ban coal burning by 2017.
Fortunately in our country we are far ahead of China in our management of pollution from coal, but we are still far from being able to call it a “clean” source of energy.
We need to learn from seeing what the largely unchecked use of and dependency on coal has led to in China and think about the ramifications of burning it here in America.
Elizabeth Breiding, Morgantown

Selling off coal reserve may not be so wise By Mike Breiding

The recent article (DP-Tuesday) about CONSOL selling off five mines in West Virginia is certainly a look into the future.
With more and more low-cost natural gas available, dirty coal will be less and less profitable for big coal to sell domestically.
Instead, they are going to ship this strategic and critical mineral off shore and sell it to the highest bidder.
If past sales are any indication, much of our coal will go to China, which has one of the worst air pollution problems on the planet, primarily from burning dirty coal.
We are fortunate our citizens have finally been able to convince our representatives in Washington that dirty coal is not good for America.
Yes, it may provide jobs and make a few mine owners and stock holders rich, but this has been at a huge environmental and health cost to all Americans.
Although we will be burning less and less coal as time goes on, this is no reason to sell off this strategic and critical mineral to the highest bidder.
Someday we will need that coal, and hopefully, have the means to use it without risk to the environment and our health.
But will there be any coal to fall back on? Or will we be buying it back from China and the other countries we are now sending it to?
Only time will tell.

Mike Breiding, Morgantown 

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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