We are obsessed with the carbon (and other) emissions from coal plants. But because we (California) don’t have coal mines close by, we forget the horrible land use impacts of coal mining–destroyed mountains, polluted rivers. My good friend Louise Dunlap has spent a good deal of her career helping environmental groups in the Appalacian region get environmental protections into federal mining law, so she doesn’t let me forget. While Appalacia is far away, the mines in Wyoming and Montana are not.
There is a website that allows you to see in Google Earth where your coal comes from. Only problem is it doesn’t include western coal. But it still a striking reminder.