Support the news

America's Dependence on Coal24:42

This article is more than 13 years old.

It sounds so old-fashioned, dusty, Victorian. It took the deaths of twelve desperate miners in West Virginia to remind the nation just how dependent the United States is on coal.

More than half of the electricity produced in America comes from the same fuel that fired Andrew Carnegie's steel factories and the first old steam engine trains that crossed the continent. The mining industry calls it "buried sunshine," but clean it is not. Coal produces more CO2 pollution each year than all America's cars combined and mining it comes with its own now- clear dangers and environmental costs. But coal may be the future.

Hear about mourning in West Virginia, and a new century still hooked on coal.


Dan Heyman, reporter, West Virginia Public Radio

Barbara Freese, author of "Coal: A Human History";
Jeff Goodell, author of the upcoming book, "Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future";
Richard Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer at the AFL-CIO, former president at United Mine Workers of America

This program aired on January 5, 2006.

+Join the discussion

Support the news