Coal industry may be bigger than you think

(from New York Times)

Throughout Colorado’s recent battle over new oil and gas drilling, I never saw coal mentioned. Wind and solar power were often mentioned as the desirable alternatives, but I don’t recall seeing anywhere that most of Colorado’s electricity generation is from coal. And when Trump was talking about “clean” coal, I was thinking about coal mining in Appalachia.

However, my sister referred me to a recent article in the New York Times, “How Does Your State Make Electricity?”  We’re both shocked at how much coal is still used in Colorado, not to mention the rest of the country. The maps above show the changes/improvement since 2001, even in Appalachia. But here in environmentally conscious Colorado, coal still dominates. In the chart below, wind is gaining slowly and solar, the tiny bit of yellow, barely appears at all. You’d hope both would be gaining rapidly across the Great Plains, where wind and sun are absurdly abundant.

The Times has always had great graphics and they really went overboard on this article. These are their graphs for Colorado and Oklahoma, and there’s a similar one for every state in the union. Each is accompanied by a paragraph explaining what’s been going on.

(from New York Times)
(from New York Times)

It’s disappointing to see how Colorado has lagged behind my old home state. Maybe the mountains here are responsible. I don’t know.

Check to see how your state is doing. You might be surprised.



8 thoughts on “Coal industry may be bigger than you think

  1. Coals a curse, and Australia to it’s shame mines and sells vast quantities to any who’ll buy.
    and yet yesterday the NSW government announced the building of a new solar power station the largest of it’s kind in the world (their words) it will supply, fully; one million homes.

    Meanwhile we will keep opening up new coal mines, ruining the country, and selling the stuff to anyone, doesn’t matter whether they are environmentally responsible or not, so long as their cheques don’t bounce.

      1. and sand, lots and lots of sand, we have quite a few deserts, unfortunately.
        I once lived and worked up in the Great Sandy desert ( what else would it be) in Western Australia. in a mining town, It rained twice while I was there 5 inches ( we hadn’t gone metric then) each time in 20 minutes or less. and we never had to worry about water, It was estimated that if it didn’t rain for 20 years there would still be plenty from deep underground. You can imagine the amount of water used in iron ore mining, millions of gallons Imperial or US ever week

  2. People don’t want consumers to think about how electricity is made. Dirty business which easily rivals Big Oil.
    Using less power – limiting unnecessary usage is a good idea while we figure out a better way to power things – besides far too much artificial light is being used – and it’s not all that good for your health and mental well being.

    1. I’m torn about whether a switch from coal to natural gas is much of an improvement. Natural gas is cleaner than coal, but I really don’t want more oil and gas drilling around Denver and the Front Range. There’s a lot more to consider here than just how much many wells they can drill (rapid growth and need for desirable housing development, recreation, scenery, quality of life, etc.) People don’t move here with the idea of having drilling operations in their line of sight.

... and that's my two cents