The Coal Reality: A Long-Form Photo Essay

Coal had its time and place moving the world further, but with renewable power sources the need for coal is gone. As someone who has been up in the air over mountain-top removal operations in West Virginia and deep underground in illegal and unsafe mines in India, I say good riddance.

The following long-form photo essay is just a glimpse of what it takes to continue using this dirty resource and the price that people and the environment pay.


The recent announcement of the roll back of Obama’s Clean Power Plant rules and the embrace of “CLEAN COAL” (which is an oxymoron to be sure) to power America’s grid is not as worrying as many think. Power companies actually don’t want coal. It’s dirty; it’s more expensive than natural gas and they are smart enough to realize that the future is cleaner energy and more renewables. Have no doubt: not one new US coal-fired plant will be built during this administration.

Trump says he will put miners back to work, which is another fairy tale. Mining companies love automation. It’s cheaper, more efficient and much safer than having people do the work. The coal companies may have gotten a lease on life by these rollbacks as a few coal fired plants stay active trying to eke out returns on investments made decades ago. But again this is temporary.

If we want to get miners back to work why not train them to install solar and wind and do so on the very lands they ravaged to remove coal? It’s safer, better paying and has a bright future. And instead of building the Keystone pipeline for transporting carbon intense tar sands oil, build a pipeline for natural gas in North Dakota, where much of the natural gas is burned off during oil extraction because there is no system for transporting it to market.

The only way Trump will get miners back to work mining coal is to require coal be mined without machinery and mandate 65 percent of electricity produced in this country be from coal fired plants. Anything short of that will result in few new jobs.

The following institutions and corporations all believe that Climate Change is one of the largest threats the world faces. Maybe Mr. Trump, who respects all of those listed, will consult them before he continues his “hoax and denial” position.

The US Military, Coca Cola, Walmart, Apple, Cargill, Facebook, Genral Mills, GE, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Johnson and Johnson, Levi-Strauss, Mars, McDonalds, Monsanto, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Sony, Starbucks, Unilever, UPS, The Walt Disney Company, Xerox and almost all property insurance companies.