What's His Role in America's Energy Future?
By Lisa Palmer
Coal provides half of America's electricity and is the nation's most abundant domestic fuel source. Panel moderator and SEJer Bob Edwards, host of "The Bob Edwards Show," on XM Radio, led a lively panel discussion about the sweeping impact of coal use in the world. He posed questions about how power companies are mitigating carbon dioxide emissions as well as dealing with the local effects of mining on mountains, streams and forests.
Journalist Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal: The Dirty Secred Behind America's Energy Future, said the biggest thing journalists are missing in telling the coal story is the magnitude. "Coal is the 800 pound gorilla in the energy revolution," he said. "If, as Fred Palmer said, the world continues toward its expected 11 billion tons a year by 2030, then life on this planet will not be the same. It is far beyond dangerous. How do we communicate the scope of this issue?"
Among his many thoughtful questions, Edwards asked about Peabody Energy's media campaign. "If coal is so good, why are so many people against it?"
Panelist Fredrick Palmer, of Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company, said its mission is "to be a leading worldwide producer and supplier of sustainable energy solutions, which power economic prosperity and result in a better quality of life."
Cindy Rank, the mining committee chair, at West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, asked how coal giants can "reign in those extremes of the mining process."
SEJ members lined up at the microphones to ask questions ranging including, "Why is coal getting so much more expensive?" What questions do you have about "Old King Coal?"