A majority of Americans (85%) oppose mountaintop removal mining, according to a new nationwide poll. Perhaps not surprising but very encouraging.
Of course, residents of Appalachia have long opposed this practice of blowing off the tops of mountains to get at thin coal seams, and then dumping the mining waste into the valleys below.
The survey, commissioned by Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and the Appalachian Center for the Economy and Environment, also shows overwhelming opposition to the Bush administration's changes to the stream buffer zone rule, which would make it legal for mining companies to bury valley streams with rock, rubble and dirt leftover from the blasting.
Besides public opinion, consider this other good news which shows that coal's future as a fossil fuel to be burned for electricity is limited.
-- Solar power plants and other renewable energy sources are real, competitive threats to the coal industry.
-- South Africa, which has had the world's largest continuously operating coal-to-liquids plant, is now planning to shut it down.
-- Germany has abandoned the coal-to-liquid fuel technology it pioneered, opting instead to focus on solar power plants.
-- Simultaneously, the worldwide solar cell industry is growing 35 percent a year, with China spending $3 billion a year.
-- California is looking into on-demand solar plants that he said could produce electricity that is price-competitive with coal-fired power plants.
All of the above has Big Coal worried, according to this recent AP story, under the ridiculous headline "Green power a threat to W.Va. coal".
The facts above are courtesy of Allan Tweddle, a consultant and a member of the West Virginia Public Energy Authority. Mr Tweddle delivered that supposedly ominous news to a stunned audience at the second West Virginia Coal Forum, held in Morgantown last week. (Fun meeting!)
Randy Huffman, head of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, reportedly said afterwards: "If you're selling a product and that product becomes obsolete, then you're out of business. Energy will not be obsolete. Coal may become obsolete, but energy won't."
I can hardly wait.