The Cleanliness of Coal Mining Industry

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American Author Jeff Goodell, in his book Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future, censure electricity as clean coal energy(make coal mining look pretty even though workers lives are at risk everyday plus it and it dangerous to our society) because of its negative impacts on society. Goodell’s purpose is to inform his audience about how generating electricity across America is very detrimental to the environment because of numerous almost of coal burned each year. This essay will argue that Goodell uses how workers are poorly paid and furthermore how unsafe it is to work on coal mines to challenge the belief that electricity is “clean” because society does not know what goes on behind the curtain.

Goodell argues that the coal industry plays a significant role in America’s energy. America “burns more than a billion tons of coal” per year and most generate electricity. Coal is used to generate electricity because it is very cheap and there is a lot available to. “When you flip the switch on the wall and the light goes on” the electricity being used is generated from coal. In the course of history, coal was mainly used to power engines. It was not until the late 1900s when fossil fuel (coal) was used to produce electricity in homes the electricity being used is generated from coal. Even the refrigerator, television and hot water you use to shower with all come from.

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In his rebuttal to electricity as “clean” energy, Goodell carefully constructs his argument against the coal mining industry being “clean.” Since coal is one of the largest contributors to electricity in America, Goodell asserts people who lived in mining communities would complain about it is affecting them. A viewer said in a letter that he or she wrote to the Chicago Sun-Times (newspaper) “who still get black lunges?” To solve this problem, big companies like PBS would buy the land and force people in the community to move out of their homes. Even though coal colonies thought that the abundance of natural resources(coal) they had available to them in West Virginia would make them wealthy, it brought nothing but disaster. Coal “has brought poverty, sickness, environmental devastation, and despair.” Due to the production of coal fossil fuel polluting the air leads to health issues. For example, people who live in mining communities can get black lungs because of the dust particles from coal inhaled daily. This suggests that even people who do not work in the mining industry can be affected by it and even lead to death.

Supplying coal also costs a big disaster in the environment. One disruption was the pollution of water. One example Goodell uses is the Big Branch Creek river in West Virginia that was a normal river that turns into “a wall of black river water roaring down out of the hollow” said Maria Gunnoe a resident in Bob White. When cutting of mountains top to supply coal workers usually dump the removals in waterways. Aquatic animals that depend on water to survive lives are at risk. Also, coal power plants would release toxic metals in these waterways. Water is one of the earth's natural resources that is used for many things like drinking was also affected. One method of getting rid of the excess of coal remain is injecting it underground in abandoned mines “where it can easily migrate into drinking water.” When the water society uses to stay hydrated and cooks meals is now degraded and now America has to find a way to fix this issue or find another source of water because we can not live without it.

One aspect of Goodell’s critique of the coal industry that I find effective is the labor conditions for workers. In the early 2000s, coal miners’ weekly salary was “about 20 percent lower than it was in 1985.” Although these coal companies know how very dangerous it is to work on coal mines they only cared about the money that they were earning. Although they made a lot from supplying coal, workers did not get paid a lot and so only making enough to get by each day. People who worked for mining companies live from paycheck to paycheck. This shows that workers were hardly making enough money. At this day and age if you were poor, working on a mine was not going to them any better. Immigrant workers would send the money they earn back home to support their families.

Providing electricity is not safe for workers because of how dangerous it was to work in coal mines and working with machinery. People who worked underground risk their lives every day because it was a life or death situation. For example, “Roughnecks working on gas rigs may lose their fingers.”Maybe losing a finger is not such a bad thing but putting themselves just to provide for their families, they deserve to be treated better. Nevertheless, underground mine works in Pennsylvania would hit flood mines. These workers would either get trapped underground for hours or killed before help could get to them. A mine safety inspector said, “on how many bodies they pull out of the ground.” Miners who work underground would get killed because old mines would collapse or flooded. This demonstrates that workers dying underground is a regular thing that happens in the coal industry. This indicates that the working conditions are very death-dealing. Imagining how these men would put themselves through all this knowing that they could die any day just to provide for their families. This demonstrates that workers dying underground is a regular thing that happens in the coal industry.

In my view, the account of labor issues is persuasive because Goodell uses repetition and primary sources to support this claim. Throughout the book, he uses the word “clean” repeatedly to emphasize the significance of why electricity is not a clean source of energy. His purpose is to convince the reader that flippling a switch makes electricity look clean but when you trace back to where it comes from is very much not what it seems like. Another technique that he uses that was very persuasive to me is primary sources. Using primary sources such as letters and interview from people that live in or near coal mines give me a much deeper understanding and help me is reliable and it delivers a more convey He uses such as letters and notes to support his claim Goodell established that coal was not clean energy by using significant evidence to empathize the importance of the coal indurty and the underlying issues that come with it.

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