Published on February 16th, 2010 | by Guest Contributor1
Reckoning with Clean Coal
Coal generates around half of the electricity in the United States, so anytime we talk about clean energy it’s the not-so-invisible elephant in the room. The same way it’s tough to do anything on the Internet without some kind of contact with Google, it would take careful planning to live a day most anywhere without using electricity generated from coal. In the last election John McCain talked a lot about clean coal; in the State of the Union speech, President Obama endorsed continued investment. Jeff Biggers digs deep for the truth about coal in his new book Reckoning at Eagle Creek — The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland– stating it is ruining the heartland with a legacy of oppressive racism, environmental destruction, and devious marketing.
Jeff Biggers is an award-winning journalist and author whose family has lived in the Shawnee Forest of southern Illinois for 200 years. His connection to the land and what happens there is both personal and deeply researched- he watched the land he grew up on became the next moutaintop removal coal mining site. He has dedicated his life to telling the stories from coal country, fighting for the abolition of mountaintop removal mining, and telling the dirty truth about clean coal.
His new book, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland, digs up the truth about Thomas Jefferson’s policies that removed Native Americans from the land, how slaves were used to open the first coal mines in the Land of Lincoln (Illinois), and the horror of mountaintop removal mining. This spring he and 2 other performance artists will embark on a 20 state tour to perform “The Saudi Arabia of Coal,” a multi-media play that is part of his Coal Free Future Project.
Clearly clean coal is one of the main pillars in Obama’s vision of America’s energy future:
“Next, we need to encourage American innovation… to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives…. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.” – President Obama, State of the Union speech excerpts
But even Popular Mechanics Editor-in-Chief James Meigs was on Fox Business last week talking about how much of an unproven gamble clean coal is:
We would all do well to read and hear the tale from Biggers’ Reckoning at Eagle Creek and consider the true nature of our energy future:
“The old pond, the four plum trees, the sorghum and cornfields, the garden, the barn, and the one-hundred-fifty-year-old log cabin were buried in a crater formed before the Paleozoic era. But it wasn’t just our family history. It also included a thousand years of bones of the first natives in the region, the modern Shawnee encampments and farms, the pioneering squatters and homesteaders in our family, and the slave and coal miners in one of the first settlements in the nation’s heartland — all of which had been churned into dust in the race to strip-mine the area.” –J. Biggers, Reckoning at Eagle Creek