Welcome to the exciting world of COAL! We have finished our first true “on the road” pod, filmed and edited AFTER we hit the road on July 4. This one covers our adventures through Pennsylvania, where we chose to take a closer look at all things coal. Highlights from the video pod include:
- A real live coal miner
- A visit to Centralia, PA (You don’t want to miss this place!)
- An orange stream
- All sorts of coal facts
We chose to take a look at coal in PA because the state is the fourth largest coal producer in the country, and the visible signs of mining surrounded us as we traveled through the state: The occasional mini mountain of coal tailings. Telltale signs of acid mine drainage from nearby mines. Local towns celebrating a rich history of coal mining.Our brains are hurting from all the coal-related websites that we scoured to assemble this little ditty. That effort has turned into quite a trail of websites, so if you’d like to follow our brightest breadcrumbs, we recommend the following:
- We nearly fell out of my chair when I heard Terry Gross interview Jeff Goodell on “Fresh Air.” Goodell wrote a book called Dirty Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future, and the radio discussion gets into all sorts of juicy coal issues, including basic coal facts, the role of coal in the upcoming presidential election, and even coal-to-liquid technology (CTL). You can listen to this thorough and often surprising discussion at the NPR website, here.
- The National Resource Defense Council has created a compelling document, “Coal in a Changing Climate,” that summarizes the effects of coal on our environment. Very quotable.
- The American Coal Foundation offers a variety of interesting facts from an industry perspective, helping us achieve a bit of balance with all the eco-oriented resources out there. We found this page to be a handy starting point.
There is much more where this all came from, so if you want extra detail, let us know! If you want less, let us know! Don’t forget that this is YOUR road trip, and this won’t be the last time we touch on coal.
We hope you enjoy the show…
With YERTful Enthusiasm,
Ben, Mark, and Julie – Your YERT Team
P.S. This video also includes our very own calculation about the pounds of carbon dioxide from coal per person per year in the United States. We’ll reveal our methods here for the sake of transparency– please keep us honest by double-checking our numbers! Working from this website, we determined that one short ton of coal produces 2.86 short tons of carbon dioxide. (This data is based on a somewhat conservative estimate estimate of 78% for the average coal carbon content in the U.S.) The Illinois State Geological Survey (website) states that each person in the United States consumes nearly 4 tons of coal per year (the actual number is closer to 3.8, but we used “nearly 4” for consistency with our footage). If you multiply 4 by 2.86, you get 11.44 tons of carbon dioxide. (This is slightly more than the actual number, 3.8, which yields a final product of 10.9.) For the sake of consistency we stuck with 4, resulting in a rounded value of “over 11” in the video. We hope this clears up any confusion!
P.P.S. And, just in case you can’t read our footnotes in the video, here is a full-text version:
1. American Coal Foundation, “Fast Facts about Coal.” July 24 2007,
2. Illinois State Geological Survey,
3. Energy Information Administration, Quarterly Coal Report,
January-April 1994, DOE/EIA-0121(94/Q1) (Washington, DC, August 1994), pp. 1-8.
Carbon Dioxide Emission Factors for Coal
by B.D. Hong and E. R. Slatick
(4 tons/yr x 2.86 ton CO2 / ton coal = 11.44 tons CO2/yr.)
4. Interview – “Jeff Goodell: Big Coal’s Dirty Secrets” –
NPR’s Fresh Air from WHYY, June 21, 2007.
Full audio recording available at: