New Video: Pennsylvania Coal – Fire in the Hole!

Dear YERTians,

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

Just click here or the picture below to watch “Pennsylvania Coal”

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
Footnote #2
(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:
5. Ibid

3 thoughts on “New Video: Pennsylvania Coal – Fire in the Hole!

  1. Hey.

    Great job so far. I admire what you guys are doing!

    4 tons per person. ….producing 11 tons co2….300+ million Americans!…I hope you can propose a viable alternative.

    Not to brag but I believe I am close to loosing my car!!! I believe I will be living, working, and going to school on the same bus line!! This is something I have tried to achieve for a long time.

    Maybe in your travels you could interview someone that could talk about how much coal and or co2 is produced from various activities (e.g. how much co2 is produced per mile driven, or per kilowatt hour used in our house).

    Anyways keep up the good work


  2. This show is way coal…Your production quality is so high, congrats! And here’s hoping you allow yourselves not to be pressured to always maintain a high quality style. Medium works just as well and sometimes even better, especially when we get to see the real Julie, Ben & Mark!

    Have you thought about posting over on Bet they’d love to share your shows. So stoked you all are actually DOING this. I’m doubling your salaries immediately!

  3. Great job on the coal video, guys and girl! I’m constantly amazed that there is so much coal left to be mined after so many years of digging already. We seem to be going through our petroleum resources much faster. Do you plan on visiting a nuclear power plant and seeing what the state of the art is in this alternative energy form? I know most people are scared of the potentially catastrophic implications of a meltdown, but maybe technology is improving to prevent that sort of thing from happening. I don’t know, but maybe YOU can find out for us. I’m enjoying the blog also. Mark, I hope there’s no sign of illness from the tick incident. Keep up the great work.


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