Why even think about nuclear energy?
The NYT story took Guambat back to the days in the late '60's when he was a VISTA Volunteer, and spent a bit of time in the tri-State coal country of Ohio/W.Virginia/Kentucky. It is a unique place in America, the Appalachian Achilles Heal of health, education and pursuit of happiness. Guambat can still remember the smell, the silence, almost haunting, but in an enticing way, the base humanity of the place.
It will do no justice to excerpt the story, but Guambat must not, either, provide too much of it for you, so you'd be better off just clicking the link to it and reading it yourself. To tempt you, here's this:
As the Mountaintops Fall, a Coal Town Vanishes
Here in Boone County, coal rules. The rich seams of bituminous black have dictated the region’s destiny for many generations: through the advent of railroads; the company-controlled coal camps; the bloody mine wars; the increased use of mechanization and surface mining, including mountaintop removal; the related decrease in jobs.
In recent years, surface mining has eclipsed underground mining as the county’s most productive method. This includes mountaintop removal — or, as the industry prefers to call it, mountaintop mining — a now-commonplace technique that remains startling in its capacity to change things.
Various government regulations require that coal companies return the stripped area to its “approximate original contour,” or “reclaim” the land for development in a state whose undulating topography can thwart plans for even a simple parking lot. As a result, the companies often dump the removed earth into a nearby valley to create a plateau, and then spray this topsy-turvy land with seed, fertilizer and mulch.
The coal industry maintains that by removing some mountaintops from the “Mountain State,” it is creating developable land that makes the state more economically viable.
“We got to have coal,” says Mr. Cook, a retired miner. “What’s going to keep the power on? But I believe with all my heart that there’s a better way to get that coal.”