America: The Saudi Arabia of Coal

Technology. Yet again, it will be our salvation and is the eternal object of our prayers. Our engineers, the high priests and alchemists of our times, will find a way to make what we have into what we need.

What we have is coal. “Ninety-five percent of our fossil energy reserves–the amount of fossil energy that we have within our boundaries that we can rely on for energy and economic security, as well as national security–is coal.” read Coal Poised for a Comeback

What we need is electricity. Lots and lots and ever more and more of it. What we don’t have anymore is a “cheap” and “clean” source to burn as natural gas prices have doubled since the mid-nineties.

America has been called the “Saudi Arabia of Coal”. Don’t think the emirs and sultans of American business don’t know this. And have no illusions that they care very much how or where the black rock currency of commerce is taken from the ground. Just pray it comes from somebody else’s back yard, and ask for strong delusion to sustain that deception.

Our trust for the future is in coal, and all the more so as we stroke the beads of our technological rosary in the faith that this same black earth can be burned without doing massive and irreparable damage to the atmosphere (praise the unproven Gift known as Coal Capture and Storage). And oh dear God let it be turned into a burnable gasoline-like liquid so that we need not abate the sacraments of ignition switch and transcontinental peaches.

Somewhere between 100 and (Dick Cheney: 1000) new coal burning plants will be built well within the lifetimes of our children. Suggest they check the geology, wind direction and stream flow patterns before they buy or build.

The Lorax of Coal may be headed their way.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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