A sober accounting
"Since 1900, more than 100,000 people have been killed in coal mine accidents, many forever entombed by collapsed roofs and tumbling pillars. Black lung, a disease common among miners from inhaling coal dust, can be conservatively estimated to have killed another 200,000 workers.
"And burning coal is even more deadly. In just the past twenty years, air pollution from coal plants has shortened the lives of more than half a million Americans.
"The broad legacy of environmental devastation—acid rain, polluted lakes and rivers, mined-out mountains—is impossible to tabulate. In Appalachia alone, the waste from mountaintop removal mining has destroyed more than 700 miles of streams, polluted the region’s groundwater and rivers, and turned about 400,000 acres of some of the world’s most biologically rich temperate forests into flat, barren wastelands."
From Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future by Jeff Goodell