Edited by Douglas S. Kenney and Robert Wilkinson
Chapter 3: The Coal Conundrum
3. 3.1. The coal conundrum Kristen Averyt INTRODUCTION Despite the attention given to clean and innovative energy technologies, coal remains ‘king’ in many communities, not only in terms of its contribution to America’s energy portfolio, but as an enduring cultural influence. Many communities – including those of major urban centers along the eastern corridor, small mining towns in Appalachia and on the Colorado Plateau, and tribal lands in the West – have been and continue to be defined by industries dependent on coal. But just as America is dependent upon coal, coal is dependent upon water resources. Nowhere is this relationship more delicate than in the western United States, where coal yields have been climbing while water availability concerns grow. Further complicating the coal–water relationship are questions of pollution, to both water and air, and regulatory trends that increasingly favor other fuel sources, such as natural gas. The role that coal will play in America’s energy future remains an unsettled question, but whatever the outcome, it will undoubtedly have significant implications for western water resources. 3.2. THE CULTURE OF COAL The origin of commercial coal mining in the US can be traced back to the mid-1700s in Virginia. But coal was not established as a socioeconomic linchpin in the US until 1830, when Tom Thumb – a coal-powered locomotive – was introduced, prompting a fuel shift from wood to coal. As industry thrived and populations migrated westward, the demand for coal continued to grow, and mining operations began to emerge in the West....
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.