By Lisa Desjardins, CNN
Hopedale, OH (CNN) – Coal miners and their families across the country are worried. Very worried. At the same time, environmentalists are happy. Very happy.
But many other Americans have no idea of the very personal war going on over how they get their energy. Embed America went to coal country, following a story sent to us by an iReporter, to get that story and to find out how many see this election as pivotal.
[2:20] Amanda Sedgmer: "If coal fell, which is one of the main sources of employment around this area, everything would suffer. There’d be no funding for the schools which are already suffering. I can’t see how destroying one industry benefits anything."
Amanda voted for President Obama in 2008 and she is not a particular fan of Mitt Romney, but she's voting for the Republican because she is sure that he is the only chance the coal industry has to survive. Under President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency has put in place new, stricter rules for emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Of course, environmentalists believe the EPA rule and the increasing closures of coal plants is a breakthrough that is both overdue and will dramatically improve air quality.
Les Brown, the president of the Earth Policy Institute, points to studies that coal emissions, including mercury and other pollutants, cause more than 10,000 deaths a year.
[4:48] Les Brown: "It’s a war for survival. Saving lives, not just a handful of lives, but thousands of lives. But more broadly, saving the planet.
CNN: Is it right to say you would like to see all coal plants closed? Les Brown: Yes. It would be cleaner, it would be safer and it would help stabilize the climate which is the big threat to our future. I mean it’s even difficult to put a price tag on that."
This war is happening now. It is between a way of life that is cherished in coal country and deep concern over what coal does to the rest of the world.
And it may be on the ballot in November.
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