Embed America: The Coal War
Amanda Sedgmer, 29, with her children in Hopedale, OH. She's worried about the coal industry and her family's way of life surviving.
July 17th, 2012
07:37 AM ET

Embed America: The Coal War

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.

Read our full story here. You can check out all our Embed America coverage here. And track the team's progress on our Embed America map.

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  7. salem

    Terrific report, indicating the human and scientific aspects of the story.
    Coal will certainly cook the planet! But, will also still be a part of the country's
    energy future. Another part of the war on coal is the rapid growth of fracking -
    but the costs there could be really large in other areas, like the loss of groundwater.

    July 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Norm

    Coal and anything fossil fuel based is dirty and pumps CO2 into our atmosphere. We can not afford to continue to pump these dangerous gasses and mercury by products into the air and our environment. We need to clean up our act before we kill ourselves. I personally am glad that we have a President that is willing to make us realize these hard facts and to help us make these hard decesions. I am all for cleaning up our act and making the world a better place to live. Sure there are associated costs and we will have to pay them. In your report you mention the future. Be warned that if we do not change our ways there wil not be a future. Change our ways now or pay even more and in different ways later. Personally I am all for doing it now to cut down on CO2 emisions and hopefully start to turn the tied on global warming. Additionally curb mercury poisioning now so that my son and I can still enjoy going out fishing and feel somewhat safe in eating our catch of the day not having to worry about mercury poisoning. I stand for change!

    July 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      How about YOU cut the first check to pay for that change then. As long as we live in a country where one of every two adults pays *no federal income tax* I don't want to hear another word about what costs are involved with something and how we'll have to deal with them.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. amy

    Guess what coal miners? Your product is ruining our planet. Unless we eliminate coal as a source of energy there won't be a planet left to populate. Why don't you people see past the short term and realize you're industry has failed and you'll need to reeducate yourselves to another line of work – for the betterment of us all. And stop having so many children!

    July 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      I love how when we're talking about the welfare and unemployment system in this country liberals love to come out and tell us how we need to provide a safetey net for the poor, but when they don't like the industry that those working class people are employed in, the tone switches. Now it's time to just gut the industry that these people work in, and leave them twisting in the wind. It's apparently up to them to reeducate themselves.

      Oh, and please be sure to consult with Amy here (whoever she is) about all family planning in the future. She apparently knows best.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Glad Amy saw fit to put herself in charge of poupulation control. What does that have to do with coal?

      July 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |