Coal was used in a long age of innocence and denial. Today we clearly know better—burning coal has negative side effects. What cannot be denied is it remains a powerful source of heat and energy.
When I was a boy in Missoula there were several outlets for coal to heat homes. We had a coal furnace. I remember the smoke from coal fires was black and did not smell good. After almost 20 years, coal and wood were banned from the city limits to help promote healthy breathing. Also the tee-pee burners were outlawed.
Last week I went over a long coal train on an overpass by the pulp mill. With the proposed building of Pacific sea ports—exclusively built to accommodate coal shipped to China—it was easy to visualize endless coal trains going west. It’s an ugly and obvious attempt for polluted profits from those at the top of the idea. We really do know better now.