This, obviously, is the removal of an entire mountain to get at the coal, to ship to a power plant near you so that you can get electrictiy. There is a movement to reduce the amount of mountaintop removal mining, and you can get the details here at Bootstrap Analysis.

You will also find a number of links to other discussions on the topic, as well as a handy widget to help you decide just how badly you should feel about this.

I was a little surprised to find out how much coal from Virginia powered us here in Minnesota. I see the coal trains coming down from Canada in large numbers, so I had figured we were using close to 100% Canadian coal. Silly me.

Anyway, go check it out.


  1. #1 Larry Ayers
    March 5, 2008

    I live in NE MO and I was also surprised at how much WV coal is used for local power generation. The remainder is from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.

  2. #2 CS
    March 6, 2008

    That site does not show Minnesota power plants to be using coal from the Virginia area. It shows some coal comes from mines out west (Dakotas or Wyoming?), via a company that also owns mines in the Virginia area.

    I seem to recall from some (nee) NSP people that much of the coal comes in on trains from the west.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    March 6, 2008

    CS: I had interpreted the red lines as coal rather than as business connections. Since the legend does not really specify, my interpretation may be overstated.