This Land is Coal's Land

coal public landsMMavocado via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Let's say you wanted to use your land to generate electricity. Think of that land as your own backyard. What would you do? Would you

a) Drill for natural gas?
b) Set up solar panels?
c) Mine for coal?
d) Install a wind turbine?

If you picked A or C, congrats! Your vision is in line with what the United States government is already doing with most public land; land that technically belongs as much to you or I as it does to, say, the CEO of Peabody Coal or the head of the Bureau of Land Management. And you'll be glad to learn that 66% of the electricity generated from public land resources comes from coal mines, and 18% comes from natural gas. All the non-hydro renewable sources combined total just 1%.

Here's how it breaks down, courtesy of a new report from the Center for American Progress:

land use graphCAP/Promo image

This means that a shitload of public land—remember, that's land that we all own; we all supposedly get a say in how it's managed—is mined for coal and drilled for gas, while almost none is used for solar, wind or geothermal. That seems not just like a terrible waste, but like a vast misrepresentation of American preferences. Most Americans, you'll recall, heavily favor clean energy over fossil fuels.

So take another gander at my dumb pop quiz up there. Shouldn't the answer reflect our nation's policy?

Tags: Coal | Natural Gas


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