6 votes

For The Few Who Heat Homes With Coal, It's Still King

7 comments

  1. [4]
    masochist Link
    Pennsylvanian here. All I can do is sigh and shake my head when I read things like this. The crux of the article is this sentence: And this is why coal is still in business in this backwards...

    Pennsylvanian here. All I can do is sigh and shake my head when I read things like this. The crux of the article is this sentence:

    It's clear that many people in northeastern Pennsylvania, the heart of anthracite coal country, have an emotional attachment to this fossil fuel.

    And this is why coal is still in business in this backwards state. Not because it's better in any way, not because it's cheaper or easier or anything else. It's the nostalgia of an older generation. And, of course, even if you were to switch to electric heat in this state, you'd still likely receive your electricity from burning coal. And that'll probably not change until we get leadership with a view broader than the baby boomers.

    9 votes
    1. [3]
      diode Link Parent
      What you're saying is true, but given that the issue is so emotionally loaded, sentiments like the above probably isn't the best way to effect change. Perhaps whatever memes that were used to...

      this backwards state.

      What you're saying is true, but given that the issue is so emotionally loaded, sentiments like the above probably isn't the best way to effect change.

      Perhaps whatever memes that were used to create an emotional attachment to coal could be repurposed to create an emotional attachment to renewables?

      Forgive me if my comment seems naive.

      1. yellow Link Parent
        Well I'm not sure how far you could get with this, but I got a place to start (especially this particular case). One of the founding fathers of electricity, the Pennsylvanian and founding father...

        [memes] to create an emotional attachment to renewables

        Well I'm not sure how far you could get with this, but I got a place to start (especially this particular case). One of the founding fathers of electricity, the Pennsylvanian and founding father Benjamin Franklin.

        1 vote
      2. masochist Link Parent
        I wasn't hoping to convince people with my comment, but you're right that a different approach would be needed if I was aiming for that.

        I wasn't hoping to convince people with my comment, but you're right that a different approach would be needed if I was aiming for that.

        1 vote
  2. [2]
    mftrhu Link
    We actually still cook on a wood stove in our house, and coal - especially if it burns that clean - would probably be a massive improvement over it, if not for availability reasons. Gas only...

    We actually still cook on a wood stove in our house, and coal - especially if it burns that clean - would probably be a massive improvement over it, if not for availability reasons. Gas only became available fairly recently (within the last decade), and electrical is just not practical.

    John Ord of Susquehanna, Pa., loads 40-pound bags of anthracite coal into his car. He's among the fewer than 130,000 households left in the United States that burn coal to heat their homes.

    [...]

    Anthracite backers point out that it has less sulfur than bituminous coal, but environmentalists say cleaner does not mean clean.

    "It still emits quite a bit of dangerous sulfur dioxide, as well as heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury," says Tom Schuster with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. He says anyone concerned about their contribution to climate change should avoid burning coal for heat.

    I... I am not sure how this is actually a problem? It sounds like coal for residential use would contribute very little to climate change, overall, and while the link (thanks the gods, there is an actual link) re: carbon dioxide production does support the statement "burning anthracite coal does emit more carbon dioxide per unit of heat than just about any other fuel", it only contains information about fossil fuels (anthracite, 228.6 pounds of CO2 per million Btu - natural gas, 117.0).

    I'd be curious to see the data about wood, and about the CO2 extraction and transport "costs" I actually found another FAQ, linked by the first one, about total emissions broken down by source, but it doesn't have all the data I want - namely, how much CO2 is produced during extraction, and which fraction of electricity comes from which fuel.

    1. MrGrey Link Parent
      I think you'll find getting simple clear data nearly impossible. A few years ago I spent some time researching the efficiency of wood pellet systems vs other fuel sources for my own needs. There...

      I think you'll find getting simple clear data nearly impossible. A few years ago I spent some time researching the efficiency of wood pellet systems vs other fuel sources for my own needs. There are many factors and assumptions which are built into each set that are often obscured. Variation in water content of samples, environmental impacts from various types of production, transportation costs in various terms, burn simulation types (power load vs residential), disposition of waste product and environmental impact, even CO2 baseline varies quite a bit from different sources.

      1 vote
  3. welly Link
    I also burn coal to heat my home. I'm somewhat jealous of the low cost of coal that the guy in the article pays for his coal. 400lbs for 56$? Crazy. I pay £11.50 for 25 kg. I live on a boat,...

    I also burn coal to heat my home. I'm somewhat jealous of the low cost of coal that the guy in the article pays for his coal. 400lbs for 56$? Crazy. I pay £11.50 for 25 kg. I live on a boat, however and so it's one of the few options I have for heating. Fossil fuels are all I can use, I would love to find an alternative but with restricted electricity and limited room, coal is pretty much the only real option.