Monday, July 21, 2008

Right now, your computer is destroying a mountain.

Here's an interesting gadget from, an anti-mountaintop-removal-mining web site, that reveals where your coal-fired electricity comes from based on your zip code:

I hadn't been aware of any coal-fired power plants in Maine, but to my surprise, Central Maine Power does indeed buy some electricity from a coal-fired cogeneration plant at Rumford's NewPage paper mill. The mill, in turn, buys coal from about a dozen different mountaintop-removal strip mines scattered among the former hills of southwestern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

Clicking on the website's maps of the national coal ecosystem, I can even learn about the strip mines' impact places like Rawl, West Virginia, where resident Donetta Blankenship describes her tapwater: "The water runs out of the pipe like tomato soup: thick with orange sediment."

Well, I guess she consider herself lucky that she doesn't have to look at wind turbines.

You can avoid buying electricity from Rumford, or from any coal-fired power plants, by signing up for a clean electricity utility. In Maine, there's Interfaith Power and Light. New York has Accent Energy, and Green Mountain Energy operates in a number of other states, including Texas and Vermont.

For an extra dollar or two in your monthly electric bill, you can help fund local renewable energy development, and avoid funding mountaintop removal strip mines in southern Appalachia.

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