Show links coal power to pollution

ALBANY -- Whenever an area resident turns on a light, starts a washing machine or tunes in a television, they help blow up a mountain in Appalachia.

The connection will be demonstrated in the Mountaintop Removal Roadshow at 7 p.m. tonight in the Albany Welcome Center, Gordon Rogers, executive director of Flint Riverkeeper, said.

"People need to see it to know the effects of coal mining right here in Albany," Gordon said. "The effects of burning coal are disastrous right here. Georgia gets 50 percent of its power from burning coal. In south Georgia, we get more from coal. Coal mining companies blow up mountains to send coal to Georgia for our electricity."

There will be a discussion of the show, the effects of coal mining on the environment, the mercury that coal-burning plants produce and alternative methods for energy production after the show, Gordon said.

Coal companies have been meeting the demand for coal to power electric generators by using an efficient way to mine. Instead of digging down to obtain coal, they "blast as much as 600 feet off the top of the mountains, then dump the rock and debris into mountain streams," the Web site mountainroadshow.com states.

The coal is shipped to plants such as Plant Scherer, which is just off the Flint River watershed, Gordon said. That plant burns coal that sends mercury into the water, poisoning fish. All that is done to produce electricity for Albany and other areas, he said.

"The Flint is flanked by two proposed plants, the one in Ben Hill County and the one in Early County," Gordon said. "Our fish are already contaminated. We should be headed to biomass combustion, not more coal."

Biomass power generation, using waste wood, sawdust and other combustible materials, and conservation measures are also planned points of discussion at the show.