Full Title: Climate Change and the War on Coal: Exploring the Dark Side
Author(s): Patrick Charles McGinley
Publisher(s): Vermont Journal of Environmental Law
Publication Date: 10/2012



The shadow cast by the threat of climate change clouds the world’s path to a sustainable energy future. In a relatively short time, hundreds of millions of people around the world have recognized global warming as a threat of potentially catastrophic proportions. This paper seeks to provide a small measure of illumination to facilitate informed decision-making as future energy options are explored. Informed decisions are necessary if the potential disasters attendant to climate change are to be avoided. Ignorance is no longer an option.

Careful, objective consideration of the full range of costs and benefits of each option will effectively serve the public interest. It is imperative that public policy decision-makers accurately address the true range of costs and benefits of all energy options—including those relating to coal. However, in the past, such a cost-benefit analysis could easily overlook the externalities of coal mining and burning, as those costs have historically been obscure. As discussed below, public policy researchers and analysts have begun to examine and document coal’s impacts.