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A tragic reminder

By E. Ralph Hostetter
web posted January 16, 2006

The coal mine explosion in Tallmansville, West Virginia, killing 12 miners, is a tragic reminder of the means by which America has been condemned to produce more than half its electrical energy. To be exact, 53 percent of the electricity generated in the United States comes from coal-fired plants.

Studies at Ohio State University, conducted by Gordon J. Aubrecht, Department of Physics, determined that the amount of coal burned annually to produce electricity in America releases nearly 1,500 tons of cancer-causing uranium and over 3,500 tons of cancer-causing thorium, resulting in 50 fatalities, 120,000 cases of respiratory ailments, tens of millions of dollars in property damage, plus the emission of nitrous oxide equivalent to 40,000 cars per year.

Coal unquestionably is the highest producer of pollutants and greenhouse gases of all fossil energy resources.

The most powerful nation in the world kneels at the feet of a vociferous minority that has dominated its energy policies for the past 30-plus years. This vociferous minority uses the major media, print and broadcast, of the nation to promote its destructive agenda.

In turn, the media, through its blackouts of important segments of the news, its distortions and in some cases outright prevarications, has misled and confused the American public to such an extent that actual science and truth are not recognized when presented.

The use of atomic energy to produce America's electricity is a good example.

In contrast to coal, the highest polluter, atomic energy has proved, over a period of 55 years, to be the safest, cleanest, cheapest, most efficient and dependable method of production of electrical energy known to the mind of man.

In the same 55 years, coal mining alone has cost nearly 2,000 lives and well over 100,000 injuries in the United States. Worldwide, fatalities run to the hundreds of thousands, mostly in China where 5,000 deaths a year are caused in coal mine accidents.

In stark contrast, during that same 55 years, 31 deaths in an actual atomic energy plant explosion in Chernobyl, Ukraine, were recorded in April 1986 with another 19 who died over the next 20 years of related causes, according to a 52-page report released in 2004 by Chernobyl Forum, based on research for the United Nations. (While the actual total may be far higher, the explosion resulted principally from incompetence, not some cause which could not have been prevented.)

Other nations of the world not plagued by the radical elements that dominate U.S. energy policies have turned to atomic energy with great success.

France generates 75 percent of its electrical power with atomic plants; Belgium, 70 percent; and little Lithuania, 90 percent with no reported fatality or other major problem. By contrast, the United States produces less than 20 percent of its electrical energy by atomic means.

Some 20 percent of U.S. electric energy is produced in oil-fired plants. Replacing this 20 percent would cut U.S. imports of oil by millions of barrels a day and send shock waves through the cartel of Third World nations, particularly in the Middle East, which likewise is holding the United States hostage to high world oil prices. Gasoline at the pump would drop by more than 50 percent.

No oil refinery has been built on U.S. soil for 30 years. Exploration and development of new oil resources here at home is non-existent.

America is at a crossroads.

Either this nation breaks the stranglehold of the radical elements of the far left or it will suffer the loss of its vibrant economy.

E. Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and agricultural publisher, also is a national and local award-winning columnist.

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