QUEST: Coal at the Crossroads

Series produced by KQED

Series image
Image by: Matt Preusch 

QUEST investigates coal, the most plentiful–yet dirtiest–fossil fuel in America. Coal generates nearly half of all electricity nationwide. Yet with mounting new pollution regulations, health concerns and the rise of renewable energy, is America starting to turn against coal the way it slowly turned against tobacco? Find out with reports from four different states.

Coal at the Crossroads is a four-part QUEST series, reported from four public radio stations: KQED in San Francisco, NET in Nebraska, WHYY in Philadelphia, and WCPN in Ohio. These enterprising, sound-rich stories will play well as a series or as individual pieces, in any national market.

**ALSO AVAILABLE: Web extras! Contact KQED's Mike Kahn to find out how to embed related slideshows, free of charge, on your site. mkahn@kqed.org.***

PART 1 (KQED): As Renewables Boom, California Struggles to Quit Coal
California is known for its "green" reputation. Just look at all the new solar and wind farms popping up around the state. So it might be a surprise that residents in Southern California still depend on coal power when they turn on the lights. The region's utilities are struggling to wean themselves off coal energy. Utilities around the country may soon be facing the same battle.

PART 2 (NET): Mercury Rises on Coal Costs
Half of the airborne mercury pollution in the US comes from coal-fired power plants. After years of study and debate, the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to announce new limits on mercury from coal plants in November. Meanwhile, utilities are scrambling to meet other new federal regulations and industry groups are asking the government to slow down.

PART 3 (WHYY): The View from Coal Country in the Age of Green
Coal produces nearly half the electricity in the U.S., but the mercury, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide it emits also make it one of the most controversial energy sources. New EPA regulations and a national Sierra Club campaign to try to shutter the industry have added to rising anti-coal sentiment. For many environmental activists, coal represents an old, dirty source of power, but for coal-mining communities around the country, the story is different.

PART 4 (WCPN): A Difficult Path for Clean Coal
Coal generates half of all the electricity in the U.S. It’s also the biggest source of global-warming emissions and other air pollution. The coal industry acknowledges this but says the answer is not to phase out coal, but instead to produce "clean coal." Among the strategies for doing this is building carbon sequestration plants, where the carbon generated from burning coal is pumped underground. But despite years of promises, no carbon sequestration plants are in operation in the U.S.

These stations are part of a groundbreaking KQED QUEST pilot project that is producing science and environment stories for radio, television, and the web, including the creation of educational materials aligned with state science standards. Learn more about QUEST and all six participating stations here: http://science.kqed.org/quest/stations/ Hide full description

Coal at the Crossroads is a four-part QUEST series, reported from four public radio stations: KQED in San Francisco, NET in Nebraska, WHYY in Philadelphia, and WCPN in Ohio. These enterprising, sound-rich stories will play well as a series or as individual pieces, in any national market. **ALSO AVAILABLE: Web extras! Contact KQED's Mike Kahn to find out how to embed related slideshows, free of charge, on your site. mkahn@kqed.org.*** PART 1 (KQED): As Renewables Boom, California Struggles to Quit CoalCalifornia is known for its "green" reputation. Just look at all the new solar and wind farms popping up around the state. So it might be a surprise that residents in Southern California still depend on coal power when they turn on the lights. The region's utilities are struggling to... Show full description


4 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: The coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in New Mexico. , Credit: Matt Preusch
California is known for its "green" reputation. Just look at all the new solar and wind farms popping up around the state. So it might be a surpris...

Bought by Louisville Public Media, Oregon Public Broadcasting, WRFA-LP, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, KUMD and more


  • Added: Sep 27, 2011
  • Length: 05:09
  • Purchases: 8
Caption: Bluestem Lake near Lincoln, Nebraska.
Half of the airborne mercury pollution in the US comes from coal-fired power plants. After years of study and debate, the Environmental Protection ...

Bought by Aspen Public Radio, Louisville Public Media, Oregon Public Broadcasting, WRFA-LP, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and more


  • Added: Sep 27, 2011
  • Length: 04:03
  • Purchases: 9
Caption: Coal miner, Larry Myer., Credit: Kimberly Paynter
Coal produces nearly half the electricity in the U.S., but the mercury, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide it emits also make it one of the most con...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, Louisville Public Media, Oregon Public Broadcasting, WRFA-LP, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and more


  • Added: Sep 27, 2011
  • Length: 04:10
  • Purchases: 11
Caption: Taking measurements during carbon storage project in Canton, Ohio., Credit: Courtesy ODNR
Coal generates half of all the electricity in the U.S. It’s also the biggest source of global-warming emissions and other air pollution. The coal i...

Bought by Louisville Public Media, Oregon Public Broadcasting, WRFA-LP, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, KUMD and more


  • Added: Sep 27, 2011
  • Length: 04:05
  • Purchases: 9