The Other Coal Deaths

A guest column by Ted Nace of CoalSwarm:

Every day in the United States, on average, 65 people die due to particulates from coal plants. On average, each of these deaths represents 14 years of lost life.

These 65 deaths happen day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. They come in the form of heart attacks, asthma attacks, and respiratory problems.

The problem is that banal phrase: “on average.” There is never a dramatic explosion to point to, no television crew interviewing families. Just a grinding toll of anoymous suffering — 65 human beings, 65 families.

Anger begs for a villain. Our sense of justice needs an arrogant, crude, villain in a mustache. Yet the executives who operate the 600 coal plants that do the killing are smooth, personable, well spoken.

The old coal plants that do the killing could all be shut down using well-demonstrated efficiency programs and commercially available renewable alternatives. The coal plants — 44 years old on average — are kept running out of laziness, inertia, negligence. The men in charge are well paid, but it’s hard to call them “leaders.” Their names are Michael Morris, AEP (63 coal-fired generating units); David Ratcliffe, Southern Company (68 units); James Rogers, Duke (70 units); Tom Kilgore, TVA (63 units); Gary Rainwater, Ameren (31 units); Warren Buffett, MidAmerican (29 units); John Rowe, Exelon (21 units); Richard Kelly, Xcel (30 units); David Crane, NRG (26 units); Anthony Alexander, FirstEnergy (36 units); Thomas Farrell, Dominion (32 units); Wulf Bernotat, E.ON (29 units); Mark Jacobs, Relian (26 units); Anthony Earley Jr., DTE Energy (22 units); William Johnson, Progress Energy (23 units); Paul Evanson, Allegheny Energy (22 units); David Campbell, Luminant (9 units); James Miller, PPL (13 units); Paul Hanrahan, AES (29 units); Edward Muller, Mirant (18 units); Willimam Harvey, Alliant (30 units); J. Wayne Leonard, Entergy (5 units); Bruce Williamson, Dynegy (12 units); Paul Barbas, DPL (11 units); Robert Skaggs Jr., NiSource (10 units).


Death toll: “Dirty Air, Dirty Power,” Clean Air Task Force, 2004.

Executives: “Key private sector decision makers on coal,” CoalSwarm.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.