The so-called 'ethical' and 'affordable' coal industry achieves those monikers by passing its pollution - and the expense of that pollution - off on others. The litany of the damage done by the coal industry and coal-fired power plants is extensive. Acid rain, mercury, SO2, arsenic, greenhouse gases, particulate pollution, and coal sludge are just a few. The reason coal-fired electricity is cheap is because the plants send that pollution down wind and let someone else worry about the effects and costs. The mining industry is right there with them and coal mines are famous for the pollution and environmental damage they cause.
Now, it looks like they're going to do it again.
Coal mining companies are going broke due to the drop in demand for their product. This is caused by the growing concern of what they're doing to our environment, climate, and our health. Unfortunately, bankruptcy will provide the companies a means to avoid having to pay for the clean-up costs they are legally required to cover. Approximately $2.5 billion in clean-up costs are likely be passed onto the taxpayer as these companies seek bankruptcy protection.
What was that about 'ethical' coal?
The most interesting part is to read about how much of this pollution is going on in the Appalachian region. This is the same area where people are upset about the downturn in the coal industry. They're upset about losing their jobs, which is always something to be concerned about, but they don't seem to care about how these same employers were killing them with pollution and stealing their pensions.