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Coal Industrys Ethical Analysis Environmental Sciences Essay

The energy industry is more relevant today than of all time before. A As modern engineering evolves, we have become an energy dependent society triping increased demand that we ne’er anticipated or could hold predicted. Energy has become a necessity in virtually every country of life from agribusiness, transit, waste aggregation, information engineering and communications ; all of which are critical constituents for most functional societies.

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The energy industry is made up of many different subsets, which include crude oil, natural gas, coal, atomic, and renewable energy. Harmonizing to the United States Energy Information Administration, the oil and gas industry histories for most of the market, providing more than 60 % of the entire energy consumed. The coal industry follows, claiming 20 % of the industry ‘s market portion ( United States Energy Information Administration ) . These industries face uninterrupted argument sing their production and gross revenues, particularly here in the United States. “ The United States is one of the universe ‘s biggest consumers of energy and the energy industry is the 3rd largest industry within our state ” ( Select USA ) . This contention has generated a batch of promotion for this industry, due to the increased usage and demand for energy as a whole. With more accent being placed on energy efficiency and the environment, the media has heightened involvement and visibleness by concentrating more on the negative facets and sensationalizing the issues that surround this industry. In this subdivision we are traveling to take a closer expression at the coal industry, look intoing some of the ethical issues associated with coal.

Coal Industry A A

Throughout history coal has been an abundant and indispensable resource, particularly for us in the United States. We most normally use it to bring forth electricity and heat. Coal generates more than 42 % of our electricity, with about 600 coal-fueled power workss countrywide every bit good as straight and indirectly using over 550,000 persons in the United States entirely. ( America ‘s Power ) . We can non ignore the fact that coal is a major subscriber to our society and about everyone benefits from its usage ; nevertheless, unlike most other industries, coal faces a battalion of ethical issues. These issues can be broken down into three classs, environmental, societal, and sustainability.

Coal creates many challenges for the environment. The most noteworthy 1 has to make with air pollution and specifically carbon emanations. When burned, coal emits high degrees of C dioxide, the chief nursery gas that causes planetary heating. It besides emits other toxic pollutants to the air when burned which include sulfur dioxide, N oxides, particulate affair, and quicksilver ( Union of Concerned Scientists ) . In add-on to fouling the air, coal can besides foul H2O beginnings, chiefly during the waste direction procedure. Coal besides creates immense sums of solid waste, which include fly ash and coal sludge. This waste contains arsenic, quicksilver, Cr, Cd, and other metals that are all harmful to the environment ( Union of Concerned Scientists ) . These are merely a few of the many illustrations of the negative environmental impacts related to coal. A

The coal industry besides faces many societal challenges ; nevertheless, at this clip we are merely traveling to concentrate on the wellness jeopardies related to coal and employee safety. Working in the coal industry environment for an drawn-out period of clip can do legion wellness jobs, such as respiratory issues ( bronchitis, asthma onslaughts, etc. ) , black lung, congestive bosom failure, and some signifiers of malignant neoplastic disease. Typically workers get these diseases through the extraction, readying, burning, waste storage, and transit of coal ( SourceWatch ) . In add-on, the general populace can besides be affected by emanations from coal-fueled power workss. Employee safety is another societal concern that surrounds the coal industry and justifiably so. This type of industry involves the usage of heavy equipment in unsafe environments, which creates several safety jeopardies. Fire, detonation, the release of gas and structural failure are some of the other safety hazards associated with coal. Overall, excavation is a really unsafe occupation necessitating workers to be good trained, extremely watchful and cognizant of their work environment at all times.

Finally allow ‘s discuss sustainability. There are recent figures that show the coal industry is in diminution. This is the consequence of new authorities ordinances and regulations, which are seeking to diminish C emanations ( Plumer ) . The industry is seeking to turn to these concerns. “ Continuous betterments in engineering have dramatically reduced or eliminated many of the environmental impacts traditionally associated with the usage of coal ” ( World Coal Association ) . Another ground for the recent diminution is the “ recent inflow of inexpensive natural gas to the United States ” ( Plumer ) . A With the issues and challenges confronting the coal industry today, it appears the hereafter of coal expressions reasonably inexorable.

Pressures Confronting Coal Industry

Due to pollution and other dangers caused by the coal industry, environmental groups and authorities ordinances are conveying force per unit area. Both environmental groups and authorities ordinances are forcing the coal industry to be “ cleaner ” by bring forthing energy that creates small injury for the environment. As a consequence of these force per unit areas, the coal industry may happen itself losing net incomes or may even happen itself being replaced by beginnings of cleaner energy.

A The most popular environmental group forcing the coal industry is the Greenpeace group, as they are the “ largest independent direct-action environmental organisation in the universe ” ( “ Greenpeace.org ” ) . Some actions by Greenpeace include the start of an Energy Revolution which includes a “ Quit Coal Campaign ” . Harmonizing to the Greenpeace web site, this run encourages renewable energy and battles to extinguish the usage of coal because, “ a 3rd of all C dioxide emissions come from firing coal ” ( “ Greenpeace.org ” ) . Along with Greenpeace, there are many other environmental groups that have been prosecuting the coal industry for many old ages and harmonizing to recent articles in The New York Times, these activist groups “ have moved in for the putting to death ” ( “ Coal ” ) .

Militant groups in resistance to the coal industry can even be found on the Virginia Tech campus. Greenpeace at Virginia Tech and VT Beyond Coal are two major groups on campus that are contending for a better environment. Harmonizing to the web site of VT Beyond Coal, the campus power works burns 46,000 dozenss of coal ( “ VT Beyond Coal ” ) . VT Beyond Coal has started a request that is committed to transitioning VT ‘s coal works to 100 % clean and renewable energy by 2020. A This request to “ Invent a clean hereafter ” is portion of a motion that involves over 60 universities in the United States and the motion has ends to change over campuses to clean energy ( “ VT Beyond Coal ” ) .

Along with force per unit areas from militant groups, ordinances imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency are going stricter and progressively complex. A recent article from Yahoo Finance studies that the Environmental Protection Agency is presently working with President Obama to increase ordinances on coal ( “ Coal Stocks Fall Sharply as More Regulations Feared ” ) . A Yahoo Finance besides states that the EPA “ has imposed bounds on pollutants such as C dioxide, quicksilver and S dioxide, which have made it more expensive for public-service corporation companies to fire coal for energy coevals. ” As a consequence of the ordinances, some coal workss have experienced closings due to increased operating costs. Along with doing coal works retirement, the expectancy of increased ordinance besides led Yahoo Finance to describe that “ coal stocks across the board fell aggressively ” ( “ Coal Stocks Fall Sharply as More Regulations Feared ” ) .

Although coal has seen a diminution in popularity, studies from The New York Times have revealed that “ the planetary demand for coal is expected to turn to 8.9 billion dozenss by 2016 ” ( “ Coal ” ) . Even though there is still demand for coal, The New York Times reports that coal is on the diminution and “ provides about a 3rd of the state ‘s power, merely four old ages ago it was supplying about half ” ( “ Coal ” ) . Activist organisations every bit good as ordinances have contributed to the diminution in coal ‘s laterality and the coal industry may happen its companies losing net incomes or even happen itself being replaced by cleaner beginnings of energy if coal can non be more environmentally friendly. A

Corporate Social Responsibility Activities

Because there are a figure of ethical issues confronting the coal industry, coal companies have been working to better the societal and environmental impact of their activities. Peabody Energy and Arch Coal are good known in the industry for their impressive corporate societal activities.

Peabody Energy is one of the largest private sector coal companies worldwide. It is Peabody Energy ‘s mission to be “ a prima worldwide manufacturer and provider of sustainable energy solutions that enable economic prosperity and a better quality of life ( “ Peabody Energy: Corporate Responsibility ” ) . As portion of their corporate duty, they have been turn toing issues in employee, economic, public, and environmental duties.

Peabody stresses its “ Safety Vision ” of forestalling incidents, occupational unwellnesss, and belongings harm. Because of the importance the company places on safety, attempts have been made in Peabody ‘s planetary workss to increase safety in the workplace by using studies and appraisals to have feedback from their employees. Peabody initiated the installment of an belowground communications system to ease communicating between mineworkers belowground and mineworkers stationed above land in 2011. This betterment gave the belowground mineworkers faster entree to deliver squads in the event of an incident. Peabody has “ about 65 safety Chamberss installed at Peabody ‘s belowground operations with supplies such as O, nutrient, and H2O, in the event of an exigency ” ( “ Peabody Energy: CSR Report ” 24 ) . Keeping safety as the company ‘s extreme precedence, Peabody offers a preparation plan, “ Safety a Way of Life ” which is directed towards employees to easy transition into Peabody ‘s safety systems and procedures.

A A A A A A A In add-on to employee duty, Peabody Energy believes in the importance of continuing the environment and utilizing sustainable patterns. The cardinal rule of their mission is to “ go forth the land in a status equal to or better than we found it ” ( “ Peabody Energy: CSR Report ” 34 ) . A Peabody has been happening better patterns to reconstruct lands, wildlife home grounds, hardwood woods, and wetlands. “ In 2011 Peabody restored more than 5,100 estates of land and planted more than 360,000 trees ( “ Peabody Energy: CSR Report ” 36 ) . Presently, Peabody has a recycling and waste direction plan intended for the reuse of the waste produced from coal excavation activities. The company was able to increase “ the volume of recycled lubricating oil by more than 100 per centum ” ( “ Peabody Energy: CSR Report 38 ) . As a planetary leader in clean coal excavation solutions, Peabody has been researching and puting in better patterns related to clean coal engineerings in the countries of nursery gas strength, emanations strength, and C policy. An illustration of their undertaking is with the U.S Geological Survey in 2006. A Peabody and the U.S Geological Survey combined attempts “ to mensurate methane content and desorption testing in big surface mines ” ( “ Peabody Energy: CSR Report ” 39 ) .

A A A A A A A Like Peabody Energy, Arch Coal has been concentrating on the same countries of duties in safety and environmental conditions. Like the attempts of Peabody, safety is a precedence to Arch Coal therefore the company has been working to happen betterments of doing the working environment safer for employees. The company promotes the “ Perfect Zero ” rule of nothing hurts and zero environmental misdemeanors. Harmonizing to Arch Coal ‘s CSR Report, the company has invested $ 14 million in a bipartisan communicating and tracking system to forestall accidents in belowground mines ( Arch Coal, Inc. ) . Arch Coal has been doing attempts to happen more advanced coal engineerings solutions that target planetary nursery emanations and the decrease of airborne emanations.

Coal companies are more active in their corporate societal duties than of all time earlier. Because the industry itself is so unsafe for both employees. Coal companies have been working hard to supply the right environment and resources for employees. Furthermore, because the environment is harmfully affected by the activities of coal companies, companies are taking more inaugural to concentrate and take duty for their actions.

Investing Policy Recommendations

Virginia Tech needs to take corporate societal duty and ethical issues of the coal industry into history when finding its investing determinations. Energy from coal is under a batch of examination in the populace oculus since it is perceived as “ dirty ” and outdated engineering. With the hereafter of energy indicating towards clean engineering such as solar and weave energy, Virginia Tech needs to be on the head. They need to put themselves as a taking academic establishment that is traveling off from coal and into clean engineering. The motto for the establishment is “ Invent the Future ” ( www.vt.edu ) , hence taking the enterprise to be in front of the curve.

A A A A A A A When puting the schools endowment financess, it is of import to take ethical issues into history but at the same clip non take a fiscal loss. The great thing about non puting in coal but other engineering is that Virginia Tech is taking ethical issues into history but are besides concentrating the financess into an country that is turning at an exponential rate and will take to fiscal additions instead than losingss.

A A A A A A A As a public establishment there is a changeless oculus on Virginia Tech ‘s every move, whether it be policy with pupils, academic rankings, but most significantly where the gift fund decides to put their money. With that being said, it is acceptable to take a fiscal loss because you have to take the social force per unit areas into history. Virginia Tech is closely related to the coal industry, with a coal power works on campus and being located in SouthWest Virginia where the environing countries are heavy in coal and employees many local citizens, so it is a tough pick to non put in coal. Therefore both sides will be showing their sides in the argument over the investing in coal. Virginia Tech will hold the local coal countries experiencing as though the University is non looking out for them and so there will be the group that is in favour of clean engineering and has been seeking to acquire the school to happen a new beginning for power. By puting in other engineering, they will be seting money into companies that are developing new engineerings that Virginia Tech will be able to utilize to tackle their ain energy for usage on campus and in the environing countries in the hereafter. As they focus their investings into cleaner energy and taking ethical grounds over fiscal engineering, the public oculus will alter and they will see Virginia Tech as a leader in the hereafter of energy.

Investing Recommendations

When looking back at our province it is impossible to bury our love matter with fossil fuels. Fossil fuels, and more specifically coal, have been some of the biggest employers and gross bring forthing industries in the province. “ In 2006, the entire value of fossil fuels mined in Virginia was about $ 2.4 billion. A Coal accounted for about 72 per centum ( $ 1.7 billion ) of this entire value, while natural gas accounted for about 28 per centum ( $ 660.3 million ) , and oil less than 1 per centum ( $ 1.1 million ) ” ( Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy ) . In recent old ages, harmonizing to Virginia Center for Coal and Research or VEPT, the “ entire sum of coal produced in the state has been a little more than one billion dozenss ” , still a immense figure despite the push for new green energy ( VEPT ) . In Virginia, production has been around “ 30 to forty million dozenss, ” largely in the southwesterly coalfields ( VEPT ) . A However, coal production has decreased in the province to around 30 million systematically. Our group would propose Virginia Tech to non put in fossil fuels and specifically coal excavation as coal monetary values have decreased while the costs for obtaining and runing mines have increased. This is due to a figure of factors, one of the most of import is the tendency of coal excavation traveling westward to provinces like Wyoming where excavation is cheaper and easier due to the geological conditions. One major job is that about all coal mines in the Appalachian country are belowground mines in contrast to their western opposite numbers which tend to be surface mines leting for easier and cheaper extraction. Virginia besides has had a long history of coal excavation which has led to the depletion of easy gettable reservoirs coercing excavation houses to look for untapped militias in potentially more dearly-won and hard locations ( VEPT ) .

There are many effects attributed to the usage of fossil fuels, from wellness concerns such as higher rates of asthma in countries with heavy pollution, but besides the potentially annihilating effects of planetary heating ( M.A. Palmer 148 ) . These are merely a few of the ethical concerns confronting an industry every bit controversial as the coal industry. Specifically, the coal industry creates many issues for the environments that contain coal mines. Coal mines generate big sums of solid waste particularly when sing that several coal excavation companies engage in the pattern of mountaintop remotion. Mountaintop excavation uses explosives to expose the coal seams and transform what would hold been belowground excavation to a signifier of surface excavation. This is a common method of excavation in the Appalachian Mountains. Surveies have shown that mountaintop excavation has had really serious effects for the environment. One of the biggest impacts of this signifier of excavation is the taint of local water partings. This is caused by puting the unsought stuffs created by exposing the coal seam in vales or “ filler holes ” which necessarily ends up polluting watercourses that finally flow into the watershed. Exposure to these watercourses have been shown to take to hospitalization for a assortment of wellness concerns including ; “ Ratess of mortality, lung malignant neoplastic disease, every bit good as chronic bosom, lung and kidney disease are besides increased ” ( M.A. Palmer 148 ) .

A A A A A A A A A A Alternatively of puting in more untapped militias our group would alternatively look towards more renewable resources to cover our energy demands. The energy produced in Virginia histories for less than half the entire energy consumed in the province taking to the obvious decision that the province relies on other beginnings to supply energy. A Based on estimations by The U.S. Energy Information Administration, Virginia Energy ingestion was estimated to be 2,558 trillion BTU while the energy produced as fossil fuels mined in Virginia energy consumed as about 28 % of entire ingestion ; including all energy signifiers non merely. In Virginia Coal-fired power workss remains the largest ball of electrical power coevals in the province with 45 % ( Virginia Department of Mines and Minerals and Energy ) .

Decision

After reexamining the ethical issues, force per unit areas, and societal duty activities we have concluded that although the coal industry is profitable, it would be unethical for Virginia Tech ‘s gift to put in the industry. By traveling off of the slogan “ Invent the Future, ” we recommend that Virginia Tech take into history the ethical picks in cleaner engineering, hence puting in a cleaner hereafter for both the school and environing countries.

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