The Sierra Club
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
☰ Menu

Dirty Coal

Destroying Mountains

In Appalachia, mining companies literally blow the tops off mountains to reach thin seams of coal. They then dump millions of tons of rubble and toxic waste into the streams and valleys below the mining sites.

Carbon Pollution and Climate Disruption

It's time to act now to stop carbon pollution. Carbon pollution is the main contributor to climate disruption, making extreme weather worse—including more severe floods, widespread wildfires and record drought.

Smog, Soot, and Asthma

In the United States, more than 40 percent of people live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Pollution from coal-fired power plants leads to smog (or ozone), a toxic compound and a dangerous irritant.

Toxic Mercury

Burning coal releases toxic mercury that rains down into rivers and streams. This poison then accumulates in the food chain, eventually making its way into our bodies when we eat contaminated fish.

Coal Ash Waste

Every year, the nation’s coal plants produce 140 million tons of coal ash pollution, atoxic by-product of burning coal. All that ash has to go somewhere, and it contains high levels of toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and selenium.

Coal Plant Water Pollution

72 percent of all toxic water pollution in the country comes from coal-fired power plants, making coal plants the number one source of toxic water pollution in the U.S.

Exports: A Bad Investment

Across the country, Americans are turning to cleaner energy and phasing out coal power. Because of this, the coal industry has come up with a new plan: Export coal to Asia.