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CNN

It's no secret that the climate change crisis is one of the most urgent threats facing the entire planet. If drastic action isn't taken in the next few years, the consequences will be irreversible.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled back Obama-era limits on carbon emissions in coal-fueled power plants, allowing states to set their own carbon emissions standards. According to the EPA's own findings, the move could result in as many as 1300 deaths by 2030.

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President Donald Trump made startling claims at a fundraising event in New York over the weekend, criticizing windmills as a source of renewable energy, advocating for coal instead.

Trump has long been a proponent of revitalizing the waning coal industry, despite increasing concerns over the logistics and environmental consequences of coal mining and power as countries across the globe begin a transition to renewable energy.

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Retired miner Eric Giedel, who suffers from black lung, visits Dr. Don Rasmussen for a cardo pluinary stress test. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

Earlier this year, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which found 416 cases of advanced black lung disease in coal miners in central Appalachia from 2013 to 2017 — the highest cluster of cases ever seen. The institute also confirmed a 2016-2017 investigation by National Public Radio (NPR) that discovered hundreds of other cases in southwestern Virginia, southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

This research indicates that black lung is returning, even as safety measures have improved over the course of decades. Dust screens and ventilation had nearly removed the disease from the U.S. in the 1990s, but these recent studies suggest otherwise in coal country.

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Don Blankenship for Senate video (Vimeo)
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We all have seen and heard the term “clean coal.” Proponents of the prospect of boosting the coal industry in the United States, principally U.S. President Donald J. Trump, say that the technology exists to burn coal and generate both electricity and jobs. But what are the real facts and economics behind that claim? Can coal really ever be clean? Should the United States really peg its energy security to coal?

Since the 1980s, those seeking to bolster the coal mining industry in the United States have promoted what they describe as "clean coal technology." Coal has been burned to generate electricity in the United States since 1882, when the first power plant was built in New York City. Coal enjoyed its heyday in the 20th century, when it accounted for the majority of electricity generated in the U.S. Even today, coal generates about 56 percent of U.S. electricity. The reason: coal is by far the cheapest source of fuel to create the BTUs (British Thermal Units) needed to boil water that produces steam to turn the turbines that generate electricity. Consider this: to generate one million BTUs of energy, it costs

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Credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Trump-appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency plans to repeal today an environmental protection put into effect by Obama. EPA chief Scott Pruitt told miners in Kentucky on Monday of his intention to remove a power plant rule that limits greenhouse gas emissions.

“The war against coal is over,” Pruitt assured the miners.

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[DIGEST: Washington Post, Garden Island, Current Results, Time & Date, Business Insider, Business Insider, CNBC]

The island of Kauai will harness the power of the sun (and Tesla’s solar power grid) to provide solar energy and reduce fossil fuel use by approximately 1.6 million gallons per year.

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