Through the years, abundant coal reserves and good river access resulted in a concentration of coal-fired power plants being constructed in this region. Concerns over U.S. dependence on foreign oil and rising gasoline prices have led to proposals to expand coal production and build more power plants. Taking these steps could improve our economic position and create jobs but threaten environmental quality.
Should we push ahead to capitalize further on this unique natural resource, trusting our environmental regulatory system to protect us from the effects of pollution? Should we intensify environmental enforcement and toughen standards on existing plants? Should we draw the line on construction and expansion of new power plants?