The International Herald-Tribune reports that the German government has finalized plans to close its last nine anthracite mines by 2018.
As the article points out, hard anthracite coal drove the industrial revolution in Germany. Now, however, anthracite coal mines have become such a liability that they are no longer even profitable. Politicians and labor leaders struck a deal in which RAG, the giant conglomerate which owns the mines, will sell stock to cover pensions and environmental commitments. The aging mines are literally undermining structures in German towns and require constant pumping to be kept dry.
Germany seems to recognize that although coal propelled it to industrial prominence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it’s a fuel who’s time has come to an end. With German prime minister Angela Merkel leading the way in the fight against climate change, the private sector is adapting to keep pace. It’s in this global environment that the US Congress and corporations like GE are pushing the myth of “clean coal” as an environmental panacea.