Lesson Plan: The Coal Industry

The Coal Industry

Manuel Quinones gave an overview of the coal industry in the United States. Topics included the different types of coal and mines around the nation, regulatory issues and market conditions.

Description

In the U.S., coal is the greatest domestically produced energy source. This coal generates a large amount of the country's electricity. The coal industry has been affected as the U.S. considers the impact of coal mining on the environment and the health of the population as well as continues to access other energy sources. In this lesson, students will hear different perspectives on the coal industry and determine how the country should move forward on this issue.

Procedures

  • Step 1.

    Introduction

    Ask students to research the definitions for the vocabulary terms for homework or as an in class assignment.

    Handout: The Coal Industry (Google Doc)

  • Step 2.

    As a class, view the videos below and discuss the accompanying questions to provide background on the coal industry.

  • VIDEO CLIP: The Coal Industry (6:41)

    Manuel Quinones gave an overview of the coal industry in the United States. Topics included the different types of coal and mines around the nation, regulatory issues and market conditions.

    • Describe the main types of coal found in the U.S.

    • What kinds of mines are currently in the U.S.?

    • Where are power plants located in the country?

    • Compare the relationship between the cost of coal and the industry over time.

    • Explain the regulation of coal in the U.S.
  • VIDEO CLIP: Clean Coal Technology (1:07)

    Manuel Quinones briefly explains clean coal technology.

    • What is clean coal technology?

    • Explain the problem with this technology as it relates to the current market and other utilities.
  • Step 3.

    Students may work independently or you can jigsaw this activity so students can work in groups to view the videos below and complete the chart on the handout.

  • VIDEO CLIP: Former Coal Miner and Activist (5:07)

    Nick Mullins talked about his experience as a former coal miner who turned to writing his blog, "The Thoughtful Coal Miner" and activism on behalf of miners and Appalachian communities.

  • VIDEO CLIP: Environmental Impact of Coal (5:06)

    Vivian Stockman talked about the environmental impact of coal mining in Appalachia. She said her group, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, began 30 years prior when a group of citizens banded together to fight German chemical company BASF’s plan to bring its toxic waste to a low-income community near Huntington, West Virginia.

  • VIDEO CLIP: Coal Power Plants (5:08)

    Senior Vice President Jeff LeFleur talked about American Electric Power, which operates coal, wind, and solar plants for 5.4 million customers across an 11-state area. He also explained how coal plants work.

  • VIDEO CLIP: Coal Regulations (3:14)

    Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH) talked about federal regulation of the coal industry.

  • VIDEO CLIP: Stream Protection Rule (2:31)

    Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) talks about the impact of this rule on the country.

  • Step 4:

    As a class, discuss each perspective that is provided in the videos and brainstorm ideas for solutions which may be considered regarding this issue in the country.

    Have students write a letter to their member of Congress explaining the action they believe should be taken on the coal industry.

Vocabulary

  • Anthracite Coal
  • Bituminous Coal
  • Carbon Emissions
  • Fracking
  • Lignite Coal
  • Metallurgical Coal
  • Regulatory
  • Renewable Energy
  • Sequestration
  • Subbituminous Coal
  • Volatile

Topics

Bureaucracy & RegulationEnvironmental Policy & Land UseHealth

Grades

Middle SchoolHigh SchoolUniversity