Yesterday, my three oldest grandsons and I went on an expedition to southwest Indiana. I'm big on I-69 and wanted them to see progress progressing. Gov. Mitch Daniels is way ahead of schedule building the Evansville to Bloomington segment, and so there are a number of places where the work is being done within eyesight of other roads. We watched the men and machines and it was just drop-dead georgous.
Finding the mine's entrance road, we drove in past the slurry pond and up onto the mountains for a little off-roading in our Honda Accord. We dragged the bottom of the car a number of times and had to back up a one-lane almost-vertical road after it became apparent we were about to get in the way of a huge earthmover. It was fun.
We backed up the mountain for about two-hundred yards or so, around curves while crunching rocks beneath us. We worked hard to stay ahead of the huge beast of an earthmover. When our evasion and rock-crunching was over, I glanced in the back seat and saw eldest grandson, Jonathan, with his head down deep in a book. I was amazed! So much adventure and so little interest! So I aked whether he'd been reading to take his mind off what was going on and he said, "yes." Some people close their eyes and others read books. I wished I'd had a book when we were four-wheeling above Ouray a couple years ago.
During the open-pit expedition, we stopped and talked to one the mine's foremen and he gave us a disquisition on President Obama's war on coal. I was entirely sympathetic being both a coal and open-pit lover. Strike three, right? Coal, open-pit mines, and new-terrain interstate highways. I've come a long way since 1974 when I pierced my left ear and read Barry Commoner. As Dylan puts it, "Ah, but I was so much older, then; I'm younger than that now."
Since a number of youth group work trips to Letcher County, Kentucky, in high school, I've loved coal. The smell of it burning brings a nostalgic bliss over me, so when we built our house two and a half years ago, I did my best to figure out how I could have a coal-burning fireplace insert. I failed. Apparently the inserts can't withstand coal's high temperatures--even cooler burning high-sulfur bituminous.
But hope springs eternal in this human pest. So if you know a way I can do it, write right away.
Before some of you reach high dudgeon, our children were part of the Harvard Six Cities Study and American Cancer Society Study of Particulate Air Pollution and Mortality when we lived just east of the Portage Wisconsin Power & Light coal-fired plant on the banks of the Wisconsin River. We weren't bother-ed by coal-fired plants then and we aren't bother-ed by them now. Just use scrubbers. God made the coal and it's going to burn sooner or later.