What to do about coal ash?

Here’s a little video I did two years after the “Christmas coal ash spill” in Tennessee. The long and the short of it is we still don’t know what to do with all the ash leftover after our coal burning. And, unlike CO2 and other air pollutants, coal ash doesn’t get a lot of attention. But all of our pollution controls are, essentially, moving the problem of pollutants from our air (via smokestacks) to our water (via leaching from coal ash).

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I am an award-winning journalist writing primarily about the environment and energy. I am working on a book about whether the planet has entered a new geologic age as a result of people's impacts and, if so, what we should do about this Anthropocene. I’ve been writing for Scientific American since 2005 and have written on subjects ranging from astronomy to zoology for both the Web site and magazine. I’ve been reporting on the environment and energy since 1999 — long enough to be cynical but not long enough to be depressed. I am the author of a children’s book on bullet trains and write for publications ranging from the L.A. Review of Books to The New Republic, speak on news radio and shows such as WNYC’s The Takeaway, NHPR’s Word of Mouth, and PRI’s The World as well as host the duPont-Columbia award winning documentary “Beyond the Light Switch” for PBS. I also happen to think Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species is a surprisingly good read.