|The Paradise Fossil Plant was the Tennessee Valley Authority's only coal-fired plant with cooling towers, typically used at nuclear power plants, because its coal burners were so big. (Associated Press photo by Dylan Lovan)|
The plant once had the world's largest coal-fired burners and was fed by a mine with "the world's largest shovel," as noted in the 1971 song "Paradise" by John Prine, whose father came from the long-deserted Muhlenberg County town that gave the plant its name.
The closure of the Paradise Fossil Plant now and the Navajo Generating Station in November are reminders that coal-fired power plants are an increasingly endangered species in the U.S., and that the mining jobs that fuel such plants are headed in the same direction. The overall economy added more than 6.4 million jobs in the past three years. But, though there was a small uptick in the number of coal mining jobs in the U.S. after Trump's election, the latest jobs reports show that there are nearly 1,000 fewer coal miners working compared to three years ago, Chuck Jones reports for Forbes.
"With the fuel unable to compete in most places with natural gas, nuclear, and renewables, the mining and burning of coal is increasingly toxic economically as well as environmentally. Coal mines are becoming 'stranded assets' — unlikely ever to pay off the costs of their development. The risks for financiers are becoming too great," Fred Pearce reports for Yale Environment 360. "Twelve years ago, 45 percent of U.S. electricity was generated by burning coal. The figure is now 24 percent and falling fast."