The Messy Politics of Clean Coal, Contested Energy Alternatives in the Appalachian Coalfields

Sponsor name: 
National Science Foundation
UK Department: 
Appalachian Center
Duration: 
03/01/2009 - 02/28/2011

Project Summary. This project examines Appalachia’s carbon problem, and specifically focuses on how “clean coal” technologies have been debated and contested in the region as a possible solution to this problem.

Over a two-year period, the postdoctoral fellow and faculty mentor interviewed a range of people engaged in debates over the energy future of the Appalachian region, from university researchers and engineers to environmental advocates and coalfield residents. A range of conflicting arguments, stories, policy perspectives, and knowledge claims of different stakeholders in these debates have been documented and compared. In addition, this study examines the strategies used by grassroots groups in the Appalachian region who are working for cleaner energy solutions.

Intellectual Merit. This project increases understanding of the social implications of “clean coal” technologies, as viewed by a range of stakeholders in coal-producing communities. It deepens our understanding of the ways in which marginalized groups engage in debates over controversial technologies, and how different stakeholders use data, expert knowledge claims, communications technologies, and other resources to advocate for their positions.

Broader Impacts. This project will promote public understanding of energy issues in the Appalachian region by engaging in complex scientific and technological debates in terms that a non-technical audience can understand. Basic information, data, and diverse perspectives on a rage of alternative energy projects in the region will be written for a general audience and made available through the Appalachian Center at the University of Kentucky.

Please contact the following individual if you have any questions about this project: 
Dwight Billings, billing@email.uky.edu
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