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5

wednesday

The first chapter of Jeff Goodell’s new book, Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future, is titled “The Saudi Arabia of Coal.” That, for all intents and purposes, is what the United States is. And with an estimated 250 years’ worth of coal in reserve, we’ll still be the Saudi Arabia of coal long after Saudi Arabia is done being the Saudi Arabia of oil. What all that means is, for the endless amount of talk regarding the growing service sector and the information-based economy, the grimy business of pulling coal from the earth, transporting it by railroad, and burning it to generate power is going to be booming for a long, long time to come. Goodell’s book delves into each of those sectors of the coal economy, and he’s found plenty of fodder: Under the Bush administration, which campaigned on the tragic euphemism that is “clean coal technology,” the coal industry is bigger than—and as destructive as—ever. Listen to Goodell speak into what’s probably a coal-powered amplifier when he reads from and signs copies of his work at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Mike DeBonis)