Guy Raz

Miners Weather The Slow Burn Of Coal's Demise

Jul 14, 2012

At some point today, you will probably flip on a light switch. That simple action connects you to the oldest and most plentiful source of American electricity: coal.

Since the early 1880s — when Edison and Tesla pioneered the distribution of electrical power into our homes — most of that power has come from the process of burning coal.



This week, one of the biggest coal mining companies in Central Appalachia, Patriot Coal, filed for bankruptcy protection. Over the past three months, a wave of layoffs has hit coal country hard, and this past month, the share of all U.S. electricity generated from coal hit its lowest level since the 1940s. Our colleague Guy Raz visited Webster County in the middle of West Virginia to find out what's killing King Coal.