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Power LinesPhoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest$
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Andrew Needham

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691139067

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691139067.001.0001

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“Good Bye, Big Sky”: Coal and Postwar America

“Good Bye, Big Sky”: Coal and Postwar America

(p.246) Conclusion “Good Bye, Big Sky”: Coal and Postwar America
Power Lines

Andrew Needham

Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter presents a reading of “Good Bye, Big Sky” and “The Giant Revived,” two articles on coal's rise as the fuel of postwar America and the cost of that transition. “The Giant Revived” explained how American electrical utilities found coal to be an inexpensive alternative to natural gas and nuclear power that could meet the nation's burgeoning demand for electricity. This demand drove a revival of the coal industry. By 1970, demand from utilities had tripled the amount of electricity generated by coal since 1956. Meanwhile, “Good Bye, Big Sky” suggested the costs of coal's new place as the nation's dominant source of electricity. With Four Corners alone releasing approximately 46,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 35,000 tons of sulfur dioxide—the two main chemical components of smog—as well as 50,000 tons of fly ash annually, the resulting air pollution obscured vistas and suggested the Southwest's unique nature had come to an end.

Keywords:   coal, coal industry, postwar America, electrical utilities, electricity demand, air pollution

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