Arguably, the biggest concern with burning coal is the release of carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas. Coal combustion also emits sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides, which contributes to smog. In addition to causing air pollution, coal also causes the destruction of the landscape in mining operations for its extraction. Mountaintop removal mining of coal involves blowing up mountains, and that will destroy the ecosystems that were there previously. However, coal-fired power plants are still quite prevalent in the United States.
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