Coal has been admired as a precious stone, cursed as a health hazard, and hailed as the foundation of modern industry. Today, coal is the state's primary fuel for power plants. But, like most people, Barbara Freeze had never thought much about it. That changed when the former state assistant attorney general was assigned a case overseeing Minnesota's air quality laws. The case granted Freeze a unique look inside the coal industry. What she saw convinced her to quit her job and immerse herself in coal's 350 (m)million year history. Freeze's new book "Coal: A Human History" takes an in-depth look at that history and argues that the world's reliance on coal is taking a huge environmental toll. Freeze says it's hard to underestimate the impact coal has had.
This file was digitized with the help of a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).