Lets face it, Virtually all of our energy choices have big safety and environmental risks or significant weaknesses. There is no perfect or excellent energy source that has no environmental impact, is low-cost, and operates continuously. Indeed, especially in terms of the environment, our energy choices today are mostly ugly.
Look at Coal production involves blowing up mountains, tearing apart land, burying streams with spoil, discharging acidic waste water that destroys aquatic life, and disposal of gargantuan volumes of ash after combustion. The burning of coal releases big volumes of air pollutants – mercury, lead, arsenic, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and soot. Soot pollution that comes from coal and diesel can be lethal, and is estimated to cause 34,000 premature deaths per year just in America. I think Natural Gas is the obvious replacement to coal.