It was too costly (read unhappy stock holders AND consumers) to put in place the more stringent technology to burn the more readily available higher-sulphur coal in power plants along the Massachusetts coast.
So they went south–to Columbia, South America–where laws were more corporation friendly, operating expenses were cheap and human lives expendable.
Excerpt from “The Dirty Story Behind Local Energy” by Aviva Chomsky:
Surface, or open-pit, mines pose different risks. Whole ecosystems are destroyed when miles of land are dug up to access the coal underneath it. In the Guajira, rivers and streams have been diverted, desertification has spread, and whole species — such as the iguana and the howling monkey — have disappeared or been supplanted.
Too often, these ecosystems include people who are simply deemed dispensable by the mining companies, the power companies that buy the coal, and the consumers of electricity produced by the power companies. In Colombia, these are indigenous Wayuu and Afro-Colombian people who have inhabited the desert of La Guajira for hundreds or even thousands of years.
And among those who benefit from their displacement might well be you.
The Cerrejón coal mine has been operating in the region since the 1980s, extracting more than two million tons of coal a month. All of the coal is exported, 20 percent to the United States — most of it to fire East Coast power plants.