In this paper we present documentation for the realistic assessment of the concept of peat as an energy alternative in the United States. A proposal to mine peat in north-central Florida provides the framework from which a community worksheet for the evaluation of a peat-mining proposal has been developed. Documentation is also given of crucial local and regional environmental impacts that would result from large-scale disturbance of peatlands and the subsequent removal of peat, among which are:
1) toxic-metal release from peat,
2) eutrophication of surface waters,
3) increased runoff (including flooding and impacts on fisheries),
4) release of organic pollutants,
5) changes of salt and freshwater systems,
6) changes in ground-water supply, and
7) air pollution and fires.
Other community concerns, such as zoning regulations, sewage disposal impacts, and disruption of stable industries, must also be considered.