Sunday, August 06, 2017
The rumble of coal
Coal was formed over the eons from dead organic matter and despite the best efforts of Cheeto Mussolini and his diehard destructors, the coal industry will soon enough follow it its footsteps. Until then Cheeto and His Gang are doing their crooked best to maximize the profits of a few wealthy friends at the expense the commonwealth.
The Trump administration is wading into one of the oldest and most contentious debates in the West by encouraging more coal mining on lands owned by the federal government — part of an aggressive push to both invigorate the struggling American coal industry and more broadly exploit commercial opportunities on public lands.Destory nature's work of thousands of years in the blink of an eye for quick profit by a few and screw the rest of the public. No doubt the idea sends shivers of delight down the backs of Cheeto and his lead henchman "Hinky" Zinke.
The intervention has roiled conservationists and many Democrats, exposing deep divisions about how best to manage the 643 million acres of federally owned land — most of which is in the West — an area more than six times the size of California. Not since the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion during the Reagan administration have companies and individuals with economic interests in the lands, mining companies among them, held such a strong upper hand.
Clouds of dust blew across the horizon one recent summer evening as a crane taller than the Statue of Liberty ripped apart walls of a canyon dug deep into the public lands here in the Powder River Basin, the nation’s most productive coal mining region. The mine pushes right up against a reservoir, exposing the kind of conflicts and concerns the new approach has sparked.
“If we don’t have good water, we can’t do anything,” said Art Hayes, a cattle rancher who worries that more mining would foul a supply that generations of ranchers have relied upon.
President Trump, along with roundly questioning climate change, has moved quickly to wipe out those measures with the support of coal companies and other commercial interests. Separately, Mr. Trump’s Interior Department is drawing up plans to reduce wilderness and historic areas that are now protected as national monuments, creating even more opportunities for profit.
Richard Reavey, the head of government relations for Cloud Peak Energy, which operates a strip mine here that sends coal to the Midwest and increasingly to coal-burning power plants in Asia said Mr. Trump’s change of course was meant to correct wrongs of the past.
The Obama administration, he said, had become intent on killing the coal industry, and had used federal lands as a cudgel to restrict exports. The only avenues of growth currently, given the shutdown of so many coal-burning power plants in the United States, are markets overseas.
“Their goal, in collusion with the environmentalists, was to drive us out of the export business,” Mr. Reavey said.
Even with the moves so far, the prospect of coal companies operating in a big way on federal land — and for any major job growth — is dim, in part because environmentalists have blocked construction of a coal export terminal, and there is limited capacity at the port the companies use in Vancouver.
Competition from other global suppliers offering coal to Asian power plants is also intense.
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