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Power to the People: Wyoming Residents Reject First New Coal Mine in Decades
By Joe McCarthy
Wyoming produces 40 percent of the U.S.'s coal, nearly quadruple the amount produced by West Virginia, the second highest producer.
So far this year, production in the state has increased by 15 million tons.
Yet Wyoming hasn't opened a new coal mine in decades—long-standing mines are filling the demand.
And it looks like the state might not open a new mine anytime soon.
Ramaco Carbon, a Chinese-owned company, was cleared by state regulators to begin construction of a new mine near the town of Ranchester earlier this year.
Then local landowners stepped in and lobbied a regional council to block the permit, arguing that the proposed mine had deficiencies that would ultimately harm the local environment.
They said that the proposed mine could pollute water wells, it lacked blasting limits and it would increase the likelihood of sinkholes. They also said that the plan approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to collect data on the area and that the company neglected to consult residents who would be impacted.
Lawyers for the Powder River Resource Council, a regulatory body, said that the plan submitted by Ramaco was "wholly inadequate."
On Tuesday, the plan was rejected in a 4-1 vote.
"You don't just go into Wyoming with people who've lived here for generations and think you're gonna throw your weight around and tell us how it's gonna be," Jill Morrison, director of Powder River Basin Resource Council, told The Huffington Post. "It don't work like that here."
Now either the mine will be abandoned or Ramaco will have to devise a new plan that addresses the complaints and resubmit it for approval.
Either way, the rejection is symbolically profound and speaks to Wyoming's larger struggle for economic sustainability.
The state has been hemorrhaging coal jobs for years as the industry shifts to automation and appetite for coal declines following the surge of natural gas.
All across the world, meanwhile, countries are giving up coal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The state currently produces the fourth most wind energy in the country and 100 percent of all new energy in capacity in Wyoming will come from renewable energy between 2016-2019, according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
This progress is being slowed by policies that tax wind power at high rates and by attempts to flat-out ban new renewable energy projects in the state.
But as citizens continue to see the benefits of wind energy through more jobs and the environmental hazards of coal energy, the calculus of state legislators could change.
Blocking a new coal mine shows the power of the public. Pushing for more wind energy would do the same.
"Wyoming is at a bit of a crossroads, where if it doesn't get on board soon it's going to miss out on an incredible economic development opportunity for the state," John Hensley, a wind energy expert, told the Star Tribune. "It's an opportunity that is going to go elsewhere in the country if [Wyoming] doesn't move forward."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.
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By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.
Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include
By Richard Denison
Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.
By Brett Walton
When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.
In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›