Big Coal Scores on Wyoming’s Public Lands

By scott parkin
Peabody Energy coal mining operation
Peabody Energy coal mining operation
“Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel,
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken,

Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.”
—John Prine

Paging Tim DeChristopher.

Tuesday the Department of the Interior announced that they’d be making coal-rich tracts of lands available to the mining industry in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, leasing bids worth somewhere between $13.4 billion and $21.3 billion and producing 758 million tons of coal.

Citing political unrest in the Middle East, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said “we ought not be subjected to the ups and downs of what happens in the Middle East or in Libya, so part of it is moving us towards an energy independent America.”

Why do I get the feeling that some sleazy corporate lobbyists are seizing some opportunities?

Salazar also said that nuclear energy is still part of America’s energy future. But, Japan’s nuclear meltdown seems to be a bit of a boom for the coal industry. Stocks are up and the future looks bright for dirty coal after years of progress made by environmentalists.

Wyoming is the reddest of the red states, but if anything, it’s time for more red state organizing. We’re in a long struggle to keep coal in the ground and fight for communities most impacted by extraction.