Alaska's Uncertain Food Future

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This article by Brian Calvert first appeared in the August 18, 2014 issue of High Country News.

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Climate canary

Greenhouse gases are changing the way we talk about coal.

On a tree-shaded corner of the town park in Paonia, Colorado, a life-sized statue of a miner stands, his pick gripped in both hands and his gaze turned toward Coal Mountain, a small peak in the West Elk Range of the Rocky Mountains. The statue honors the 68 men who have died in nearby mines since 1906, and acknowledges the historic importance of coal to the community (which is also HCN's hometown). These days, though, it also stands as a ....cont.

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Comments about this article

Jeremy Nichols Subscriber
Aug 27, 2014 02:05 PM
Here's some more pictures of what methane venting above the West Elk coal mine looks like,[…]/.

The bigger problem here is that the Interior Dept. is not just completely out of step with the Obama Administration's effort to curtail carbon, but completely out of step with the science that says carbon cuts are needed to confront climate change. Contrary to the article's suggestion otherwise, the fact is that the Bureau of Land Management has not gotten the memo from the Obama Administration that it has a role to play in combating climate change when managing publicly owned coal. Instead, the Bureau of Land Management seems to think the problem is with smokestacks and that the solution lies with those who regulate stacks, like EPA. This is akin to blaming roadside litter on the failure of clean-up crews to get on the mess, rather than pointing the finger at the actual litterbugs.

if the West Elk decision is appealed by the feds, it will be a stunning defense of climate denial by the Obama Administration. Worse, such an appeal would strongly indicate that the Obama Administration's commitment to curtailing carbon is, sadly, more rhetoric than reality.

Jeremy Nichols
Climate and Energy Program Director
WildEarth Guardians

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