Climate + Energy

Coal Industry Taking Another Swipe at Our National Forests


Heavy equipment clearing the way for methane venting wells above the West Elk coal mine. Photo by U.S. Forest Service. Photo obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Coal is dying, yet President Trump and his cronies are still doing everything they can to use our public lands and resource to prop up this failing industry.

The latest is a resurrected plan to open up nearly 2,000 acres of National Forest backcountry so Arch Coal can expand its West Elk mine in western Colorado.

I say resurrected because we killed this thing once before.

In 2014, we won a landmark lawsuit overturning Arch’s plans, sending the company back to the drawing board.  In a scathing ruling against the federal government, the court ruled the U.S. Department of the Interior and Forest Service illegally ignored the impacts of climate change from expanded fossil fuel production.

Now, emboldened by the President Trump’s zeal for coal, Arch is back at it again and the Interior Department and Forest Service are willfully obliging the company.  Although this time around, Arch Coal’s plans truly make less sense than ever before.

The reason?  The coal industry is practically a dead man walking.

Globally, coal production plunged by 6.2% last year, the largest annual fall on record. In the U.S., the coal industry now officially employs less than Arby’s.

Here in Colorado, production has hit lows not seen since the 1970’s and have declined nearly 70% from a high in 2004.  And with the recent closing of other mines, employment in Colorado’s coal industry has plummeted below 1,000.

Coupled with the climate consequences of more coal mining and more coal burning, Arch’s plans are a complete disaster.  And sadly, Trump seems to want to saddle Colorado and the American public with the cost of supporting this crazy coal mining, climate destroying boondoggle.

That’s why we’re asking for your help in demanding the federal government abandon its plans to rubberstamp Arch’s mine expansion at the expense of taxpayers, our climate, and our public lands.

We stopped this before and we can do it again with your help. In the meantime, learn more about Arch’s plans here, and stay tuned for more ways to get involved.

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