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Climate and Energy Team Takes to the Field

35422752442_de8a99be55_oLast week, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program staff took to the field, getting a first hand look at how fossil fuels are destroying our public lands and our climate.

More importantly, we got a chance to see first hand why we need to be rising up, confronting the fossil fuel industry, and going to the mat to defend the American West.

Our travels took us to the West Elk coal mine in western Colorado, where Arch Coal wants to expand into roadless National Forest backcountry next to the West Elk Wilderness Area.  Shannon Hughes, our Climate Guardian who’s watchdogging new coal mining proposals in the western U.S., got to see Arch’s current operations up close and see for herself the backcountry that could be destroyed if the company gets its way.

Together with Earthjustice, WildEarth Guardians has been confronting Arch Coal’s plans to expand its mine for more than a decade.  Although in 2014, we won a groundbreaking lawsuit that halted the expansion, the company is still relentlessly pushing to destroy our climate at the expense of our public lands.

Check out some of the pictures that Shannon got while she was out there.  Click on the image below and check out what’s at stake for our climate in western Colorado.

Sunset Roadless Area at Risk From Coal Mining

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At the same time, we also headed out to the Greater Chaco region of northwestern New Mexico to see firsthand how fracking in that area is affecting the cultural and natural integrity of this amazing landscape.  Joining us was Becca Fischer, our newest Climate Guardian, who’s going to be watchdogging new oil and gas fracking plans on public lands in the American West.

The Greater Chaco region is the center of the Ancestral Puebloan Civilization, which thrived in the Four Corners region more than a thousand years ago.  It’s also the home of the Navajo today.  Today, the Puebloan past and Navajo present distinctly define the American Southwest and indigenous identity in the region, drawing visitors from around the world to explore what can only be described as a National Cultural Landscape.

Sadly, the oil and gas industry has been furiously fracking in this region, getting closer and closer to Chaco Canyon, the sacred heart of Greater Chaco.  We went out to see and experience the glory of Chaco Canyon, but also to see how much the oil and gas industry has despoiled in its relentless push.

Check out some of the pictures that we got while visiting Greater Chaco.  Click on the image below and check out what’s at stake for our climate in the region.

Checking Out Chaco and Threats From Fracking

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While the challenges are immense, there’s hope for the American West.  Still, after seeing first hand what coal mining and oil and gas drilling and fracking does to the cultural and natural fabric of the region, one can’t help but reach the conclusion that the industry has worn out its welcome on our public lands.

Stay tuned for more field reports from WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program and in the meantime, speak out for western Colorado’s National Forests and for the Greater Chaco region!

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