Climate + Energy

Not Even a Creepy Coal Monster Can Save Industry


The animated lump of coal that execs are using to sell a new mine in Wyoming. It failed.

Coal is dying and all the buck-toothed (and frankly, creepy) animations in the world can’t revive it.

That doesn’t stop industry from trying, however. And it doesn’t stop their plans from continuing to go down in flames.

Case in point: the coal company, Ramaco, and their attempt to build a new coal mine in Wyoming to turn “Coal into Cars (and a few other things).”

In spite of a slick presentation, including a third-rate animated chunk of coal, it failed as a citizen council chastised the company for not being a “good neighbor.”

It’s a sign of how the coal industry, try as it may, just can’t get clean.

If you don’t know, Ramaco is a coal company that wants to dig a new mine in Wyoming just outside of the town of Sheridan, which lies at the foot of the majestic Bighorn Mountains. Called the Brook Mine, it would open the door for Ramaco to tap into more than 1.1 billion tons of coal along the Tongue River.


The Tongue River outside of Sheridan, Wyoming.

Acknowledging that burning coal for electricity amounts to a “race to the bottom,” the company instead tried to sell a more “intelligent use” for coal, one where the coal would be strip mined and turned into, among other things, cars.

Believe it or not, it’s not entirely crazy. After all coal is carbon and carbon is used in all sorts of products that we use every day. However, the industry’s track record of successfully pitching these “alt-coal” projects is pretty dismal (remember the failure of the DKRW coal to liquids facility in southern Wyoming).

It’s because at the end of the day, mining, refining, processing, and then manufacturing coal is still an incredibly energy intensive, messy endeavor. Whether it’s strip mining the ground and destroying lands and waters, creating and disposing of massive amounts of  waste from coal refining, or generating the massive amounts of electricity needed to sustain this kind of an operation, it really veers into the realm of a boondoggle.


Land where Ramaco wants to construct the Brook coal mine. Photo by Cooper McKim. 

At the end of the day, Ramaco’s plans are nothing more than a scheme to shove unwanted coal down the throats of Americans.

And with their use of a creepy, buck-toothed animated chunk of coal, which bears a striking resemblance to the googly-eyed Cookie Monster, one can’t help but see this as another attempt by a desperate industry to get one more fossil fuel fix.


It’s probably no wonder that Ramaco turned to bullying to try to secure approval for its new mine. And it’s probably no wonder that the company seems to be flailing financially. Since going public in February, it lost half its value and has been described as one of  2017’s worst-performing Initial Public Offerings, or IPO.

As coal continues to decline, companies are going to continue to turn to hype and distractions to cover up the fact that they are doomed to fail. Not even buck-toothed animated lumps of coal can save the industry now.

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