Editor’s Note: Should coal from Wyoming and Montana be transported through the Pacific Northwest and shipped to Asia? In our multimedia project, “Voices of Coal,” we bring you nine diverse perspectives from people across the region with a stake in that debate. Today’s installment: The Coal Country rancher.
L.J. Turner’s family started ranching more than a century ago in northeastern Wyoming. He remembers as a boy cutting ice from the creek outside the ranch for use during the summer.
Now the creek runs dry a lot of the time. Turner says the aquifers have been depleted by the nearby coal mines. Not long ago he had to dig a well more than 1,000 feet to reach the water.
Turner has also lost access to 6,000 acres of public land where he used to graze his cows. That’s where the mines are today.
Many of his neighbors don’t believe that humans are contributing to global climate change. It’s pretty clear to him that things are changing, and that burning coal is a reason.
Sources: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality Land Quality Division, United States Census Bureau, State of Wyoming Department of Revenue.
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