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Tag Archives: coal

Colorado Governor, Attorney General Opposed On Clean Power Plan

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Colorado governor John Hickenlooper is taking a stance against state attorney general Cynthia Coffman over the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

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What is the ‘New West’ versus the ‘Old West’ Economy?

Natural resource economy? What comes to mind when you hear the term? A poor Third World nation, prosperous logging and mining communities in the American West, or maybe a state where natural resources like coal, gas, minerals and cattle are shipped out but without local residents capturing the majority of the commodity value? In the short essay that follows, Joe Kerkvliet, an economist with The Wilderness Society's regional office in Bozeman, Montana, provides an overview of what he sees are the differences between the traditional Old West economy, which in many ways still shapes the region's cultural mindset, and the rapidly growing "recreation economy" which has had a profound influence on land values, inward population migration, changing uses on the landscape, and the flavor of "local culture" and businesses. - Todd Wilkinson

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Panguitch, Utah Faces Old West/New West Dilemma, Again

I say “again” because Panguitch lost its sawmill, and about a hundred jobs, in the mid-nineties. Now there’s a plan to revive extractive industry in the form of a coal mine three miles south of nearby Alton. The “worst-case scenario,” according to a Salt Lake Tribune article by Mark Havnes, is that forty-two-ton coal-hauling trucks will barrel through downtown Panguitch every 4.8 minutes on their way to Highway 20 and then Cedar City.

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Utah Has Plateful of Western Issues

Mining coal – pro and con. Check. Nuclear waste. Check. Wrangling with the federal government. Check. Dispute over off-road vehicle access on public lands. Check. Utah shares a lot with other Western states: abundant natural beauty, bustling cities and a sizzling hot economy. The state is also dealing with the same soup of public policy issues with which most Western states are dealing. The proposal to build a coal mine near Bryce Canyon in southern Utah has drawn mixed comments at a series of public meetings on the project. Alton Coal Development LLC’s Coal Hollow Project would surface-mine 2 million tons of coal annually from about 3,600 acres of federal land plus 400 acres of private land in Kane County. At a public hearing on the project last Thursday in Panguitch, one of the small towns along Highway 89—the route the semi-loads of coal would take from the coal mine to Interstate 15—the handful of residents who showed up to hear about the project weren’t daunted by the prospect of those trucks – one every 10 minutes or so – rumbling through their town.

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A Primer On Climate Change From The NY Times Andy Revkin

When it comes to writing about climate change and the continuing evolution of the political discussion in America, no reporter does it better or more astutely than Andrew Revkin of The New York Times. Andy's work is crackerjack and he, too, has been a reader of the reports on climate change that have appeared here at New West. As a journalistic colleague and friend, I have the utmost respect for his work. The following is a note that Andy passed along today and New West readers should find it to be of great interest, for it illustrates how the discussion over global warming is light years ahead of the so-called "debate" occurring in the Rockies. Here are a couple of links, based on Andy's suggestion, you're sure to enjoy.

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Making Backyard Ice In An Age Of Global Warming

While you are reading these words, I am putting our Montana backyard on ice. I've been out past midnight for a couple of weeks now trying to make peace with the natural elements and uneven contours of frozen sod in order to make a skating rink for the kids. I must say that it is starting to look sweet as it shines in the end-of-day sunlight. What passes today as a modest extravagance in attempting to defy the gusts of warm Chinook winds that blow through in January and inevitably will turn this project into puddles is nothing compared to the epic struggle in the mountains between glaciers and the rising global thermostat. Decades from now when the glaciers are memorialized in our oral tradition, the same way that Native Americans speak of free-ranging bison in their origin stories, what will our kids remember of winter?

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A Free-Marketeer Asks: What Is The Solution To Our Energy Future?

"I find it interesting that green activists and their political allies uniformly favor dramatic and draconian action to avert climate change," writes Pete Geddes. "Serious policy analysts are different; they generally favor less dramatic action applied over the long term." Mr. Geddes, executive vice president of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), a Libertarian think tank headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, returns once again to the theme of climate change and possible alternatives to carbon-based energy. Implying that the body of scientific evidence affirming human-caused global warming appears to be partisan and unconvincing, he writes: "Despite assurances to the contrary from Al Gore, there are large uncertainties regarding the physical processes driving climate change." In the essay which follows that is sure to elicit a response from readers—including a reply, hopefully, from scientists out there—Geddes makes a number of pointed assertions. We, at New West, are adding our discussion questions in parenthesis and we hope you will join in. "Over the next fifty years," Geddes writes, "the world’s developing nations will seek to emulate the West’s material success. Their leaders know that improving the quality of life for their citizens requires more, not less, energy consumption." (Our response is: What about China? There, 550 brand new old-technology coal-fired power plants are scheduled to come on line at the rate of almost one per week over the next decade, exacerbating what is already the worst air quality affecting hundreds of millions of people. Those plants also serve as a major source of greenhouse gases affecting climate worldwide. Indeed, Chinese leaders are right now employing Geddes' argument about quality of life being improved by racing industrialization, based upon the burning of oil and coal, but the net effect of this case study is also huge public health problems, water shortages, and an unprecedented environmental disaster growing in magnitude. How is the free-market going to remedy this and who will pay for it)? While once again advocating for a market-based carbon trading program, Geddes points to another possibility: "A different approach involves the interesting question of geoengineering, i.e., our ability to manipulate the global climate through, say, space-based mirrors or carbon from jet exhaust. This is a serious area of research and raises important questions and possibilities. Among them, what temperature do we want and who decides? Do we let the Maldive Islanders decide, since future sea level rise could submerge their homes? The Russians might prefer some moderate warming, to increase agriculture in Siberia and provide ice-free ports. I’ll explore this topic further in a future column." New West looks forward to Geddes' next column on that subject. Meantime, we pose another question for discussion: (Mr. Geddes appears to put a lot of faith and promise in the very same scientific community that many of his skeptical peers have either dismissed or claimed as not being credible. Many skeptics have also asserted that humankind is not capable of being a significant force in altering climate. If that is the case, then perhaps he could explain the apparent paradox in his argument in which he points to the "uncertainty" of humans influencing climate, on the one hand, and yet being poised, through scientific technology, to provide a manipulated fix)?

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Trading Pollutants Is Better Than Heavy Handed Government Regulation

Part of the Bush Administration's National Energy Strategy calls for utilitizing more coal to generate power. In coal-rich areas of the West, it also means building more coal-fired power plants which could feed electricity into the rapidly expanding energy grid system in distant cities. But mining and burning of more coal also means having to confront several epic challenges, not the least of which are figuring out how to address carbon dioxide emissions and filtering out pollutants to prevent them from sullying the air. In his latest column, Pete Geddes, vice president of the Libertarian thinktank Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment in Bozeman writes that cap and trading systems would work for managing and reducing the toxic clouds coming out of smokestacks. It's a timely opinion piece, given that just this week British Prime Minister Tony Blair met with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and several corporate heads to talk about a similar strategy for addressing carbon. Geddes warns against "command and control" regulations that, he says, may force industry to be cleaner but he believes the costs are only passed along to consumers.

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Pairing Energy, Employment

We live in a cowboy boot. Well at least those of us Montanans who dwell in the corridor that descends south of Whitefish to Hamilton that then kicks northeast to Helena do. The remaining residents, says Energy Development panel moderator Evan Barrett from the governor’s office of economic opportunity, swim in the “sea of dislocation.”? “There is serious out migration in rural counties,”? he said, emphasizing Indian Reservations, where unemployment rates run as high as 70 percent. “This is one of the reasons we are so excited about energy development.”? And looking at the map of Montana flashing interactively above his head, it is clear why.

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