Coal 'Trumps' Protected Lands
by ahall12 on October 10, 2017 - 1:23pm
This article summarizes the recent changes taking place in the United States regarding resource extraction, specifically coal mining, and the reaction this has gotten from the public, environmental groups, and other members of the government. President Trump has taken steps to change regulations and to revamp resource extraction efforts on federal owned public lands, including national parks and reserves, and to bring back the coal mining industry. This has brought on much controversy because of the drastic change in priorities from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.
With the Obama administration taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in effort to mitigate climate change and rising temperatures, the government was stepping away from coal energy and transitioning to green energy. President Trump has caused tension now by questioning climate change science and pushing to move back to coal mining and coal energy. The Trump administration depicts the Obama administration, along with the “environmentalists”, as having some sort of conspiracy against the coal industry and trying to ruin their business.
This article talks about the American identity and the western identity. It seems that over time, and through different political figures, the American identity has changed drastically. The Trump administration talks as if resource extraction and coal mining is part of what makes America and forms their identity. Whereas, members of the Sierra Club, who protest the extraction of resources on these lands, and the Obama administration, may believe that the natural lands and national parks are what forms the American identity and believe they should be protected. President Trump may use these claims to turn Americans against the Obama administration by suggesting that protecting lands to discourage or prevent resource extraction in not American and is economically irresponsible. But rather, being American means supporting mining and resource extraction efforts, even within protected federal lands.
Another issue is raised when discussing the indigenous tribes whose lands would be affected by resource extraction. The Crow and Cheyanne tribes will be affected by some of the mining activity happening in Decker, Montana. It appears that the government has taken advantage of a poor situation. The government has given the tribes an offer they can’t refuse in a large payoff of money in exchange for their land to mine on. “We are rich in coal reserves. But we are cash poor” one member is quoted saying, justifying their desperate decision to allow mining. “We don’t have money. But we have land, water and air. Snuff that out and we are gone”, another is quoted saying, showing the large sacrifice that they are making in exchange for financial security.
President Trump works hard to deface the Obama administration and support his own agenda. However, there are many elements of his own plan that are flawed. The article reports that the royalties paid to the government from the mining companies, a large source of income for the government, are often not paid or they are paid at a much lower rate than agreed upon due to “sympathetic” government officials negotiating lower rates. This is somewhat conflicting with the idea that royalties and leasing would give a profit to pay for maintenance and repairs within national parks. It is no surprise to me that people often refer to this system as “corrupt”. Government officials are being paid off by coal companies in exchange for coal promotion and “bending” of the rules. It appears that government officials are driven by money and to them that is enough to compromise human health, environmental health, and in the case of the Crow and Cheyanne tribes, peoples’ livelihood.
Meier, E. L. (2017, August 06). Under Trump, Coal Mining Gets New Life on U.S Lands. From https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/06/us/politics/under-trump-coal-mining-gets-new-life-on-us-lands.html
Roth, R. (2017) Lecture Notes. From Courselink.com