Stephanie Pearce: Protect our coal mines
May 17, 2015
This last week has been a whirlwind of emotion with the ruling of Judge R. Brooke Jackson regarding his decision that affects Colowyo Mine. I honestly wonder where common sense has gone sometimes.
I look at his ruling and the "Guardians" claims that its members are "harmed by the aesthetic and environmental impacts of coal mining." Jeremy Nichols, an employee and member of the Wildearth Guardians alleges injury in fact. He stated that he has been visiting this area to recreate with his family since 1999. He claims that his recreational enjoyment is lessened by the noise of the equipment working and seeing the "smoke" from the smoke stacks at the power plant (that we all know is water vapor).
First of all, what the heck has this world come to? I can voluntarily visit a place, say I don't like the looks of something and sue to ruin the livelihood of hundreds? That may be oversimplifying it, but seriously. Our mines and our power plant run clean operations. They win awards for reclamation. They put it back better than when they found it.
Mr. Nichols is so worried about his view and the lives of the fish in the waters he thinks are being contaminated, but what about his recreational activities? Does he fish? Does that kill fish? Does he float the river, which has potential to harm the fish when the waters are low? Does he address the shocking of the rivers, which actually does kill fish?
How can it be okay to just visit a community and decide they don't make a living the way you see fit. It isn't okay to me. It isn't okay that so few people can change the lives of so many. It isn't okay to me that these people don't see the impacts they have on our lives because of their actions and thoughts.
I see posts on the internet where people from other cities are telling the people employed at Colowyo to find work in other fields such as solar installation and wind turbines. First of all, changing jobs isn't magic. There are people who work at these mines who are supporting family members with medical issues that can't afford to go without insurance needed. If they move to new jobs, they must build up sick days and must work a year before they can use FMLA to take care of their family members and they must start over with new insurance. There is so much more at stake here than someone not liking the aesthetics of a coal mine or a power plant. These are real people whose lives will be changed.
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I wish these WildEarth Guardians could take off their blinders for a moment and actually see reality and some common sense.