They claim this is a step toward U.S. energy independence. It is clear to us that our wild horses have another battle ahead of them.
The end of March marks a dark day for our public lands. Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, rolled back President Obama’s 14-month restriction on issuing new coal, oil, and gas leases on federal lands. The claim is that this is a step toward getting the USA to be energy independent. It is clear to us that our wild horses have another battle ahead of them.
America’s wild horses have spent the last century contending with cattle ranchers for space and food. They will now have less land to live on and their food sources will dwindle. CANA Foundation finds itself at an interesting point. We are in agreement with the cattle ranchers fighting these new leases. We fear that the air and water quality will become too polluted for their cattle and, more important, our wild horses to survive.4
Coal is one of the dirtiest forms of energy throughout every step of its life cycle. From the very beginning of mining, coal has serious ramifications to the workers and local communities. The disturbed coal sends dust into the atmosphere and to nearby towns. It is well documented that coal mining is linked to lung cancer, black lung, low birth weights, and illness due to contaminated water supplies.3,5
The coal industry has shrunk recently due to strong government regulations to curb its terrible environmental impact. Also, cleaner energy sources such as natural gas, solar, and wind power have replaced the demand. Before regulating the coal industry in 2000, mining companies stripped 5.9 million acres of forest and rangelands; leaving barren pits and contaminated waterways in their wake.
Images courtesy of Ecoflight.
Once the pits are mined and the coal removed the environment continues to be harmed. Waterways remain polluted from tailings and displaced wildlife often starve to death due to lack of food and clean water. The air quality is toxic due to particulates. The soil is so damaged that local replanting initiatives to replace the destroyed forests cannot survive. Another catastrophic side effect of coal mining is the release of methane gas into the atmosphere. Methane is linked to global warming of our planet. Coal mining is the 4th largest (10%) contributor to methane gas emissions in the U.S.2,6
For the past decade, solar and other clean energy industries have grown 50% faster than any other energy field. In fact, 1 out of every 78 jobs added are in solar. Companies in clean energy have asked the government why there isn’t more focus on growing clean energy. It has proven to be an incredibly effective stimulus for the economy. During the Obama administration, the federal government issued tax credits to home owners who installed solar panels. This tax credit was 30% until 2017 when it dropped to 10%. One would think that would have slowed the market’s demand for solar; but it shows no signs of slowing. The largest solar manufacturer recently finished building a 1.2 million sq. ft. factory in New York in the hopes that they can keep up with demand. As of 2015 there were twice as many solar employees as there were coal workers.1
It is clear to the CANA Foundation that the Trump administration ran on a platform of breathing life into a dying industry. Yet many people from mining towns have made it clear they don’t necessarily need coal mining jobs; they just need jobs and training for a new trade.5 There are already huge facilities in these towns that are laying empty with eager men and women ready to rejoin the workforce. These areas already have infrastructure built to transport goods and many are on railroads or main highways. A great solution is to train these people and begin production of solar or wind power inventory so we can join the rest of the world and show our commitment to clean air initiatives. If we don’t change quickly we will destroy our wildlife, atmosphere, and drinking water for future generations.
Many law suits have been filed to stop these leases from going through. We must make sure that the efforts are not futile. Please stand with CANA Foundation and contact the BLM, your state representatives, and the federal government; particularly Ryan Zinke. This issue stretches beyond partisan politics. Anyone that values clean air, water, and a thriving wildlife population should be alarmed and join the fight. Our wild horses, birds, fish, deer and elk all need our help.
About CANA Foundation
CANA Foundation’s mission is to responsibly restore an ecological balance in our environment through specific rewilding initiatives. These projects support harmony between the humans, plants, and animals that inhabit U.S. rangelands and focus on the restoration of our land’s native habitats through natural resources and indigenous species, like America’s wild horses. CANA initiatives work towards long-term, sustainable solutions that prevent further land degradation, protect and preserve wild horse populations, and encourage a beneficial, thriving ecosystem for today and tomorrow.
Contact CANA Foundation: PO Box 674, Locust Valley, NY 11560 or [email protected]Donate to CANA Foundation
It is up to us, American citizens, to contact our elected representatives of government and let them know how we feel about the issues. Use a service like GovTrack.us to find your local representatives and make your voice heard.Visit GovTrack.us
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- Featured Image: Kaufman, B. (July 15, 2012). Garzweiler Revisited [Flickr]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7667877008/