“No finer life than a coal miners wife”
–Anonymous post to Rising Tide North America
Last week High Country Rising Tide went public in the Wyoming media with plans to organize West By Northwest, a no coal exports action camp in the heart of Wyoming’s coal country. It will be a place to build constructive solutions to preventable human and environmental catastrophes related to coal exports.
Despite it’s noble intentions, it’s sparked quite the reaction from western coal country. To say the least. Organizers with High Country Rising Tide and Rising Tide North America have gotten a barrage of hate mail and belligerent Facebook posts which include:
“I guess im a little confused… none of the powder river coal is shipped overseas. I have worked for almost every mine in the basin and can say for sure all of the coal produced there is used here. The coal that is used overseas is produced overseas. Coal mines are great for the economy as they are a great paying gig which gives more money back to the community, and woth todays carbon capture technology power plants are being built with zero emissions so it’s a win win.”
“We will be seeing you here in Campbell County. I would tell you to bring
your bells and whistles so that we know who you are but I am thinking that
you won’t be missed in our community. We never forget a coal haters face.”
“fuck u u guys are a bunch of crying babies going to love when u come to wy will give u a warm fucking welcome just think whats powering your phone your computer the plastic of anything u own u dumb shit cant wait tell u come here going to be nice fucking red day bitch”
We’ve also gotten multiple requests from local media (including invites from conservative talk radio) to discuss the issues. We’ve already been doing interviews and are looking forward to lots more opportunity to discuss the issues. Plus we just love mixing it up on talk radio.
And Gillette Wyoming’s conservative radio host made this video in our honor
Per usual the coal industry is playing the victim and screaming that environmentalists are plotting their overthrow. The industry’s public relations wing plays into the fears of employees and their families around job loss, who then go on the attack. They’ve been doing this all over the country and through national advertising campaigns. Long standing culture war tactics (red state vs. blue state, liberals vs. conservatives, coasts vs. the heartland) are also being employed.
The concerns about job loss do not fall on deaf ears. We hear them and our intention is not to wreck people’s lives. Our goal is to start a dialogue. We’re not dangerous and we’re not going to incite riots or create chaos (some of the accusations we’ve been getting) in Gillette, WY or any other part of coal country. We do use non-violent civil disobedience as a tool to draw attention to our issues. But do it in the traditions of the civil rights movement, the women’s suffrage movement and the labor movement.
We’re actually reasonable people and want to discuss the impacts of coal exports and coal burning. While coal may or may not have a detrimental impact on the lives of Powder River Basin residents, it’s having a big impact on a lot of other people and other parts of the world. Coal is responsible for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions and the U.S. is the world’s second largest coal producer. A big portion of U.S. emissions from coal comes from Powder River Basin coal. Coal-fired energy generation is responsible for pollutants that damage cardiovascular and respiratory health and threaten healthy child development. These are issues that need to be raised. Companies like Peabody Energy, Rio Tinto and Arch Coal don’t mention these facts because it cuts into profits.
Climate organizing in the reddest of the western red states is not going to be easy. Our friends in Idaho and Montana, have been fighting tar sands megaloads for over a year now. We’ve been part of similar campaigns in Appalachia which continue (Rising Tide North America actually formed in southwest Virginia during an anti-strip mining campaign in 2006) to abolish mountaintop removal coal mining. This summer, Montana and Wyoming will both be sites of organizing and action campaigns. This won’t be easy and we will provoke controversy and aggressive responses, but that is part of our long struggle.