Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said he was going to make a ” major energy announcement” Tuesday from Cheyenne, Wyoming. While we’d hoped his comments would be in regard to new wind resources being developed, we weren’t surprised by the actual announcement: more public land will be strip-mined for coal.
“Coal is a critical component of America’s comprehensive energy portfolio as well as Wyoming’s economy,” Salazar said.
The new strip mines will be in the Powder River Basin and Salazar announced that they will yield an estimated 758 million tons of coal. The Powder River Basin already provides about 40% of the nation’s coal. Along with the coal comes countless jobs, billions in bids and royalties for both Wyoming and the federal government, and a marked increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Wyoming’s coal-fired power plants already emit more carbon dioxide in eight hours than the power plants of Vermont do in a year, and Vermont has more people, although Wyoming is the leading state in energy exports which helps to explain its emissions.
Salazar noted that the Obama administration is still committed to renewable energy, but with the stall of solar projects in California and this new coal sale, we have to wonder how deep that commitment is.