Using public lands for development of dirty fossil fuels like coal poses a significant and swiftly increasing threat to our natural heritage. Coal mining comes with a steep environmental price, dramatically altering the landscape, causing erosion, degrading wildlife habitat, and leading to the deterioration of drinking water.

These impacts are magnified by the transportation and combustion of coal — from the trains, trucks, and tractors used to transport coal to polluting power plants, all of which heavily contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and climate change. Rights-of-way on public lands result in landscape and habitat fragmentation, while coal combustion produces a number of gaseous byproducts, including CO2, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and methane — which exacerbate climate change and are associated with ground-level ozone (smog), air pollution, and acid rain. A 500-megawatt coal plant, producing 3.5 billion kilowatt-hours per year, burns 1,430,000 tons of coal and consumes 2.2 billion gallons of water and 146,000 tons of limestone.

Unfortunately, due to the artificially low direct costs of oil and natural gas, political pressures, and the relative abundance of domestic coal, there’s been a push to increase and expand harmful and damaging energy development on our public lands. Using law and science, the Center challenges destructive new coal development in areas across the West. In addition to the campaigns detailed at the links below, we’re monitoring a number of other coal-related government projects, including the Red Cliff coal mine project; Greens Hollow coal lease tract; and the South Gillette, Hay Creek II, Wright Area, and Bull Mountain coal leases.

White Pine Energy Station
Ely Energy Center
Toquop Coal Plant
Black Mesa Coal Complex
Desert Rock Energy Project
West-wide Energy Corridor


Coal mine photo by Bert Kaufmann