Energy is often nebulous. It doesn’t make known to the end-user from where it comes. All we often know is that we get electricity from our plugins, gas from the pump, clean water from our pipes, food from the market. The nature of the electric grid and our energy distribution system disguise the effects that energy production often has at its source. In Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, for example, local citizens who are a part of Oregon Rural Action’s sister organizations in the WORC network are fighting incursions by oil and gas, coal, and coalbed methane developers on their land. Because of the split estate laws of those states, many homeowners, farmers and ranchers do not own the mineral rights under their “surface rights” and energy developers can and have literally set up a drill rig within a stone’s throw of a house, fouling the air, drying up home wells, polluting groundwater, and poisoning livestock.
Here in Oregon, the state gets over 40% of its electricity from the PGE Coal-Fired Power Plant near Boardman, which receives its coal from these same areas and the families there are just as impacted by its extraction for export.
Coal and other fossil fuel development is based on the practice and principle of externalizing costs, shoving them onto the general public and onto the natural world in the form of pollution, impacts to human health, and destruction of land and water resources. These costs are rarely, if ever, reflected in the price consumers pay. Coal, for example, is a dirty, financially risky fuel of the past filled with substantial hidden costs to society. Every new coal project puts off America’s transition to clean energy and is a step backward at a time when America needs to be reaching for a future of clean and renewable energy sources. View more >>