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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald {Newspaper} - 1974-01-30,Lethbridge, Alberta w«dwe*w. JMWinr It. m4<-TMI tlTNtniDaK HIRALD-tS £pvironmetitali5t§ vs. industry Many want to drive coal mines back underground A MW kM of‘Mack gold'it bclig soaged wt of Wetten United Sutet prairie« asd hill* — cleu iMiwlig, iow-svlfor coal to geaerate electricity for u eMrgy-short natkw. Some of the ruicken wlw own the iand arc pleased, while otiierii are aot, ac-cotdlBg jto this KcoBd of five articles. By DAVJD MUTCH The C^ictian Science Monitor Copyright 1S74 The Christian Science PubilshlBg Society DECKER, Mont. - Mine superintendent Leo O’Brien is big — well over six feet tall. But the huge seam of coal behind him towers some 15 feet above his head. Soon the coal from that seam will cascade Into lOO-car trains and be hauled 1,000 miles to Chicago and Detroit at the rate of 150,000 tons a week to generate electricity for millions of people there It is low'sulfur coal, needed to keep city air clean But more and more, in a United States short on oil and gas. bobtully Western coal is needed a» energy, pure and simple Decker’s contract with the Detrtnt Edison utility alone calls for 200 million tons of coal between now and the year 2001. Decker itself Is a symbol of the current coal boom across the West which contains 70 per cent of known U.S. reserves America the Beautiful is being mined -strip-mined - as the demand for coal to make electricity grows and grows. No one seems to know just how much “clean” coal can be strip-mined from the rolling prairies and hills of western states E^stimates range from 45 billion tons by the Environmental Protection Agency (three per cent of what is available) to more Uian 140 billion tons by the National Coal Association. FOSSIL ENERGY But coal constitutes 88 per cent of U S fossil energy reserves, and 40 per cent of it is in the Fort Union formation in eastern Montana, Wyoming, and the western portions of North and South Dakota. (All told, the U S. possesses half of all the known coal reserves in the world). And there is general agreement on two things ~ Western coal will be strip-mined rather than taken from deep underground, because the layer of earth on top of most western coal is less than 100 feet thick (unlike coal in the East), and it lacks a hard base to support the roof of underground mines, -• The dennand is up, up Both factors mean controversy, as guardians of the environment rush to defend what they charge is the spoiling of nature caused by the mechanical monsters of the strip-mining industry Debate in Congress over strip mining indicates the depths of the passions being loosed on bolli sides. New restrictive legislation is almost completed Environmentalists must face a nation looking to coal more and more, and that means to abundant western coal, 85 per cent of which is owned by 0»e federal government under laws passed earlier in the century. , “GLAMOR” FUEL True, coal production, depressed for many years as oil and gas industries have flourished, cannot be accelerated quickly to fill the energy gap. And the amount of coal that is exported (54 million tons out of total annual production of 609 million tons) is'tied to contacts But the federal government is urging utilities to switch from oil to coal, and coal is suddenly a “glamor" fuel after a long penod of relegation to the sidelines Western coal in particular is tying an economic knot with the rest of the nation that may some day rival in importance the transcontinental railroads. A statistic of which few Americans are aware is that a full onethird of all electricity generated in the U.S is made from coal taken from stnp mines The nation is heavily dependent on this method of mining coal A related statistic- Growth in coal production nationwide over the next two years — 1974-1975 — is expected to be 93 per cent from strip mining, according to a recent exhaustive Wall Street study. The underground mining industry has long faced competition from cheap oil and natural gas It is also beset with antiquated equipment, outdated mining methods, a sudden federal drive for much-needed safety requirements, brewing labor problems, wildcat strikes, and labor and capital shortages. For these reasons it simply cannot respond to demand, industry sources and financial analysts conclude. The western land boom for coal, which began in the 1960s, has been likened to the early gold rush days Such giant companies as Shell, Atlantic Richfield, Gulf, and Exxon now own huge reserves. The U S government has temporarily suspended leasing mineral rights, however, while it assesses the results of the boom so far. Since 1066, coal production EATON’S PUSTTEX ^ NOA VISIBLE;^ MEANSOF SUFPQRTkRA sosheer... so femjnine... yoad never believe it s^iports You'll look more feminine... exclusive Cross Your Heart* Bra styling for youthful support and separation You’ll feel more feminine... beautiful and daring sheer transparent cups Trimmed in beautiful lace ..with cool sheer elastic back and sides for perfect around-the-body fit and comfort Lightweight adjustable stretch straps for greater comfort.,. no cutting, no binding.., won't lose their stretch Body Fashions, Mam Floor Avillabit in: • Sheer Lace Cups (wti!ie-siyle '146J « 5hC"r Nylon CupS ,'vhite-styic *148 beige-siyle ''6146) Cup Slzes-32-36A 32-40B i 32-42C 6 50 32-42D    7 50 PLAYTEX* VISIBLE MEANS OF SUPPORT BRA in Montana has gone up 20fold. In Wyoihing and New Mexico It has tripled. In North Dakota it has doubled. All this is from strip-mining But energy studies project at least a Unfold further increase in coal production In western states by 1990. Precisely because so much strip mining seems to lie ahead, the environmental movement watches the coal industry carefully Congress is expected to act soon on far*reaching legislation governing strip mining of coal, flanging in the balance is the economic and ecologic future of Western states — Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota, especidly. Environmentalists supported an amendment to a mining bill that already has passed the Senate The bill would have severely restricted strip mining in the West Authored by Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield of Montana, the amendment would bar any mining of federally owned coal whenever anyone else owned the surface rights above It — even coal companies themselves According to the coal industry, this would mean that about 38 billion tons of western coal could not be mined It would render strip mining almost meaningless. Sources .n Washington say the intent of the amendment was to force mining companies to go underground, a key goal of many environmentalists But company and other experts repeat that most western coal is near the surface, and the land will not support the roofs of underground mines BILL IN TROUBLE Such is the surge of the coal boom, however, Uiat the Mansfield amendment is in trouble Passed by the Senate, it is opposed by the House committee that considered it, and observers expect it to be defeated in the eventual Senate-House conference committee, if not before. Meanwhile residents who live on the coal-rich land have mixed reactions about the boom Bob Tully of Roundup. Mont, is one rancher who does not want his land mined. He lease» more than 2,000 of his scenic i,440-aere ranch ¡in the Bull Mountain from the Burlington Northern Railroad, which has leasted its coal rights in the area to Consolidation Coal Company. And although Consolidation had made no request to actually mine the coal, it hss drilled in exploration, and company officials say plans to strip mine are only “in abeyance.” Showii« a visitor over the ranch, Bob Tully says that if he loses the 2,000 acres to strip-mining machines, his economic equation falls apart: His 5,440 acres is the minimum amount of land he needs to make a living for himself, his wife, and their five children As it is, he runs his cattle on somewhat less than one head per 40 acres (the customary ratio in semiarid eastert) Montana) LOVES THE LAND Moreover, farmer Tully loves the land that would be tom up- The coal is near the .urface; rock and earth scooped out to expose it would be dumped down on the pastures below Although the land could be reclaimed, he says the original charm — a combination of rock outcroppings, rounded hills, evergreens, and pastures — could not be duplicated Mr. Tully is president of the Northern Plains Resource Council, which is figbUng large-scale development by coal mines. He knows that traditionally mineral rights have taken precedence over surface rights. But he hopes the state land board, which can forbid mining in any area with    “unique characteristics,” will act. A randier on the other side of the fence is John B. Kendrick II of Decker, Mont Ranching, says John Kendrick, as he gazes out across his rolling terrain, is his first and only love, and he runs cattle on 200,000 acres straddling two states (Montana and Wyoming) J. B. KENDRICK II But he also is looking for a coal company to come in and strip-mine a total of S3,000 acres of his land — land under which lie huge coal deposits He says there is enough there to supply the entire United States for three or four years (at current consumption rates) |300 SUNGLASSES to choose from AVAILABLE IN YOUR RXREGIONAL MEETINGJUBERTA CAHLE FEEDERS ASSOCIATIONThursday, January 31st 2:00 p.m.EXHIBITION PAVILION LITHBMDQC Speakers: DICK GRAY. President JOHN CARNINE, DirectorVISITORS WELCOME! 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