WYO Rancher on NW Tour to Spill “Dirty Secrets”
Thursday, October 22, 2009
GILLETTE, Wyo. - A Powder River Basin rancher from Gillette is touring the Northwest to spill what are being called "dirty secrets." Tonight in Seattle, L.J. Turner is sharing his family's story about how coal mining in their state is ruining the land and water and how the Northwest's dependence on coal has affected his way of life.
L.J. Turner's family has ranched in the basin for almost 100 years. Growing coal mining operations are encroaching on his private property and diverting water supplies, he says.
"We're losing the pasture, we're losing our air, we're losing our water. I don't know what else will be left for the coal industry to take from us."
The "dirty secrets" tour is sponsored by the Sierra Club, which is calling for a "coal-free" Northwest. Washington State is making strides in switching to renewable energy sources, such as wind, but still depends on coal for about 20 percent of its electric power.
Proponents of coal-fired electricity say it's an important part of a diverse - and domestic - energy supply to meet demand. They point out, too, that coal mining is an important part of Wyoming's economy.
Turner says electricity is so often taken for granted, and he wants folks who depend on coal for their power source to think about the implications.
"I hope the people will realize when they turn on that light bulb, there's land being destroyed. You're turning out our lights to turn on yours."
Turner speaks at the University of Washington at 7 p.m. tonight. He shared his family's story in Portland yesterday.
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