Chuck McConnell speaks on behalf of Rep. Scott Tipton (R) at a candidate forum in Steamboat Springs, CO.

In A Race To Represent Coal Country, Two Visions For The Future

What to do about coal jobs has been a major theme this election season, with each side pointing fingers at the other, from the presidential debate stage to local town halls. On Colorado’s western slope, two candidates running for Congress are divided on the issue and are nearly matched in campaign contributions as election day approaches.

Why North Dakota Coal Is The Last Man Standing

The coal industry’s hurting from West Virginia to Wyoming. But there’s a holdout on the Northern Plains, where coal’s alive and well. North Dakota burns lignite, a different type of coal than the rest of the country. But even the industry there feels mounting pressure.

Coal Companies Have Mined An Area The Size Of NYC, Now They Have To Clean It Up

Glance at a satellite image of northeast Wyoming, and you can’t miss the coal mines. Even zoomed out, the square-cornered grey blotches stand out—stretching north to south over more than 70 miles. But if all goes according to plan, someday, when the mining is done, those scars will disappear, erased from the landscape by intensive reclamation efforts. Coal companies are on the hook for that cleanup, but the industry’s recent collapse has raised questions about whether they will actually be able to meet those obligations.

Twentymile Mine in Oak Creek, Colo., is owned by Peabody Energy and employs about 470 people. Peabody filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April.

Coal Dependent School Budgets In Crisis

Cheaper natural gas has dealt a blow to the coal industry — and to Routt County school district. Before the district opened an all-day preschool in the small town of Yampa, there wasn’t an affordable day care program for this mostly working class community. When Peabody Energy, owner of Routt County’s Twentymile Mine, went into bankruptcy and failed to pay property taxes, it would have been the first thing to go. But the school district hasn’t let that happen.