Policies regarding Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” have been enacted over the past year, and proven effective, as annual carbon emissions have reached a 20 year low. Though opting for more sustainable forms of energy has had a positive environmental impact, it has also decimated once thriving industries throughout the country that rely on coal.
Cutting the use and manufacture of coal is vital, as it accounts for 1/3 of carbon emissions within the U.S. This has resulted in widespread closure among coal-fired power plants throughout the country. A case of supply and demand, as more of these plants shut down, the coal mining industry itself is facing similar hardship.
This is the case in Colstrip, Montana, a town whose livelihood is dependent on the industry. 80% of jobs come from both the mine and the plant – which collectively create the largest carbon emitter in the state, as well as the second largest coal-burning plant west of the Mississippi, making them a target of Obama’s plan.
Example such as this illustrate how interconnected we are with the environment, but more importantly how thinking “greener” isn’t nearly as simple as it may seem; because of our increasing interactions on a national and global scale, changing one thing inevitably affects another, and not necessarily for the better. The issue also enters a political/social realm, which often can only be addressed via a universalist approach, ultimately distancing ourselves from the problem itself.