Current Event

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.

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coal-fired plant in Colstrip, Montana: facing closure as part of Obama’s “Clean Power 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.

 

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