Here in Gillette Wyoming Mayor Louise Carter-King can’t imagine what it’d be like without the coal. At Eagle Butte Mine, everyone’s daily purpose and livelihood is dependant on the coal mining industry. Standing tall in her blue blazer with the atom symbol sewn into the upper corner, Mayor Louise Carter-King, the first women to lead here, finds herself adamantly defending this area's coal. A pin near her collar proclaims Gillette the “Energy capital of the nation”. Powder River Basin coal is some of the cleanest in the world, having formed in the presence of freshwater which greatly minimizes its sulfur content. Responsible for 30 - 40% of coal energy produced in the USA and with goals of supplying coal to other countries, Alpha Mines sees a future for coal. Especially considering the “sustainable” ways they mine in a moving pit, reclaiming land as they go with the dug up soils followed by the reconstruction of streams. Reclamation leaves these areas looking better than they did before mining commenced, according to Carter-King. The reality in Gillette is that coal is an available natural resource that should be utilized to meet today’s energy needs overlapped with the belief that “climate change is a moot point”. Carter-King recognizes that something always hurts someone. Utilizing the cleanest coal available to run not only the lights of this place but offer people a life as well is her course of action. There is a great deal to be lost here and coal is the deciding factor for this place's future, Louise Carter-King knows that.
By: Emma Rollins