Coal

A strong focus of EcoFlight's work is flying over different mining operations in the Rocky Mountain West, documenting the exponential growth in resource extraction that is threatening America’s last great wild places.

Statistics alone should tell us all how bad coal is. Producing about 23 percent of the world's energy needs, coal is now sold cheaply. However, the impact of this fossil fuel on our health and our atmosphere is one dirty, expensive proposition. Coal emits more carbon per unit of energy than oil, and 80 percent more than natural gas. It accounts for 43 percent of global emissions (2.7 billion tons of it every year).

In 2010, EcoFlight flew over Montana’s Black Thunder Coal Mine to bring to life the impacts that coal strip mining would have on a proposed site in Otter Creek, Montana. EcoFlight also flew over the Alton Hollow Coal Mine in Utah, located close to Bryce Canyon National Park, to document surface disturbance at the recently approved strip coal mine.
Coal by state
Arizona
Colorado
Montana
New Mexico
Utah
Wyoming
AZ CO MT NM UT WY
FLIGHTS: Coal
Arizona, Page - Coal Power Plant
State: Arizona
Region: Page, Arizona - near Grand Canyon
Description: The Navajo Generating Station is a 2250 megawatt coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Indian Reservation near Page, Arizona and about 25 kilometers from the Grand Canyon National Park. It releases more than 19 million tons of carbon dioxide per year... read more
Colorado - Coal Creek Reclamation
State: Colorado
Region: Crystal River Watershed
Description: Coal Creek, which flows into the Crystal near Redstone, has been impacted by 50 years of coal mining operations. This has resulted in extremely unstable, steep slopes, exposed mining tailings, causing erosion, pollution, sedimentation and stream health issues...read more
Colorado, Craig - Coal Power Plant
State: Colorado
Region: Craig
Description: The Craig Power Station near Craig, Colorado, is the state's largest coal-fired electrical generating station, occupting a space of 1,120 acres. Craig's primary coal sources are the Trapper and Colowyo mines. The Yampa River, along which the facility is situated, provides water for the turbines... read more
Colorado, Somerset - Coal Mine
State: Colorado
Region: Somerset
Description: In June 2014, the federal court rejected a plan to expand the mine, citing agencies’ neglect to consider climate change impacts.... read more
Montana, Otter Creek - Proposed Coal Mine
State: Montana
Region: Southeastern Montana
Description: In March 2010, the state of Montana leased 572 million tons of coal for strip mining at Otter Creek in southeastern Montana. The Otter Creek area is home to trophy quality whitetail and mule deer, growing herds of prairie elk and 250 species of birds, including 137 species of songbirds... read more
New Mexico, Four Corners Coal Power Plants
State: New Mexico
Region: Near Farmington, New Mexico
Description: The Four Corners area is home to two of the highest polluting coal plants in the western United States, the 1,800-megawatt San Juan Generating Station and the 2,040-megawatt Four Corners Power Plant. Situated on Navajo Nations land, these power plants burn over ten million tons of coal each year... read more
Utah - Castle Dale & Huntington Coal Power Plants
State: Utah
Region: Price, Utah
Description: The Huntington power plant in Utah is named for the nearby town of Huntington. The Hunter plant is considerably larger and is located two miles south of Castle Dale. The pollution from both plants has major impacts on human health and on haze at nearby national parks... read more
Utah, Alton - Hollow Coal
State: Utah
Region: Southern Utah - Kane County
Description: This new coal strip mine in Alton, Utah has changed significantly since our first flight in December of 2010. Recent plans for the mine's expansion have promoted concerns from conservation groups, and the threat of legal action should the BLM approve them. BLM's decision was delayed in July of 2012... read more
Wyoming - Black Thunder Coal Operation
State: Wyoming
Description: The Black Thunder coal mine is the largest producing coal mine in the world, cranking out enough coal to load up to 25 miles of railroad cars per day... read more
Wyoming, Powder River Basin - Coal
State: Wyoming
Region: SE Montana, NE Wyoming
Description: The Powder RIver Basin supplies 40 percent of the coal produced in the United States, which is burned to produce 20% of the nation's electricity. Not surprisingly, 13% of the country's greenhouse gasses also come from the Powder River Basin, in southest Montana and northest Wyoming... read more