As coal mines grew and oil and gas wells came to the Power River Basin, LJ Turner lost not only his ranch’s abundant water, but also 6,000 acres he once leased as grazing land. Now his cattle herd is half what it was, calves near the coal mines die at alarming rates, and he has had to spend thousands of dollars drilling deeper and deeper wells.
Over the last 40 years, Turner and some of his neighbors have paid a heavy price for the development of energy resources. So have American taxpayers everywhere. The federal government owns most of the coal, oil and gas in the ground, and it has fostered mining and drilling through a host of subsidies that permit fossil fuel corporations to privatize the benefits while socializing many of the costs.
Part of Choke Hold, a series of stories by InsideClimate News that examines the fossil fuel industry’s fight against climate policy, science and clean energy.