Cross posted from Deep Green Resistance News Service
By Rachel Ivey / Deep Green Resistance Cascadia
In the arid Powder River Basin of Northern Wyoming and Southern Montana, the long roots of sagebrush draw water from deep beneath the soil. The ability to access water in this way makes sagebrush an important star of the Basin’s biotic constellation. Species of grasses and herbs are allowed to thrive on the moisture that the sagebrush draws toward the surface.
Elk, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope access the water stored in the plant’s pale gray, three-pointed leaves. Greater sage-grouse eat the sagebrush too, while making their nests and performing their complex courtship rituals among the plant’s low branches. The soil is the basis for the lives of these creatures and countless others, and the precious moisture within the soil is thread that connects them in a web of relationship.
The Powder River Basin’s coal extraction industry doesn’t place the same value on soil, and neither does the government that serves the coal extraction industry. The region extracts about forty percent of the coal mined in the United States. More coal is mined annually from the Powder River Basin than is mined annually from the entire Appalachian region.