The most important coal-producing states in the western US are Montana and Wyoming. The Powder River Basin, which spans parts of both of these states and encompasses an area about the size of Rhode Island, provides about 40% of the nation’s coal, and most of the coal needs for states like Washington and Oregon. Strip mining for coal in the Powder River Basin has devastated huge areas of land, and negatively impacted ranching and indigenous communities in the region. Coal mining in this part of the country has polluted the air and water supply of many people, as well as destroying land formerly used for grazing, and that was important to the traditional practices of indigenous peoples. As in other parts of the world, coal mining has left a damaging footprint on the communities it affects in Montana and Wyoming.
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