As the pending decision on the Keystone XL pipeline dominates the climate focus in the United States, an even bigger carbon bomb is ticking quietly in a remote region of the American West.
Big Coal and Republican lawmakers are pushing to expand mining operations on federal lands in the Powder River Basin, which straddles eastern Montana and Wyoming and holds the bulk of the country’s coal stocks.
If they’re successful, railways in the Pacific Northwest will soon transport an annual cargo bound for Asian markets that amounts to more than 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. For comparison, projections for Keystone XL see emissions increasing by about 181 million metric tons per year.
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