I want to publicly thank State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau for her "no" vote at the December Land Board hearing on leasing the Otter Creek coal tracts (see "Coal in their stockings," Dec. 24, 2009).
I am a former teacher in Birney, Ashland, Lame Deer and Sheridan, Wyo., and have lived and ranched in Birney for many years. I am familiar with the negative impacts of strip mining in this area and its relatively short-term effect of generating revenue, as opposed to the very long-term productivity of our present agricultural economy.
Throughout the entire process used by the Land Board, there has been no consideration of what coal strip mining would do to this area. Maybe this project would create jobs and produce tax revenues, but the costs of developing Otter Creek are enormous, and those costs have not yet been discussed. The productive agricultural economy of the area would be changed forever and critical aquifers would be destroyed with strip mining. Our area is not equipped to deal with the influx of new people who would bring a myriad of problems as has been seen in the Wyoming energy-boom areas. The Tongue River Railroad has its own set of problems that would take the costs of Otter Creek far beyond our local area.
This critical decision was about far more than generating money for the School Trust Fund. I appreciate Ms. Juneau's commitment to her role as a public official and her depth of understanding of all the issues involved. Thank you, Ms. Juneau, for your vote.Nancy Carrel, Birney