Exploring the intersection of nature, labor and energy.

Rx for Appalachia: Non-profit restoring native forests to mountains devastated by coal mining and logging January 31, 2018 by Elizabeth McGowan - DURBIN, WEST VIRGINIA—Near the top of Cheat Mountain, bulldozer operator Bill Moore grimaces at the wreckage littering the steep slope below. It looks as if King Kong threw a temper tantrum in this rugged, rural region just southwest of the state’s eastern panhandle. Mature conifers are toppled, their tangled roots exposed. Angled boulders jut awkwardly from the slate-colored soil. And severe gouges crisscross the earth like a landscape-size checkerboard. "It is ugly," Moore tells Renewal News about the mayhem he created upon request. "Anywhere else I’ve ever worked, if I did what I did here, I’d be fired." Scientist Chris Barton, however, treasures Moore’s handiwork Read more >
A Sense of Wonder: On Rachel Carson and Shooting Stars December 7, 2017 by Elizabeth McGowan - WASHINGTON, D.C.—On a late-night walk home from the train, I looked up at just the right time. Like a bug on fire, a shooting star darted across Orion, winking out near the three bold twinkles marking the hunter constellation’s belt. "Oh wow!" I thought, tickled to witness such a light show in an urban setting with less-than-dark night skies. "Rachel Carson would have relished that." It was early November, and Carson was on my mind because I had toured the author’s childhood home in Springdale, Pa., a month earlier while attending a conference for environmental journalists in nearby Pittsburgh. Carson will forever be linked to Read more >
Rising from the Coal Ashes: An unlikely alliance fashions a future for working-class Buffalo suburb after power plant shutdown July 19, 2017 by Elizabeth McGowan - TOWN OF TONAWANDA, UPSTATE NEW YORK—To an outsider, the brawny red behemoth framed by jutting smokestacks looms at the edge of Niagara River like a ghost of the nation’s energy past. The coal-fired Huntley Generating Station, silenced after a century of service, hasn’t produced electricity for 16 months. However, Upstate New York natives such as savvy grass-roots organizer Rebecca Newberry view the 760-megawatt eyesore through a more nuanced lens. Yes, it was long Erie County’s most prolific air and water polluter. But it was also the town of Tonawanda’s biggest taxpayer. Newberry knew that if Huntley tanked, so would this working-class Buffalo suburb 13 miles Read more >