Exploring the intersection of nature, labor and energy.

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 >
For the Birds: Flock of D.C. volunteers proves ‘Lights Out’ in buildings saves lives of winged migrants June 13, 2017 by Elizabeth McGowan - WASHINGTON—Jack O. Lantern, the 17-pound pumpkin-orange rescue cat I adopted on Halloween, stood frozen in place on the side porch. I traced the arc of his unblinking amber eyes to a beaked ball of fluffy feathers trying to camouflage in a bed of sedum a few feet away. Seconds later, an adult robin landed on my neighbor’s trash bin and chirped a series of alerts to her fledgling charge. If I could speak birdese, I would have urged that vigilant mother to relax. Jack is strictly an indoor cat. Our screened-in porch is his window on a natural world that he can observe—not touch. But Read more >
Sculptor Lenore Thomas created a series of bas relief panels depicting the preamble of the Constitution on the original Greenbelt Center School in Maryland the 1930s. Each one reflects the era’s social and economic concerns. Just Transition: Just What Does It Mean for Labor and Energy? March 13, 2017 by Elizabeth McGowan - The nation’s momentum-gaining move from dirty coal to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources is a boon for clean air and clean water. But how does this shift bode for the coal miners and the operators of coal-fired power plants? Understandably, many workers are scared because they view it as a disruption that puts them on a speedy path to the dustbin. Panic about that less-than-appealing destiny prompted them to reject Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate who promised training and help with rebuilding moribund economies. Instead, they gravitated to false messages about President Barack Obama’s supposed “War on Coal.” They voted for Republican Read more >