Pines cover a mountain ridge in Glacier National Park. Greenpeace is flying the thermal airship A.E. Bates in Montana to send the message that mining coal in the Powder River Basin for export harms Glacier and other national parks by exacerbating the effects of climate change.
The National Park Service turns 98 year old this week. Almost a century ago, our leaders had the foresight to protect these incredible places and set them aside as national treasures. Since then, our national parks have been enjoyed by millions of people from the US and abroad.
But these priceless places-ones previous generations worked so hard to protect- are facing a new and bigger threat. Climate change is hurting our national parks and the animals that call it home.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the same person that is tasked with protecting these incredible places, also oversees the US federal coal leasing program, an agency responsible for leasing millions of tons of coal and carbon pollution from our public lands.
A few weeks ago,I asked Greenpeace supporters to join me in protecting the national parks we all love from climate change, and was astounded by the response. Since then, nearly 36,000 people have signed a petition asking Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to protect our national parks and public lands, not give them away to coal companies.
And her response?.....
Well, we are still waiting. In fact, we havent heard ANYTHING from Secretary Jewell on this issue. How can one person claim to be protecting national parks by addressing climate change, while leasing millions of tons of coal and pollution that causes climate change in the first place? Answer: You cant.
Well, Secretary Jewell, the best birthday gift you could give the National Park Service today is to choose #ParksNotCoal and end coal mining on public lands.
Diana Best is a senior climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace USA, based in Denver, Colorado. She began working with Greenpeace in 2008 on federal climate legislation and has since worked on reforming federal fossil fuel leasing programs and fighting new infrastructure projects around the United States. She is currently leading Greenpeace’s “Hold the Line” work aimed at halting the political and social influence of the oil industry during Trump’s administration.