All around the West, there are pockets of asbestos and other hazardous substances that, when disturbed and inhaled at certain concentrations, can be really bad for you. I just found out about another one, called erionite, which is found in rocks and soil of western North Dakota, and acts similarly to asbestos. For decades, people re-surfaced gravel roads with stones that contained erionite, not knowing it’s a potential carcinogen. The oil boom has created even more truck traffic on some of these back roads, sending great clouds of dust into the sky with more frequency, and scientists are concerned about people being exposed to erionite this way. Read more here.
For the past few months I’ve been researching a big story on the future of the coal industry on the Navajo Nation. That story isn’t coming out until March-ish, but I wanted to write about something important that happened recently–the Navajo Nation bought a coal mine. There’s a pretty broad range of opinions on this decision, not surprisingly. Some people say it’s a huge step forward for tribal energy independence. Other say it’s a bad business move. Read more here.