Category: Natural resources


Chinese Demand Stokes U.S. Coal Battle

TRINIDAD, Colorado – When the New Elk mine reopened amid windblown prairies last winter, it attracted little attention. But the mine – a long shaft boring through some of the world’s most valuable coal – strikes at the heart of a growing debate about the future of American coal.

Is Wyoming Ruining Water Supplies to Produce Natural Gas?

PAVILLION, WY—Jeff and Rhonda Locker’s water changed abruptly one day in the mid-1990s while Rhonda was doing the laundry. A Denver-based gas company was working over an old well in back of their house. Suddenly, the wash water turned black. “It happened just like that,”

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The Environmental Toll of Gas Development

BLANCO, New Mexico—Chris Velasquez sees the impacts of gas development in the San Juan Basin of northern New Mexico through the eyes of a rancher. He and his dad ran cattle, until recently, on a grazing allotment called the Rosa, rolling high desert lands punctuated

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Energy Pollution, Past and Future, in Utah’s Indian Country

ANETH, Utah—I first climbed the sacred butte at the edge of the Greater Aneth oil field in 1998. My husband, Doug, had been here before and knew where to find hand and footholds in a break along the steep sides. He told me there were

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The Treasure of the Rocky Mountain Front

BROWNING, MT—Nowhere in the West does the rolling sea of the high plains meet the mountains with such dramatic effect as in northwestern Montana. State Highway 2 stretches through the northern Hi-Line for miles of coulees and intermittent creeks, antelope, buffalo and Plains Indian country,

Sweeping out the Plains

Text and photos by Jack Coffman and George Anthan In 1890, the federal Census Bureau announced that the nation’s frontier was closed. It’s opening up again. The great wave of population, which swept homesteaders onto the Northern Great Plains with the promise of free land

Oil workers putting a tap.

A Letter from Baku: The Story Behind the Oil

The first oil rush has attracted gangsters, spies and multinationals to frontier city Baku, Azerbaijan. At any hour in Baku you’re likely to run into Turkish “gangsters,” Chechen revolutionaries, Russian spies and oil men of every stripe, looking to make money any way they can.

Belly of the Beast

On a broad and shallow lake situated in the middle of a vast oil field north of the city of Surgut in northwestern Siberia, a Khanty (han-tee) fisherman poles his battered metal boat — an old Russian motorboat sans the motor — across placid, slate

When the Sea Calls

Douglas Goodale, by the age of 32, had eight years of commercial fishing experience behind him when his job literally took his right arm and very nearly his life. Goodale was working by himself on his 22-foot purple lobster boat, “Barney,” about one mile off

New Coal Isn’t Old Coal

WHITESVILLE, WV—During the last coal boom in Appalachia, a miner could quit a job in the morning and find a better one in another hollow before the next shift started. Randy Sprouse, until recently a tavern operator at Sundial, WV, was a young man then,

Report From Siberia: Making A Living

Across a frozen lake 10 kilometers east of the small Siberian village of Kazym, Sasha and his son, Ephiam, drag a sled loaded with a tangle of fishing net and rope. Two of Sasha’s friends soon follow with long poles freshly cut from the nearby

The Noble oil fields in Baku Azerbaijan.

Oil Discovery Rocks the Caspian Sea

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN–The discovery of oil forever has changed the lands surrounding the Caspian Sea. APF photographer Stanley Greene spent time with workers, showing the rigs that are quickly extracting oil from this new field. The communities surrounding the new oil fields are finding their environment

In Baku, Azerbaijan, the oil industry is the ball and chain of the city’s environment.

Letter from Baku, Azerbaijan

On the farthest eastern reaches of Europe lies the Caspian Sea, a milky green land-locked sea that hides many treasures. In Baku, Azerbaijan, the oil industry is the ball and chain of the city’s environment. Traveling in the Caucasus is quite dangerous, especially by train.

A barge in the Snake River, near Lewiston, Idaho.


Photos and article by APF Fellow Blaine Harden   LEWISTON, Idaho — We sailed west at sunset on water the color of dark chocolate. The sun disappeared slowly into the downstream distance, notching itself between knobby, bald hills and burning out in a long tomato-red

Elvin Eldorado Harden, the author's great-grandfather.

Saved by the River

Arno Harden sneaked aboard a boxcar in Great Falls, Montana, in the late summer of 1932. He was twenty-one, fresh out of work, alone, and heading West. Everything he owned he carried with him. He had a bedroll and a pillowcase half-stuffed with clothes and

A Colville Indian chief stands with government engineers on March 22, 1941 as the switch is turned at the opening of the Grand Coulee Dam. Department of the Interior U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Grand Coulee Project

The Grand Coulee: Savior for Whites, Disaster for Indians

COULEE DAM, WASHINGTON – Halfway across a narrow steel bridge over America’s most powerful river, a sign announces the entrance to the Colville Indian Reservation. The sign is small and easily missed in the vast gorge that cradles the roiling Columbia River. The modest sign

The Marginal Men

The marginal ten, the wretched stragglers for survival on the fringes of farm and city, may already number half a billion. By 1980 they will surpass a billion, by 1990 two billion. Can we imagine any human order surviving with so gross a mass of