This week the American Lung Association came out with their annual State of the Air Report. It ranks cities and grades counties across the country for air pollution. The Pittsburgh metro region still has a long way to go to meet national air quality standards.
In 1970, a federal act called the Clean Air Act brought Wyoming a surge in its low-sulfur coal industry. Today, coal miners in the state wait to hear about new regulations that could make or break their local economy.
If the coal industry has started to leave Appalachia, the American West is now coal’s new home base. In America’s current capital of coal—Wyoming's Powder River Basin—the industry’s imprint on the West runs deep.