LAST STAND AT ROSEBUD CREEK: Coal, Power and People by Michael Parfit


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Journalist Michael Parfit interviewed ranchers, miners, Indians, and others involved in the controversy over the coal-fired power plant in Colestrip, Rosebud County, Montana. This battle is multi-faceted--anti-strip-mining, anti-air pollution, anti-industrialization--and the problem is not so much Parfit's lack of conclusions, which he bemoans at the end, but rather the overabundance of material. To his credit, Parfit tries to be fair to all. He provides worthwhile historical glimpses of strip-mining's development in the West, starting with the Northern Pacific's operations near Colestrip in 1925. Having grown up with coal, residents weren't displeased at rumors of their mine's revival in the '60s, but ranchers were soon ""galvanized"" into action (along with environmentalists and Indians) when power company inspectors came to look for coal on their property--under the Homestead Act, owners hold surface fights only. As the pros and cons line up, we meet endless people--from the plant superintendent's wife who blames ""lack of communication"" for problems with the ranchers, to a Capuchin monk who may, have caused an explosion at the plant; we read transcripts of an opposition meeting, and learn about Colestrip's growth problems. Although the plant has gone into operation, expansion is now the center of controversy; and Parfit admits he is ""not ready to pronounce a verdict on what I have seen,"" other than to label the power plant a ""symbol. . . of the oppression of technology."" An all-too-familiar story overloaded, unfortunately, with detail.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1980
Publisher: Dutton