Art Annoys Wyoming Coal Industry


A sculpture highlighting the environmental impacts of burning fossil fuels has righteously pissed off fossil fuel interests in Wyoming. British artist Chris Drury is at work on a piece that depicting a climate-change-caused onslaught of mountain pine beetles, which are destroying the region’s forests. It has been commissioned for the University of Wyoming campus in Cheyenne. The Billings Gazette reports that the sulpture, “Carbon Sink,” will feature a “flat whirlpool of beetle-killed logs spiraling into a vortex of charred, black wood and studded with large lumps of Wyoming coal.”

Wyoming’s coal industry, however, is nonplussed, and one industry representative has suggested this slight could impact donations to the university:

Marion Loomis, executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association, said it’s “really disappointing” that UW decided to build the sculpture. He pointed out that the mining industry has “been a stalwart supporter” of the university for years, giving the school millions of dollars in donations for projects such as the new School of Energy Resources.

“They get millions of dollars in royalties from oil, gas and coal to run the university, and then they put up a monument attacking me, demonizing the industry,” Loomis said. “I understand academic freedom, and we’re very supportive of it, but it’s still disappointing.”

Loomis said it’s “hard to tell” whether the sculpture would affect the mining industry’s donations to UW in the future.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.