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Lewis & Clark

Ties to the Lignite Coal Industry

Less than a year before Meriwether Lewis left for the now famous Lewis & Clark expedition into the northwestern portion of the Louisiana Purchase, he received a letter of instructions from President Thomas Jefferson.  One of those instructions - in the letter dated June 20, 1803 - was to bring back information on the mineral productions of every kind, and in particular "pit coal." 

It's interesting to note that the place where Lewis & Clark spent the first winter on their journey from 1804 to 1806, was Ft. Mandan, just west of Washburn, ND.  That area is now surrounded by a major lignite coal industry.  Within a 50-mile radius, there are four major lignite coal mines that produce over 30 million tons annually. 

Seven power plants use that lignite to generate low-cost, abundant, reliable and increasingly clean electricity, and that electricity is used by over two million homes, farms and businesses in the region.  The industry also has a major economic impact, providing over 22,000 jobs and $1.7 billion in business activity.



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