Amber Ginsburg, Claire Pentecost, Kayla Anderson, Sara Black, Sarah Lewison, Inheritance

Beneath the rolling hills of Southern Illinois lies the fossilized section of a forest that once covered this continent. Stretching for 100 miles along both sides of an ancient river as wide as the Mississippi, this fossil forest cuts across the heart of the Illinois Basin coal seam, forged from peat soils where ferns and giant trees (Arborescent Lycopods) once anchored their roots.

It took over 300 million years to sequester the carbon that lies under Southern Illinois in the form of coal. It has taken a mere 200 years and the labor of thousands of coal miners to extract that carbon destined to fuel the lifestyle that defines our inheritance.

Miners are on the front lines. Many of them have seen the remnants of the fossil forest that remains hidden to those above ground. Coal miners are also the first to personally experience the costs of the industry. We are grateful to those we have met for generously sharing their knowledge, experience and voice: Paula Borgra, Molly Brayfield, Tim Burris, Kate Heist, Melissa Shelton, Chuck Wilson. We also thank geologists Scott Elrick and Joe Devera for their clarity and enthusiasm.