Coal train traffic analyzed at local forums – Public News Service, April 17, 2012

April 17, 2012

Categories: Coal, Events, News, Northern Plains Resource Council

Deb Courson Smith
Public News Service – MT

MISSOULA – The amount of coal train traffic running through Montana is expected to at least double, as coal exports are stepped up. The trains will haul coal, mostly from Wyoming, to Washington and Oregon for shipment to Asia. There’s a meeting tonight in Missoula to talk about what the additional train traffic means for towns along the route.

Beth Kaeding, past chair of the Northern Plains Resource Council, says rail crossings will definitely be busier.

“This will mean longer response time for emergency responders, and there are a lot of health impacts from the Diesel fumes, as well as the coal dust.”

She says Diesel fumes and coal dust are linked to lung problems.

Kaeding says there is a small tax collected for the general fund from the shipments, but the economic and health costs haven’t been considered.

“So the impacts to the communities along the rail line aren’t being paid for. It ends up that the public, the taxpayer, bears the brunt of these trains.”

The stepped-up shipments can’t be made until the coal ports on the West Coast are expanded. Kaeding says their goal is to have the environmental and health impacts along the entire route considered in the decision to expand those ports.

Air quality and environmental impacts will be discussed at the forum, as well as the Asian demand for U.S. coal, which will mostly go to China. Northern Plains Resource Council is coordinating today’s meeting, and two more later this month in Helena and Bozeman on April 25 and 26.

Tonight’s meeting is at 7 p.m., Urey Hall, University of Montana. The April 25 meeting in Helena is at 6 p.m., Gateway Center. The April 26 meeting in Bozeman is at 7 p.m., Bozeman Public Library.


220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154