Early morning wake-up call for discussion about coal exports – Public News Service, Dec. 4, 2012

December 4, 2012

Categories: Coal, Fossil Fuels, Landowner Rights, News, Northern Plains Resource Council

December 4, 2012

MISSOULA, Mont. – The wake-up call is early today for Montanans intending to give the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a piece of their mind. A bus was to load up in Billings at 4 a.m., picking up people along the way to the State Capitol for a rally – and then they travel to Spokane, Washington, where a hearing is being held related to the coal industry. The Corps is scoping out the environmental impacts of a coal export terminal, which would be designed mainly to send coal to China.

J. Bob Yarger from Missoula, a Northern Plains Resource Council member, says Montana has been overlooked, although the coal will come from the Powder River Basin in the southeastern part of the state.

“As farmers and ranchers, as sportsmen, as people living in the community that enjoy a certain lifestyle, why do we have to deal with the costs?”

He says if the export terminal on the coast is approved, strip mining will ramp up, and it brings environmental concerns. The number of coal trains will also increase. The Corps has said it wants to hear about issues ranging from air quality and public safety to the transportation impact of increased rail traffic, although it hasn’t scheduled any hearings in Montana.

Members of Montana’s Cheyenne Tribe will be on the bus. Alexis Bonogofsky, manager of tribal partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation, says tribes don’t want lands to become sacrifice zones for the benefit of China.

“In order to really look at all of the impacts of these proposals, these communities from the Northwest and the Powder River Basin need to be connected.”

She says some tribe members are also protesting the proposed Tongue River Railroad, which would carry coal through an area that borders their reservation and parallels the river.

The hearing is at 4 p.m. at the Spokane County Fairgrounds.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service – MT
220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154