Groups ask for more hearings on coal train traffic – Great Falls Tribune, Jan. 14, 2013

January 14, 2013

Categories: Clean Energy, Climate change, Coal, Northern Plains Resource Council

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20130114/NEWS01/301140017/Groups-ask-more-hearings-coal-train-traffic

Groups ask for more hearings on coal train traffic

Seventeen environmental and wildlife organizations sent a letter to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality Monday asking that the agencies conduct additional public hearings on the proposed Otter Creek Mine in communities that will be affected by increased rail traffic.

Trains will haul Otter Creek’s 1.3 billion tons of coal from the mine in southeastern Montana to proposed export terminals on the West Coast where the coal will be shipped to Asian markets. Hearings currently are proposed in communities near the actual mine site but not in communities along the rail route.

The groups contend public hearings should be conducted in those communities as well because residents are concerned about the impact increased rail traffic could have on agricultural operations, water quality, public health, community safety and noise pollution.

The DNRC and DEQ are collecting public input on potential economic, social, and environmental issues that the agencies should consider in the environmental review process under the Montana Environmental Policy Act for the proposed Otter Creek mine. Hearings are planned Wednesday and Thursday in communities near the proposed mine site. The comment period closes on Feb. 4.

Arch Coal is the owner of the proposed Otter Creek coal mine and also has an ownership interest in many of the proposed export terminals on the West Coast where the coal will be shipped to Asian markets.

The groups that made the request are: Big Blackfoot Riverkeeper, Blue Skies Campaign, Citizens for Clean Energy, Climate Solutions, Common Ground Conservation, Earthjustice, Montana Audubon, Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Elders for a Livable Tomorrow, Montana Environmental Information Center, Montanans Against Toxic Burning, National Wildlife Federation, Northern Plains Resource Council, Park County Environmental Council, Sierra Club, Western Organization of Resource Councils and University of Montana Climate Action Now.

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