We work to promote coal mine reclamation, protect and restore water and our working rural landscapes, and build a more diversified economy so that, when the coal industry is gone, our communities won’t be.
Only a small fraction of mined lands in Montana has been fully reclaimed. By working for more complete reclamation, we can create abundant jobs and help ensure that working farm and ranch lands and traditions can be passed on to future generations.
In southeastern Montana, coal seams are aquifers. Coal mining rips up those aquifers, and mine-related discharges can pollute rivers and creeks that farms and ranches rely on. Northern Plains works for stringent water quality standards in southeastern Montana to protect irrigators from water pollution.
Proposed Pacific Northwest coal ports, designed to ship Montana and Wyoming coal to Asia, would lead to a dramatic increase in coal train traffic through Montana communities. This traffic would mean more air pollution and health impacts from diesel exhaust and coal dust, more derailment risks, and more congestion at Montana’s many railroad crossings. While most of these speculative projects have fallen through, Northern Plains continues working to give a voice to our rail-line communities. If companies get the profits and Asia gets the energy, Montanans shouldn’t be paying the costs.
Loopholes and a rigged leasing system cheat coal communities and states out of millions of dollars each year. Fair royalties for publicly owned coal should be going to schools, roads, and firefighting, not lining executives’ pockets. Northern Plains works to restore fairness to the coal leasing process, ending the sweetheart deals by which taxpayers prop up coal.
Doing It Right - Colstrip Jobs Study
Because coal ash pond closure and associated groundwater remediation is only now becoming a priority for power plants, there are many unanswered questions about the size and nature of the workforce needed to do it right. This study aims to shed light on some of the cleanup work being done now around the country and what that might mean for the Colstrip, MT workforce and community.
Burning coal seams light off grass fires every summer in southeastern Montana, posing serious health risks and financial hardship to those who live nearby. Most landowners in the region don’t own the coal beneath their ranch but spend time and money fighting coal-seam fires every year. We are working with the private coal owners and government agencies to get an active monitoring and mitigation program going.
Profiles: In the Shadow of Coal
A few years ago, Northern Plains created a series of short videos to profile some of our members affected by coal development. In addition to the video links above, here are more of their stories.