Letter: ‘Clean coal’ a fancy fabrication – Bozeman Chronicle, May 17, 2013

May 17, 2013

Categories: Coal, Letters


Mounting evidence demonstrates the overwhelming negative impacts on public health of mining, combustion and transportation of coal. It is imperative that Montanans pay attention to proposals for mining Otter Creek coal and shipping it through our cities, across Montana for export to Asia. There it will be burned with poor environmental regulation, contributing to global warming, ocean acidification and subsequent pollution of our own air and water.

Transported via open top rail cars without covers, coal is expected to contaminate cities, towns, farmland, forestland, streams and rivers with coal dust, destabilizing rail tracks and contributing to derailments. Cancer and birth defects are linked to high concentrations of toxic heavy metals found in coal – mercury, arsenic and lead – and increased diesel emissions will cause exposure to particulate matter from diesel engines, linked to varieties of pulmonary ailments, asthma attacks, heart attacks, cancer and lung diseases in children. High concentrations of coal dust also cause marine dead zones where coal is loaded or transported near water.

“Clean coal” is a fabrication. Our health will surely suffer from pollution generated by coal’s burning and the coal dust wafted into our towns and cities as coal is transported in open rail cars. The clean air and water for which Bozeman is known and which attracts tourists and new residents who come for the hiking, skiing and enjoyment of clean waterways will be a thing of the past, as will the attraction for high tech, clean industry which has bolstered Bozeman’s economy and kept it vibrant.

As our nation transitions away from coal, we ought to be the world’s model, creating clean-energy jobs, innovating, developing, demonstrating and marketing clean energy technologies and practices, promoting sustainable global economic development. Coal mining, rail shipment and export, in contrast, promote destructive and unsustainable energy development practices.

Dan Lourie


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