Letter: Coal industry giving contradictory messages – Helena Independent Record, August 9, 2012

August 9, 2012

Categories: Coal, Letters


The coal industry is making an all-out push to convince the public that coal is good for us. It’s a whitewash. Coal is poisoning our planet and destroying our atmosphere, points the pro-coal opinion pieces always seem to forget. What’s funny about the pro-coal media blitz, though, is that the coal boosters can’t keep their stories straight.

A July 25 opinion piece titled Coal Is Good for Montana talked about the alleged value to Montana and America of the proposed mega-strip mine at Otter Creek. The author highlighted the importance of “coal as a fuel source for America” and suggested that this strip mine is needed to “keep your lights on.” This was an appeal to nationalism — an echo of the industry trope from the 1970s that coal means “energy independence.”

The author of the Aug. 7 opinion piece Economic Gains Offset the Cost apparently missed the message. In that piece, the author acknowledges that the proposed Otter Creek strip mine is slated not to power American houses and factories, but for export to Asia. The author wrote, “A substantial amount of coal that is part of the anticipated increase (in coal train traffic to the coast) is from a mine that hasn’t even been permitted and has no rail access, Arch Coal.” While the sentence is somewhat incoherent, it’s a clear reference to Otter Creek.

The industry can’t have it both ways. Otter Creek is either slated to power America or Asia. Which is it?

Shiloh Hernandez


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