Letter: Coal’s dirty secret – Great Falls Tribune, April 29, 2013

April 29, 2013

Categories: Coal, Letters


Coal has a dirty secret: It’s a killer. Montanans should carefully discuss this issue before deciding whether to strip-mine coal at Otter Creek.

A number of recent reports tally up coal’s macabre toll. One report released this March concludes that air pollution from coal causes approximately 18,000 premature deaths in Europe each year. Another report found that 115,000 people (including 10,000 children) die annually from pollution from coal in India. And a 2010 report found that particulate pollution from coal causes about 13,000 deaths annually in the United States. Another recent study found 1.2 million people die prematurely due to air pollution in China — the world’s largest burner of coal.

The bottom line is that coal, when burned, kills people. Out-of-state coal corporations, like the tobacco companies before them, try to ignore this fact. That’s understandable; their sole concern is profit. But we Montanans aren’t so one-dimensional. We must fully consider whether it is ethical to export a product that kills people when clean, renewable alternatives — solar, wind, and energy efficiency — are available.

— Shiloh Hernandez

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