Letter: Columnist ignored the threats of coal – Bozeman Daily Chronicle, June 4, 2015

June 5, 2015

Categories: Coal, Letters, News


How can we not be incredulous? Alan Olson, despite being a shill for the coal companies, should surely know better. He writes an op-ed proposing increases in coal mining and shipping without mentioning the impact on the health of Montana’s citizens and the other consequences of increased numbers of coal trains on the cities through which they will pass. Not a word!

There is enormous mounting evidence demonstrating the overwhelming impact of coal mining, shipping and combustion on public health. It will contaminate cities and towns, farmland, forestland, streams and rivers with coal dust and chunks of coal. A recent study calls coal dust a “pernicious ballast foulant,” containing toxic heavy metals, including mercury, arsenic and lead. Olson’s plan for increased coal train traffic via Bozeman’s residential neighborhoods will therefor result in a spike in cancers, particularly for children and the elderly, as well as in respiratory and other diseases and birth defects from the additional coal dust.

We will have long waiting times at our in town railroad crossings – including for ambulances and fire engines – and ultimately lose the economic growth which has resulted from people and firms moving here for clean air and water. They will surely pack up and leave when those no longer exist.

Olson proposes shipping coal overseas from new ports to be built in Washington State. But they also recognize the severe economic, public health and environmental impacts of climate change, well known to be exacerbated by the burning of coal.

Increased coal mining and shipping may be good for Olson’s friends in the coal and railroad business, but would be disastrous for people in Bozeman and throughout Montana. Olson’s pitch can be summed up in these words: Big coal gets the bucks. China gets the energy. Montana pays the price!

Dan Lourie

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