Letter: Otter Creek: Mine would destroy watershed – Missoulian, June 9, 2014

June 9, 2014

Categories: Clean Water, Coal, Letters, News


Re: M. Pfau:“coal and intriguing beauty of self-regulated efficiency”

Hmmmm! Never did I think I would see the words “coal” and “beauty” in the same sentence,

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there is no such thing as Climate Change and that coal really does nothing much to endanger human and animal health, there is one feature of coal that is unarguably bad for its surroundings and the surroundings for miles around. That is: wherever coal lies it is an aquifer. It holds groundwater. Whether in Appalachia or Otter Creek, Illinois or Arizona, the same situation exists. In Appalachia as little mountain tops are removed the water is exposed to air and becomes pure acid.

Having lived near Otter Creek and the Tongue River for 20 years and I still have a daughter and her family who live there, understand the value of ground water. If a strip mine for coal is opened on Otter Creek an entire watershed will be destroyed.   That not only puts ranchers out of business but makes it impossible for wildlife to exist. As we have to acknowledge, water is the one element all life depends on. The area of Eastern MT is semi-arid. Whether you believe in climate change or not, droughts have existed with increasing length and intensity in the past decades. Parts of Texas have had to abandon whole towns; one which had a major meat packing plant.

Groundwater can keep an area from total destruction for a longer period than if it did not exist.

If, as 97% or even 99% of the scientific community has stated, climate change is upon us, then it will not be long before water is more valuable than coal or any other fossil fuel. This essential value of water is true now even if it is not recognized in monetary terms as such.

I don’t need to argue about the beauty of mercury, methane, CO2 or any of the other properties of coal. Suffice to say that is a subjective view.

Carolyn W Walker




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