Letter: Transporting and burning coal is terrible for public health – Billings Gazette, April 6, 2013

April 8, 2013

Categories: Coal, Coal ash, Letters


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

Coal is commonly transported via open-top rail cars and is expected to contaminate cities, towns, farmland, forestland, streams and rivers with coal dust, which destabilizes rail tracks and contributes to derailments. In addition to cancer and birth defects linked to high concentrations of toxic heavy metals found in coal — mercury, arsenic and lead — increased diesel emissions along rail lines will cause exposure to particulate matter from diesel engines, which have been linked to varieties of pulmonary ailments, asthma attacks, heart attacks, cancer and lung diseases in children. High concentrations of coal dust have also caused marine dead zones in areas where coal is loaded or transported near water.

As the U.S. transitions away from coal, we ought to be the world’s model for creating clean-energy jobs, for innovating, developing, demonstrating and marketing clean energy technologies and practices promoting sustainable global economic development.

There is no such thing as “clean coal.”

Dan Lourie

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