Press release: Montanans taking coal export fight to Washington (state) – Dec. 4, 2012

November 30, 2012

Categories: Coal, Northern Plains Resource Council

By Northern Plains Resource Council

Since the Army Corps of Engineers won’t come to Montana, Montanans will go to the Army Corps.

Dozens of Montanans will board a bus in the wee hours of Tuesday morning for a long ride to Spokane, Washington. They intend to tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of their many concerns about increased coal exports from Montana and Wyoming to China and other Asian markets.

Northern Plains Resource Council, which is organizing the bus trip, will hold a rally in front of the State Capitol in Helena when the bus arrives at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. The bus will leave Billings at 4 a.m., and stop in Livingston, Bozeman, Helena, and Missoula to pick up passengers.

The Army Corps is holding public hearings across Washington State on an environmental impact statement for the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point, Washington. The federal agency scheduled no hearings in Montana despite the fact that dramatic increases in coal mining and coal train traffic going through Montana from the Powder River Basin to proposed West Coast ports also will:

  • Pose serious health effects from diesel fumes;
  • Increase noise;
  • Increase coal dust;
  • Tie up traffic at crossings that could delay emergency vehicles;
  • Increase accidents or derailments;
  • Decrease community economic productivity from long and frequent waits;
  • Reduce property values in some areas;
  • Interfere with Montana grain shipments by tying up rail lines.

Also, coal strip mining poses a direct threat to Montana farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods depend on access to productive land and clean water.

The bus trip is one in a series of events Northern Plains has sponsored to try to get the attention of the Army Corps. The conservation and family agriculture group held People’s Hearings in Bozeman and Missoula in late November, which were attended by nearly 200 people. Many wrote comments that will be submitted to the Army Corps, voicing their concerns about the impacts to their communities of exporting huge volumes of Western coal to Asia.

“Montanans will not sit idly by as these projects progress,” said J. Bob Yarger, a Northern Plains member who attended the Missoula People’s Hearing. “Coal coming through our community has serious health, safety, and financial costs, and it is unacceptable for these impacts to be excluded from the decision-making process.”

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Billings, Montana 59101
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