In the Jan. 13 Montana Standard, Bud Clinch, executive director of the Montana Coal Council, claims to be ignorant of plans to ship large quantities of Powder River Basin coal through Montana cities by rail. He overlooks recent news stories.
1. Arch Coal has applied for a port at Longview, Wash., for 60 million tons per year. From Otter Creek or elsewhere in the Powder River Basin, it can be shipped through Montana. By Mr. Clinch’s calculations, that’s 11-12 trains per day, not his fewer than four.
2. Ambre, an Australian firm, recently purchased a mine in the basin, and is invested in a proposed coal export port in Washington. How many trains, Mr. Clinch?
3. The Signal Peak mine in Musselshell County, one-third owned by foreigners, is switching from domestic to export sales, through Montana cities of course. More trains.
4. Peabody, another multinational, is applying for another port in Washington, 48 million tons, 10 more trains every day.
The coal and the profits go overseas. The polluted air and water, the holes in the ground, the traffic jams – they all stay here. These companies, foreign and domestic, are happy to “externalize” these costs and dump them onto the public. Once they have invested in ports and mines, it will be too late to address the problems and costs they will impose on Montana communities. We need to demand NOW, before it is all a done deal, that the coal companies and railroads pay to prevent delays and pollution.
Mary E. Fitzpatrick