I am writing in response to the increasing interest in mining Otter Creek coal. It is my opinion that this development will be not only harmful to the immediate community surrounding Otter Creek, but also to the state of Montana as a whole.
Decline in the demand for coal has been fueled recently by a rise in alternate sources, such as cheaper natural gas. The environmental impacts on air quality due to emissions are causing coal power plants to be shut down; this coupled with a decline in plant production makes coal a questionable investment. The Otter Creek coal is even less desirable due to high sodium content. This means coal from Otter Creek will be destined for Asian markets.
Knowing that we will be destroying our own state to ship a product to Asia to be burned and release pollutants into the air is a disturbing thought. As Montanans we should be focused on an effort to minimize our impact on the environment, and to become leaders in setting an example for moving towards America’s energy independence.
It is hard to put a monetary value to the land destroyed to access the coal, the air and water polluted to ship it overseas, and the cultural impacts of such an operation on the communities it touches. In the end it seems clear to me that the products and profits from such a venture will go to Asia, coal companies and railroads; and the bill will come to Montana.