Stop Mine Expansion from Fueling Air Pollution and Climate Change

Target: Franklin Bartlett, Rosebud Mine Expansion Project Coordinator, US Office of Surface Mining

Goal: Stop expansion of open-pit coal mine that fuels pollution, climate change, and land degradation

Westmoreland Coal Company operates the country’s 11th biggest coal strip mine, in Rosebud County, Montana. Coal from Westmoreland’s Rosebud Mine is extracted using a technique called open pit mining, which involves literally carving a landscape-sized hole to reach underground seems of carbon. This kind of mining often damages nearby aquifers, while irreparably harming land that could otherwise be used for agriculture, tourism, or wildlife habitat. Open pit mining in Montana threatens communities’ access to safe drinking water and a healthy environment; but as if that’s not enough, coal from the Rosebud Mine is burned at the nearby Colstrip Power Plant, Montana’s single largest source of air pollutants and climate warming carbon emissions.

The Rosebud Mine is already fueling climate change and threatening the health of communities, but now Westmoreland wants to actually expand the mine, potentially extending its life by another 19 years. The proposed expansion would involve mining an additional 6,746 acres and extracting another ten million tons of coal per year, cementing the region’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels while condemning even more land for coal extraction.

Fortunately, there’s still time to stop the Rosebud Mine expansion. The US Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) is now taking public comments on what impacts of the mine they should look at in their Environmental Impact Statement for the project. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be completed before Westmoreland’s application to expand the mine can be approved. Sign this petition to ask the OSM to conduct an EIS that considers all regional and global climate change impacts of expanding the Rosebud Mine. This petition will be submitted as part of the official public comment period for this project.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Bartlett,

We, the undersigned, strongly urge the OSM to consider the regional and global climate change implications of expanding the Rosebud Mine, in your Environmental Impact Statement for Westmoreland Coal’s proposed Area F expansion. Because almost all the new coal would go to feed the Colstrip Power Plant, the impacts of this plant’s contribution to regional air pollution and global climate change must be considered during the EIS process. The proposed Area F expansion would extend the Rosebud Mine’s life by an estimated 19 years, likely prolonging the life of the Colstrip Plant as well.

Among US power plants, Colstrip ranks eighth in the nation for its contribution to climate change, and it is the single largest carbon emitter in Montana. Colstrip is far and away Montana’s largest source of nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and other air pollutants. Yet without a nearby source of readily available coal, it’s unclear that Colstrip would continue operating indefinitely. Emissions from Colstrip which result from mining coal at Rosebud must therefore be factored into the Area F EIS.

Coal, the world’s dirtiest energy source, is rapidly becoming a less important part of our energy mix. The US is moving away from coal as cleaner, better energy options become available, and this is good news for people’s health. Extending the life of one of the nation’s largest strip mines, and one of our dirtiest power plants, makes no sense and would only prolong the suffering of communities affected by pollution. Please consider these impacts when you conduct your EIS for the proposed Area F expansion.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Montana Environmental Information Center

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