Stop More Environmentally Destructive Coal Exports

Target: Montana State Board of Land Commissioners

Goal: Stop the U.S. from conducting environmentally destructive coal exports to China

A major U.S. coal company is teaming up with a railroad corporation to develop a mine and railway for exporting billions of tons of low quality coal from Montana to China. If realized, this proposal will result in the overwhelming degradation of the Northwest and incalculable harm to the planet. Please urge the Montana State Board of Land Commissioners to deny the permits that would allow development of this dangerous mine and railway.

The Montana State Board of Land Commissioners has made some egregious errors in the past regarding coal production. In 2010, the Board sold 570 million tons of coal to Arch Coal, the world’s second largest coal producer.  Unfortunately, the final decision to approve the mine permit to Arch will be made by the Board. If approved, the Otter Creek coal mines will be one of the largest coal mines in North America.

Coal mining operations endorsed by shortsighted lawmakers in the past have already lead to environmental degradation across Montana, including toxic coal dust and diesel fumes along railways, depleted aquifers, reduced snow pack, worse droughts, longer fire seasons, degraded agricultural land, and other health, aesthetic, and cultural issues. The proposed Otter Creek coal mines would exasperate all of these problems.

Further, the mine and railway system would leave a trail of destruction all the way to China. Railways would haul billions of tons of coal to proposed ports in Washington, scattering coal dust and diesel particulate matter along the way. Export terminals in Washington, to be built on an Indian burial ground and state aquatic reserve, would destroy threatened fish populations and the state’s $4.5 billion local fishing industry. Polluting ships would then carry billions of tons of coal across the Pacific. Notably, this particular Montana coal is so dirty and low quality that American companies don’t want to burn it in the U.S. Thus, Arch Coal, in a bid to not sink completely after its stock has lost 90% of its value in five years, is selling the world’s dirtiest coal to the only buyer.

The site of the proposed mine, the Powder River Basin, is one of the most pristine sites in America and home to 250 bird species including the bald eagle. It is adjacent to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, whose people consider the River Basin to be an important cultural site. The site is also absolutely necessary for hundreds of small business interests, especially farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and tourism businesses.

By signing the petition below you are urging the Montana State Board of Land Commissioners to protect a invaluable and irreplaceable natural area from complete degradation by the coal industry.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Montana State Board of Land Commissioners,

We, the undersigned, urge you to deny the permit to Arch Coal and BNSF Railway. By now, you have been made well aware of the total environmental degradation that their mine and rail system will cause from Montana to China. It is important that you also understand this has become and will remain a local, national, and international issue.

Coal mining operations endorsed by shortsighted lawmakers in the past have already lead to environmental degradation across Montana. The proposed Otter Creek coal mines would exasperate all of these problems, leaving a trail of destruction all the way to China. Railways would haul billions of tons of coal to proposed ports in Washington, scattering coal dust and diesel particulate matter along the way. Export terminals built on an Indian burial ground and a Washington aquatic reserve would destroy threatened fish populations and the state’s local fishing industry. Polluting ships would then carry billions of tons of coal across the Pacific. As you know, this particular Montana coal is so dirty and low quality that American companies don’t want to burn it in the U.S. Arch Coal, in a bid to not sink completely after its stock has lost 90% of its value in five years, is selling the world’s dirtiest coal to the only buyer. You cannot permit this desperate, dirty deal to take place.

With Montana at the focal point of the global coal issue, you are in a unique position to become a moral leader. The long-term health and prosperity of Montana, the surrounding region, and the world is at stake. Please don’t let short-term profit for coal companies destroy your environment and the health of your citizens.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Unknown BLM employee via Wikimedia Commons

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