Montana Activists Rally Against Coal Trains

May 10, 2016

Activists against more coal trains in Montana are rallying across the state this week.

Billings-based Northern Plains Resource Council hosted an event in Helena Tuesday to share their point of view opposing a new West Coast port that would export coal from the Powder River Basin. It came one day after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for a different proposed port that would ship Montana coal to Asia.

The 25 people who came to Helena’s downtown public library acknowledged the victory. But the main speaker on Northern Plains’ tour against the coal trains says there’s still work to do.

"It isn’t over until it’s over."

Les Anderson is an activist from Longview, Washington, where the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal would be built. He was in Missoula Monday, and will go to Livingston and Billings this week for what Northern Plains is calling “peoples’ hearings.”

"Montanans have been left out, and they’re impacted by this just as much as anybody from pit to port. So, we’re here to make sure that Montanans are heard. We’ll be taking comments today and turning them in to the Department of Ecology and State of Washington."

Backers of the Millennium Terminal say that it will boost jobs and the economy in both the Powder River Basin and Washington. A part-owner is Arch Coal, which recently declared bankruptcy. They and other companies mining in the basin say that countries in southeast Asia continue to build new coal-fired power plants, and that will create a market for coal from the U.S.

The deadline for public comment on the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal is June 16. The State of Washington is holding a public hearing on it in Spokane on May 26.