I read with interest the Gazette’s March 28 article about the Port of Coos Bay Port Commission demanding citizens pay thousands of dollars for a public records request for a proposed coal export port. The plan for the port involves transporting coal in mile-long trains from the Northern Plains to Oregon for export overseas. While I believe that the port should be open with their plans, what really baffles me is the idea that our nation is making plans to export our finite resources.
According to the recent Billings coal export conference, coal companies plan to export 110 million tons of coal annually. If these plans proceed, we could be facing 40 additional trains per day traveling through Billings and every other Montana city and rail crossing along the route. We will lose time waiting for trains, while ambulances, fire engines, and police vehicles will be delayed responding to emergencies. We’ll also be impacted by coal dust, diesel fumes, noise, and safety concerns.
It is time we thought through this coal export idea and determine who it will benefit. Montanans whose towns will be divided by a wall of train traffic are certainly not going to be at the top of the list. If anything, we are going to be left paying for ways to mitigate the problems via personal health costs, and city, county and state taxes.