Via KPAX 8:
The value of coal to the state of Montana once again front and center Tuesday as residents raise concerns on both sides of the issue.
Back in January, the Obama administration ordered a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands.
But when it came to hearing from Montanans on the proposed moratorium, the Department of Interior bypassed the Big Sky state. That’s when Montana Sen. Steve Daines decided to hold his own forum in Billings.
The conversation on coal took another turn Tuesday, one that will be officially entered in the records by the United States government.
“Our passion is way beyond politics. It’s more about the economy and jobs,” said Rep. Duane Ankney of Colstrip.
Coal concerns came from Montana leaders and 57 others in the audience which Sen. Daines promised the Department of Interior will see and read the comments for its scoping process.
“Coal touches everyone,” one man said.
Another brought a sign stating coal helps keep the light on. “I like this little sign, simple but pretty darn true,” he said.
Testimony also pleaded Daines to gather a simple majority and “defund the EPA and get rid of the attack dogs, that’s what we need.”
“Coal is directly responsible for over 7,000 jobs in Montana alone,” said Colstrip United Co-Founder Ashley Dennehy.
“It is estimated that approximately 3.5 jobs are created for every coal job. That’s a lot of Montanans working and that’s a lot of Montanans that are working.”
But government officials couldn’t dodge criticism for their involvement and sometimes lack thereof.
Some Montana leaders did not attend the meeting; however Daines video called in for 20 minutes before leaving for another energy meeting.
“I really have a problem with our powers that be that not a g** damn one of them could be here,” said a coal proponent. “I think it’s pretty darn important.”
Opponents also stepped up to the microphone, dawning “No Coal Loophole” stickers.
“We’ve got enough to mine and let it go around. And we ought to do that,” said Billings attorney Tom Towe. “It’s for our benefit, I think we should. But we can’t ignore climate change.”
While Washington is nearly 2,000 miles from the Treasure State, DC will have an earful of Montanans voices.
“Our federal government needs to look at each state individually, because we are individual states, not all as one,” said another proponent of coal.
It should be noted that January’s decision does not affect coal leases that are currently in place.
See the article here.
- On June 22, 2016