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Coal Black Thursday

There were several interesting articles on the news wire this morning. Governor Schweitzer spent an inordinate amount of time in Helena yesterday explaining that the $57 million dollar subsidy that the State Land Board is presenting to Arch Coal to mine the Otter Creek Coal tracts isn’t about killing children or the thousands of people that will be killed or sickened by burning a billion tons of coal. It’s really about helping disabled folks.

The governor said he has been particularly troubled by proposed budget cuts that would trim services for the disabled. “If we can’t protect our most vulnerable, what does that say about our society?” Schweitzer said. “It’s not just me, I think we Montanans have a special place in our heart for the disability community. I am going to pull back from those cuts if that money is approved.”  Particularly Troubled….

State Superintendent of Instruction, Linda McCollugh said, “Of course it’s my hope we use that money for schools in Montana“. Hope, is the operative word. 4&20 Blackbirds reprints the remarks of Attorney General, Steve Bullock at the last meeting where the Board voted to reduce the bid price for the coal in order to make it easier for coal companies to build the Tongue River Railroad to subsidize Wyoming coal.

While we’re debating whether to reduce our bonus bid by another 10 cents a ton, Wyoming shippers will be getting a discount of 28 times that if the railroad is completed. And while we’re talking about reducing the amount to our treasury by $57 million, this review shows that a railroad in the Tongue River can save existing coal mines and power companies potentially well over $100 million each and every year

Today, call it Black Thursday, the Board will approve one of the largest corporate giveaways Montana has ever seen. Also in the news today “Most power plants still spewing toxic mercury, report says

Mercury exposure can harm the brain development of infants and children. Each year more than 300,000 babies may have an increased risk of learning disabilities as a result of exposure to mercury before birth, the report said.

And This: “Strip mining adds to coal’s greenhouse emissions, study says” “So even if power plants deploy carbon capture and storage, or CCS, technology, mountaintop removal will remain an important contributor to global warming, according to the paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Oh, what the heck, one more. Rolling stone has an extensive article this month on “Coal’s Toxic Sludge

Big coal has spent millions of dollars over the past year touting the virtues of what the industry calls “clean coal,” but it’s no secret that coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel. When you burn it, coal releases monstrous quantities of deadly compounds and gases — and it all has to go somewhere. The worst of the waste — heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and mercury, all of which are highly toxic — are concentrated in the ash that’s left over after coal is burned or in the dirty sludge that’s scrubbed from smokestacks. Each year, coal plants in the U.S. churn out nearly 140 million tons of coal ash — more than 900 pounds for every American — generating the country’s second-largest stream of industrial waste, surpassed only by mining. If you piled all the coal ash on a single football field, it would create a toxic mountain more than 20 miles high.

It looks like Congress may finally get around to passing a watered-down health care bill. It can’t come too soon for all the people who will be getting sick from the burning of Montana rocks. Remember when Montana had clean streams, clean air, healthy children and we were the envy of the Nation? Well, take a picture, that all ends today with the vote of five people in Helena.

One Response

  1. […] condemnation of private land in the interest of a private corporate entity, folks – a railroad that will save that private corporate entity well in the range of $100 million a year in … down […]

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