The Facts About Coal Exports

Coal Mines Damage Ranch Land
For decades, ranchers in eastern Montana have made a living off the land, benefiting local economies while caring for the environment.  Now, expanded coal mining threatens to permanently degrade valuable ranchland, while polluting and depleting community water supplies.  In eastern Montana’s dry environment, vegetation takes an unusually long time to recover from mining.  Meanwhile, removal of coal from the ground robs the earth of a natural water filtration system.  With reduced natural vegetation for livestock to graze, and less clean water for farming, agriculture in Montana becomes more difficult as coal mining expands.  Learn more about the impacts of coal mining on ranch land


Coal Trains Pollute Communities
From the mines, Montana coal is loaded into trains for transport.  These trains now service existing US coal plants and existing coal export terminals in Canada—but if coal companies get their way, the number of trains will increase dramatically to feed export markets and new coal terminals on the US coast.  Coal trains passing through towns like Billings, Bozeman, Helena, Missoula, and many others are already a source of coal dust, toxic diesel fumes, and noise pollution.  Exporting more coal out of Montana would worsen the already existing problem, subjecting rail line communities to even more severe levels of pollution.  See how coal trains impact rail line communities in Missoula



Coal Terminals Threaten the West Coast 
To increase coal exports, companies like Arch Coal hope to build a chain of new coal export terminals on the West Coast.  Building these coal ports would involve dredging waterways or filling in wetlands, damaging sensitive ecosystems.  Dust from piles of coal waiting for export would pollute nearby communities, while making the area less attractive to other business.  Port towns in Washington State like Bellingham and Longview are already fighting to protect their communities from coal export terminals.  Learn how students and West Coast communities are partnering to stop coal ports


Coal is Slowing the Global Shift to Clean Energy 
From the West Coast, coal companies hope to ship their product overseas to China, India, and other growing economies.  There, rural villages are fighting the construction of some of the biggest new coal plants in the world—projects that threaten air and water quality, and traditional ways of life in these countries.  By fueling these damaging plants, coal export projects threaten to exacerbate global environmental injustices, while delaying the transition to clean energy throughout the world.  Learn about one Chinese community’s resistance to dirty coal projects




Coal Causes Climate Change 
Carbon emissions from smokestacks fueled by US coal exports would contribute to climate change, making catastrophic global warming all but inevitable.  By keeping the international cost of coal artificially cheap, coal exports would keep developing countries dependent on dirty fuel for decades to come.  The consequences would be disastrous: studies show the carbon footprint of coal export projects would be worse than that of the gigantic Keystone XL oil pipeline.  See what exporting coal means for the climate


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