The recent news that our governor is working all angles to help sell Montana's coal to Chinese companies is alarming. An article just appeared in the Platts Coal Trader about interest in Montana's resources from China-based Manyuan Coal. The article quotes, "In a meeting Nov. 23 (with the governor), representatives said they had been in talks with Montana-based coal mines to export coal to China through the West Coast."
For 40 years our ranchers in southeastern Montana have heard the rallying cry of energy independence as an excuse to dig up our productive agricultural valleys. But now, with the advent of exporting our coal overseas, do we really want to destroy our land, air and water, only to send the resources to be burned elsewhere? It doesn't seem fair that we should get all of the impacts of this dirty, 19th century source of energy, only to benefit overseas companies.
The sad thing about this whole proposal is that now is the time to start moving away from coal instead of opening up new mines only to export it. Renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar, are cheaper than ever and have fewer impacts. In Montana, NorthWestern Energy's cheapest energy is not Colstrip at $67.84/MWh but is instead Judith Gap Wind Farm at $46.56/MWh.
It's time our governor steps down as coal's best cheerleader, takes a good hard look at the numbers behind wind and other sources of renewable energy, and says no to exporting our coal to China.