In October, the Tongue River Railroad Company filed a new application for a permit to build a coal-hauling line through the Tongue River Valley. This long-proposed project renews its attempt to cut the valley in half, abusing the power of eminent domain to destroy good Montana ranchland in order to ship Montana coal to China.
The Surface Transportation Board has held “scoping” hearings in rural four southeastern Montana communities, where hundreds of people turned out to oppose the railroad.
However, you still have until January 11 to send your comments. Your comments are very important, because this is your opportunity to list all your concerns that the new environmental impact statement (EIS) should address.
You can send in your comments online today using the following link: http://www.stb.dot.gov/Ect1/
Here’s an example comment (you can pick up and paste this in the online comment section if you choose):
Docket No. FD 30186
Attention of: Mr. Ken Blodgett
The environmental impact statement for the proposed Tongue River Railroad should analyze the following:
- Public convenience and necessity: This proposed railroad is not for the “public convenience and necessity” which is what is required in order for a body to get the power of eminent domain and condemnation authority. This railroad would serve only one coal company giant, Arch Coal, which intends to sell the coal to China and other Asian countries.
- Impacts on property values: The project would devalue property and infringes on property rights. This railroad will cause fires, spread weeds, devalue property (especially riverfront property), will make ranching and farming more difficult and expensive, will split ranch land in half and separate fields from the river and will shift the liability of train crossings to the landowner.
- Wildlife: The Tongue River Valley is rich in wildlife habitat and home to outstanding elk and mule deer populations as well as upland birds. Industrializing this valley with a railroad and the coal strip mine it serves will seriously degrade this excellent sportsman resource.
- Flooding: The railroad bed will act as an earthen dam and potentially worsen the flooding problems now experienced in Miles City in the winter with ice jams.
- Noise: The loud trains will ruin the quiet enjoyment of nearby recreation areas near Miles City.
- Infrastructure and traffic: Taxes will go up for residents communities along the rail lines as the coal heads to coastal ports for shipment. This railroad will increase coal train traffic substantially causing traffic delays, noise, and diesel pollution. The only way to live with this increased traffic will require expensive over passes and safety crossing which are paid for primarily by local taxpayers.
The Tongue River Railroad will allow coal that should stay in the ground to be burned in dirty Chinese plants and will fuel intolerable, decades-long increases in Carbon Dioxide emissions. The greenhouse gas costs of Otter Creek coal go far beyond just burning the coal. It must be mined, hauled by trains fueled by diesel to West Coast terminals, shipped overseas by ships fueled by diesel, and then hauled in China to the plants.
You also can post a letter to:
Mr. Ken Blodgett
Surface Transportation Board
395 E Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20423-0001
Note environmental filing: Docket No. FD 30186 in your letter.