Coal Foes Warn of Northwest Rail Traffic Spike
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A conservation group is predicting that ambitious Asian export plans by U.S. coal mining companies could lead to a more than tenfold spike in coal trains through the Northwest.
The Western Organization of Resource Councils said Wednesday that roughly 60 coal trains per day could pass through cities including Billings and Spokane, Wash.
The group says that could tie up rail lines, cause environmental problems and leave local governments on the hook for costly rail crossing improvements.
The fuel would come primarily from Montana and Wyoming. That's a 1,500-mile haul via Idaho to Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
Representatives of the coal and rail industries say the report erroneously assumes all pending West Coast coal ports will be built.
U.S. coal exports reached their highest level in decades last year.