BILLINGS, Mont. — Opponents of the coal industry’s ambitious Asian export plans say a projected spike in cargo trains passing through the Northwest could tie up existing rail lines, spew coal dust across several states and force communities to help cover billions of dollars in improvements.
That Wednesday report from the Montana-based Western Organization of Resource Councils comes amid proposals to export up to 170 million tons of coal annually through Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
The fuel would come primarily from Montana and Wyoming, a 1,500-mile haul.
The new report claims about 60 coal trains a day would pass through Billings and Spokane, Wash. That’s a route dominated by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.
Burlington Northern spokeswoman Suann Lundsberg says the company can handle increases in shipping demand.