Posted: Oct 6, 2012 6:05 PM by David Jay
Updated: Oct 6, 2012 6:05 PM
BILLINGS - A newly formed group wants to raise awareness about coal resources and the benefits to the state's economy.
Count on Coal Montana says it sees opposition to the coal industry...and so... it wants to make sure a pro-coal message is also heard.
The group held its first event, Coal Appreciation Day at MetraPark's Montana Pavilion.
According to Count on Coal Montana, .the coal production industry employed 1,200 people and added more than $86-million dollars to the state's economy in 2011.
The event featured both Democrat and Republican speakers.
"It's really a both sides of the aisle type thing," said Chuck Denowh, spokesman for Count on Coal Montana. "That's really what we wanted to emphasize here today."
Republicans included US Senate candidate, Rep. Denny Rehberg, Rick Hill, gubernatorial candidate and Yellowstone County Commissioner John Ostlund. Two Democrats, State Auditor Monica Lindeen and Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy also spoke.
Count on Coal Montana required each speaker to sign the pledge to support Montana coal.
"People here represented today that are true supporters of the coal industry," Denowh said. "Are our advocates for more coal jobs and more coal production in Montana. That's why we asked them to sign a pledge today."
In response to the appreciation day, the Northern Plains Resource Council says it is concerned with environmental issues of mining, transporting and burning coal.
The organization said while it supports the idea of jobs, it is concerned that a lot of Montana's coal gets shipped to China.
"We shouldn't have to bear the burdens of the destruction of water and land and air for the benefit of a foreign country," said Walter Archer, board chair for the Northern Plains Resource Council.
Archer says while coal may add jobs, more coal production could lead to environmental impacts that take jobs away from two other big Montana industries, agriculture and tourism.