Canadians hear much about the proposed Northern Gateway and Keystone XL oil pipeline controversies but who in Canada has heard about the Tongue River Railroad? The TRR is a rail line proposed to haul coal from a proposed mine in Montana to ports on the West coast from which it will be shipped to China and elsewhere in Asia.
The rail line is being opposed by a number of environmental groups, loosely collected under the auspices of the Northern Plains Resource Council, not so much, in GallonDaily’s opinion, because they have environmental or social grounds for opposing the rail line, though there are some such grounds, but because they do not want to see the coal mine opened up, because they believe that the existence of the rail line will encourage more coal mines to open, and because they want to put roadblocks in the way of expanded use of coal. GallonDaily sees the opposition to the rail line, which is currently taking place before the federal Surface Transportation Board, as a legitimate way of expressing this opposition. Coal interests and others who support the mine are apparently trying to challenge the legitimacy of the Northern Plains Resource Council, claiming it does not represent Montana people, as it claims, but that it is well funded and supported by the foundation funds of “some of the wealthiest people in the nation” who, by implication, live in the eastern US and elsewhere.
Coal and oil are in competition with each other as well as with renewable sources of energy and natural gas. While industry may be frustrated by the increasingly litigious nature of transportation issues, the fact is that reductions in public environmental assessment processes will only lead to such disputes becoming more frequent, more time consuming, and more costly for industry and the taxpayer. No amount of new pro-development legislation that fails to consider the environmental consequences of energy development is likely to stop these environmentalist efforts.
For information about the Tongue River Railroad dispute, visit the Northern Plains Resource Council website at http://www.northernplains.org/ and click on the stories under Latest News. To see what some others say about NPRC, visit a website created by the Center for Consumer Freedom at http://activistcash.com/organization_overview.cfm/o/272-northern-plains-resource-council