Zinke’s Questionable Position on Coal Sales

Surely, the citizens of Montana would prefer to receive the full value of their assets

By Eric Grimsrud

The Obama administration is presently trying to correct what it believes are inappropriate sales of Montana coal deposits – by which the coal companies involved are trying to avoid paying the state of Montana the full value of its coal. The person most strongly resisting these corrections is Montana’s own congressional representative, Ryan Zinke, whose recent election to the US House appears to have been greatly facilitated by the same fossil fuel corporation involved in the contested sales. The question then, of course, is whose interests is Zinke serving in this case? Surely, the citizens of Montana would prefer to receive the full value of their assets, would they not? An additional question for Mr. Zinke would be – are you really suggesting that Montana’s future depends on becoming a “carbon pusher” to our already carbon-contaminated world?

And just for the record, I did read Congressman Zinke’s letter in the July 23 issue of the Beacon in which he tried to explain his position on this issue. It included some financial mumbo-jumbo that still leaves the state of Montana short about $19 million per year and implied that Montanans need not be concerned about basic laws of science that are operative elsewhere. For example, he describes the generation of new jobs via the development of “clean coal” technologies – even though there is no such thing as a clean coal power plant. He surely knows that that every single carbon atom in those two-mile-long trains arriving at all coal-fired power plants is converted to carbon dioxide and emitted into the atmosphere. He also surely knows that coal is one of the dirtiest forms of fossil fuel producing only half as much energy per CO2 molecule emitted as natural gas while also emitting other pollutants, such as mercury. I am sure that Congressman Zinke and his friends at Peabody Energy Co. all know all of this – they are surely not that dumb. They just hope you are.

Eric Grimsrud
Liberty Lake

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.