Environmentalists: Coal Project Would Accelerate Pollution, Clog Rail Lines

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Anti-coal demonstrators, upset over Montana's plans to let private miners dig into state land and ship the coal to Asia, gave a piece of their mind Friday to state officials, who rescheduled a meeting on the matter.

The Missoulian reports that the Montana Land Board accelerated its schedule to accept bids that would allow a private company to lease a Roundup, Mont., mine. But activists said Montana officials were dodging a planned weeklong sit-in, which would have greeted a meeting originally scheduled for Aug. 20.

Opponents said the coal, to be shipped across Idaho to the coast and across the Pacific Ocean, "will accelerate pollution and climate change" and clog the region's railroad system, raising the cost of shipping grain and other products.

But more coal mining could also mean a windfall for Montana. The Missoulian reports that officials predict the mining least could pump $15 million into state coffers over a 10-year period.

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