Missoulian: Environmental Study Rebukes U of M Analysis on Coal Jobs


Environmentalists have unveiled their own coal study, rebutting another analysis from the University of Montana as "one-sided propaganda."

The U of M's Bureau of Business and Economic Research recently crafted its own study touting the economic benefits of coal production. Researchers pointed to the Otter Creek mine, which they said would add $55 million to the state's tax base by 2018 if production continues.

But this morning's Missoulian reports that the Montana Environmental Information Center on Tuesday released a 22-page study, claiming that the U of M's study was "so fundamentally flawed and one-sided that it didn't seem right that it be the only analysis out there on the economics of this proposed mine."

The MEIC study claims that only 23 percent of jobs near Otter Creek would be in mining and railroad and the rest would fall into the retail and service industry, "meaning the pay would be lower for 77 percent of the workers." MEIC added that 33 percent of the mining and railroad jobs associated with Otter Creek would be lost over the life of the mine.

Montana's Department of Environmental Quality has been asked to seek wider public comment from communities affected by increased rail traffic resulting from coal shipments.

Boise Weekly has been tracking regional protests, urging rejection of a controversial proposal to haul coal—via train—from Montana, through Idaho's panhandle and Washington state before being shipped overseas. If approved, some of the globe's biggest mining companies could haul hundreds of millions of tons of coal through the Northwest.