Bonner County Daily Bee: Sandpoint area featured in coal shipment documentary


  • Adam Rosenlund

The Bonner County Daily Bee reported that a recent panel discussing the controversies surrounding proposed coal train exports and footage of Bonner County will be featured in an upcoming documentary called Momenta. The documentary is slated to premier in February 2014. 

The San Francisco-based film crew, Plus M Productions, gathered footage of Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper Executive Director Shannon Williamson, film director Andy Miller, professional snowboarder and Sandpoint native Nate Holland, Spokane Riverkeeper Executive Director Bart Mihailovich, Sandpoint City Councilman Aaron Qualls and environmental advocate Gary Payton as they talked about why they think expanding coal shipments is a dangerous proposal. 

According to their research, the Asia-bound cargo shipments would create more than 100 million tons of coal passing through Sandpoint in uncovered train cars annually—that’s 60,000 pounds of coal dust lost of the course of the coal shipment. Williamson said the shipments would bring with them adverse health, air and water quality effects.

They’re also concerned that the energy production from the coal would only benefit China, but the resulting carbon emissions would impact the entire planet. According to Williamson’s data, emissions would equal 25 million vehicles annually.

Miller said he wanted to make the documentary because he felt the coal shipments weren’t generating the type of national attention that environmental controversies like the Keystone Pipeline receives. Momenta got its funding through Kikckstarter campaigning and filmmakers have traveled through several states collecting footage and interviews for the film. After its premiere, Momenta will likely be entered into festivals around the country.