Priority Issues and Projects
While Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper responds to any activity that threatens the integrity of water quality or compromises the responsible use of water resources, LPOW currently focuses primarily on the following priority issues:
Pesticide treatment of aquatic invasive weeds
Management of water resources
Photo courtesy of Jace Bylenga
Big Coal companies intend to expand their west coast foreign exports to ~160 million tons of coal per year. When mined and burned, coal becomes a toxic compound, carrying heavy metals, radioactive compounds and carcinogens that have the potential to severely degrade water quality. The coal, mined from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana, would be shipped westward in open rail cars on its way to proposed export facilities in Washington and Oregon. The proposed route for transport includes ~30 miles of shoreline directly adjacent to and over Lake Pend Oreille.
With the increase in coal exports, Bonner County stands to see as many as 66 coal trains per day, with no economic incentive and many threats to our natural resources and public health. As citizens across the Pacific and Inland Northwest face the possibility of increased coal transport through their communities, there are several ways to participate in the process to better understand the impacts of this rail traffic. Through a process called "scoping", the agencies preparing the Environmental Impact Statements for the proposed coal terminals and mines will receive public input on issues of concern related to terminal or mine construction and operation.
Instead of site-specific Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) that would analyze only the impacts to the terminal community or mining site, LPOW advocates for comprehensive, programmatic EISs that consider all impacts on all communities from mine to port. We joined many other regional groups to request a local “scoping hearing” for the Gateway Pacific Terminal in order to provide a public platform for citizen comment on its proposal this winter. We will continue to advocate for this approach as other proposals come up for public comment.
The requested regional scoping hearing for the GPT took place in Spokane, WA, on Dec. 4th 2012, and was a great success for "No Coal" advocates attending from as far away as Missoula, MT. Stay tuned for more information as the scoping agencies begin to compile and review the 124,000 + comments they received during the scoping period, which ended January 31st.
Next coal actions: The comment period for the proposed Otter Creek coal mine and it's sister project, the Tongue River Railroad, has been extended to March 6th! Like the GPT, this proposal poses incredible risks to public health and safety, air and water quality, and the environment as a whole. The combined mine and railroad would move up to 1.3 billion tons of coal; an amount that would release 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
There is no such thing as "clean coal". Tell the Montana Dept. of Environmental Quality to consider the social and environmental impacts of opening a strip mine in a pristine agriculture valley and shipping 1.3 billion tons of toxic coal through our communities. Voice your concerns here. Use the sample letter below, or craft your own comment.
Click here for a sample letter:
Use the information in this example letter to personalize a comment to submit for the scoping process. Then simply paste it into the online submission form.
Coal trains threaten environment and public health
-Nick Gier, Professor Emeritus, UI
PRB coal degradation - causes and cures
-Roderick J. Hossfeld, Jenike and Johanson, INC