What you need to know about the Tongue River Railroad draft Environmental Impact Statement
It's here. On April 17, 2015 the Surface Transportation Board (STB) released the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the proposed Tongue River Railroad (TRR) and I am just getting around to writing about it. I was prompted by a reader who commented on my last TRR blog, "why haven't you written about this yet!!!" The answer is that I am trying to read and take notes and check references on thousands of pages of the DEIS (weighs about 20lbs) so I can write substantive comments in the short 60-day time frame the public has to respond to the behemoth. Yeah, that's right folks. They can take years to produce the document and we get 60 days to respond to it. Please take a moment and send an email to Ken Blodgett (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the STB and ask him to extend the public comment period. The TRR DEIS is a document written by people who have spent zero to a couple weeks in southeastern Montana and their conclusions reflect that. I don't think I'm overstating anything when I say that this is most poorly compiled EIS I have ever read. Where do I begin? The document is full of statements bordering on psychopathic in their attempt to make sure there aren't any words used that would inspire emotions. For example, instead of using the word "people," sometimes they use the word "viewer." I could write a book on their use of Orwellian language in the document. The DEIS is a long document that contradicts itself, ignores many issues we brought up in the scoping process and is full of absurdities such as:
"TRRC shall evaluate the feasibility of installing solar and wind microgeneration technologies on site offices, lodging, and other facilities to reduce the use of grid- or privately generated electricity in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."Ok. The STB is going to ask a coal company to voluntarily put solar panels on their rail facilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while they haul 20 million tons of coal/year. Thanks for thinking about the climate guys. You can also read about impacts to rural viewers.
"Rural viewers could have construction activities occurring adjacent to their homes and agricultural buildings or nearby, evoking a sense of invaded privacy."First, rural viewers? What the hell is a rural viewer? We aren't watching television. Second, a sense of invaded privacy? I can't even think straight when I read this. Not a real, tangible, objective reality of a company taking your land and then building a rail line to haul coal on it, just a sense of it. Here's how they should say it: People who live on the Tongue River will have their privacy invaded and potentially their land taken from them against their will. Then, there is this gem.
"The results are presented in Table 5.2-17 and show that, depending on the scenario, net accumulated life-cycle GHG emissions from 2018 to 2037 could be slightly greater (1.7 MMTCO2e) under the No-Action Alternative."If Arch Coal doesn't build a 1.5 billion ton coal mine and accompanying rail line, climate change will be worse. Seriously. How's that for some black magic analysis. Do you need more? How about the fact that ICF International, the third party consultant who completed the DEIS for the STB, is also the consultant hired to complete the environmental analysis on the Longview coal port terminal in Washington state. Arch coal is 33% owner of the Tongue River Railroad Co. and a 38% shareholder in the proposed Longview terminal where they want to start shipping Montana coal to Asia. Also, ICF's project manager has a degree in City Planning, their lead on cultural resources is an architectural historian and their fish resources analyst has a degree in Marine Biology. They also write about "potentially induced mines" and refer to the defunct Montco mine and a potential Canyon Creek mine as mines that could open as a result of building the TRR. They write this so the railroad company can claim that the TRR isn't a spur and therefore, if permitted, will have the power of eminent domain to condemn productive agricultural land. We all know there is never going to be a coal mine on the old Montco site and even less chance of there being a coal mine on the Canyon Creek site. Enough. I have to go to Miles City right now or else I'd go on. Sorry if there are any typos, grammatical errors or a general lack of conciseness. I am in a hurry today and didn't have time to edit. I'll be writing more about the DEIS focusing on specific chapters in the coming weeks leading up to the public hearings. Below you will find the in person hearing times and locations. There is also an hearing that will be held online that you can register for (see below and click on the link to register). Please contact me if you have any questions about attending the hearings, the substance of the DEIS or submitting your own comments. You can email me: email@example.com. As always, participating in action alerts is always good but writing your own comments is even better. Here is a link to the DEIS: http://www.tonguerivereis.com/draft_eis.html Public Hearing Times and Locations
- June 8, 2015, 2:00-4:00 pm and 6:00-8:00 pm at St. Labre Indian School, 1000 Tongue River Road, Ashland, MT
- June 9, 2015, 2:00-4:00 pm and 6:00-8:00 pm at Miles Community College, Room 316, 2715 Dickinson Street, Miles City, MT
- June 10, 2015, 2:00-4:00 pm and 6:00-8:00 pm at Colstrip High School, 5000 Pinebutte Drive, Colstrip, MT
- June 11, 2015, 2:00-4:00 pm and 6:00-8:00 pm at the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Building, Council Chambers, 600 South Cheyenne Ave, Lame Deer, MT
- June 12, 2015, 2:00-4:00 pm and 6:00-8:00 pm at Forsyth High School, 917 Park Street, Forsyth, MT