As the coal debate heats up on the West Coast, our state is left hoping and waiting for the approval of five proposed coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest. Our state economy is closely connected with the coal industry — keenly feeling the ups and downs of this industry. And right now, the proposed Pacific Northwest terminals will aide in supplying our state a new export market for sustained, long-term economic growth.
Montana has always had the largest coal reserve in the country, with more than 119 billion tons of coal — simply an unfathomable amount of coal that provides our state a built-in economic opportunity. At the moment, coal directly and indirectly provides nearly 5,000 Montana family-wage jobs with a payroll of more than $273 million.
Our state has reaped the benefits of coal production; our unemployment rate is decidedly lower than the national average and our state had a budget surplus of $426 million. This financial well-being stems in large part from our coal industry. And in order to keep this economic gain, the coal industry must continue to grow.
The five proposed Pacific Northwest terminals will aide our state in exporting coal to meet the growing global demand, which will ensure Montana continues our economic advantage.