FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 17, 2013
CONTACT Chuck Denowh 239.5952
State study emphasizes positive economic impacts of increased coal production and export, debunks enviro claims
(Helena, Mont.)--The significant positive economic impacts of increasing coal production for export to Asian markets more than offset anticipated traffic impacts, according a new study recently released by the Montana Department of Transportation's Rail Service Competition Council.
MRSCC's study was commissioned after being presented last year with a report from the Western Organization of Resource Councils that emphasized opposition to coal exports, but ignored the any positive economic impacts of new coal development. The MRSCC study, titled "Montana Coal: Economic Impact of Anticipated Expanded Production", utilized the same data from the WORC report with the objective of getting a more-rounded view of the "risk/reward ratio" of expanded development.
The MRSCC study notes that "Increased coal production in Montana will dramatically increase economic activity throughout the state....Expanded Montana coal production to help meet the world’s rising demand will result directly in increased resource taxes, production-related employment, State and County revenues, transportation infrastructure, and construction jobs. All of this will help the state to increase higher quality jobs related to resource development."
"Montanan's deserve to know the full story as they consider what increased coal production will mean for the state. The truth is that increasing production even a modest amount will have a tremendous positive impact on the economy and jobs throughout the state," said Chuck Denowh, spokesperson for Count on Coal Montana. "We have a huge opportunity to improve our state by taking advantage of our natural resource wealth."
The MRSCC study debunks one claim made by the WORC, that increased rail traffic would result in costs to local taxpayers. The study explains, "Generally, all infrastructure improvements in Montana are financed through some combination of federal and state grant programs and local bonding in a variety of forms. At the local governmental level including local development agencies, the administrative capacities to access and utilize these programs already exist and increased coal production and the additional taxes generated will provide additional resources available through existing programs or programs that are modestly legislatively modified to address the needs as they evolve."
"We've heard from the opposition that increasing rail traffic from coal would somehow displace capacity for other Montana commodities," said Denowh. "In fact the opposite is true; the infrastructure improvements that would be paid for with revenue from increased coal production would benefit agriculture and other industries that want to export. They face the same constraints as the coal industry, and if we can improve our rail infrastructure and expand port capacity, those industries benefit just as much."