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 aid 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 over 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 almost 5,000 Montana family-wage jobs with a payroll of over $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.