ranchers and farmers

Jeanie Alderson is a fourth-generation rancher in Birney, Montana. Her family’s Bones Brothers Ranch was founded in the Tongue River Valley of southeastern Montana in 1889. She and her family have been fighting the proposed Tongue River Railroad (TRR) for 30 years. At first the TRR was seen as a shortcut for Wyoming coal to get to Midwestern coal-fired generating plants, but in 2010 the State Land Board leased the Otter Creek coal tracts near Ashland, Montana, to Arch Coal for a huge coal strip mine. Arch has said much of this coal will be exported to Asia, and the only way to get coal from this isolated site is the Tongue River Railroad.

Jeanie Alderson

Birney, Montana, rancher

“The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point for coal shipments to Asia has long tentacles that extend across three states to the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming where my family and I own and operate a cattle ranch. Our ranch is a commercial cow/calf operation but we also raise healthy, grass-finished beef that we sell directly to customers. We too produce energy – we produce food.

“If you and the decision-makers in your community decide to go forward with the coal export port you are in essence deciding the fate of my family’s ranch. This terminal would jeopardize businesses and communities like mine. Much of the coal slated for export would come from the Otter Creek tracts in southeastern Montana. Critical water resources in a water-scarce climate would be endangered and new railroads and spurs would bisect productive river valleys to haul coal to the coast for export. These impacts would occur in a productive, yet pristine and beautiful region of the West.

“But they would occur in your community, too, and I don’t wish the impacts of coal mining and shipping on anyone. It is time to put coal, a dangerous, disruptive and costly 19th century fuel, behind us.

“The United States does NOT need to sacrifice its productive heartlands, the integrity of coastal communities, or the vitality of numerous cities in the Northwest so that coal can be hauled thousands and thousands of miles across the ocean and burned in dirty power plants.  Doing so would compound the dangers of climate change and increase toxic pollutants such as mercury in our water, not to mention the effects on the land. We are determined to defend the integrity of our clean air and water and the productivity of our lands, and yet realize the need to transition to cleaner, cheaper, abundant energy such as wind and solar.

“I would like to pass on to my children a ranch that is no longer threatened by coal in hopes that they can pass it on to their children.  Our fates are tied together despite the distance, and I hope that your community will realize the need to fight this proposal not just for Skagit Valley but also for the Tongue River and Otter Creek valleys as well. We will stand and fight with you.”

Are you a rancher or farmer against coal export? Contact us.