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Tribe protests coal shipments

By KECI Staff
Published On: Sep 19 2013 08:52:43 PM MDT
Updated On: Sep 19 2013 08:52:52 PM MDT
Washington tribe protests coal shipments
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Members of the Lummi Tribe of Northwest Washington state are traveling through Montana, Wyoming and Canada, demonstrating against coal shipments to sacred tribal grounds on the coast of Washington.

Today, on the Missoula County Courthouse lawn, Lummi members sang sacred songs and said to a crowd that coal shipments will pollute land from Montana to the coast.

Carvers in the Lummi Tribe have carved a special totem pole.  It is Lummi tradition to give a totem pole to people struck by disaster or in need of hope and healing.  They are displaying it as they drive it through Montana to give to native people in British Columbia affected by the oil tar sands projects.  This totem pole represents unity to tribal members, in protecting the environment.

The Lummi are asking Montanans to contact political leaders and voice concerns against coal mining and transporting.  

They especially encourage citizens to join a caravan coming through Missoula on the morning of September 25th, en route to Spokane, to attend the Longview Coal Export Terminal EIS scoping hearing. (Page Atcheson page@northernplains.org or 406-449-1256 is an organizational contact.)

Jewell James told NBC Montana today, "We are asking people to get on the bus with the Sierra Club and come testify in Spokane to show their concerns about coal being shipped through their cities, through Missoula.  We have people all along the route where coal will be dropping of the trains.  Coal is full of arsenic and mercury."

Here's some background on a large coal mining project proposed for Southeast Montana.

St. Louis based Arch Coal submitted an application in 2012 to mine more than 570 million tons of coal out of the Otter Creek area.

Arch Coal has leased the land for $86 million dollars.

The application requests to drill 44 holes to supply coal to the US and Asia and transport it by train.

The state is still researching an environmental impact study and has yet to grant a permit.