During the hottest spring on record, and on the eve of Pope Francis’ anticipated encyclical on climate change, the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) is holding a series of public hearings in Eastern Montana on a proposal to haul more climate-cooking coal along a new rail line.

The Tongue River Railroad is a proposed 42-mile-long rail line designed to haul coal from the Otter Creek Mine-the largest proposed coal mine in the United States-to the main BNSF rail line to haul coal to new markets overseas. That “coal road to China” leads right through our front yards in North Idaho.

Partners in the project include Arch Coal, which is also trying to build a giant coal export terminal in Longview, Washington, that would handle 44 million tons of coal per year from Eastern Montana and Wyoming.

According to the STB, the new rail line could potentially carry up to 18 to 26 coal trains per day-coal trains that are most likely going to travel on the Montana Rail Link and BNSF lines through Hope, Sandpoint and Spokane.

This mine would produce 2.5 billion tons of global warming pollution during its life, and lock us into over half a century of coal dust, increased train traffic, decreased property values, delayed emergency services and millions in infrastructure costs-that taxpayers get to cover.

All at a time when we must leave it in the ground!

Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that the hearings are going very well for Arch Coal. At a recent hearing in Ashland, MT, not a single person spoke in favor of the proposal.

It’s time to move away from coal, and to  protect  our communities from the negative impacts of coal-from the snarling traffic through rail communities like Sandpoint to the unnecessary spewing of CO2 into our atmosphere.

You can make your voice heard through this handy online comment form provided by our friends at Power Past Coal.

Thanks for saying No to the Tongue River Railroad!