The third day of Coal Export Action in Helena was a good one with the protesters' enthusiasm evident in every participant I talked to. People came to Helena from 15 states and a bunch of Montanans as well is a very diverse group of interesting people.
This afternoon we marched from the Capital Building to the headquarters of Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
The department's Director Richard Opper came out and talked to the protesters and took a number of questions. He was sympathetic to our cause and thanked us for raising these issues. Opper even relieved that he too was a coal opponent 30 years ago!
Here a representative of Coal Export Action submits a 18 page counter-proposal to Arch Creek's mining permit proposal to Richard Opper.
Opper will be departing at the end of this year when Governor Schweitzer term ends, so he won't he the head of Montana's Department of Environmental Quality who will be making the call on Arch Coal's Otter Creek mining permit.
Here are Wednesday's four courageous protesters being led away for standing up to more enormous coal mines in the Power River Basin.
Helena Police have been very cordial, and respectful, but the Helena jail was designed for 57 people and is currently housing a population in the mid 70s. Authorities may be trying to prevent any incidents to keep the Arch Coal's proposal for their planned mine at Otter Creek and it's 1.5 Billion tons of coal Arch Coal plans to extract from the Otter Creek mine for export out of the national news.
Granted this isn't as large as the Keystone XL protests at the White House, but this is a very big protest for Montana. Its a big deal here, yesterday at the Die-in in front of U.S. Bank as I was taking photos from across the street a local woman came up to me and said enthusiastically:"This NEVER happens in Helena. This is great!"
This is the second of a week long series.