The jobs lost due to Smurfit Stone’s closure in Missoula didn’t end with the plant itself. You may recall that dozens of Montana Rail Link employees were also laid off as a result of that closure. Well, now, dozens of those jobs are back in Missoula (of all places) thanks to global demand for coal.
Jackie Yamanaka has this over at TransportationNation.Org:
Last November, Lewis says Montana Rail Link hired them back and is looking to hire another 45 employees by the end of April because of the rebounding world economy, led by the demand for coal.
Lewis also thinks the demand for paper products is going to grow for China and India. He says that could revitalize the wood products industry, in Montana, the Pacific Northwest , Canada, and elsewhere.
Some of you may recall our live show from Missoula earlier this year where we discussed this very concept: the fact that increased coal demand and increased rail traffic could also be an asset to Missoula’s economy. Sure puts the Missoula delegation in an odd pinch; they haven’t been too supportive of coal, but they sure like spending the dollars that coal generates.
And, if you missed the big news out of Wyoming today; even Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has been MIA on domestic energy production, made news in Cheyenne.
The Wyoming Governor’s office just sent this:
Governor Matt Mead stood with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today as the Secretary announced four new coal leases in the Powder River Basin.
“I applaud Secretary Salazar and his agency for moving forward with these leases. The electricity our country needs to thrive has to come from somewhere and right now coal powers many of our cities and industries,” Governor Matt Mead said. “This coal also keeps Wyoming men and women working.”
Secretary Salazar said the total bonus bids and royalty payments over the life of these leases are estimated to generate $13.4 to $21.3 billion, 48 percent of which would go to the State of Wyoming.
During the announcement Secretary Salazar also said that these lease sales are the first of more than a dozen the Bureau of Land Management plans to hold over the next three years. Governor Mead thanked the Secretary for recognizing Wyoming’s coal and its role in producing electricity for the nation. “America gets 20% of all of its electric power from Wyoming coal,” Governor Mead said. “This is not a source of electricity we can turn off any time soon and I’m glad President Obama and Secretary Salazar realize this.”