Over west of the mountains several ports are debating whether to allow coal trains to ship large amounts of that black stuff to the Orient, where coal-fired electric plants are being installed in large numbers.
Here in this country, coal use is declining in favor of cheaper natural gas, which has taken off as the preferred source thanks to the sudden expansion of fracking. And though fracking has its critics, natural gas has suddenly become widely available from the huge fields in Appalachia as well as the southern great plains.
Gas-fired plants meet environmental standards more easily than coal-fired, and are less expensive to build. The export of coal in large quantities via coal trains to our ports is not popular to environmental groups, but it has long-term economic significance.
And for us who live on the main line of the BNSF, we wonder what it would mean to see those long trains of coal.