Montana, one of the last great areas of open land in the United States, is the centre of a controversy over the strip-mining of coal.
LV ZOOM BACK TO GV Cowboy on Montana range
LV Ranch land (2 shots)
GV & SV Top earth stripped away (2 shots)
GV Countryside PULL BACK TO stripped land
GV Coal layer blasted
SCU Coal dug up & into containers
GV Steam generator being built (2 shots)
GV Rock pile, PULL BACK TO countryside
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Background: Montana, one of the last great areas of open land in the United States, is the centre of a controversy over the strip-mining of coal.
The state's giant coal reserves are in great demand. Almost sulphur free, the coal is the kind of clean-burning fuel electric power companies need to meet new, strict anti-pollution laws.
The miners strip away the surface soil to get at the thick seams of coal People in the state oppose strip mining until coal companies can prove the land won't be harmed.
Coal companies argue that some environmental damage is the price paid for the badly-needed coal.
SYNOPSIS: Montana is prized as one of the last great open areas of the United States. But its picturesque range land is the centre of controversy over another prized resource just under the surface -- billions of tone of coal.
The giant coal reserves are in great demand because they are almost free of sulphur. This makes the coal the kind of clean-burning fuel needed by big city electric power companies to meet new, stricter anti-pollution laws. The coal is in seams up to 50 feet thick just under the surface and coal companies are applying for mining leases all over the area to start stripping away the top soil to get at it.
The future of the land depends on whether top soil is buried or replaced. The companies say it will be replaced properly.
Some people oppose strip-mining unless the coal companies guarantee the land will not be harmed. The companies say some land damage is the price paid for the badly-needed coal.
Two giant steam generators are being built on the mining site, to burn the coal on the spot and put out electricity. Now, the coal is shipped out for use in major centres. In future the companies plan to turn the coal into natural gas and liquid petroleum before it leaves Montana.