The ancient concept of USUFRUCT in civil law has been defined as "The right of enjoying a thing, the property of which is vested in another, and to draw from the same all the profit, utility and advantage which it may produce, provided it be without degrading or altering the substance of the thing."
This concept can be applied to the property currently owned by SSA-Marine and proposed for use as a large coal export terminal. As owner, SSA is certainly entitled to the beneficial use of this property. But, what about properties nearby and otherwise inextricably connected due to the necessity of transporting the coal to and from the proposed GPT facility?
These include the mining sites in Montana; the railroad routes likely to carry coal to GPT; the public & private rights of way which the trains must traverse; the water bodies which must be crossed to convey the coal to its intended Asian markets; the soil, water and air likely to be harmfully impacted by the mining, transport, handling and eventual burning of the coal, among others.
These connected soils -including coal- already have natural and useful purposes, including agriculture and vegetation, sites for human occupation and use, ancestral sacred history, and the like.
The connected waters also have highly beneficial uses, for irrigation, human consumption, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, transport of valuable cargo and humans, and ecological purposes we are only beginning to fully understand.
The air -essential to human life- will be tangibly degraded and global climate impacts will accelerate, with the greenhouse gases associated with every step in the mining to burning process.
These natural resources -air, water and soil- belong to everyone in common and should not be allowed to degrade solely because of commercial interests. We, the public owners, need to have a forceful voice in deciding whether the GPT coal export scheme really serves our collective interests well enough to allow it to proceed.
Each of these public resources contains significant usufructuary value and should not be arbitrarily degraded without the express consent of the public impacted.
Please see to it that the potentially harmful impacts to the soils, waters and air belonging to us all are carefully documented and evaluated thoroughly before any decision is made to approve any part of the GPT application.