In December, Northern Plains joined Earthjustice, Montana Environmental Information Center, and the Western Environmental Law Center in filing a formal complaint with state and federal agencies against Signal peak Energy (Signal Peak), a criminally-convicted coal company operating an underground coal mine in the Bull Mountains just north of Billings, Montana. We filed our first complaint earlier this summer detailing the criminal behavior of Signal Peak. The new complaint directs the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation, and Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to put a stop to mining until Signal Peak meets the requirements of the law and its mining permit.
The complaint cites evidence of the mine’s repeated and ongoing damage to water sources that impact the livelihoods of local ranchers and residents, threatening the broader ecological viability of the Bull Mountains and surrounding area. In addition to damaging water sources, the complaint specifically addresses Signal Peak’s failure to reclaim springs damaged by its mine and failure to comply with permit requirements for assessing impacts to springs. The document also highlights the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s failure to enforce Signal Peak to abide by permit obligations and criteria in federal and state law around water replacement and monitoring.
“Time and again, this company has proven it is unwilling to follow the law or show any respect or decency to this community,” said Steve Charter, a member and Bull Mountains rancher. “Signal Peak has destroyed my wells, damaged and destroyed vital springs, and used underhanded tactics to disrupt my ranch and try to force me off of my land. Laws must be enforced, and this criminal activity must be stopped.”