Letter: Tongue River Railroad is unnecessary – Helena Independent Record, May 21, 2015

May 21, 2015

Categories: Agriculture, Coal, Landowner Rights, News


The Surface Transportation Board (STB) just issued its EIS for the Tongue River Railroad (TRR). The EIS provides the STB’s logic for this new railroad that would be built near Ashland and that would unnecessarily duplicate rail capacity to ship coal from the Powder River Basin.

A few threshold questions regarding whether the TRR is consistent with the public convenience and necessity are: Is there public need for a duplicative line? Is the TRR in the public interest? Would the TRR harm existing services?

The coal that is transported over the TRR from both Otter Creek and “induced” mines would simply displace other coal that already ships to mid-west and Asian markets or that will ship to those markets if the TRR is not built. Since Midwest electric plants already have coal supplies, why permit the use of eminent domain to take and to destroy Montana farms and ranches to duplicate existing coal supplies? How could Asia’s demand for coal, that takes Montana farm and ranch land by eminent domain, be in the public interest? Do Asian countries have eminent domain claims on Montana’s environment, its ranches and its farms?

As neither the Otter Creek coal mine nor the TRR are necessary, duplicative TRR capacity is not in the public interest and the STB should deny TRR’s filing to build a new and wasteful railroad line.

Michael Lee and Roxa Reller


220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154