‘People’s Hearing’ held for proposed Tongue River Railroad – KTVQ TV, June 4, 2015

June 4, 2015

Categories: Agriculture, Climate change, Coal, Landowner Rights, News, Northern Plains Resource Council



By David Jay

BILLINGS – The proposed Tongue River Railroad in southeastern Montana that would haul coal from Otter Creek near Ashland is now going through the environmental review process.

But a group of environmentalists and land owners say the federal government has ignored their concerns.

The Surface Transportation Board has not scheduled any public meetings in Billings.

The Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council and Northern Plains Resource Council held what they called a “People’s Hearing” to comment on the proposed railroad Wednesday night at the Billings Public Library.

Six people said it’s best to not build the railroad because of the problems they anticipate with coal dust, noise, traffic and safety in Billings.

Rancher Clint McRae said a railroad would cut off access to water and make it difficult to move his cattle.

According to McRae, land owners concerns should have been addressed in the the draft.

“The process is to figure out what the least amount of impacts are,” McRae said. “And then pick an alternative based on that, rather than picking one after the process is over. The Environmental Impact Statement is being treated as a formality, not as it was intended, to protect people like me and my neighbors. We believe that federal eminent domain in this case is an abuse of eminent domain and we’re going to resist it.”

The Surface Transportation Board in its draft EIS stated that the railroad and transportation of coal would have a minor impact.

The board will hold a several public meetings:

  • June 8, 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm at the St. Labre Indian School, 1000 Tongue River Road, Ashland
  • June 9, 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm at the Miles City Community College, Room 316, 2715 Dickinson Street, Miles City
  • June 10, 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm at the Colstrip High School, 5000 Pinebutte Drive, Colstrip
  • June 11, 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm at the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Building, Council Chambers, 600 South Cheyenne Avenue, Lame Deer
  • June 12, 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm at the Forsyth High School, 917 Park Street, Forsyth
  • Northern Plains will hold two more of its People’s Hearings:
  • June 4, Missoula 5:30-7:30 pm Charles Clapp Building, Room 131 University of Montana
  • June 16, Helena 5:30 pm Lewis and Clark Library, 120 S. Last Chance Gulch
220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154