Press release: Otter Creek court decision ‘just one step’ – Oct. 23, 2012

October 23, 2012

Categories: Coal, Courts, News, Northern Plains Resource Council

By Northern Plains Resource Council

Groups that sued the State Land Board over the leasing of the Otter Creek coal tracts to Arch Coal in December 2010 see the Montana Supreme Court’s decision today regarding the Land Board’s lease as just one step in the long process to developing the largest new coal strip mine in the lower 48 states. Northern Plains Resource Council and the National Wildlife Federation were joined by the Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club in challenging the State Land Board’s lease of Otter Creek coal to St. Louis-based mining giant Arch Coal.

“This is just one step in a long process, but we’re going to fight this to the end,” said Walter Archer, a Powder River rancher, who spoke on behalf of the four groups. “We are heartened that the Supreme Court agreed with some of our concerns regarding the burning of coal and its effects on Montana’s air, water, and agriculture. But if the state agencies do the job they committed to during this lawsuit, then they will not approve Arch Coal’s mining permit, because the social, economic, and environmental impacts of mining and burning this much coal are simply too devastating.

“We oppose any large expansion of coal development, especially when the bulk of it is shipped to China,” Archer continued. “Agriculture and tourism are the state’s main industries, and the mining of coal could potentially destroy both industries. We question if the right approach is to reduce jobs in two industries in order to create jobs in another industry, especially when that industry isn’t sustainable.

“We hope the Land Board and state agencies are not willing to destroy surface waters and aquifers, and pollute our air in order to sell Montana coal to China, America’s economic competitor. This merely makes southeastern Montana an unwilling international sacrifice area for Asia. And that steels our resolve.”

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