by Anne Hedges
It’s a good day for water quality, a good day for property rights, and a great day for Montana’s future!
Today, after years of speculation, Arch Coal officially ended its bid to open the largest new coal mine in the United States. The proposed Otter Creek mine would have resulted in the digging and burning of over a billion tons of coal from the Otter Creek Valley. The mine would have resulted in the release of 2.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when the coal was burned.
Market forces have been pressuring the coal industry in recent years, and Arch Coal, along with numerous other coal mining companies, have entered bankruptcy in the last year. Arch Coal wanted to weaken State water quality standards and imperil the economically lucrative and sustainable agriculture in the area. This is a good day for clean water, private property rights, and Montana’s farmers and ranchers, who will no longer live under the cloud of a devastating strip mine.
Although this news was inevitable, it’s a relief that this day has finally arrived. People in the area have been worried about this mine and the Tongue River Railroad for decades. They can now breathe a giant sigh of relief that their water and property rights are no longer jeopardized. They can go back to farming and ranching, which has proven to be sustainable and economically viable for over 100 years.
MEIC is also relieved for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe that has valued the beautiful Otter Creek area since long before white settlers arrived. We are happy for the agricultural producers that have been fighting the Tongue River Railroad for generations and who were worried that the mine would destroy their water and their livelihoods.