Tongue River, Montana. Photo by Paul K. Anderson.

Tongue River, Montana. Photo by Paul K. Anderson.

When it rains it pours. There are two actions you should take today if you want to say NO to turning the Otter Creek valley into a massive open pit coal strip mine to feed demand for dirty coal in Asia.

1. The Tongue River Valley is under threat from a proposed railroad intending to ship coal to Asia. Comments to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) are due Friday, Jan. 11th [Docket No. FD 30186].

2. The State is holding public hearings on what issues it should study as it moves forward with permitting Arch Coal’s massive Otter Creek coal mine. The hearings will be held in Broadus, Ashland, and Lame Deer, on January 16 and 17. The comments period is open until Feb. 4th.

On December 17, two months after submitting an application for a new rail line, and after all of the public hearings, the Tongue River Railroad submitted a new application to the Surface Transportation Board. The new application makes it perfectly clear, this coal is intended to go through the proposed west coast terminals and off to Asian markets. The newest route would build the railroad from Otter Creek to existing rail lines in Colstrip.

Please tell the STB that this is a VERY bad idea. [Docket No. FD 30186]

The proposed Tongue River Railroad and Otter Creek Mine are dependent on each other. Arch Coal leased 1.3 billion tons of coal in the Otter Creek area. It has told the state it wants a permit for an even larger area, over 18,000 acres in total. If that coal is dug up and hauled off, the inevitable burning of the coal will result in over 2.6 billion tons of greenhouse gases going into an already overloaded atmosphere.

Suggested comments:

  • This last minute bait and switch should not be tolerated.
  • That because of the new route, it should reopen the public comment period and hold a hearing in Colstrip.
  • To analyze the devastating effects climate change will have on Montana and the nation and to analyze harm to existing agricultural operations and livelihoods of people along the new route.

Please take action today! Comments MUST be either filed by Friday, January 11, through the STB e-filing system using Docket No. FD 30186, or by Postal Mail:

Ken Blodgett
Surface Transportation Board
395 E Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20423-0001
Environmental filing, Docket No. FD 30186

Who Owns the Tongue River Railroad? Burlington Northern, Arch Coal, and billionaire Forrest Mars, Jr. Forrest Mars, Jr., who fought the railroad to protect his ranch but once he acquired an ownership interest in the railroad, and protected his land, he supported the railroad and is willing to risk other landowner’s property and livelihoods — landowners who have actually been on the land for multiple generations.


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