The Otter Creek Valley in Southeastern Montana is known for its agricultural productivity, abundant wildlife, and rich history and cultural significance to Native American Tribes and the local ranching community. It is a place of rural farms and ranches and striking beauty.

 Otter Creek Coal Tracts

Otter Creek, Montana. Site of the proposed Otter Creek Coal Tracts. Photo courtesy of Kestrel Aerial Services, Inc. (c)

The Otter Creek Valley is also the site of the largest newly proposed coal strip mine in the United States, with approximately 1.3 billion tons of coal planned to be mined and burned. If approved, the Otter Creek coal tracts will have profound and unavoidable impacts on the agriculture, wildlife, water quality, and cultural significance of the Otter Creek Valley. When burned for energy, coal from Otter Creek would release over 2.5 billion tons of global warming pollution, further stressing our already overloaded atmosphere with additional carbon pollution.

Economic arguments for development of Otter Creek are overblown and misplaced. An economic critique prepared by Power Consulting identified that many of the economic arguments in favor of developing the Otter Creek mine have “focused exclusively on perceived benefits” and have not attempted to weight the benefits and costs associated with developing the Otter Creek Coal Tracts.

Arch Coal’s Application Process and the Otter Creek Coal Tracts

In July 2012, Arch Coal submitted an application to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s Coal and Uranium Program. Arch Coal plans to develop the coal strip mine within the decade and most likely will market the coal to Asia and the Pacific Rim. Because of the major environmental impacts associated with developing Otter Creek, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is also required to conduct a MEPA analysis. DEQ maintains a website with regular updates on Arch Coal’s application and the accompanying MEPA process.

The full application for a permit as well as updates on Arch Coal’s application can be viewed here.

Additionally, MEIC is closely following the process:

2 Responses to " Otter Creek Coal Tracts "

  1. […] market is reflecting this dramatic shift. Arch Coal (the company that would like to develop the Otter Creek tracts) stocks have plummeted from nearly $40 to $6.13. There are environmental and public health concerns […]

  2. […] The Otter Creek coal mine in southeast Montana will mine twice as much coal each year as the Montana DEQ says. Proposed expansions at Montana’s Spring Creek and Signal Peak coal mines will pay each new worker $523,257 and $483,740 respectively, while each existing worker at those mines only receive $88,857 and $75,763 respectively. All infrastructure needs from increased rail traffic for trains shipping coal to Asian markets can be paid for with state bonding and grant programs. […]

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