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By Amy Beth Hanson, AP News


HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal agency failed to adequately analyze the environmental harm that could be caused by increasing the size of a southeastern Montana coal mine that feeds a nearby power plant before approving an expansion permit, U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan has ruled.

Cavan’s findings, released on Feb. 11, recommend that the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement correct its violations of the National Environmental Policy Act within a year or the court should revoke the June 2019 permit to expand the Rosebud Mine near Colstrip.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters in Billings must approve Cavan’s recommendation for it to take effect, the Montana Environmental Information Center said.

MEIC and others filed a lawsuit in November 2019 arguing that the federal Environmental Impact Statement issued for the proposed mine expansion only generally acknowledged the mine would contribute to long-term cumulative impacts on surface water along with the soil disturbance at the mine site.

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