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Victory on the Tongue River Railroad means it time to stop working on the defunct Otter Creek Coal mine

Yesterday something truly momentous occurred. After more than 30 years, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board agreed to put the final stake through the heart of the Tongue River Railroad. (HOORAY!) The proposed railroad was most recently slated to haul coal from the ill-conceived Otter Creek coal mine to west coast export terminals where it would be shipped and burned overseas.

If the Surface Transportation Board can accept that there will be no railroad to haul the coal, the state of Montana must come to grips with reality and stop wasting taxpayer resources studying the potential effects of a mine at Otter Creek. Please tell Gov. Bullock to stop wasting government resources by studying a mine that will never be permitted.

Arch Coal, the bankrupt mine developer, doesn’t even have the right to mine the area any longer. Arch relinquished the leases on a major section of the mine site back to the previous owner when it couldn’t pay its bills. It even told the state it was suspending all permitting activity for the mine. Now, without a railroad to move the coal out of the area, there can be no mine.

Tell Gov. Bullock, enough is enough. It’s time to spend state resources thinking about the future and clean energy, not desperately grasping at ghosts from the past.

The victory on the Tongue River Railroad was brought about by thousands of people in Montana and the region who worked to protect property rights, water quality, family farms and ranches, and to tackle climate change. A special thanks goes to the landowners who spent decades fighting the proposal, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and a number of passionate and committed lawyers including Jack Tuholske, Jenny Harbine with Earthjustice, and Carrie La Seur.

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