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Environmentalists seek more Otter Creek hearings

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 14, 2013 at 6:57 pm •  Published: January 14, 2013

"You don't have to be at a meeting to comment," Stone-Manning said. "Because this request came so deep into the public-scoping process, we're going to stick to our timeline."

DNRC spokesman John Grassy confirmed there would be no additional meetings.

The public-comment period on the scope of the review runs until Feb. 4. The entire environmental impact statement review typically takes between 12 and 15 months, but is dependent upon how much public input there is and what the agency finds along the way, Stone-Manning said.

Montana leased 572 million tons of coal reserves to Arch Coal. in 2010 for $86 million and future royalties. Arch Coal applied for a strip mining permit in August to develop the Otter Creek mine.

An estimated 20 million tons of fuel would be hauled from the mine each year. Much of that coal would be transported to the West Coast for export to Asia.

An application to build the Tongue River Railroad, which would connect the coal fields to the existing rail network, is under review by the Surface Transportation Board. Opponents of that rail line want the federal agency to review the impacts of the railroad beyond Montana to the states it will pass through for export from the West Coast.