Montana Delays Massive Coal Mine Proposal: Needs More Information from Arch Coal on the Proposed Otter Creek Mine


Otter Creek Valley, July 2014

Photo Credit: Alexis Bonogofsky (

Last week Montana Department of Environmental Quality put the brakes on Arch Coal's proposed Otter Creek Mine project. The agency says the proposal won't move forward until the company addresses hundreds of deficiencies in their permit application. Those deficiencies include Arch Coal's discussion of wildlife, hydrology, agriculture, reclamation, soils, the mine plan, and post-mine topography.

The original application for this proposed mine was submitted in 2012 and revised last year, and an accompanying environmental impacts study is currently underway and expected to be released for public comment in the coming months. Arch hopes to mine somewhere around 1.4 billion tons of coal from this project site, but a lot of folks think the proposed Otter Creek Mine is a horrible idea.

In addition to concerns about contributing to our global dependency on fossil fuels, the incredible amount of infrastructure needed to accompany this mine (a new railroad, among other things), and the destruction of a beautiful part of Montana's landscape to export coal to Asian markets such as China (a country that is trying to drastically reduce its coal dependency), Arch Coal's financials are in shambles. After Arch purchased the mineral rights for the proposed Otter Creek Mine in 2010 for around $86 million, the company's shares have dropped from $36 per share to below 90 cents as of last week.

We hope this coal stays in the ground permanently and the mine is never built. And while this delay is welcome news, the end result should still be no new massive coal mine in Montana's beautiful Otter Creek Valley.