Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic
Protecting Montana Citizens and Ranchers from Harmful Effects of New Coal Mining Activities
In conjunction with Professor Jack Tuholske, the Clinic represents the Northern Plains Resource Council and others in an ongoing effort to prevent harmful development of coal resources in Montana's Powder River Basin. Previously, the Clinic participated in challenging the State of Montana's granting of the Otter Creek coal lease to a subsidiary of Arch Coal, Inc., the second largest coal producer in the U.S.
The Clinic has also been involved in challenging efforts to construct and operate a railroad that would serve the Otter Creek mine and other proposed coal mines near Ashland, Montana. Arch Coal, BNSF Railway Company, and billionaire Forrest Mars are major investors in the railroad, which is a critical link for Arch to transport sub-bituminous coal out of the Powder River Basin to an existing BNSF line that connects with northwest shipping terminals. In April 2013, the Clinic helped draft and file comments with the Surface Transportation Board opposing the proposed railroad. In the comments to the STB, the Clinic argued that the railroad's application is legally flawed and showed that there is essentially no domestic or foreign demand for coal that would be transported by the railroad.