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Otter Creek and Tongue River Community Newsletter


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Keep updated on the proposed Otter Creek coal mine and Tongue River Railroad.

Keep updated on the proposed Otter Creek coal mine and Tongue River Railroad.

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  • 1. InsideCoal IndustryNewsImportant Updateson the proposedOtter Creek coalmine and TongueRiver RailroadEnvironmental andHealth impacts ofcoal miningTongue River &Otter CreekNewsCOMMUNITY NEWSLETTERLastest news on the proposed Otter Creek coal mine and Tongue River RailroadMay 2013
  • 2. Arch Coal likes topretend that theOtter Creek coalmine is a done deal.Click here to learnwhy it will never bebuilt.On April 13, 2013 the state of Montanasent Arch Coal a 41-page permit defi-ciency notice. What this means is thatArch Coal’s permit application that theysubmitted to has a myriad of problemsthat they must fix before the DEQ willaccept the permit application.Arch Coal submited incomplete data,changed Montana’s administrativerules to meet their own needs anddidn’t include entire sections that arerequired by Montana law.“It appears that in some instances,OCC (Otter Creek Coal Co.) recitesthe applicable rule verbatim, and inother instances, modifies or omitsrule language. “DEQ also states, “It is DEQ’s opinionthat after eight years of mining at 20million tons per year, OCC will have alarge area of disturbance and little orno reclamation.”There are a number of major issueswith their permit as indicated by theletter.• Arch Coal changed the languageof the state of Montana’s laws andcodes throughout the applicationto lessen their commitment re-quired by the rules.• They did not include a Cultural Re-sources Mitigation Plan which isrequried by Montana Law.• They did not include a ReclamationPlan. DEQ states that they must“commit to plans and actions, notstate what is required.• They did not include a Fish andWildlife Conservation Plan.• They did not submit liability insur-ance.• They did not submit companyownership information.• They did not submit the Mine Safe-ty and Health Administration num-ber.• In some cases, Arch Coal adds thewords “where feasible” to Mon-tana’s regulations. DEQ states thatOCC has again added the qualifi-er, ‘where feasible’ to the permitlanguage in the following para-graph (17.24.631(3)(b). OCC’sversion of ARM 17.24.631 is notacceptable and must be modi-fied: there is no ‘where feasible’provision in the rule.”• Arch Coal ignored other water re-search done by experts in the OtterCreek valley.This is just a small sample of the majorproblems found in Arch Coal’s permitapplication.If you would like to read through theentire permit you may download acopy at this web address: Coal has a lot of work to do in or-der to follow Montana laws concerningmining and reclamation.Arch Coal’s PermitApplication DeficientThe State of Montana returns Arch Coal’s Otter Creek’s permit application tothe coal company citing 41 pages of Deficiencies.A 2010 study by theClean Air Task Forceestimated that airpollution fromcoal-fired powerplants accounts formore than 13,000premature deaths,20,000 heart at-tacks, and 1.6 mil-lion lost workdaysin the U.S. each yrcosting over $100billion annually.did youknowthat ?2 Protecting the historic, cultural and environmental resources of southeastern Montana.
  • 3. Arch Coal, the company who is proposing the Otter Creek mine and who is a co-owner of the Tongue River Railroad Com-pany is in the news a lot lately. It is worth knowing more about the company who is trying to set up shop in Montana:their financial situation, their record on labor issues and their environmental practices. Just click on the headline to betaken to the news article.Arch Coal Loses $70 Million in First QuarterArch Coal Agrees To $575,000 Fine After Clean Water Act ViolationsMine Workers Plan to Protest Arch Coal’s MeetingsArch Coal Loses WidenMontana regulators want more information on Arch coal mine proposalScheme? Patriot Coal MessArch Coal: Walking DeadFaltering China Demand Hangs over Asian CoalStudies show a correlation between coal-related air pollutants and stroke. Coal pollutants also acton the nervous system to cause loss of intellectual capacity, primarily through mercury. Research-ers estimate that between 317,000 and 631,000 children are born in the U.S. each year with bloodmercury levels high enough to reduce IQ scores and cause lifelong loss of intelligence.For the full report by the Physicians for Social Reponsibilty go here: More You KnowARCH COAL“Arch Coal’s balancesheet is highlyleveraged and muchof its cash flows overthe next several yearswill likely have to bediverted to service itscrushing debt load.”- Morning StarFinancial Report,March 2013did youknowthat ?3
  • 4. The TRR has been hangingover the heads of southeasternMontana residents for over 30years now. The railroad was abad idea when it was first pro-posed and is a bad idea now.People have spent decadesof their lives fighing this rail-road. They have sacrificedtheir health, time with theirfriends and family and experi-enced increased stress worry-ing that their livelihoods, his-tory, culture and environmentwill be damaged irreversibly.Tribes and landowners arebeing asked to participate inthe same process that has nev-er worked for them or treatedthem as equal to the railroad.If the public process worked,this proposal would have beendead and buried long ago.The Failure oftheTongue RiverRailroad’s PublicProcessIt’s also important to know who is trying to build a coal train through the Tongue Rive Valley,across important historical and cultural sites, wildlife habitat and bisecting farm and ranch land.The More You KnowTongue River Railroad Co.(i.e. BNSF, Arch Coal and Forrest Mars)Click Here For Full ArticleExcerpt: “But Buffett has a problem—a coal problem. In addition to itssolar and wind operations, MidAmerican Energy Holdings relies on coal forroughly half of its 18,000-megawatt generating capacity. Buffett’s BNSFRailway Company derives a quarter of its $20 billion in annual revenuesfrom transporting coal, and it lobbies aggressively on the industry’s behalf.Berkshire Hathaway is one of the very few major U.S. companies that don’tdisclose their greenhouse gas emissions, and it has opposed shareholderswho ask it to do so.Nowhere is Buffett’s green reputation taking more of a beating, though, thanin a remote and sparsely populated corner of southeastern Montana. Ranch-ers, Native Americans, and Amish farmers there are fighting to preservetheir livelihoods and landscapes, which are threatened by what, if developed,would be one of the biggest coal strip mines in the West. And shipping allthat coal to West Coast ports would be Warren Buffett’s BNSF Railway.”Click here to read aboutWarren Buffett’s Coal Problemby Marc Gunther.4 Protecting the cultural, historica and environmental resources of southeastern Montana
  • 5. During the three-day meeting, Tribal repre-sentatives from the Northern Cheyenne, Ogla-la Lakota, Rosebud, Yankton, Standing Rock,Cheyenne River, Crow Creek and Crow dis-cussed their concerns about how the TongueRiver Railroad will impact thier cultural andhistoric resources in the Tongue River Valley.Tribes agreed that they would like to extendthe timeframe of the Draft EnvironmentalImpact Statement, and want to conduct theirown TCP study of the region that would befunded by the project proponents indepen-dently of the hired consulting firm, ICF Inter-national.Monthly consultation calls are held withTribes, landowners, government agencies andhistoric preservation experts.If you would like more information on howto get involved in the Section 106 process.Please email IndustryNewsSection 106 ConsultationProcess onTongue RiverRailroadOn April 16 -18, 2013, the Surface Transportation Board held the first face-to-face Consultation meeting with Tribes who have cultural and historicresroources in the path of the Tongue River Railroad.From around the countryOfficials with the Surface Transportation Board in-formed participants of the meeting that they weretrying to get the Draft EIS done by the Fall.This timeframe is completely unrealistic sincesurvey work just started recently. Any wildlifebiologist will tell you that they need at least two tothree years to accurately measure wildlife popula-tions in a region. In addition, hundreds of thou-sands of acres burned in southeastern Montanalast fire season. Wildlife data collected this springand summer will not be an accurate reflection ofthe species density or type. STB needs to workon their own timeline and not be pressured by theTongue River Railroad Company.Fast Tracked Timeline for the TongueRiver Railroad Draft EIS!Haystack Coal Mine Shuts DownCiting poor market demand for coal, thenew Haystack Coal Mine project northof Evanston, Wyoming has been shutdown — even before it, or the road un-der construction to reach it — could becompleted. - Unita County HeraldL.A. City Council Votes to moveLos Angeles Away from Coal PowerIn a major step toward ending the city’sreliance on coal by 2025, the Los AngelesCity Council on Tuesday approved a far-reaching plan to amend its agreementwith the Intermountain Power Project inUtah to convert it to renewable energy.- Daily NewsThe decline of U.S. CoalA recent report from the Energy Infor-mation Administration found that U.S.plant owners and operators are gettingready to retire 27 gigawatts’ worth ofcoal generation. - Washington PostArch Coal Set Back in Fight Over MineA three-judge panel at the U.S. Courtof Appeals for the District of ColumbiaCircuit unanimously said the Environ-mental Protection Agency could revokea permit for the mine, known as SpruceNo. 1 - Wall Street Journal5 Protecting the historic, cultural and environmental resources of southeastern Montana
  • 6. Environmental Protection Agency ApprovesNorthern Cheyenne TribalWaterQuality StandardsOn March 21, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency approved theNorthern Cheyenne Tribe’s request to implement Tribal Surface Water QualityStandards. This is a first for any tribal nation in the country. Northern Cheyennestandars are seperate and more stringent standards than the state of Montana orFederal standards. This process took years to get through but they were finally ap-proved by the EPA last month.This is an important step in protecting the water resourcesof the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. For a copy of the SurfaceWater Quality Standards, please go to: Coal GatheringFor more information, please email ecocheyenne@gmail.comOver 250 people showed up to the Boys and Girls Club in Lame Deer, MT on March 20,2013 to voice their opposition to the development of the Otter Creek coal tracts andTongue River Railroad. Tribal dignitaries from the Yakama Nation, Southern Cheyenne,Oglala Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Berthold spoke of how coal and energydevelopment is impacting their land and culture and statements of solidarity were readfrom the Coast Salish Gathering.A traditional Cheyenne meal was served. Partipants plan to come together again soonto create a strong alliance between the Northwest Tribes who are fighting coal exportsand the Northern Cheyenne and allies fighing for the homelands.6
  • 7. photo by Paul K. Andersonphoto by Paul K. Andersonphoto by Paul K. Andersonphotos by Paul K. An-derson 7
  • 8. What’s Next?Both the Tongue River Railroad Company and Arch Coalare trying to acquire permits from the government tomove forward with their projects.It is important to remember that neither company has apermit. And even if they get one, it doesn’t mean that themine or railroad will be built.Upcoming Activities:Monthly ecoCheyenne meetings in Lame Deer.District Meetings about the social, environmentaland cultural impacts of coal development.Field Trips to the Otter Creek valley.Solar Photovoltaic Training in Lame DeerTabling at community eventsPlease email to learnmore and get on a mailing list.