BILLINGS — Montana environmental regulators want more information on a proposed Otter Creek coal mine after finding deficiencies in an application for the project.

St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc. is proposing a mine that would extract up to 20 million tons of coal a year from state-owned and private coal leases south of Ashland.

A related project, the Tongue River Railroad, would be built to link the mine to potential markets.

Regulators detailed shortcomings in portions of Arch's application that covered hydrology, mine operations, reclamation, wildlife and plant studies, and other topics. The company will need to provide answers before the project can proceed.

Ed Coleman, bureau chief of the industrial and energy minerals division of the Department of Environmental Quality, described the finding as routine for a new mine application but added that Arch's proposal was complicated by its location in the Otter Creek watershed.

Typically, mines are located in dry areas, he said.

"There's more water to deal with than what we normally deal with on the rest of our mines," Coleman said.

Arch has no deadline to respond to the request for more information.

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"...Arch's proposal was complicated by its location in the Otter Creek watershed."

I ask you, where in this day & age is a coal mine's location not "complicated"? Let's try not to harass this company too bad shall we, we could certainly use the economic boost, not to mention the jobs.

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