Land Board Delays Otter Creek Coal Leases Decision

by jhwygirl

This is in follow-up to a previous post.

Somewhat surprisingly if only for who made the motion, the State Land Board voted to delay decision on the Arch Coal Inc. leases of the state’s Otter Creek coal holdings for 30 days to allow for additional time for public comment regarding the leases.

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch made the motion. McCulloch has been a vocal supporter of the Otter Creek coal project since her days as State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Does this signal weakening support for the leases? At least from what any local citizen can see here at either the city or county level, when approval is expected to go south, elected who support a project will often make a motion to return the thing back to committee rather than face a death-knelling vote. Delaying the vote is usually a last ditch effort to try and solidify an affirmative vote.

Was McCulloch sensing the vote heading south? Time will tell.

Lee Newspapers Mike Dennison first story on the vote made mention of the massive amounts of carbon dioxide that will be released into atmosphere should the 1.3 billion tons of coal be burned. His second story on the vote provided information from the two counties that provided proponent testimony on the project, which included Powder River County Commissioner Don McDowell – who is also listed as Treasure of the Montana Association of Coal and Gas Counties.

Given there are 30 more days, those interested might want to go back to my previous post which links to many great resources on the subject of Otter Creek. For some related stuff around these parts, you can search “Tongue River” “coal” and “sequestration” for additional information concerning issues of Otter Creek, coal production and the water quality and quantity degradation that it brings to Montana and the residents of the Tongue River.

If coal could be shown to be clean, I’d be fine with it. It’s not, though. The EPA, until recently, exempted carbon dioxide from NEPA analysis when permitting coal-fired plants. Montana’s CO2 output is increasing.

With less of a market for coal and with rising CO2 outputs in the state – and aren’t we supposed to be going green or something? Isn’t would that what the Good Governor campaigned on back in 2004? – why would we facilitate the extraction and consumption of more coal and CO2? Isn’t that bass ackwards considering that it is 2009 and “renewable” and “sustainable” are the names of the game now?

There are many factors here where public comment and testimony depart from the economic analysis done last fall (prior to the EPA decision regarding coal-fired plants). The leases are based upon that older analysis that is in dispute. Certainly, given that this is one of the largest leases ever put out by the state ever, a thorough, accurate and timely analysis is in order.

Let’s hope that the additional 30 days provides all with sufficient time to more thoroughly look at all factors surrounding the Otter tract leases to determine whether it is what proponents are saying it’s going to be.

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  1. Big Swede

    Palin is coming to Billings December 8th.

    When she signs my books I’ll ask her how she was so successful in developing Alaska natural resources and if she can help jump start these projects.

  2. Perhaps you could ask Palin why the State of Alaska keeps so much of the tax revenue that is earned from Federal land? I know, you could ask her how the Alaska secession movement is coming along!

  3. Coal is not clean, coal power is not clean, and coal mining is not clean: We should NOT be expanding the dirty-energy infrastructure. Step by step, decision by decision, we should be going clean and creating clean-energy jobs in the coal counties when the wind blows mightily.

  4. Big Swede

    I was looking for a place to put this.

    It fits perfect here.

  5. Big Swede

    What we need is more wind turbines.

  1. 1 More Reasons Why Montana Otter Not the Coals Leases on Otter Creek « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] state Land Board is currently mulling an additional 30 days over the coal leases in the Tongue River drainage (the Otter Creek coal leases), giving members […]

  2. 2 Will Otter Creek Coal Become More Corporate Welfare? « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] readers may recall that the Land Board, after delaying the vote in November, went ahead and approved the leases (sans Denise Juneau’s vote), back in […]




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