- Associated Press - Thursday, March 10, 2016

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on Arch Coal’s decision to suspend its application to develop the Otter Creek coal mine. (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is defending his administration’s handling of a major coal mine proposed near the Wyoming border after its sponsor shelved the project.

Arch Coal, Inc. said Thursday the Otter Creek mine faced hurdles including an uncertain outlook for obtaining a permit. The St. Louis-based company filed for bankruptcy protection in January.

Bullock said in a statement that the state had waited for more than a year for Arch to re-submit its mining application. Regulators in March 2015 had raised concerns over Otter Creek’s potential to harm water supplies.

Republican Greg Gianforte, who hopes to challenge Bullock this fall, accused the Democratic governor of refusing to issue a permit to Arch.

Montana Department of Environmental Quality Director Tom Livers says it was up to Arch to take the next step in the process.


10:30 a.m.

Arch Coal is suspending its plans to develop a major coal mine in southeastern Montana two months after the industry giant filed for bankruptcy protection.

The St. Louis-based company on Thursday cited a weak coal market and an uncertain permitting outlook in announcing it was suspending its application for the proposed Otter Creek mine.

Otter Creek would have extracted up to 20 million tons of coal annually from state-owned and private leases south of Ashland near the Wyoming border. Plans to build a $400 million railroad to the site were suspended last year.

The mine proposal already was more than three years behind schedule. It faced strong opposition from nearby landowners, members of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and conservation groups.

The company’s reserves at Otter Creek hold an estimated 1.5 billion tons of coal.

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