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Montana News

Feds Dismiss Tongue River Railroad Permit

Coal train
(PD)
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Feds Dismiss Tongue River Railroad Permit

The federal government has dismissed the permit for the controversial Tongue River Railroad. That’s the $400-million-dollar project that would have hauled coal from a proposed southeastern Montana mine that never got off the ground.

Opponents, like local rancher and irrigator Mark Fix, celebrated today’s ruling by the Surface Transportation Board. The railroad would have crossed about three miles of his property southwest of Miles City.

"We’ve been fighting this ever since we bought the ranch in 1991. They had the power of eminent domain. They could come and essentially take the land, even if we didn’t want them to come (here)."

Tongue River Railroad backers suspended their application last fall.

The 42 mile line would have served the Otter Creek mine which was eventually scrapped by the now-bankrupt Arch Coal Company.

The Surface Transportation Board didn’t hand the rail opponents a complete victory. It rejected their bid to permanently block the company from re-applying for a permit.

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