Government Says ‘No’ to Tongue River Railroad

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The Surface Transportation Board Tuesday dismissed Tongue River Railroad Company's application to build the proposed Tongue River Railroad. According to the Northern Plains Resource Council, the railroad had intended to use the power of federal eminent domain to construct the railroad through family farm and ranch land in southeastern Montana with the objective of hauling coal from Arch Coal’s proposed Otter Creek mine to Asian export markets.

The Surface Transportation Board’s ruling comes in response to filings from both Northern Plains and the Tongue River Railroad Company, which is jointly owned by Arch Coal, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Forrest Mars Jr. Last November the TRRC requested that the Board put a hold on the application indefinitely.

In December, Northern Plains requested that the Board dismiss the application, citing TRRC’s reason for requesting a stay was to put off a decision during a weak coal market. Since that time, Arch Coal has entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and has declared that they are no longer pursuing a permit for the Otter Creek Mine, as the bankrupt company lost the lease to half the Otter Creek coal several months ago.