BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- The state of Montana and Arch Coal, Inc. will line up together in state court Tuesday against environmental groups seeking to derail company plans to mine a 1.3 billion ton reserve in the nation's most productive coal region.
St. Louis-based Arch, the nation's number two coal company, has paid $159 million to lease the Otter Creek reserves near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer backed the lease of the state's share of the reserves. Arch's plans include exporting the fuel to Asia.
Attorneys for the Sierra Club and other groups want state District Judge Joe Hagel to cancel the state lease. They want studies on mining impacts and how burning the coal could accelerate climate change.'
Arch also has leases with Great Northern Properties of Houston.