USA’s second-largest coal producer, Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI), has drawn protests from activists and locals after announcing it had applied for a permit in Montana to begin tapping its massive Otter Creek coal strips.
The group, reports AP, occupied the state Capitol on Monday for a week-long event that intends to persuade elected authorities to block future development leases.
"Is what they are asking me, is to give Arch Coal their $86 million back?" said Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who chairs the Land Board and leaves office at year's end. "The Land Board has made its decision."
A study conducted by The University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, commissioned by the Montana Contractors Association, estimates the development of Otter Creek would create 2,648 jobs during the peak year of the construction.
As the mine becomes operational, it is expected to create about 1,740 new permanent jobs and increase Montana household income by $125.4 million per year. These jobs include increased rail operations across the state.
The National Mining Association estimates Montana’s reserves are close to the 75 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves, almost as much as all of the other Western states combined, even though it produces just 4.1% of the coal mined in the USA.