The Tongue River Railroad would haul about 20 million tons of coal annually from a planned Arch Coal Inc. strip mine near the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Opponents say the $416 million railroad would spur more mining along the railroad's path in Montana, Idaho and Washington. They allege the railroad's owners "intentionally played down the scope of the project by saying it would haul an average of 7.4 full and empty coal trains a day," which counts only Arch's initial mine plan, Brown reports. Another rail line proposed as part of the Tongue River plan would create access to other coal fields in the region, with at least one other mine proposed in that area.
BNSF Railway Co., the railroad company that would build and own the Tongue River line, has acknowledged potential for additional mines along the railroad's path, but it said it only counted coal coming from one mine for the proposal because it's the only one that's currently pending, Brown reports. (Read more)