Arch Coal submits second permit application for the Otter Creek mine, withdraws it, then resubmits another one
Here is a quick update for folks following the proposed Otter Creek mine. (#1 is background for #2 and #3, #4 is just common sense). 1. In 2012, Arch Coal submitted an application to acquire a permit from the state of Montana to mine coal in the Otter Creek Valley, a couple years after they leased the coal tracts. In bureaucratic speak, what they submitted is called a "permit application." It was a shit permit application. Arch Coal left out entire sections, had poor baseline data and did not come close to meeting the basic requirements laid out in Montana law. It is sort of like if you wanted a drivers license and went to the DMV and only answered 1/3 of the questions and then said, "I'll come back and take the rest later, just give me my license." The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reviewed the permit application told them that it was "deficient" and that they needed to resubmit. 2. In October of 2014, Arch Coal finally resubmitted their permit application. Once again, DEQ looked at it and apparently found a lot of problems with it. It wasn't in the correct format and didn't have the appropriate cross references to Montana Code Annotated (among other issues that I would love to hear about). DEQ told them they had to withdraw it voluntarily and submit something that the staff could actually review or else they'd have to deny them the permit. DEQ did not announce this publicly. They informed Arch Coal of the problems with the application privately. 3. In November of 2014, Arch Coal reworked their permit and withdrew the older one (see #2) on the same day they resubmitted the new one which you can find here. In my opinion, they withdrew and submitted the new one on the same day to avoid negative press about their shoddy work. The staff at DEQ should be more transparent with the public about what goes on behind closed doors and announce to the public why Arch Coal had to withdraw their second one. 4. Oh, and Arch Coal's stock is trading at around $1.93/share as of today. Maybe it isn't a good idea to give a coal mine permit to a company that is near bankruptcy. Just a thought.
Otter Creek Valley. Photo taken July 2014.