PNS Daily Newscast - April 18, 2019 

The DOJ and Bill Barr said to plan on Mueller time – without Mueller. Also on the Thursday rundown: The Keystone State considers cap and trade. Plus, the RECLAIM Act aims to invest in coal communities.

Daily Newscasts

Otter Creek Coal Bids – How Low Will They Go?

March 12, 2010

Helena, MT - Montana is still waiting to see if anyone will accept the lowered bid for the state's Otter Creek coal tracts. The State Land Board decision to lower the price from 25 cents per ton to 15 cents generated some controversy, and it will be discussed today at a meeting in Helena.

Recently-retired business owner Julia Page from Gardiner is one of those offering her opinion. She says she doesn't understand the big hurry to sell the coal, and would like to see the state postpone the offering.

"The coal will still be there and I would imagine be even more valuable. It's no time to sell it short and sell it cheap."

The likely bidder for the state's coal is Arch Minerals, which sent a letter to the land board saying the bid price was too high. Arch paid just 10 cents per ton for private coal in the same area.

If no bids come in for the new lowered price, it's possible the land board could set the bid even lower. Although much of the debate has been about price, Page says there are other issues for those who live and work near the coal tracts.

"They have a good ranching valley and don't want to see a railroad come through it to access this coal. They're very concerned over their water, and that's an issue."

Superintendent of Public Schools Denise Juneau was the only land board member to vote against leasing the tracts in the first place, and was joined by Attorney General Steve Bullock in voting against lowering the bid to 15 cents. She's a keynote speaker at the Montana Conservation Voters' annual meeting today at Shrine Temple in Helena.

Members of the Northern Plains Resource Council spoofed the possibility of lowering the bid further with a "how low can you go?" limbo demonstration earlier this week.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT