Land Board shrugs off coal protest's request
HELENA — The weeklong coal protest at the Capitol doesn't seem to be having much impact on the state officials in charge of leasing the state's resources for development.
The protesters generally oppose coal development, but specifically want the Land Board to reject development of the massive Otter Creek coal tracts despised by environmentalists who argue its use will irrevocably harm the environment.
The board of five statewide elected officials decided in a split 2010 vote to lease the coal to St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc. for $86 million up front — and Gov. Brian Schweitzer says the issue is settled. He says the state has no places to give Arch Coal its money back.
None of the other elected officials on the Land Board say the protests have changed their mind.