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Coal railroad plans on hold because of permitting delays for proposed Montana mine


HELENA, Montana — Plans to build a $400 million railroad to haul coal from a proposed mine on the Montana-Wyoming border have been put on hold.

The Tongue River Railroad Co. requested Wednesday that the Surface Transportation Board suspend the permitting process for the 42-mile line from the Powder River Basin to Colstrip.

The line would transport coal from the proposed Otter Creek Mine to U.S. markets and to West Coast ports for export.

Railroad officials say delays in the Otter Creek Mine permitting process led to the decision to suspend the Tongue River line.

The company is owned by BNSF Railway and Arch Coal, the proposed mine's owner.

BNSF spokesman Matt Jones says the partners will not move ahead until the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has issued a mine permit and any subsequent lawsuits are resolved.

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