State proposes approval of Otter Creek mine air quality permit, seeks public comment

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HELENA, Montana — Montana regulators are asking the public to comment on a proposal to grant an air-quality permit for the proposed Otter Creek coal mine near Ashland.

The state Department of Environmental Quality is taking public comment on Monday's preliminary decision until June 10.

DEQ spokeswoman Kristi Ponozzo says a final order will not be issued until a comprehensive environmental study is completed.

The proposed mine also must win regulators' approval of its mining and discharge permit applications.

The air-quality permit would allow coal production of up to 35 million tons a year on state-owned and private leases in the Powder River Basin.

The proposed mine's development also depends on the approval of a railway to bring the coal to market. Federal regulators are studying the Tongue River Railroad's potential environmental effects.

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