(The following press release from the Montana Attorney General's Office 
was received by e-mail and was reformatted. The sender verified the statement.) 
STATE OF MONTANA                                                                 
FOR RELEASE:  October 23, 2012                                                   
Montana Supreme Court Upholds Land Board Decision to Lease Otter Creek Coal in 
HELENA - The Montana Supreme Court today upheld the State Land Board's 2010 
decision to issue leases for state lands located in the Otter Creek drainage to 
Ark Land Co., a subsidiary of Arch Coal, Inc. 
"As a member of the most productive Land Board in history, I have consistently 
advocated for responsible development of our natural resources," Attorney 
General and Land Board member Steve Bullock said.  "This decision preserves 
income for the school trust and paves the way for responsible oil, gas and coal 
development in Montana." 
A number of groups, including the Northern Plains Resource Council, the 
National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Environmental Information Center and 
the Sierra Club, had filed the appeal with the state's highest court, 
contending that the Land Board should have first conducted an environmental 
review under the Montana Environmental Policy Act. These groups contended that 
the leases were unconstitutional because they violated the Montana 
Constitution's guarantee of a right to a clean and healthful environment. 
However, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Mike McGrath, Montana's Supreme 
Court unanimously upheld a prior district court decision that the law exempting 
the Land Board from requiring an environmental review at the time a lease was 
approved, was constitutional, provided the lease was subject to permitting 
requirements later in the process. 
"Because the leases themselves do not allow for any degradation of the 
environment, conferring only the exclusive right to apply for State permits, 
and because they specifically require full environmental review and full 
compliance with applicable State environmental laws, the act of issuing the 
leases did not impact or implicate the right to a clean and healthful 
environment in Article II, Section 3 of the Montana Constitution," McGrath 
The court concluded that the leases granted by the Land Board simply gave the 
prospective operator "the opportunity to begin to prepare a complete 
application for a mining permit" and that any necessary environmental review 
and protections could be put into place at a later permitting stage, "all 
before any prospecting or actual development begins." 
CONTACT:  Judy Beck, 444-5774 or Jennifer McKee, 444-2031    
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