"Controversy is swirling in Montana after the governor, Brian Schweitzer, requested in a letter sent to local officials that they voice support for 'coal money' from a proposed new mine in exchange for receiving funds to build roads and other infrastructure projects.
'Please return a letter confirming that you ’support the use of coal money for the completion of your project/projects,’' reads the governor’s letter, which he circulated to a number of counties around the state.
Environmental groups reacted to the letter with fury. 'Governor Schweitzer hasn’t been able to win public sentiment for his proposed coal mine, and now he seems to be trying to extort support from county officials,' said Brad Hash, a Sierra Club representative in Montana.
The governor’s actions are linked to the the leasing of state-owned lands in southeast Montana for coal mining. Earlier this month, the state’s Land Board narrowly approved leasing the lands, in an area known as Otter Creek Valley."
Kate Galbraith reports for Green Inc. in the New York Times April 1, 2010.