"Montana officials are proceeding cautiously with the $86 million Otter Creek Mine project now that developer Arch Coal has filed for bankruptcy.
At issue is whether the St. Louis-based coal company has the wherewithal to complete the environmental research necessary to open the mine. Facing $5 billion in debt and a sour coal economy, Arch Coal filed for bankruptcy Monday. An estimated 1.4 billion tons of minable coal are in the Otter Creek area.
State officials said they weren’t notified by Arch that the bankruptcy was coming, but the move wasn’t surprising. U.S. coal production has fallen to a 30-year low as cheap natural gas lures domestic customers away from coal, and export sales are crashing."