"HELENA, Mont. -- Montana's top elected officials backed a plan Monday to put vast tracts of coal up for lease, bucking pressure from environmentalists who say digging up and burning the fuel will be an "abomination" that endangers the planet.
The Montana Land Board said it will demand top dollar for the coal and expects private companies to place bids on the massive project within the next couple of months. Observers said the state may be asking too much.
The decision comes shortly after a private company that owns intertwined tracts leased its rights to Arch Coal Inc. of St. Louis. The Land Board said it wants two-and-half times as much for an upfront bonus than Great Northern Properties received."
Matt Gouras reports for the Associated Press December 22, 2009.