Otter Creek coal potential untapped

2012-04-03T18:10:00Z 2012-04-03T22:35:11Z Otter Creek coal potential untappedBy JAN FALSTAD jfalstad@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Oil may have been king at this Montana Energy 2012 conference, but Patrick Barkey, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana in Missoula, focused on the state's coal future.

He unveiled a survey of the potential impacts of developing the Otter Creek coal tracks near Ashland, a study financed by the Montana Contractors Association.

The Otter Creek tracts could produce 20 million tons per year of coal, which could boost personal income in Montana by nearly $104 million per year, a 6 percent increase for Eastern Montana residents.

Demand in China will drive Otter Creek's fate, Barkey said, and strong coal demand just from China leads to "gee whiz numbers."

"The projected increase in coal from today to 2035 is twice what the U.S. currently produces," Barkey said. "Clearly, China is going to demand coal from somewhere."

During two years of construction, Otter Creek would provide 2,648 construction jobs and cost $600 million to $1 billion to build the Tongue River Railroad, the mine, buildings and power infrastructure.

However, port facilities at Vancouver, Wash., are full and another loading facility is needed to handle Montana coal, said economist Paul Polzin, the bureau's director emeritus.

"New ports are absolutely critical to shipping Powder River coal overseas," Polzin said.

"They are being proposed, but there is stiff opposition."

 

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More from the Gazette

Council to vote on annexations on Monday

January 26, 2015 12:15 amLoading…
Dinner planned to help Ethiopian street children

Dinner planned to help Ethiopian street children

January 26, 2015 12:00 am Photos

Photos

Loading…
Missing Edgar man found dead on Saturday

Missing Edgar man found dead on Saturday

January 25, 2015 2:10 pmLoading…

A little windy, but great weather ahead

January 25, 2015 10:34 amLoading…
Driver hurt in early morning wreck in Mountview Cemetery

Driver hurt in early morning wreck in Mountview Cemetery

January 25, 2015 6:52 am Photos

Photos

Loading…
From tragedy to recovery: A Billings man's journey home

From tragedy to recovery: A Billings man's journey home

January 25, 2015 6:00 am Photos

Photos

Loading…
Cold spell leaves Billings' Rimrocks covered in ice

Cold spell leaves Billings' Rimrocks covered in ice

January 25, 2015 12:00 am Photos

Photos

Related Loading…

Follow The Billings Gazette

Popular Stories

Get weekly ads via e-mail

Deals & Offers

Featured Businesses