Some of you last year may have written comments on the Tongue River Railroad, a Montana project backed by BNSF Railway and Arch Coal to haul coal from the proposed Otter Creek Mine.

That coal would have been hauled also through Sandpoint and Rathdrum on its way to West Coast ports.

Here’s the good news: Arch Coal has announced it would no longer seek a permit for the controversial Otter Creek Mine. That means the Tongue River Railroad project, too, is dead.

This comes shortly after Arch Coal filed for bankruptcy protection in January and the U.S. Department of Interior put a moratorium on new coal leases.  

Still, there are plenty of existing leases out there, and those that Arch owns can be sold. So while the market for coal is not good right now, it’s not dead.

Nor are all the coal export terminal proposals for the West Coast.

Coming up this spring is the release of the environmental impact statement for the Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export facility in Longview, WA. This port facility would export 44 million metric tons annually, resulting in as many as 18 trains per day traveling through North Idaho.

We can’t become complacent by betting on coal’s demise in the markets. So you’ll be hearing more about the Millennium Bulk Terminals project and an upcoming public hearing in Spokane on May 26.