Tongue River Railroad says Arch Coal bankruptcy doesn’t affect its project

The Tongue River Railroad Co. (TRRC) on Jan. 15 filed with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board a notice that one of its owners, Arch Coal, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Jan. 11 in the U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

The Arch Coal subsidiaries filing under Chapter 11 include Otter Creek Coal LLC, the applicant before the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for a coal mining permit for the Otter Creek surface mine in Montana, which would be served by the planned Tongue River rail line.

The railroad told the board: “TRRC understands that the Chapter 11 filings are intended to facilitate the restructuring of debt, and that both Arch Coal and Otter Creek will continue to conduct business in the ordinary course during the Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings.

“In that regard, the filing of the Chapter 11 petitions by Arch Coal and Otter Creek Coal does not change the status of TRRC’s rail construction and operation application under consideration in this proceeding. TRRC continues to request a decision by the Surface Transportation Board on its November 25, 2015 Petition to Hold this Proceeding in Abeyance pending the issuance of a judicially-affirmed permit authorizing development of the Otter Creek coal mine. TRRC further understands that the filing of the voluntary bankruptcy petition does not affect the status of the Otter Creek mine permit application before the MDEQ and that mine permit application remains pending.”

The TRRC has been working at the board since 2012 on approval for a realignment of a planned rail line originating at two points in the Montana end of the Powder River Basin, including an origination at the planned Otter Creek surface mine of Arch Coal, with the line extending 42 miles to an interconnect with the BNSF Railway. Arch, together with the BNSF and TRR Financing LLC, owns Tongue River Holding Co. LLC, the parent of TRRC.

In July 2012, Otter Creek Coal filed an application with MDEQ for a permit that would allow it to develop the Otter Creek mine under Montana’s Surface and Underground Mine Reclamation Act. This permit application remains pending.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.