Feds approve 1.4B ton coal deal with Crow Tribe
Federal officials have approved plans by a Montana Indian tribe to lease 1.4 billion tons of coal reserves to a Wyoming company that's moving aggressively to expand its exports to Asia.
The deal between the Crow Tribe and Cloud Peak Energy involves more coal than the U.S. consumes annually.
Thursday's announcement that the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the project allows Cloud Peak to begin exploration on the Crow reservation.
Cloud Peak has pending agreements to ship more than 20 million tons of coal to Asia each year through proposed West Coast ports.
Officials in Washington and Oregon oppose those ports for environmental reasons. But federal officials say they plan only limited environmental reviews of the projects.