Montana Land Board To Make Decision On Coal Reserve Monday

BILLINGS, (AP) - State officials say the Montana Land Board will vote Monday on whether to put up for lease a half-billion ton coal reserve near the Wyoming border - a
politically charged decision for Governor Brian Schweitzer and the four other Democrats who make up the panel.

Mining the state-owned reserve could lead to the release of vast quantities of greenhouse gases when the coal is burned, but royalties could boost the state's cash-strapped coffers.

A Land Board vote to proceed would spark a backlash from
environmentalists who supported the Democrats in last year's
election. A vote against would leave the administration open to charges of economic obstructionism.

The board has grappled with the issue for years. Officials including Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, who sought a one-month delay in November, say the time for a vote has come. She would not predict the outcome.

The Health Nut
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