Montana Environmental Information Center

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{{#badges: CoalSwarm}} The Montana Environmental Information Center is a member-supported advocacy and public education organization. It was founded by concerned Montanans in 1973 to protect and restore Montana's natural environment.

Opposition to Governor Schweitzer's Otter Creek Position

On March 29, 2010 Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer stated that he will tie the release of frozen state grants to local support for Otter Creek coal tract leases in southeastern Montana. Schweitzer stated that he did not want "any community to use coal money that didn't want to use coal money."

"This money is supposed to be used for schools and he's trying to issue it as a slush fund to spread around the state to curry favor for his administration and essentially buy or blackmail communities' support for coal," said Jim Jensen of the Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC).

Wrote Schweitzer in a letter to community leaders, "The potential revenue from the sale of Otter Creek coal might allow for your project/projects to be funded. Please return a letter confirming that you ‘support the use of coal money for the completion of your project/projects."

Critics said that Schweitzer's tactics smacks of a Third World dictatorship.

Schweitzer reiterated this position across the state. "[If] coal is produced, the revenues generated are constitutionally required to go to support schools,"said MEIC. "That's true for the $86 million bonus bid as well. What the governor is doing with this strong-armed tactic, which is reminiscent of the typical Banana Republic dictator, is violating his constitutional duty to the (Coal) Trust. He has an absolute obligation and fidelity to the trust, and not to have what's known as divided interest."[1]

Earthjustice Sues State of Montana

On May 14, 2010 the Montana Environmental Information Center ("MEIC") and Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, took legal action to challenge the Otter Creek strip mine in southeastern Montana. The lawsuit filed in state court alleged that the state Land Board's decision to lease 572 million tons of coal in Otter Creek for mining, without first examining the potential environmental impact, "violated the state's constitutional and fiduciary obligation to prevent unreasonable environmental degradation."[2]

Targeted coal plant proposals

Group details

Location: Helena, MT
Group website: Montana Environmental Information Center
Contact: meic [at]



  1. "Schweitzer links state grants to support for Otter Creek coal deal" Kim Briggeman, Billings Gazette, March 29, 2010.
  2. "Groups Challenge Montana's Lease of 572 Million Tons of Coal" Earthjustice Press Release, accessed May 14, 2010.

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