"If you do the math, it's somewhere in the magnitude of three or four times as much rail traffic as we're experiencing now," said Ed Gulick, a Billings architect who has worked with the Northern Plains Resource Council to block the coal shipments.
The federal Surface Transportation Board said it would study the full environmental impacts of delivering the coal at Otter Creek to market. Arch Coal, the developer at Otter Creek, has said it's too early to say where any coal will be sold.
Clint McRae traveled to Seattle in December to testify at an Army Corps of Engineers hearing. Much of the crowd was adorned in the usual green get-ups: A man was dressed as a polar bear, and several people hoisted a giant inflated asthma inhaler. Then came a tall, somber man in boots and a Silverbelly cowboy hat.
"My name is Clint McRae. I have a ranch just south of Colstrip, Mont. My family's lived on this ranch and ranched in that valley for 125 years," he said, his long frame bending over to reach the microphone. "I want to make it absolutely clear: I am vehemently opposed for a private, for-profit corporation to use eminent domain to condemn my private land for a rail line to export coal to China."