BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A judge has blocked a proposed 176 million-ton (159 million-metric ton) expansion of an underground coal mine in central Montana because federal officials did not consider its climate change impacts.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said that officials inflated the economic benefits of the 11-square mile (28-square kilometer) expansion of Signal Peak Energy's Bull Mountain coal mine while ignoring its environmental impacts.
The judge's order, issued Monday, bars Signal Peak from mining in the proposed expansion area pending further studies.
Molloy says the Office of Surface Mining must consider the environmental effects of shipping the fuel to customers in Asia and pollution generated in burning the fuel.
Signal Peak Vice President Joseph Farinelli says the company is reviewing the ruling and it will not immediately affect operations. The mine near Roundup employs more than 250 people.