WASHINGTON, June 14, 2017 - The Western Environmental Law Center has  filed suit on behalf of WildEarth Guardians and the Montana Environmental Information Center challenging the Interior Department’s decision to allow Cloud Peak Energy to expand the approved mining plan area at the Spring Creek Mine in Big Horn County, Montana.

The groups say despite being the largest coal mine in Montana and the largest strip mine in the nation outside of Wyoming, the mine has never been subject to a comprehensive environmental review under state or federal law. The groups emphasize that the approval of the mine expansion failed to disclose the climate implications of expanded mining, rail traffic and exports, and “failed to protect Montana’s public lands, air, and water.”

They also allege that the 100 million tons of coal to be mined by Cloud Peak was never legally sold to the company, as the official who signed the sale agreement was not authorized to do so.

“It’s absurd that the federal government has given the largest coal mine in Montana a free pass for decades,” said Derf Johnson, MEIC’s water policy director, in a statement. “Enough is enough. The federal government cannot continue to ignore the very real and serious impacts of climate change. Climate change is having disastrous consequences on our economy, our environment, and our way of life both here and abroad. It’s time the federal government did its job and followed the law.”