Daines eyes lifeline for coal mines at center of legal, climate fight

By Hannah Northey | 05/24/2024 01:41 PM EDT

New legislation would force the administration’s hand in approving mine expansions.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) introduced legislation Thursday to secure the expansion of coal mine operations in his state. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines introduced legislation Thursday to advance a coal project in his home state that’s at the center of an ongoing regulatory and legal battle pitting the mine’s operator against the Biden administration.

Daines and his Republican colleagues have for months been pushing the Interior Department to complete environmental reviews for a trio of coal mines — including Signal Peak Energy’s underground Bull Mountains mine — about 30 miles north of Billings.

The lawmakers have said the mines will run out of coal by September and be forced to shutter if they can’t expand — closures that will be difficult to reverse and cost jobs in rural parts of the state.


Biden officials in recent congressional hearings have said the scrutiny comes from courts requiring agencies to take a deeper look at environmental impacts.