This morning, March 18, Montana Land Board officials opened the door to more coal mining in eastern Montana by signing off on an extension of the Bull Mountain coal mine located in Musselshell county.

"Most of that coal is federally owned coal, but there was a 640 acre tract of state-owned coal," said Montana Attorney General and Land board member Tim Fox. "Of course, the land board has to make decisions on developing state resources. The vote was 5 - 0, all of the land board members, both the four democratic land board members, and myself, the republican voted to approve it.

Fox says the mine will bring a lot of money into Montana

"It's estimated that it will bring in, in the next nine years or so, 127 million dollars of royalties and tax income to Montana," Fox said. "That doesn't include the income to the federal government, which I might note, could use a little money. There's also 325 employees at the Bull Mountain mine and they collectively have about 40 million dollars in salaries and benefits that they earn."

Although the vote was pretty significant in terms of increasing coal production, there were no big anti-coal mining demonstrations and only about ten people showed up to voice their support or opposition to the new mine.