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Apr 20, 2011 5:57 PM by Associated Press

61 million tons of Montana coal up for sale

BILLINGS - Federal authorities say they plan to sell leases on more than 61 million tons of coal in central Montana.

The Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday that the leases on 2,680 acres near Roundup will be auctioned in a competitive sale this summer. The coal reserve is just east of Signal Peak Energy's Bull Mountain mine.

The sale would open an additional 72 million tons of private and state coal reserves to potential mining.

The BLM says an analysis of the lease sale determined it would have no significant impact on the human environment.

But Jeremy Nichols with Denver-based WildEarth Guardians says burning the fuel would release more than 220 million metric tons of the climate-changing greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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