You all should avoid getting your panties in a wad on this issue.
One of the first issues to address is the geology of the coal in the tract. Arch will have to figure out how deep in the ground it is, the thickness of the coal, the number of mineable seams etc. Based on the surface geology, the coal is probably faulted, meaning that you might have a good seam at 50 ft for a ways and then the coal drops 30 ft so that it is now 80 ft below the surface. That change in elevation has to be addressed in the mine plan. It also affects the strip ratio which has a bunch of economics attached. It will probably take 1-2 years just to get the drilling and geology done.
There are numerous baseline studies for vegetation, soils, alluvial valley floors, hydrology, wetlands etc that have to be completed before MT DEQ will issue a mining permit. And that is just for the mine. The baseline surveys and permit will take at least 2 years to get into place.
The railroad will require a wetland delineation and permit. Best case, the wetland field work will take survey most of a year. Who knows how long it will take the ACOE to review and issue a permit. The railroad will also require a T&E survey which will take 2 years.
So mining or a railroad is realistically 5-7 years off. And that is without the involvement of the Powder River Resource Council.
Yes, IF the TRR is built it will haul coal from Wyoming. But this is more about economics than some conspiracy. BNSF operates common carrier railroads. It order to obtain the funding for this project it has to have a lot of traffic. It is not cost effective to build a 80 mile spur for a mine that will produce 8-10 million tons of coal per year.
There are 4 things that should be done in the placement of the TRR:
1. Keep it out of the alluvial river valley as much as possible. BNSF wants a 1% grade, so it will need to be on flat ground, but there is no reason it has to run through the middle of cropland
2. The TRR corridor should be fenced.
3. They should install many box culverts that will minimally disrupt ranching operations.
4. They should build bridges for the landowners across the river.
Long story short, the land board to a step forward but there is a very long way to go before this project is operational.
Coal is 19th century technology and mighty expensive to obtain and use.
That is plain ignorance. Come to Gillette and look at a 21st century coal plant. It is the cheapest source of energy available.