House panel approves Northern Cheyenne coal swap

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Associated Press

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 12:03 PM

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A proposed coal swap involving Montana's Northern Cheyenne Tribe has been approved by a U.S. House committee despite concerns raised by the panel's ranking Democrat.

The Committee on Natural Resources on Thursday approved the Northern Cheyenne Lands Act by a voice vote.

The measure from Montana Republican Rep. Steve Daines seeks to fix a mistake made in 1900, when the government expanded the Northern Cheyenne reservation but failed to acquire the underlying minerals.

Houston-based Great Northern Properties would get 112 million tons of publicly-owned coal in exchange for giving the tribe an estimated 117 million tons of coal beneath the reservation.

Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio says there's no way to know if the exchange is fair because the value of the properties has not been assessed.

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