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The Dickinson Press Top 10: No. 9: Proposed South Heart mine

Opponents of a coal mine attend a meeting.

As the year wraps up and we enter 2012, The Dickinson Press will take you through the top stories that filled its pages. Today we recall No. 9.

A proposed coal mine/power plant near South Heart met staunch opposition.

After three tries, the application for South Heart Coal LLC was deemed complete by the Public Service Commission on Jan. 10. The application had been denied due to deficiencies, mostly technical, such as typos.

The completed application was the beginning of a long journey to approval for Great Northern Project Development, the Texas-based parent company of South Heart Coal LLC.

After the application was approved, Great Northern filed a letter of intent to build a power plant, South Heart Energy Development LLC, next to its proposed 4,600-acre strip mine. The plant was proposed to be a $2.2 billion, 175-megawatt combined-cycle electric resource. The plan was to turn North Dakota lignite coal into hydrogen that is piped to turbines to create electricity.

Opponents worry about the environmental impacts of the mine and its proximity, roughly 13 miles, to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The impact on crops, livestock and its health impact are also concerns.

The PSC has not made any further decisions, but if it proceeds, construction would begin in the summer 2013.