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ND coal mine foes say it will hurt farming, water

DICKINSON (AP) -- Opponents of a proposed coal mine near South Heart in southwestern North Dakota say the operation would damage water supplies and hurt the region's farm economy.

North Dakota's Public Service Commission is holding a hearing in Dickinson on Tuesday to take public comments about the project.

The South Heart Coal company wants to develop a 4,600-acre coal mine to supply fuel for a power plant that would be built nearby.

Retired soil scientist Stephen Merrill says mining facilities would be built in locations that could damage surface and ground water.

Mary Hodell's parents ranch near the mine site. Hodell says once the mine plows through some local farms and ranches, they'll be gone forever.

South Heart Coal official Rich Southwick says the land will be able to be reclaimed.

See Wednesday's Dickinson Press for more on the story.