Will crewmembers be given free M&Ms?

Published: July 21, 2011

A 130-mile coal railroad, long in the planning stage to stretch from Wyoming into Montana and likely connect with BNSF, is about to be purchased in part by the billionaire whose family controls the candy giant producing M&Ms, Mars bars, Milky Way, Snickers, Skittles, Twix and other confections. 

Forrest E. Mars, Jr., reports the Great Falls Tribune, will purchase from BNSF and Arch Coal one-third of the proposed Tongue River Railroad, which has been mired in legal challenges by environmentalists and ranchers. Mars owns what The New York Times once described as “a sprawling cattle ranch” in Montana.

Mars, who has been funding some of the legal challenges, is said by the newspaper to be buying into the railroad so as to change the route of its construction to the satisfaction of some who oppose it.

The proposed railroad would haul coal north from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin through Montana to electric utilities in the Midwest.

The newspaper reports that the deal between Mars, BNSF and Arch Coal will not stop opposition.

In 2008, Mars lost a court challenge to halt exploration and drilling for natural gas on his ranch.