EPA, Peabody try to work out issues over El Segundo coal mine permit

An appeals judge at the U.S. Environmental Appeals Board on Nov. 28 agreed to stay proceedings until early next year in an appeal brought by the Lee Ranch Coal unit of Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) over a reissued water permit.

On Sept. 30, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 6 reissued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to Lee Ranch Coal, which authorizes discharges from specified point sources at the El Segundo Mine into a tributary in New Mexico. Lee Ranch Coal filed a petition for review on Nov. 3, challenging two newly imposed permit conditions: a total dissolved solids effluent limit of 2,000 lbs/day; and a requirement to submit a Sediment Control Plan within six months of the permit’s issuance.

“By joint motion, the parties have requested a stay of the proceedings until February 27, 2015, to allow the parties to undertake settlement negotiations,” said the Nov. 28 order. “The parties indicate that they believe they may be able to resolve both issues LRRC raises in its appeal. The parties aver that this extension is reasonable and necessary given the need to schedule and hold meaningful settlement discussions over the upcoming traditional holiday season.”

The parties were ordered to file joint status reports with the board on or before Jan. 30, 2015, and on or before Feb. 27, 2015, informing the board of the status of the permit negotiations.

Said the Peabody website about this operation: “Located about 35 miles northwest of Grants, N.M., the Lee Ranch Mine supplies coal to power plants in New Mexico and Arizona. In 2008, Peabody opened the El Segundo Mine (which means ‘the Second’ in Spanish). The El Segundo Mine, adjacent to Lee Ranch, is the most productive U.S. mine outside of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, with a low overburden-to-coal ratio and access to equipment from other operations.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.