Peabody subsidiary, EPA report progress on dispute over water permitting

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 6 office and the Lee Ranch Coal subsidiary of Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) told the federal Environmental Appeals Board that they have met to try and settle issues over an EPA-issued water permit, but no settlement yet.

Lee Ranch had appealed to the board certain water permit conditions that EPA had imposed at its El Segundo surface coal mine in New Mexico. The board last November put the case on hold while the parties try to settle the issues.

In a Jan. 30 joint update, both sides told the board they they “have engaged in multiple telephone conversations from November 2014 through January 2015, and believe that such discussions to date have been constructive toward attempting to work out a resolution of the matter. Counsel for Region 6 has engaged and conferred with EPA Region 6 staff, as well as the EPA Region 6 Associate Director of the NPDES Permits & TMDLs Branch Director and the EPA Region 6 Director of the Water Quality Protection Division. The Parties will continue their efforts to resolve this matter, believing it remains a worthwhile alternative and an appropriate allocation of resources, and will file another status report on or before February 27, 2015.”

On Sept. 30, 2014, 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.

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.