Basin Electric pitches in against federal stream protection rule for coal mines

Basin Electric Power Cooperative said Oct. 30 that it submitted comments to the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) on Oct. 26, backing North American Coal Corp.‘s position on a proposed rule that could adversely affect coal mines.

The proposed Stream Protection Rule adds several new environmental requirements to coal operators mining near streams and includes measures to monitor and assess ongoing impacts to the streams. OSMRE was taking comment on the proposal until Oct. 26, with the final version of the controversial rule to be issued in a few months.

According to the National Mining Association, between one-fourth and two-thirds of total U.S. recoverable coal reserves would become uneconomic under the rule due to constraints placed on surface and underground mining, Basin Electric noted.

Coteau Properties Co., a subsidiary of North American Coal, owns and operates the Freedom Mine, located near Beulah, N.D. Coteau sells the lignite coal from the mine to Basin Electric subsidiary Dakota Coal Co., which is responsible for fuel supply to Basin Electric’s Antelope Valley Station and Leland Olds Station, along with supplying the feedstock to create synthetic natural gas and related chemical products at Dakota Gasification Co.’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant.

“As a G&T cooperative with a robust coal-based fleet, we are extremely concerned with the new restrictions in OSMRE’s proposed Stream Protection Rule,” wrote Mark Foss, Basin Electric senior vice president and general counsel. “Stated simply, any rule affecting North American Coal also affects Basin Electric.”

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.