The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will publish in the Dec. 14 Federal Register a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate the potential impacts of four proposed actions related to coal mining at Cloud Peak Energy‘s Spring Creek surface coal mine in the Powder River Basin in Big Horn County, Montana.
The proposed actions involve the potential sale of two tracts of federal coal through a Lease-By-Application (LBA) and a lease modification application (LMA). Both applications cover proposed additions to an existing federal coal lease at the Spring Creak Mine. Related to these leasing requests, the EIS will also evaluate proposed amendments to an existing land use permit to maintain access to mine monitoring and gauging stations and an existing land use lease to provide room for the placement of overburden and infrastructure.
This Dec. 14 notice initiates the public scoping process for the Spring Creek Coal EIS. Public scoping meetings to provide the public with an opportunity to review the proposals and gain understanding of the coal leasing process will be held by the BLM. Comments are due within 60 days of Dec. 14.
Spring Creek Coal LLC (SCC) submitted four applications to the BLM, Montana State Office in 2012 and 2013. The four applications are:
- In February 2013, SCC submitted LBA MTM 105485 for the Spring Creek Northwest and Spring Creek Southeast tracts. The LBA encompasses approximately 1,602.57 acres (containing approximately 198.2 million mineable tons of coal) adjacent to the Spring Creek Mine.
- In December 2012, SCC applied for a lease modification to federal coal lease MTM 94378, for the Spring Creek Northeast tract, consisting of about 170 acres (containing approximately 7.9 million mineable tons of coal) adjacent to the Spring Creek Mine. On May 9, 2016, the application was modified to reduce the tract acreage to 150 acres. If approved, the acreage covered by the LMA would be added to the existing lease.
- In December 2013, SCC submitted an application to amend land use permit (LUP) MTM 96659, adding 175 acres to the permit and removing 320 acres currently included within the permit that overlap the Spring Creek Southeast LBA tract. The LUP amendment would maintain access to mine monitoring areas and gauging stations by utilizing existing two-track roads and trails.
- In December 2013, SCC submitted an application to amend non-competitive land use lease (LUL) MTM 74913, adding 255 acres to the existing lease and removing approximately 195 acres that overlap the Spring Creek Southeast LBA tract.