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NEPA Projects and Documentation

OSMRE works in partnership with States, Tribes and other federal agencies to ensure the balance between protection of the environment and agricultural productivity and the Nation's need for coal as a source of energy.

Below is a list of recent Bureau activities.

Bull Mountains Mine No. 1 is located in Musselshell and Yellowstone Counties, Montana. Bull Mountains Mine No. 1 is an underground, longwall type mine. The mining plan modification permit area itself covers approximately 1,725 acres.

Background

On March 9, 2020, the Court identified a deficiency in OSMRE’s 2018 NEPA analysis, vacated and set aside the 2018 EA, and remanded the matter back to OSMRE for further action (see 350 Montana v. Bernhardt, Case 9:19-cv-00012-DWM, 2020 WL 1139674 (D. Mont. Mar. 9, 2020)). This EA was prepared to address the March 9, 2020 Court, ruling and satisfy OSMRE’s responsibilities under NEPA by analyzing the potential train derailments that may occur along the rail transportation route. In complying with those responsibilities, OSMRE did not reevaluate potential impacts previously analyzed as part of the 2018 EA. Rather, this EA specifically addresses the potential for train derailment along the rail transportation route, as ordered in the 2020 Court ruling. Because the 2018 EA thoroughly described the affected environment and potential impacts to the various resources, it is incorporated by reference in this EA.

Relevant Documents

Contact

For more information contact the OSMRE Project Manager:

Marcelo Calle
mcalle@osmre.gov
Telephone: (303) 236-2929

    The Center Mine is located in Oliver County, North Dakota. The Center Mine uses standard surface strip-mining procedures to mine private and Federal coal resources. Coal is currently mined from two permit areas: BNCR-1101 and BNCR-9702. The proposed Federal mining plan under consideration would mine coal in Federal lease NDM-102083 within the existing boundaries of Permit BNCR-1101. The North Dakota Public Service Commission issued Permit BNCR-1101 to BNI Coal, Ltd. in 2014. The permit boundary includes approximately 8,360.72 acres. The proposed Federal mining plan would allow mining of 1.69 million tons of coal within the 160 acre Federal coal lease.

    Background 

    The EA analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the No Action and Proposed Action alternatives. If a finding of no significant impact is reached, and pursuant to 30 CFR 746.13, OSMRE will prepare and submit to the ASLM a mining plan decision document recommending approval, disapproval, or conditional approval of the mining plan. The ASLM will approve, disapprove, or conditionally approve the mining plan approval document within the mining plan decision document, as required under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920.

    Relevant Documents

    Contacts

    For more information contact the OSMRE Project Manager:

    Elizabeth Shaeffer
    eshaeffer@osmre.gov
    Telephone: (303) 945-9532

      The Falkirk Mine is located in McLean County, North Dakota. The Falkirk Mine uses standard surface strip-mining procedures to mine private and Federal coal resources. Coal is currently mined from multiple permit areas. The proposed Federal mining plan under consideration would mine coal in Federal lease NDM-111489 within the boundaries of the existing permit areas. The proposed Federal mining plan would allow mining of up to 9.6 million tons of coal from 800 acres of Federal coal tracts.

      Background

      On October 30, 2019, the Falkirk Mining Company (Falkirk) submitted a Federal coal Lease-by- Application (LBA) for its Falkirk Mine to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Montana/Dakotas State Office and amended their application on June 8, 2020. The application requested emergency leasing; however, BLM determined that emergency leasing was not eligible under 43 CFR 3425.1-4. As a result, BLM will process the LBA under the competitive leasing guidelines per 43 CFR 3425.1-5. The BLM will be processing this application concurrently with the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE).

      BLM and OSMRE will jointly prepare a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document to evaluate the potential environmental effects of leasing and subsequent mining of the Federal coal tracts in accordance with NEPA, the National Historic Preservation Act, Endangered Species Act, and other applicable regulations. As co-leads in the development of the NEPA document, BLM and OSMRE will use the document to facilitate their respective permitting action decisions. BLM will use the document to determine whether to lease the tracts, and if the tracts are leased, OSMRE will use the document to support a Federal Mining Plan recommendation.

      The LBA addresses planned activities to lease and surface mine Federal coal at the Falkirk Mine located in McLean County, North Dakota. This application has been serialized - NDM 111489. The LBA Tracts include approximately 766 acres that contain approximately 9.6 million tons of recoverable coal, and are located as follows:

      If Falkirk obtains landowner consent on the remaining portion of the northwest quarter of Section 2 prior to posting of the lease sale, they may amend their application to encompass a total of 800 acres. Across the 800 acres, approximately 87.3 percent of the land surface is covered by cropland that is primarily used for spring wheat production. The remaining land surface is occupied by wetlands (5.9 percent), hay lands (1.6 percent), native grassland (1.2 percent), farmstead (0.5 percent), shelterbelts (0.4 percent), and rights-of-way (3.1 percent).

      BLM and OSMRE completed internal scoping and have identified preliminary analysis issues that will be evaluated in the NEPA document. Direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of mining federal coal will be evaluated for the following resources:

      Class III cultural surveys were completed for all areas within Falkirk’s existing permit areas as well as the proposed northern expansion area on the east permit. No prehistoric or historic cultural sites were identified on the federal coal tracts; mining the federal coal would have No Effect to cultural resources. Falkirk will work with the North Dakota Public Service commission to fulfill any state required consultation requirements for sites on private lands/private coal.

      Additionally, BLM evaluated the proposed action for Resource Management Plan (RMP) consistency and identified all or portions of several proposed tracts as unavailable for coal. These areas include 22 seasonal wetlands totaling approximately 21 acres and 14 temporary wetlands totaling approximately 5 acres that provide habitat for migratory birds (43 CFR § 3461.5). The NEPA document will detail the wetland mitigation and reclamation plan for these areas.

        Relevant Documents

        To view relevant documents, visit https://eplanning.blm.gov

        • Search for NEPA number "DOI-BLM-MT-0000-2020-008-EA"
        • Click “Documents”
        • Click “Comment on Document”

        Contacts

        For more information contact the OSMRE Project Manager:

        Logan Sholar
        lsholar@osmre.gov
        Telephone: (303) 960-5816

          The Freedom Mine is located in Mercer County, North Dakota. The Freedom Mine uses standard surface strip-mining procedures to mine private and Federal coal resources. Coal is currently mined from multiple permit areas. The proposed Federal mining plan under consideration would mine coal in Federal lease NDM-111186 within the boundaries of the existing permit areas. The proposed Federal mining plan would allow mining of up to 19.2 million tons of coal from 2,000 acres of Federal coal tracts.

          Background

          On May 17, 2019, the Coteau Properties Company (Coteau) submitted a Federal coal Lease-by- Application (LBA) for its Freedom Mine to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Montana/Dakotas State Office. The application requested emergency leasing; however, BLM determined that emergency leasing was not eligible under 43 CFR 3425.1-4. As a result, BLM will process the LBA under the competitive leasing guidelines per 43 CFR 3425.1-5. The BLM will be processing this application concurrently with the OSMRE.

          BLM and OSMRE will jointly prepare a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document to evaluate the potential environmental effects of leasing and subsequent mining of the Federal coal tracts in accordance with NEPA, the National Historic Preservation Act, Endangered Species Act, and other applicable regulations. As co-leads in the development of the NEPA document, BLM and OSMRE will use the document to facilitate their respective permitting action decisions. BLM will use the document to determine whether to lease the tracts, and if the tracts are leased, OSMRE will use the document to support a Federal Mining Plan recommendation.

          The LBA addresses planned activities to lease and surface mine Federal coal at the Freedom Mine located in Mercer County, North Dakota. This application has been serialized - NDM 111186. The LBA Tracts include approximately 880 acres that contain approximately 12.80 million tons of recoverable coal, and are located as follows:

          Coteau is currently working to obtain surface owner consent for several additional tracts. If consent can be obtained prior to the posting of the lease sale, Coteau plans to modify their application to include those additional tracts. The additional tracts comprise 1,120 acres containing approximately 19.2 million tons of recoverable coal and are located as follows:

          Combined, the proposed action (880 acres) and additional tracts (1,120 acres) comprise 2,000 acres containing approximately 32 million tons of recoverable coal. BLM and OSMRE completed internal scoping and have identified preliminary analysis issues that will be evaluated in the NEPA document. Direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of mining federal coal will be evaluated for the following resources:

          Additionally, BLM evaluated the proposed action for Resource Management Plan (RMP) consistency and identified a multiple use conflict. There is a woody draw with steep slopes located in T. 144 N., R. 89 W. Sec. 12, NW¼, SW¼ that was identified as a multiple use conflict in the 1988 North Dakota Resource Management Plan. Multiple use screens cannot be changed at the activity planning level without an RMP amendment (43 CFR 3420.1-4e(3)).

          Relevant Documents

          To view relevant documents, visit https://eplanning.blm.gov

          • Search for NEPA number "DOI-BLM-MT-0000-2020-007-EA"
          • Click “Documents”
          • Click “Comment on Document”

          Contacts

          For more information contact the OSMRE Project Manager:

          Logan Sholar
          lsholar@osmre.gov
          Telephone: (303) 960-5816

            The Mountain State Broadband Expressway (MSBE) project is an initiative of the Upshur County Regional Development Authority (UCDA) to address limiting factors for broadband proliferation in 20 counties in West Virginia and therein create needed infrastructure for economic development. The MSBE Project’s mission is to construct fiber-connected towers on or adjacent to Abandoned Mine Land (AML) sites to expand fiber resources into unserved and underserved areas to facilitate competitive providers’ offering of broadband services.

            Background

            A Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA), complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was published separately for the MSBE Project. The PEA also addresses the phasing of the site identification, environmental reviews for the specific construction activities, and references the development of this Programmatic Agreement (PA).

            Notice of Availability of Programmatic Agreement For Section 106 of The National Historic Preservation Act of 1969

            The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) Interior Regions 1 and 2—a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior—has prepared a draft programmatic agreement (PA) to comply with National Historic Preservation Act of 1969 (NHPA) Section 106 consultation procedures. This document applies to an Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Economic Development Pilot Program (AML Pilot Program) project, entitled the Mountain State Broadband Expressway (MSBE), proposed by the Upshur County Regional Development Authority (UCDA). The MSBE project is an initiative of the UCDA to address limiting factors for broadband proliferation in 20 counties in West Virginia and therein create needed infrastructure for economic development. The MSBE Project’s mission is to construct fiber-connected towers on or adjacent to AML sites to expand fiber resources into unserved and underserved areas to facilitate competitive providers’ offering of broadband services. OSMRE has prepared this PA to address the phasing of site identification and specific construction activities and to provide an overall process to evaluate and assess the historic, cultural, and tribal resources and any potential effects as the sites are located.

            The PA has been prepared in accordance with 54 U.S.C. § 306108 (Section 106) of the NHPA 54 U.S.C. §§ 300101-307108, the implementing regulations at 36 C.F.R. Part 800, and the Presidential Executive Order 13175, Presidential Memorandum on Tribal Consultation. Federal agencies are required to take into account the effect of their undertakings on historic and cultural properties and provide the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) a reasonable opportunity to comment on those effects. Pursuant to 36 C.F.R. § 800.16(y), an “undertaking” is defined as a “project, activity or program funded in whole or part under the direct or indirect jurisdiction of a federal agency”. For undertakings, such as the MSBE, for which Section 106 is applicable, OSMRE must complete the consultation process to comply with statutory requirements.

            Relevant Documents

            Contact

            For more information contact the OSMRE Federal Preservation Officer:

            Stephanie R. Hamlett
            shamlett@osmre.gov
            Telephone: (202) 208-2802

              The OSMRE, Regions 5, 7-11, will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Spring Creek Mine Mining Plan Modification for Federal Coal Lease MTM 94378 (the Project) as ordered by the US District Court in Montana.

              Details:

              The EIS will provide an update to the Spring Creek Mine (SCM) Lease by Application (LBA) 1 Mining Plan Modification EA (2016 LBA1 EA), which was published by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) on October 3, 2016. This EIS provides additional information that specifically addresses the February 3, 2021 Court ruling provided by the United States District Court for the District of Montana (the Court) in Guardians v. Bernhardt, No. CV 17-80-BLG-SPW (U.S. District Court of Montana 2021). The court order identified that the 2016 LBA1 EA failed to take a hard look at the following:

              • Indirect and cumulative effects of diesel emissions, noise, vibrations, and coal dust based on the final destination and routes of SCM coal shipments.
              • Indirect effects of non-greenhouse gas from downstream combustion emissions.
              • Effects related to the social cost of carbon.

              Most of the information provided in the 2016 LBA1 EA has not changed and, therefore, will be incorporated by reference in this EIS. This EIS will also incorporates by reference information included in the coal leasing EA for LBA MTM 94378 EA# MT-020-2007-34 (2006 LBA EA) which was prepared by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). OSMRE and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) were cooperating agencies on the 2006 LBA EA. The 2006 LBA EA was the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis document used by OSMRE to recommend approval of the 2012 SCM Federal mining plan modification. In addition to the 2016 LBA1 EA and 2006 LBA EA, the EIS will incorporate by reference information included in the Environmental Assessment for the Spring Creek Mine Mining Plan for Federal Coal Lease MTM-069782 (Spring Creek Mine TR1 EA) and the Bull Mountains Mine No. 1 Federal Mining Plan Modification EA for Federal Coal Lease MTM 97988 (2018 Bull Mountains EA).

              As a part of the planning process, OSMRE has initiated a 30-day scoping period on the proposal starting on March 17, 2022 and ending on April 18, 2022. Public scoping comments are being requested to identify any additional relevant issues concerning the mining plan modification that should be evaluated in the NEPA document. Scoping comments are most useful when they are specific, cite relevant issues and/or determine the extent of those issues. OSMRE will also hold a public scoping meeting to provide information about the mine plan modification and NEPA process and collect scoping comments from the public. Members of the public that plan to attend the public scoping meeting must pre-register at the following link: ZOOM Registration LINK. After registering, participants will receive an email with instructions and a link for joining the meeting. The meeting will be held on Thursday, March 31, 2022 from 4:00-6:00pm Mountain Standard Time. Members of the public may also call into the Zoom meeting by telephone using the phone number provided in the registration confirmation email.

              Anyone having difficulty registering or participating in a meeting should email lsholar@osmre.gov for assistance. Those unfamiliar with the Zoom virtual meeting platform can learn more by viewing the Zoom tutorials. You are invited to direct any scoping comments by mail to: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Attn.: Logan Sholar, Spring Creek Mine, PO Box 25065, Lakewood, CO 80225-0065, or by email: SCM_LBA1_EIS@wwcengineering.com. Comments must be received no later than midnight on April 18, 2022 to be considered by the agency.

              Comments received, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record for this project and will be available for public inspection. By including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your personally identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

              For more information contact the OSMRE Project Manager:

              Logan Sholar
              U.S. Department of the Interior
              Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
              lsholar@osmre.gov
              Telephone: (303) 236-6038

              All media inquires should be directed to:

              Office of Communications
              U.S. Department of the Interior
              Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
              osm-news@osmre.gov