OFFICE of SURFACE MINING
RECLAMATION and ENFORCEMENT

U.S. Department of the Interior

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For More Information:

Logan Sholar
Natural Resource Specialist
lsholar@osmre.gov
(303) 960-5816


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Falkirk Mine

Falkirk Mine

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.

  • Environmental Assessment

      The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) is seeking public input on the preparation of an environmental assessment (EA) that will analyze potential impacts from leasing and mining of up to 800 acres of Federal coal at the Falkirk Mine located in McLean County, North Dakota.

      Details:

      • Mine operator, Falkirk Mining Company, has submitted an application for a Federal coal lease at the Falkirk Mine in McLean County, North Dakota to eventually conduct surface mining operations that could produce 9.6 million tons of leased federal coal.
      • The proposed Federal lease may result in mining of 800 acres of Federal coal all under privately owned surface land.
      • The OSMRE and BLM have issued a Notice of Intent to conduct a 30-day public scoping period to obtain input on the analysis of potential impacts of leasing and mining Federal coal within an environmental assessment (EA).

      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 appliable 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:

      • Fifth Principle Meridian, McLean County North Dakota
        • T. 146 N., R. 82 W. Section 2 NW1/4, less approximately 34 acres around an occupied farmstead (125.74 acres).
        • T. 146 N., R. 82 W. Sec. 3, E½ (320 acres)
        • T. 144 N., R. 83 W. Sec. 24, SE¼; (160 acres)
        • T. 144 N., R. 84 W. Sec. 12, NW¼; (160 acres)

      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:

      • Air Quality (measured as concentration of criteria air pollutants regulated under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards – NAAQS and Hazardous Air Pollutants – HAPS, and Air Quality Related Values (AQRVs) such as visibility (haze) and atmospheric deposition
      • Combustion of greenhouse gases as it relates to climate change measured in terms of CO2e for both 20-year and 100-year global warming potentials
      • Surface and groundwater quality and quantity
      • Socio-economic effects, including changes to state and local taxes, royalties, fees, lease bids and bonuses, as well as payroll benefits as well as effects to Environmental Justice populations
      • Federally listed threatened/endangered species

      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.

      As a part of the planning process the BLM and OSMRE have initiated a 30-day scoping period on the proposal starting on August 17, 2020. Public scoping comments are being requested to identify any additional relevant issues concerning Falkirk’s application that should be evaluated in the NEPA document. These scoping comments are most useful when they are specific, cite relevant issues and/or determine the extent of those issues.

      Written scoping comments must be postmarked by September 17, 2020 to be considered.

      Electronic:
      Electronic comment may only be submitted via BLM’s e-Planning site as listed below; however, if you prefer to submit hard copy comments you can mail or hand-deliver during regular business hours (8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) to:

      https://eplanning.blm.gov
      Search for NEPA number "DOI-BLM-MT-0000-2020-008-EA"
      Click “Documents”
      Click “Comment on Document”

      Mail:
      BLM Montana State Office
      Branch of Solid Minerals
      Attention: Nathaniel L Arave
      5001 Southgate Drive
      Billings MT, 59101

      Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold, from public view, your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from organizations, from businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives of organizations or businesses, will be available for public review.

      After the scoping period, an EA will be prepared to analyze the proposals. BLM and OSMRE anticipate publishing an EA for 30-day public comment period sometime during the winter of 2020/2021. The EA will be posted on the BLM e-Planning website at https://eplanning.blm.gov, and locatable by conducting a “Text Search” for the NEPA number. General information regarding the project and associated NEPA process can also be found on the OSMRE Projects page.

  • Contacts

      For more information contact the OSMRE Project Manager:

      Logan Sholar
      Natural Resource Specialist
      Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
      U.S. Department of the Interior
      lsholar@osmre.gov
      Telephone: (303) 960-5816

      All media inquires should be directed to:

      Chris Holmes
      Public Affairs Specialist
      Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
      U.S. Department of the Interior
      cholmes@osmre.gov
      Telephone: (202) 208-7941

Page Last Modified/Reviewed: 8/27/20

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240
(202) 208-2565 | TTY: (202) 208-2694 | Email: getinfo@osmre.gov


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