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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Freedom Mine

Freedom Mine

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.

  • 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 2,000 acres of Federal coal at the Freedom Mine located in Mercer County, North Dakota.

      Details:

      • Mine operator, Coteau Properties Company, has submitted an application for a Federal coal lease at the Freedom Mine in Mercer County, North Dakota to eventually conduct surface mining operations that could produce 19.2 million tons of leased federal coal.
      • o The proposed Federal lease may result in mining of 2,000 acres of Federal coal all under privately owned surface land.
      • o 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 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 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 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:

      • Fifth Principle Meridian, North Dakota
      • T. 146 N., R. 86 W
        • Sec. 30, NE¼SW¼M
        • Sec. 36, N½N½SE ¼
        • 80 acres in Mercer County, North Dakota
      • T. 145 N., R. 86 W.
        • Sec. 02, SE¼NW¼, E½SW¼, SW¼SW¼
        • Sec. 04, Lot 2, S½NW¼, SW¼SW¼
        • Sec. 06, Lots 3 thru 5, SE¼NW¼
        • 480 acres in Mercer County, North Dakota
      • T. 144 N., R. 89 W.
        • Sec. 12, NW¼, SW¼
        • 320 acres in Mercer County, North Dakota

      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:

      • Fifth Principle Meridian, North Dakota
      • T 146 N, R 86 W of the 5th P.M.
        • Section 32: E½ E½
        • Section 36: NE¼, SW¼
        • 480 acres in Mercer County, North Dakota
      • T 145 N, R 86 W of the 5th P.M.
        • Section 04: Gov Lots 3, 4
        • 80 acres in Mercer County, North Dakota
      • T 145 N, R 88 W of the 5th P.M.
        • Section 32: SW¼, NW¼
        • 320 acres in Mercer County, North Dakota
      • T 145 N, R 88 W of the 5th P.M.
        • Section 02: SW¼, W½ SE¼
        • 240 acres in Mercer County, North Dakota

      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:

      • 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
      • Prehistoric and historic cultural sites, particularly known National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligible sites.
      • Federally listed threatened/endangered species

      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).

      As a part of the NEPA process, the BLM and OSMRE have initiated a 30-day scoping period on the proposal starting on August 15, 2020. Public scoping comments are being requested to identify any additional relevant issues concerning Coteau’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 14, 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-0000-2020-007-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
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