About the Project
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), Western Region Office, has prepared an environmental assessment (EA) for a Federal mining plan modification for the Spring Creek Mine (SCM) lease by Application (LBA) to Federal coal lease MTM 94378 (the Project). Federal coal lease MTM 94378 was issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in December of 2007. The DOI Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals (ASLM), in accordance with the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, approved SCM’s mining plan modification for federal coal lease MTM 94378 on June 27, 2012. SCM commenced mining in federal coal lease MTM 94378 in 2012 in accordance with its state mine permit and federal mining plan modification approvals, and mining and reclamation operations have been ongoing since that time in the approved permit area.
Because of a recent court decision, OSMRE is preparing this EA to reevaluate the environmental impacts resulting from the originally proposed and currently approved mining plan modification for Federal coal lease MTM 94378, pursuant to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). See January 21, 2016 order of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, in case WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement et al., Case 1:14-cv-00013-SPW (D. Mont.).
The SCM is located approximately 32 miles north of Sheridan, WY. The SCM uses a combination of dragline and truck shovel mining methods. The 2012 Spring Creek mining plan modification approval authorized surface coal mining, a production rate of up to 24 million tons per year. The mining plan modification approval resulted in 1,117.7 acres of Federal coal lease MTM 94378, and 428.3 acres of Federal surface land being included within the SCM. As of December 31, 2015, approximately 18.4 million tons of federal coal has been recovered from the MTM 94378 lease boundaries.
The EA updates, clarifies, and provides new and additional environmental information for the Project. As of December 31, 2015, approximately 18.4 million tons of federal coal has been recovered from MTM 94378 lease boundaries. As a result of the EA process, OSMRE determined there are no significant environmental impacts and has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The ASLM has reviewed OSMRE's recommendation and approved the mining plan modification, in accordance with the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920.