About the Project
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), Western Region Office, prepared a supplemental environmental assessment (EA) and unsigned finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the Section 10, Falkirk Mine mining plan for Federal coal lease NDM-107039 (the Project). In accordance with the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (MLA), The DOI Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management (ASLM) must approve the Project before any mining and reclamation can occur on lands containing leased Federal coal.
The Falkirk Mine is located in McLean County, near Underwood, North Dakota. The Federal Coal Lease Tract NDM-107039 is located in east ½ of section 10, Township 146 North, Range 82 West, McLean County. The BLM held a competitive sale for the NDM-107039 lease on October 17, 2017, which was awarded to The Falkirk Mining Company; the effective date the lease was issued is January 1, 2018. Once a coal mining operator obtains the rights of a Federal coal lease, two separate approvals are needed for a coal mine operator to conduct mining operations on Federal coal leases: 1) an approved Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977 permit approved by the regulatory authority, in this case the North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC), and 2) an approved mining plan, or modification of a previously approved mining plan, by the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management (ASLM). The SMCRA mine permit approval by the North Dakota PSC provides the basis for the ASLM’s decision on the mining plan or mining plan modification. The Falkirk Mine submitted an application to the North Dakota PSC on November 9, 2017. Subsequently, OSMRE determined that the addition to the Falkirk Mine requires a mining plan with ASLM approval for mining to occur on that Federal coal lease.
The OSMRE prepared the supplemental EA, consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The supplemental EA is tiered to the descriptions and environmental analysis contained in the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Environmental Assessment for The Falkirk Mining Company Federal Coal Lease by Application for Tract NDM-107039 and is incorporated by reference into this supplemental EA in accordance with 40 CFR 46.135 and available to the public at: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/nepa/67410/105731/129311/DOI-BLM-MT-C030-2016-0020-EA.pdf.
The EA will update, clarify, and provide new and additional environmental information for the Project. As a result of the EA process, OSMRE will determine whether or not there are significant environmental impacts. An environmental impact statement will be prepared if the EA identifies significant impacts. 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.