[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 194 (Thursday, October 7, 1999)]
[Notices]
[Pages 54635-54636]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-26135]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management
[WY-060-1620-01; WYW141568, WYW146744]


Scoping Meeting on the Belle Ayr and North Jacobs Ranch Coal 
Lease Applications

AGENCY: Department of the Interior, Wyoming.

ACTION: Notice of Scoping Meeting on the Belle Ayr and North Jacobs 
Ranch coal lease applications in response to applications received from 
AMAX Land Co. (now RAG Wyoming Land Co.) and Jacobs Ranch Coal Co. for 
Federal coal in Campbell County, WY, in the decertified Powder River 
Federal Coal Production Region.

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SUMMARY: BLM received an application from AMAX Land Co. (now RAG 
Wyoming Land Co.) on March 20, 1997 (WYW141568), for a tract of Federal 
coal that includes about 1,579 acres and approximately 200 million tons 
of in-place coal in Campbell County, WY, adjacent to the existing Belle 
Ayr Mine. This tract is referred to as the Belle Ayr Tract. On October 
2, 1998, BLM received an application from Jacobs Ranch Coal Company for 
a tract of Federal coal that includes about 4,821 acres and 
approximately 519 million tons of in-place coal in Campbell County, WY, 
adjacent to the existing Jacobs Ranch Mine. This tract is referred to 
as the North Jacobs Ranch Tract. Both tracts were applied for as 
maintenance lease-by-applications (LBAs), under the provisions of 43 
CFR 3425.1.
    The Powder River Regional Coal Team (RCT) reviewed the Belle Ayr 
coal lease application at their meeting on April 23, 1997, in Casper, 
WY, and recommended that the BLM process it. The RCT reviewed the North 
Jacobs Ranch coal lease application at their meeting on February 23, 
1999, in Billings, MT, and recommended that BLM process it and that BLM 
and the State of Wyoming work with the oil and gas and coal operators 
to resolve conflicts with existing and proposed oil and gas development 
in the area of the tract.
    As part of the LBA process, BLM will complete an environmental 
analysis, develop possible stipulations regarding mining operations, 
determine the fair market value (FMV) of the tract, and evaluate 
maximum economic recovery (MER), of the coal in the proposed tract.
    BLM is considering preparing a separate environmental impact 
statement (EIS) for each application to satisfy the requirements of the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). An EIS is being 
considered for the Belle Ayr tract because of the proximity of the 
tract to existing coalbed methane development and because of the 
potential for cumulative environmental impacts. An EIS is also being 
considered for the North Jacobs Ranch tract. Seven new Federal coal 
leases have been issued to the five mines south and east of Wright, WY, 
(including the Jacobs Ranch Mine) since decertification of the Powder 
River Federal Coal Region. Proposed coalbed methane development, 
existing oil and gas development on the tract, and the potential for 
cumulative impacts are other major reasons for considering an EIS.

DATES: As part of the public scoping process, a public scoping meeting 
is scheduled at 7 p.m., on October 19, 1999, at the Tower West Lodge, 
109 North US Highway 14-16, Gillette, WY. If you have concerns or 
issues that you believe the BLM should address in processing these 
lease applications, you can express them verbally at the scoping 
meeting; or you can mail, e-mail, or fax written comments to BLM at the 
address given below by October 30, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Please address written questions, comments or concerns to 
Casper Field Office, Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Nancy Doelger, 
1701 East E Street, Casper, WY 82601. Address e-mail to 
Nancy__Doelger@blm.gov, or fax comments to 307-234-1525, Attn: Nancy 
Doelger.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Doelger or Mike Karbs at the 
above address, or phone: 307-261-7600.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On March 20, 1997, AMAX Land Company (now 
RAG Wyoming Land Co.) filed a coal lease application with the BLM for a 
maintenance tract LBA for the following lands:

T. 48 N., R. 71 W., 6th PM, Wyoming
    Section 18: Lots 17 thru 19;
    Section 19: Lots 5 thru 19;
    Section 20: Lots 3(SW4), 4(W2,SE4), 5, 6, 7(S2), 9(S2), 10 thru 
16;
    Section 21: Lots 13,14;
    Section 28: Lots 3, 6;
    Section 29: Lots 1, 6;

T. 48 N., R. 72 W., 6th PM, Wyoming
    Section 24: Lots 1,8

    The tract includes 1,578.741 acres more or less, with an 
estimated 200 million tons of coal in place.

    The Belle Ayr Mine is adjacent to the lease application area. The 
Belle Ayr Mine has an approved mining and reclamation plan, and an 
approved air quality permit from the Air Quality Division of the 
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to mine up to 25 
million tons of coal per year. According to the application filed for 
the Belle Ayr Tract, it is a maintenance tract that would be mined to 
extend the life of the existing mine.
    On October 2, 1998, Jacobs Ranch Coal Company filed a coal lease 
application with the BLM for a maintenance tract LBA for the following 
lands:

T. 44 N., R. 70 W., 6th PM, Wyoming
    Section 26: Lots 9, 10;
    Section 27: Lots 1 thru 16;
    Section 28: Lots 1 thru 16;
    Section 29: Lots 1 thru 16;
    Section 30: Lots 5 thru 20;
    Section 31: Lots 5 thru 20;
    Section 32: Lots 5 thru 20;
    Section 33: Lots 4, 5, 12, 13;

T. 44 N., R. 71 W., 6th PM, Wyoming
    Section 25: Lots 1 thru 16

    The tract includes 4,821 acres more or less with an estimated 
519 million tons of coal in place.

    The Jacobs Ranch Mine is adjacent to the lease application area. 
The Jacobs

[[Page 54636]]

Ranch Mine has an approved mining and reclamation plan, and an approved 
air quality permit from the Air Quality Division of the Wyoming DEQ to 
mine up to 35 million tons of coal per year. According to the 
application filed for the North Jacobs Ranch Tract, it is a maintenance 
tract that would be mined to extend the life of the existing mine. The 
Jacobs Ranch Mine was issued a lease for a maintenance tract of Federal 
coal adjacent to the Jacobs Ranch Mine in 1992.
    BLM has received 13 applications to lease Federal coal in the 
Wyoming portion of the Powder River Basin since 1990, when the Powder 
River Federal Coal Region was decertified. Nine new Federal coal leases 
have been issued, one application was rejected, and three applications, 
including the Belle Ayr and North Jacobs Ranch applications, are 
pending. Seven of the nine new leases were issued to mines in the group 
of five surface coal mines located immediately east and southeast of 
Wright, WY, in southeastern Campbell and northern Converse Counties, 
WY. This southern group of mines includes the Jacobs Ranch, Black 
Thunder, North Rochelle, Rochelle, North Antelope, and Antelope mines.
    The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) will 
be a cooperating agency in the preparation of the environmental 
analysis because it is the Federal agency that is responsible for 
recommending approval, approval with conditions, or disapproval of the 
mining plan to the Office of the Secretary of the Interior. If this 
maintenance tract is leased to the applicant, the new lease must be 
incorporated into the existing mining plans for the adjacent mine. The 
Secretary of the Interior must approve those mining plans before the 
coal in the tract can be mined.
    The major issues that have been identified to date are related to 
the extension of ongoing site-specific and cumulative impacts to air 
quality, groundwater, and wildlife if these leases are issued and the 
potential conflicts between overlapping proposed future coal mining and 
existing and proposed oil and gas development in this area. If you have 
specific concerns about these issues, or have other concerns or issues 
that BLM should consider in processing one or both of these 
applications to lease Federal coal, please address them in writing to 
the above individuals or state them verbally at the October 19, 1999, 
public scoping meeting at the location shown above. BLM will accept 
written comments at the address shown above through October 30, 1999.

Freedom of Information

    Scoping comments, including names and street addresses of 
respondents, will be available for public review at the address listed 
below during regular business hours (7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m.), Monday 
through Friday, except holidays. Individual respondents may request 
confidentiality. If you wish to withhold your name or street address 
from public review or from disclosure under the Freedom of Information 
Act, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your written 
comment. Such requests will be honored to the extent allowed by law. 
All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, will be made available for public inspection in their 
entirety.

    Dated: October 1, 1999.
Robert P. Henry,
Acting State Director.
[FR Doc. 99-26135 Filed 10-6-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-22-P