[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 217 (Wednesday, November 10, 1999)]
[Notices]
[Pages 61367-61368]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-29408]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management
[WY-060-1320-EL, WYW141435]


Horse Creek Federal Coal Lease Application

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of a Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement and notice of public hearing on the Horse Creek Federal Coal 
Lease Application in the decertified Powder River Federal Coal 
Production Region, Wyoming.

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SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and 
implementing regulations and other applicable statutes, the Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM) announces the availability of the Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Horse Creek Federal Coal 
Lease Application, BLM Serial Number WYW 141435, in the Wyoming Powder 
River Basin, and announces the scheduled date and place for a public 
hearing pursuant to 43 CFR 3425.4. The DEIS analyzes the impacts of 
issuing a Federal coal lease for the proposed Horse Creek Federal coal 
tract. The purpose of the hearing is to receive comments on the DEIS, 
the fair market value, the maximum economic recovery, and the proposed 
competitive sale of the coal included in the proposed Horse Creek 
Federal coal tract. The Horse Creek tract is being considered for sale 
as a result of a coal lease application received from Antelope Coal 
Company (ACC) on February 14, 1997. The tract includes approximately 
2,838 acres containing approximately 356.5 million tons of geologically 
in-place Federal coal reserves in Campbell and Converse Counties, 
Wyoming. It was applied for as a maintenance tract for ACC's adjacent 
Antelope Mine located in northern Converse County, Wyoming. ACC is a 
subsidiary of Kennecott Energy Company.

DATES: A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 
8, 1999, at the Holiday Inn, 2009 S. Douglas Highway, Gillette, 
Wyoming. An open house will start at 6:30 p.m., prior to the hearing, 
to answer questions related to the Federal coal leasing process and 
this coal lease application. Written comments on the DEIS will be 
accepted for 60 days following the date that the Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) publishes their notice of availability of the 
DEIS in the Federal Register. We expect that the EPA will publish that 
notice on November 12, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments or requests for copies of 
the DEIS to the Casper District Office, Bureau of Land Management, 
Attn: Nancy Doelger, 1701 East E Street, Casper, Wyoming 82601, fax 
them to (307) 234-1525, or e-mail them to casper__wymail@blm.gov (Attn: 
Nancy Doelger).

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The application for the Horse Creek Federal 
coal tract was filed as a maintenance tract lease-by-application (LBA) 
under the provisions of 43 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 3425.1.
    On February 14, 1998, ACC filed coal lease application WYW141435 
for the Horse Creek Federal coal tract with the BLM. On May 1, 1998, 
ACC modified the Horse Creek application. The modified Horse Creek 
Federal coal tract includes the following lands:

T. 41 N., R. 71 W., Sixth Principal Meridian
    Sec. 14, lots 5 to 7, inclusive, and 10 to 15, inclusive;
    Sec. 15, lots 6 to 11, inclusive, and 14 to 16, inclusive;
    Sec. 22, lots 1, 3 to 6, inclusive, and 9 to 13, inclusive;
    Sec. 23, lots 2 to 7, inclusive, and 10 to 16, inclusive;
    Sec. 25, lots 11 and 12(S\1/2\);
    Sec. 26, lots 1 to 8, inclusive, 12 and 13;
    Sec. 27, lots 1 to 3,inclusive, 5, 12 to 14, inclusive, and 16;
    Sec. 34, lots 1, 7, 8 to 10, inclusive, and 16;
    Sec. 35, lots 8 to 10 inclusive.

Containing 2,837.91 acres more or less with an estimated 356.5 million 
tons of geologically in-place coal.
    The Antelope Mine, which is adjacent to the lease application area, 
has an approved mining and reclamation plan from the Land Quality 
Division of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and an 
approved air quality permit from the Air Quality Division of the 
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to mine up to 30 million 
tons of coal per year. According to the application filed for the Horse 
Creek Federal coal tract, the maintenance tract would be mined to 
extend the life of the existing mine.
    The Powder River Regional Coal Team (RCT) reviewed the Horse Creek 
Federal coal lease application at their meeting on April 23, 1997, in 
Casper, Wyoming, and recommended that it be processed. The RCT was 
notified in writing of the modified tract configuration.
    Using the LBA process, ACC acquired maintenance coal lease 
WYW128322 containing approximately 617 acres and 60 million tons of 
coal adjacent to the Antelope Mine effective 2/1/97.
    The DEIS analyzes three alternatives. The Proposed Action is to 
hold a competitive sealed-bid sale and issue a lease for the tract as 
applied for to the successful qualified bidder if the bid meets or 
exceeds the fair market value of the tract as determined by the BLM. 
The second alternative, Alternative 1, is the No Action Alternative 
which assumes that the tract will not be leased. The third alternative, 
Alternative 2, is to hold a competitive sealed-bid sale and issue a 
lease for the tract as modified by BLM to the successful qualified 
bidder if the bid meets or exceeds the fair market value of the tract 
as determined by the BLM.
    The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is a 
cooperating agency in the preparation of the EIS because it is the 
Federal agency that would review the mining plans for the tract if it 
is leased and recommend approval or disapproval of the mining plans to 
the Secretary of the Interior.
    The lease application area is within the boundaries of the Thunder 
Basin National Grasslands and some of the surface lands in the area 
were formerly under the jurisdiction of the United

[[Page 61368]]

States and were administered by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) as part 
of the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. As a result of recent land 
exchanges between the USFS and local landowners, however, there are no 
longer any surface lands within the lease application area that are 
under the jurisdiction of the USFS. Therefore, the USFS is not a 
cooperating agency in the preparation of the EIS.
    During the scoping process, the issues that were identified related 
to this lease application included: the potential impacts to wetlands, 
aquifers, agricultural producers, wildlife, wildlife habitat, wildlife-
based recreation, cultural resources, and access to public lands that 
may occur if a lease is issued for this tract; and the potential for 
conflict with development of existing oil and gas leases in this area, 
including coalbed methane. There are no existing oil and gas wells on 
the lease application area.
    Comments, including names and street addresses of respondents, will 
be available for public review at the Bureau of Land Management, Casper 
Field Office, 1701 East E Street, Casper, Wyoming, during regular 
business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), Monday through Friday, except 
holidays, and may be published as part of the final EIS. 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 of officials of organizations or businesses, will be 
made available for public inspection in their entirety.

    Dated, November 4, 1999.
Alan R. Pierson,
State Director.
[FR Doc. 99-29408 Filed 11-9-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-22-P