September 6, 2018 Read More →

Coal companies stalling on new lease applications

Casper Star-Tribune:

Coal companies used to grumble about how long it takes to get coal leased from the federal government. That’s no longer the case.

Applications to lease nearly 1 billion tons of coal are pending in Wyoming, not because the federal agency tasked with performing environmental analysis is moving slow, but because coal companies are.

Three lingering lease applications for Powder River Basin Coal are on the books: West Antelope 3, North Highlight and Maysdorf II South. In May, Cloud Peak Energy asked the Bureau of Land Management for a pause on one of those — an expansion at the Antelope Coal mine.

The company said it needs more time to do baseline testing and consult with tribes, according to a letter obtained through a public records request by the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a Sheridan-based landowners’ group. Cloud Peak noted in its May letter that it supports the intent of the 2017 order from Interior, but that the company would need more time to work on the West Antelope 3. The lease is for 441 million tons of in-place coal near the Campbell and Converse County border.

Cloud Peak also proposed Maysdorf II, a 233,550,000-ton application to lease adjacent to the Cordero Rojo mine south of Gillette. The company is currently “reconfiguring” that lease tract, according to the BLM.

A third lease application proposed by Arch Coal in 2005 is pending. The 468 million ton North Highlight lease was one of a handful of coal lease applications analyzed by the BLM in the Wright area. A court case forced the agency to reevaluate the impact that leasing the coal would have on increasing greenhouse gases. A reassessment of that impact is currently out for public comment. It is unclear if Arch Coal will pursue those tons of coal going forward. A call to Arch Coal for comment was not returned.

More: Wyoming coal leases linger, coal firm asks for more time

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