DEQ Releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement For The Rosebud Coal Mine
HELENA—The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is seeking public comment and holding a remote public meeting on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed fifth amendment (project) to the operating permit for Area B at the Rosebud Mine, an existing surface coal mine near Colstrip, Mont. The proposed fifth amendment includes adding additional acres for mining activities that would extend the life of the mine by seven years.
The Draft EIS analyzes and discloses the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project pursuant to the requirements of the Montana Environmental Policy Act. The EIS includes a detailed statement on the environmental impacts of the proposed action and a no action alternative.
DEQ deemed the project application complete on May 24, 2017. At the time, the Rosebud Mine was operated by Western Energy Company, a subsidiary of Westmoreland Coal Company. During the EIS development, Westmoreland Coal Company filed for bankruptcy and was acquired by Westmoreland Rosebud Mining, LLC on March 2, 2019. DEQ approved a minor revision in March of 2019 to allow Westmoreland Rosebud Mining, LLC to be the current contract miner at the Rosebud Mine.
If the proposed action is approved, 9,108 acres would be added to the existing Area B 6,045-acre permit area. Of the 9,108 acres proposed, 5,547 acres would be disturbed for mining and associated activities. The Area B operations plan and reclamation plan would also have to be updated to include additional mining and reclamation in the existing permit area.
The EIS also analyzes an application for a new Montana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MPDES) permit. The application, if approved, would allow surface water runoff to be captured in sediment ponds and then discharged to streams through 27 new outfalls in the project area. The application is currently under review.
DEQ is hosting a remote public meeting on Oct. 7, 2020 to provide the public with information on the proposed project and to give the public an opportunity to comment on the Draft EIS. The anticipated hour-long virtual meeting will be held via Zoom at 6 p.m., accessible both online and by telephone. DEQ will give a presentation on the EIS, permitting process, and description of the proposed project beginning at 6 p.m., followed by the opportunity for the public to provide comments.
What: A remote public meeting on the Draft EIS will be held via Zoom.
When: Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, 6 p.m. (please log-on 10 minutes early)
Where: Participants can sign up to attend the meeting and receive instructions about how to access the meeting. To request access visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rosebud-mine-area-b-am5-draft-eis-virtual-public-meeting-and-hearing-registration-121609149239 or call Moira Davin, Public Relations Specialist, at: 406-461-2503. The meeting is accessible both online and by telephone. DEQ will make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities who wish to participate in the meeting. If you require an accommodation, please contact DEQ using the information above at least one week before the meeting.
The public has the opportunity to provide comments on the proposed project and the Draft EIS. DEQ is asking the public for substantive comments regarding the Draft EIS analyses. Written comments may be submitted by mail to: Jen Lane, MEPA Coordinator, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, PO Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901. To view the draft EIS and submit comments electronically visit: http://deq.mt.gov/Public/publiccomment
All comments must be received or postmarked by Oct. 23, 2020 to be considered.