The Bureau of Land Management is studying an application to lease federal coal near Roundup and is seeking public input on concerns and issues that should be included in its environmental assessment of the proposal.
The 30-day public scoping period will run through Dec. 23. An open-house meeting where the public can provide input, ask questions and visit with a variety of resource specialists will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Community Center, 702 W. 3rd St., in Roundup Dec. 10. Written input can be sent to BLM’s project leader Dan Benoit, 111 Garryowen Road, Miles City, Mont. 59301.
Signal Peak Energy, formerly Bull Mountain Coal Properties, Inc., has applied to lease approximately 61 million tons of federal coal beneath 2,680 acres about 10 miles southeast of Roundup straddling Musselshell and Yellowstone counties. The federal coal in question is within the company’s existing mine plan and would be mined along with adjacent, nonfederal coal. Signal Peak is planning an underground mine, not a surface or strip mine as is common in eastern Montana.
The proposed lease is within an area that has been evaluated by two federal environmental assessments and BLM’s Billings Resource Management Plan (RMP/EIS). Detailed, site-specific environmental data have been collected for the mine plan area, and environmental analyses were also prepared to secure the existing nonfederal coal leases and the necessary state mining permits. Monitoring programs are already in place and are gathering environmental data.
If the BLM’s environmental assessment results in a Finding of No Significant Impact, a lease sale could be held after a final decision record is issued. However, Signal Peak would still have to meet or exceed fair market value for the coal as determined by BLM.
For additional information please contact Dan Benoit, Team Leader, Miles City Field Office, at 406-233-3646, or Jim Sparks, Manager, Billings Field Office at 406-896-5241.