BLM seeks public input on proposed Federal coal lease application in Oliver County

(DICKINSON, N.D.)  – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced the availability of an environmental assessment (EA) and the opening of a 30-day public comment period for a Federal coal lease application at the Center Mine located in Oliver County, North Dakota.  The public comment period ends on Oct. 12, 2017. 

In 2014, BNI Coal Ltd. (BNI) filed an application with the BLM North Dakota Field Office to lease 2.43 million tons of in-place Federal coal contained in a 160-acre tract located in an active surface mining area.  The Federal coal tract is located within the boundary of the Center Mine permit issued by the North Dakota Public Service Commission. The permit boundary for the mine is located approximately 5 miles southeast of the town of Center. The surface of the 160-acre tract is privately owned and the consent to mine has been provided by the owner.  The coal mineral interest below the surface is owned by the American public and is managed on their behalf by the BLM.

BNI, with headquarters located in Bismarck, employs approximately 175 persons in North Dakota. BNI submitted its coal lease application as part of its ongoing coal mining operation at the Center Mine. If the BLM approves the proposed coal leasing decision, the lease would extend the life of the Center Mine by six months and enable BNI to maintain existing employment and production levels. If the BLM does not approve the leasing decision, BNI would bypass the lease tract, and it would be highly unlikely that the coal would ever be mined.  

The BLM is responsible for balanced use of public lands and is required by law to consider leasing Federal coal for economic recovery. “The BLM manages public lands and mineral resources under the dual mandate of multiple use and sustained yield,” said Michael D. Nedd, Acting BLM Director. “This includes careful consideration of environmentally-responsible development of coal as well as oil and gas, strategic minerals, and renewable energy sources such as wind, geothermal, and solar.” 

BNI has been mining coal at the Center Mine since 1970, and the mine produces approximately 4 million tons of coal per year from Federal, State, and private coal leases. All the coal from the Center Mine supplies the Milton R. Young Station, a two unit, 705 megawatt capacity, electrical generation facility which is located on the northeast side of the mine site. 

In the EA, which is available online at, the BLM analyzed potential impacts of the proposed coal lease to air quality, climate change, wildlife, cultural and water resources. Potential impacts to resources from this proposed action are expected to be similar to the impacts that were identified in previous Federal coal leasing actions proposed by BNI and addressed in earlier EAs prepared by the BLM. Mitigation measures developed as part of the State-approved mine plan for the Center Mine have been incorporated into this new EA.

Today’s announcement was published in the Federal Register and begins a 30-day public comment period on the EA associated with the proposed coal lease. During the comment period, the BLM will hold a public hearing to receive oral or written comments on the EA, Fair Market Value for the lease tract, and Maximum Economic Recovery for the coal contained in the tract. On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the public hearing will be held at the Betty Hagel Memorial Civic Center Hall in Center, North Dakota, 58530 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

Comments regarding the BNI Lease-by-Application (NDM-102083) may be mailed, or hand-delivered to the BLM North Dakota Field Office, Attention: Irma Nansel, 99 23rd Avenue West, Suite A, Dickinson, ND 58601.  Comments can also be emailed to:

Those who provide comments are advised that before including their address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information, they should be aware that their entire comment, including the personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While those providing comments may request BLM to withhold personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that this would occur. 

For more information call Irma Nansel at 406- 233-3653.


– BLM –

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in the 11 Western states and Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.

Release Date


Bureau of Land Management


Mark Jacobsen