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Fort Union

Drill into subregion of fort union:

The Fort Union region describes the group of lignite coal mines located in central and southern North Dakota and eastern Montana.  These mines are distinct from the Fort Union formation, which is a portion of the Powder River Basin.

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Environmental Groups File Lawsuit Involving PSC Members

May 30, 2012

The Dakota Resource Council has filed two lawsuits alleging that all three of North Dakota’s Public Service Commissioners have accepted $54000 in campaign contributions from the mining companies that the PSC regulates. Commissioners Kevin Cramer, Brian Kalk and Tony Clark were named in the suit, as well as US Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar. “The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation act is quite specific that the employees of the federal government and their agents, in this case it’s the Public Service Commission since they are implementing the federal law that it is illegal for them to accept any contributions.” said Wayde Schafer of the Sierra Club.

“The law allows people to contribute, our system encourages people to contribute to elected positions, people that they agree with, people that they think are more likely to carry out there philosophy, that persons philosophy, it’s protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution, the same amendment that protects the presses right to exist, the Freedom of Expression.” replied commissioner Cramer.

Read articles at http://www.bakkentoday.com/event/article/id/58522/publisher_ID/6/, http://www.kxnet.com/story/18660482/environmental-groups-file-lawsuit-involving-psc-members and http://finance.yahoo.com/news/enviros-sue-interior-secy-nd-155910801.html

Deal would force coal-fired power plants in West to cut more pollution

June 19, 2011

A decade-old mandate to enforce the Clear Air Act for coal-fired power plants will require 18 plants in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming to install new technologies to reduce emissions and decrease haze in surrounding areas. Utilities had already reduced plant emissions over the last decade to decrease pollution in habitable areas, the new standards target old plants previously exempted from the Clean Air Act because they were grandfathered in, and are aimed at decreasing haze in 156 national parks, wilderness areas to much lower levels still. While many think of the endless vistas of the western states, in many places haze is a major problem that can decrease visibility by more than half.

The increased enforcement is a result of an agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency and three other groups, and will become final if a federal judge approves it after a mandatory 30 day comment period. “We’re getting the low-hanging fruit and we expect huge reductions from that effort,” said Gail Fallon, an EPA haze program manager based in Denver. Similar agreements in the works for many more states.

Read article at http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_6eb579f8-9a88-11e0-8f2d-001cc4c002e0.html

Federal panel won’t halt Montana coal railroad

June 16, 2011

The Surface Transportation Board has rejected a request by environmentalists to halt a 121 mile controversial new railroad into the Tongue River region of Montana, stating that environmentalists had failed to show why the $550M railroad needed further environmental review. The Tongue River Railroad Company hopes their new line will open up large new swaths of coal mining by decreasing the cost of getting the mined coal to market, something that has been pushed strongly by Montana governor Brian Schweitzer (D) as part of his decision to lease the Otter Creek coal tracts last year.

Environmentalists had complained that the original environmental impact statement for the railroad was done more than 25 years ago and much of the science behind the EIS and coal burning in general has changed in the interim, especially the science linking the burning of coal to global warming. In response to the decision, the Northern Plains Resource Council said the transportation board was “turning southeast Montana into a sacrifice zone for Asia.” Mike Gustafson, a developer for the railroad said the “TRCC believes the STB decision once again reaffirms the comprehensive environmental analysis completed by the TRRC in its planning.” Other appeals of both the Otter Creek lease and the railroad’s approval are still pending.

Read article at http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_bd931a7e-9814-11e0-9861-001cc4c002e0.html

ND fines mining company for water disposal problem – BusinessWeek

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has fined the owners of the Freedom Mine $1000 for illegally dumping runoff water outside of its permit area. The dumping occurred in June. $750 of the $1000 fine was for negligence.

Read more at http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9IDMVIG0.htm

Central ND coal mine reclamation being abandoned – BusinessWeek

By DALE WETZEL – BISMARCK, N.D. – September 15, 2010

A major coal mine land reclamation project in central North Dakota is being abandoned over a dispute about how much a contractor should be paid for doing the earth work, Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer said Wednesday.

Smith Contracting, of Butte, Mont., bid $1.22 million to reclaim about 150 acres of abandoned mine land in Ward County, about seven miles southwest of Velva, commission filings say. It is part of a larger area, covering about 1,100 acres, that must be reclaimed, commission documents say.

Read more at http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9I8NEH82.htm


Dakota Resource Council urged the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) last week to take a close look at a possible coal mining application near South Heart and a pattern of long delays in meeting state and federal reclamation standards at North Dakota coal mines.
The “hydrological consequences” of mining near South Heart are of special concern, DRC said in its comments to OSM’s Casper Field Office, because the area relies on shal- low livestock wells that would be disturbed by surface mining.

Read more at http://www.drcinfo.com/Newsletters%20PDF/Newsletters%2010/August%202010.pdf

Deficiencies found in mine application – Jamestown Sun

By: By Ashley Martin, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun -Published August 26 2010

The Dakota Resource Council urged the review of a possible coal mining application near South Heart by federal officials in a letter written to the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in Wyoming, according to a recent press release.

South Heart Coal LLC, which is owned by South Heart Development LLC and Allied Syngas Corp., plans to operate a coal mine and construct a gasification plant near South Heart.

Conrad Discusses Energy – KXNet.com

Aug 20 2010 7:15PM — KXMCTV Minot

New Energy Legislation may help the coal industry fire up efficiency.

Today Senator Kent Conrad met with management from Minnkota Power Cooperative to discuss the future of North Dakota’s coal industry.

Read more at http://www.kxnet.com/getArticle.asp?ArticleId=617877

Linc Energy to Use Proceeds From $2.7 Billion Galilee Coal Sale to Expand – Bloomberg

By Elisabeth Behrmann – Aug 3, 2010

Linc Energy Ltd., which sold an Australian coal asset for A$3 billion ($2.7 billion) in cash and royalties to Adani Enterprises Ltd., will use the proceeds to fund expansions and may sell the royalty stream.

Linc is exploring for coal and petroleum in South Australia, as well as in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, according to its website.

Read more at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-03/linc-energy-to-use-proceeds-from-2-7-billion-galilee-coal-sale-to-expand.html

ND coal-drying plant passes first large-scale test – BusinessWeek


Operators of a coal drying plant in southwestern North Dakota said the new factory has passed its first commercial-scale test using 450 tons of low-grade lignite from New Zealand.

Robert French, the chief executive officer of GTL Energy USA Ltd., said the plant near South Heart successfully removed 65 percent of the water from the low-quality lignite, allowing it to burn cleaner and produce more than 40 percent additional energy.

“The technology has been proven at the South Heart plant,” French said of the factory, which was completed in March after about 15 months of construction.

Read more at http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9GU845O0.htm

Bonding Adequacy Oversight Report – Western Region – Dept of Interior – 2010

State by state survey of practices for bonding coal mines. Published July 8, 2010


South Heart – Alluvial Valley Floor Study – 2008

Alluvial Valley Floor Study prepared for the South Heart Project in Stark County, North Dakota. Prepared by Golder Associates, Inc. Submitted to North Dakota Public Service Commission. 2008

Big Dry Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, DOI, Feb 1995

Big Dry RMP/EIS, Miles City District Office, Big Dry Resource Area. Final version. BLM/MT/PL-95/005+1610.