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This is a text-only version of the document "Buckskin Mine Hay Creek II - Coal Lease Application - Final Environmental Impact Statement - WYW-172684". To see the original version of the document click here.
BLM

FINAL Environmental Impact Statement for the Buckskin Mine Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application WYW-172684

Wyoming High Plains District

July 2011

Pronghorn grazing on completed reclamation at Buckskin Mine.

MISSION STATEMENT The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.

BLM/WY/PL-11/045+1320

Cover photo: Buckskin Mine 2007.

United States Department of the Interior
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT Wyoming High Plains District
2987 Prospector Drive Casper, Wyoming 82604-2968

TAKE PRIDE

INAMERICA

In Reply Refer to:

3425 (LBA)(WYPOO) WYW172684 Buckskin Mine Hay Creek II Coal EIS Dear Reader:

JUL 19 2011

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared this Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to document and disclose the results of the environmental analyses of an application received by BLM to lease a maintenance tract of Federal coal approximately 12 miles north of the city of Gillette in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming. The tract is referred to as the Hay Creek II LBA tract. A copy of the EIS document is provided for your review. The final EIS may also be reviewed at the following website: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/content/wy/eniinfoINEP AldocumentslhpdlHayCreekII.html Copies of the Final EIS are also available for public inspection at the following BLM Offices: Bureau of Land Management Wyoming State Office 5353 Yellowstone Road Cheyenne, WY 82009 Bureau of Land Management Wyoming High Plains District Office 2987 Prospector Drive Casper, Wyoming 82604

The Draft EIS was published in March 2010, and the 60-day comment period on the draft docunlent ended on May 10,2010. A formal public hearing on the application to lease Federal coal was held in Gillette, Wyoming, on April 22, 2010. The purpose of the hearing was to receive comments on the proposed coal lease, on the fair market value, and on the maximum economic recovery of the Federal coal resources included in the tract. There were no statements presented at the formal hearing. Written comments were received from 10 individuals, agencies, businesses, and organizations, during the 60-day public review period. The comment letters received on the Draft EIS during the 60-day public review period have been published as part of the Final EIS in appendix D. A 30-day review period on this Final EIS will commence on the date the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. The BLM will also publish a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. The BLM will accept public comments on this Final EIS for thirty (30) days commencing on the date the EPA publishes its Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. If you wish to comment on the Final EIS, your comments should relate directly to the document. Comments should be as specific as possible, and the locations in the document to which you are commenting on should be cited. The BLM is required to respond in the record of decision

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(ROD) to all substantive comments submitted. Substantive comments should: (l) give any new infonnation that could alter conclusions; (2) show why or how analysis or assumptions in the Final EIS are flawed; (3) show errors in data, sources, or methods; or (4) request clarifications that bear on conclusions. Opinions or preferences will not receive a fonnal response. However, they will be considered and included as part of the BLM decision-making process. This Final EIS was prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act and applicable regulations, and other applicable statutes, to address possible environmental and socioeconomic impacts that could result from the Buckskin Mine Hay Creek II coal lease application. This Final EIS is not a decision document. Its purpose is to infonn the public and agency decision­ makers of the impacts associated with leasing some or all of the Hay Creek II Federal coal tract study area to an existing mine in the Wyoming Powder River Basin and to evaluate alternatives to leasing the Federal coal included in the tract as applied for. Comments, including names, street addresses, and email addresses of respondents, will be on file and open for public review at the Wyoming High Plains District Office during regular business hours, and will be included as part of the ROD posted at the above listed website. Individual respondents may request confidentiality. If you wish to withhold your name or street address from public review or from disclosure under the Freedom of Infonnation Act, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your written comment. Though we cannot guarantee anonymity, such requests will be honored to the extent allowable by law. All submissions from organizations, businesses, and individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public inspection in their entirety. Please send written comments to the Bureau of Land Management, High Plains District Office, Attn: Teresa 10hnson, 2987 Prospector Drive, Casper, WY 82604. Written comments may also be emailed to the attention of Teresa 10hnson at: hay_creek_II_WYMail@blm.gov. Email comments must include the name and mailing address of the commentor to receive consideration. Written comments may also be faxed to the attention of Teresa 10hnson at (307) 261-7587. If you have any questions or would like to obtain a copy of this Final EIS, please contact Lesley Collins at (307) 261-7603, or at the above BLM Wyoming High Plains District Office address. Sincerely,

Fe..

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Stephanie Connolly District Manager

FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT 
 HAY CREEK II COAL LEASE APPLICATION 
 CAMPBELL COUNTY, WYOMING 
 ABSTRACT 
 Lead Agency: 	 USDI, Bureau of Land Management, High Plains District Office, Casper, Wyoming USDI, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Denver, Colorado Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (all divisions), Cheyenne, Wyoming For Further Information Contact: Teresa Johnson, Bureau of Land Management, 2987 Prospector Drive, Casper, WY 82604; (307) 261-7600

Cooperating Agencies: 	

This final environmental impact statement (EIS) assesses the environmental consequences of a decision by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to hold a competitive, sealed-bid sale and issue a lease for a federal coal maintenance tract in Campbell County, Wyoming, as a result of a coal lease application submitted by Kiewit Mining Properties, Inc. (Kiewit). As applied for, the Hay Creek II coal lease-by-application (LBA) tract includes approximately 419 acres containing approximately 77.2 million tons of federal coal. If a lease sale is held and the applicant acquires the lease, Kiewit proposes to mine the tract as a maintenance lease for the existing, adjacent Buckskin Mine. This final EIS describes the physical, biological, cultural, historic, and socioeconomic resources in and around the LBA tract. The alternatives in the final EIS consider the impacts of leasing the tract as applied for, leasing an alternative tract configuration, and not leasing a tract. Impact analyses focused on resource issues and concerns identified during public scoping conducted for the Hay Creek II LBA and during previous analyses conducted for coal leasing actions associated with Buckskin and other local coal mines. Recent concerns related to leasing coal and its subsequent development include: impacts on groundwater, air quality, wildlife, cultural resources, paleontological resources, socioeconomics, loss of livestock grazing areas, conflicts with oil and gas development, cumulative impacts related to ongoing surface coal mining and other proposed development in the Wyoming Powder River Basin, greenhouse gas emissions, ozone, and global climate change. This final EIS, in compliance with Section 7(c) of the Endangered Species Act as amended, identifies any endangered or threatened species likely to be affected by the Proposed Action and alternatives. The final EIS is open for a 30-day review period beginning on the date that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency publishes the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.
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Comments postmarked or received on or before the end of the 30-day review period will be considered during preparation of the Record of Decision (ROD). If the BLM decides to hold a sale for the Hay Creek II lease, the final tract configuration will be defined in the ROD.

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HAY CREEK II COAL LEASE APPLICATION 
 FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT 


Prepared by ICF International Gillette, Wyoming

Under the Direction of U.S. Department of the Interior 
 Bureau of Land Management 
 High Plains District Office 
 Casper, Wyoming
 
 and Cooperating Agencies U.S. Department of Interior 
 Office of Surface Mining
 
 Reclamation and Enforcement 
 Denver, Colorado 


Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality 
 All Divisions 
 Cheyenne, Wyoming 


July 2011

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ............................................................................... ES-1
 
  
Introduction ................................................................................................................................. ES-1
 
   Background ................................................................................................................................ ES-1
 
   Evaluation and Environmental Review Process ......................................................................... ES-4
 
   Purpose and Need ...................................................................................................................... ES-5
 
   Proposed Action and Alternatives ............................................................................................... ES-6
 
   Resources Addressed in this Environmental Impact Statement ............................................... ES-12
 
   Summary of General Setting and Environmental Consequences ............................................. ES-17
 
   General Setting .................................................................................................................. ES-17
 
   Alternative 1 (No Action Alternative) .................................................................................. ES-18
 
   Proposed Action and Alternative 2 ..................................................................................... ES-18
 
   Mitigation .................................................................................................................................. ES-37
 
   Cumulative Impacts .................................................................................................................. ES-37
 
  

1.0  INTRODUCTION.....................................................................................1-1
   

1.1  Background ...................................................................................................................... 1-2
   
 1.1.1  Buckskin Mine Application ......................................................................................... 1-2
   
 1.1.2  BLM Coal Leasing Process ........................................................................................ 1-3
   
 1.1.3  Existing Buckskin Mine ............................................................................................ 1-10
 
   1.1.3.1  General Description ......................................................................................... 1-10
 
   1.1.3.2  Mine Facilities and Employees......................................................................... 1-11
   
 1.1.3.3  Mining Methods and Activities ......................................................................... 1-11
 
   1.1.3.4  Reclamation Activities ...................................................................................... 1-13
   
 1.1.3.5  Hazardous and Solid Waste ............................................................................ 1-16
 
   1.2  Purpose and Need for Action.......................................................................................... 1-18
   
 1.3  Regulatory Authority and Responsibility ......................................................................... 1-19
 
   1.4  Relationship to BLM Policies, Plans, and Programs ....................................................... 1-21
   
 1.5  
 Conformance with Existing Land Use Plans ................................................................... 1-21
   1.6  Consultation and Coordination ....................................................................................... 1-23
 
   1.6.1  Initial Involvement .................................................................................................... 1-23
   
 1.6.1.1  Issues and Concerns ....................................................................................... 1-24
 
   1.6.1.2  Draft Environmental Impact Statement ............................................................ 1-25
   
 1.6.1.3  Final Environmental Impact Statement ............................................................ 1-25
   
 1.6.2  Future Involvement .................................................................................................. 1-26
 
   1.6.2.1  Record of Decision........................................................................................... 1-26
   


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Table of Contents

	 
 1.6.2.2	 U.S. Department of Justice Consultation ......................................................... 1-26
    

2.0	 PROPOSED ACTION AND ALTERNATIVES........................................2-1
   	   

Background ...................................................................................................................... 2-1
   
 Description of the Proposed Action and Alternatives ........................................................ 2-2
   
 2.2.1	 Proposed Action ......................................................................................................... 2-4
   	   
 2.2.1.1	 Description of the Proposed Tract...................................................................... 2-4
   	 
   2.2.1.2	 Mine Facilities and Employees........................................................................... 2-6
   	   
 2.2.1.3	 Mining Methods and Activities ........................................................................... 2-6
   	 
   2.2.1.4	 Reclamation Activities ........................................................................................ 2-7
   	   
 2.2.2	 Alternative 1 (No Action) ............................................................................................ 2-7
   	 
   2.2.3	 Alternative 2 (BLM Preferred Alternative)................................................................... 2-8
   	   
 2.2.3.1 	 Description of the BLM Study Area and Tract under Consideration by the 
 BLM .............................................................................................................. 2-8 
 2.2.3.2	 Mine Facilities and Employees......................................................................... 2-11
   	   
 2.2.3.3	 Mining Methods and Activities ......................................................................... 2-11
   	 
   
   2.2.3.4	 Reclamation Activities ...................................................................................... 2-11
   	 2.3	   	 Eliminated Alternatives ................................................................................................... 2-12
 
   
   2.3.1	 Alternative 3 ............................................................................................................. 2-12
   	 2.3.2	 Alternative 4 ............................................................................................................. 2-13
   	 
   2.4	   	 Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ....................................................... 2-15
   
 Summary of Coal Production and Disturbance under the Proposed Action and 
 2.5	   	 Alternatives ..................................................................................................................... 2-20
 
   2.1  2.2 

3.0	 AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL 
   	 CONSEQUENCES..................................................................................3-1
 
  
3.1.  General Setting............................................................................................................... 3-20
 
   3.1.1.	 General Location and Characteristics ...................................................................... 3-20
   	 
   3.1.2.	 Climate and Meteorology in the General Analysis Area ........................................... 3-21
   	 
   3.2.  Topography .................................................................................................................... 3-25
 
   3.2.1.	 Affected Environment ............................................................................................... 3-25
   	   
 3.2.2.	 Environmental Consequences ................................................................................. 3-26
   	   
 3.2.2.1.  Proposed Action............................................................................................... 3-26
 
   3.2.2.2.  Alternative 1 (No Action) .................................................................................. 3-27
   
 3.2.2.3.  Alternative 2 ..................................................................................................... 3-27
   
 3.2.3.	 Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ................................................. 3-27
   	   
 3.2.4.	 Residual Impacts ..................................................................................................... 3-28
   	   
 3.3.  Geology, Mineral Resources, and Paleontology ............................................................. 3-28
   
 3.3.1.	 General Geology and Coal Resources..................................................................... 3-28
   	   


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Table of Contents

3.3.1.1.  Affected Environment....................................................................................... 3-28
   
 3.3.1.2.  Environmental Consequences ......................................................................... 3-32
   
 3.3.1.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation and Monitoring .......................................... 3-33
 
   3.3.1.4.  Residual Impacts ............................................................................................. 3-33
 
   3.3.2.  Other Mineral Resources ......................................................................................... 3-33
 
   3.3.2.1.  Affected Environment....................................................................................... 3-33
   
 3.3.2.2.  Environmental Consequences ......................................................................... 3-36
   
 3.3.2.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ......................................... 3-37
 
   3.3.2.4.  Residual Impacts ............................................................................................. 3-38
 
   3.3.3.  Paleontology ............................................................................................................ 3-39
   
 3.3.3.1.  Affected Environment....................................................................................... 3-39
   
 3.3.3.2.  Environmental Consequences ......................................................................... 3-41
   
 3.3.3.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ......................................... 3-42
 
   3.3.3.4.  Residual Impacts ............................................................................................. 3-42
 
   3.4.  Air Quality....................................................................................................................... 3-42
   
 3.4.1.  Background.............................................................................................................. 3-42
 
     3.4.1.1.  Air Quality Determinants .................................................................................. 3-42
 
 3.4.1.2.  Applicable Air Quality Standards and Regulations ........................................... 3-43
   
   3.4.1.3.  Emissions Sources in the General Analysis Area ............................................ 3-44
 
 3.4.2.  Particulate Emissions ............................................................................................... 3-46
   
 3.4.2.1.  Affected Environment....................................................................................... 3-46
 
     
 3.4.2.2.  Environmental Consequences ......................................................................... 3-57
 3.4.2.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ......................................... 3-60
 
   3.4.3.  Emissions of Nitrogen Oxides and Ozone................................................................ 3-63
 
   3.4.3.1.  Affected Environment....................................................................................... 3-63
 
   3.4.3.2.  Environmental Consequences ......................................................................... 3-68
   
 3.4.3.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ......................................... 3-69
 
   3.4.4. Visibility .................................................................................................................... 3-73 
 3.4.4.1.  Affected Environment....................................................................................... 3-73
 
   3.4.4.2.  Environmental Consequences ......................................................................... 3-75
   
 3.4.4.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ......................................... 3-77
 
   3.4.5.  Acidification of Lakes ............................................................................................... 3-78
 
   3.4.5.1.  Affected Environment....................................................................................... 3-79
 
   3.4.5.2.  Environmental Consequences ......................................................................... 3-79
   
   3.4.6.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ................................................. 3-81
 
 
 3.4.7.  Residual Impacts on Air Quality ............................................................................... 3-81
     
 3.5.  Water Resources ............................................................................................................ 3-81
 3.5.1.  Groundwater ............................................................................................................ 3-81
   


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Table of Contents

3.5.1.1.  Affected Environment....................................................................................... 3-81
   
 3.5.1.2.  Environmental Consequences ......................................................................... 3-85
   
 3.5.1.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ......................................... 3-87
 
   3.5.2.  Surface Water .......................................................................................................... 3-88
   
 3.5.2.1.  Affected Environment....................................................................................... 3-88
   
 3.5.2.2.  Environmental Consequences ......................................................................... 3-90
   
 3.5.2.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ......................................... 3-92
 
   3.5.3.  Water Rights ............................................................................................................ 3-92
   
 3.5.3.1.  Affected Environment....................................................................................... 3-92
   
 3.5.3.2.  Environmental Consequences ......................................................................... 3-93
   
 3.5.3.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ......................................... 3-95
   
 3.5.4.  Residual Impacts ..................................................................................................... 3-95
   
 3.6.  Alluvial Valley Floors ...................................................................................................... 3-95
   
 3.6.1.  Affected Environment ............................................................................................... 3-96
   
 3.6.1.1.  Studies Conducted to Determine Presence of Alluvial Valley Floors ............... 3-96
   
 3.6.2.  Environmental Consequences ................................................................................. 3-98
   
   3.6.2.1.  Proposed Action............................................................................................... 3-98
 
 3.6.2.2.  Alternative 1 (No Action) .................................................................................. 3-99
   
   3.6.2.3.  Alternative 2 ..................................................................................................... 3-99
 
 3.6.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ............................................... 3-100
   
 3.6.4.  Residual Impacts ................................................................................................... 3-100
   
   
 3.7.  Wetlands ...................................................................................................................... 3-100
 3.7.1.  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-100
   
 3.7.2.  Environmental Consequences ............................................................................... 3-105
   
 3.7.2.1.  Proposed Action............................................................................................. 3-105
   
 3.7.2.2.  Alternative 1 (No Action) ................................................................................ 3-106
   
 3.7.2.3.  Alternative 2 ................................................................................................... 3-106
   
 3.7.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ............................................... 3-106
 
   3.7.4.  Residual Impacts ................................................................................................... 3-107
   
 3.8.  Soils.............................................................................................................................. 3-107
   
 3.8.1.  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-107
   
 3.8.2.  Environmental Consequences ............................................................................... 3-108
   
 3.8.2.1.  Proposed Action............................................................................................. 3-108
   
 3.8.2.2.  Alternative 1 (No Action) ................................................................................ 3-109
   
   3.8.2.3.  Alternative 2 ................................................................................................... 3-109
 
 
 3.8.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ............................................... 3-109
     
 3.8.4.  Residual Impacts ................................................................................................... 3-110
 3.9.  Vegetation .................................................................................................................... 3-110
   


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3.9.1.  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-110
   
 3.9.1.1.  Agricultural Cropland ..................................................................................... 3-111
   
 3.9.1.2.  Agricultural Pasture........................................................................................ 3-111
   
 3.9.1.3.  Bunchgrass Prairie Grassland ....................................................................... 3-112
   
 3.9.1.4.  Lowland Prairie Grassland ............................................................................. 3-112
   
 3.9.1.5.  Mixed-Grass Prairie Grassland ...................................................................... 3-113
 
   3.9.1.6.  Sandy Prairie Grassland ................................................................................ 3-113
   
 3.9.1.7.  Riparian Bottomland ...................................................................................... 3-113
   
 3.9.1.8.  Big Sagebrush Shrubland .............................................................................. 3-114
   
 3.9.1.9.  Disturbed Areas ............................................................................................. 3-114
   
 3.9.1.10. Tree Shelterbelt ............................................................................................. 3-114
 
   3.9.1.11. Rough Breaks ................................................................................................ 3-115
   
 3.9.1.12. Open Water ................................................................................................... 3-115
   
 3.9.2.  Environmental Consequences ............................................................................... 3-115
   
 3.9.2.1.  Proposed Action............................................................................................. 3-115
   
 3.9.2.2.  Alternative 1 (No Action) ................................................................................ 3-116
   
   3.9.2.3.  Alternative 2 ................................................................................................... 3-116
 
 3.9.3.	 Threatened, Endangered, Proposed, and Candidate Plant Species, and 
   	 BLM Sensitive Species ....................................................................................... 3-117
   
 3.9.4.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ............................................... 3-117
   
 3.9.5.  Residual Impacts ................................................................................................... 3-119
   
   3.10.  Wildlife.......................................................................................................................... 3-119
 
 3.10.1.  General Setting ...................................................................................................... 3-119
   
 3.10.2.  Survey Requirements and History.......................................................................... 3-120
   
 3.10.3.  Big Game ............................................................................................................... 3-123
   
 3.10.3.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-123
   
 3.10.3.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-124
   
 3.10.4.  Other Mammals ..................................................................................................... 3-126
   
 3.10.4.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-126
   
 3.10.4.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-126
   
 3.10.5.  Raptors .................................................................................................................. 3-128
   
 3.10.5.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-128
   
 3.10.5.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-129
   
 3.10.6.  Upland Game Birds ................................................................................................ 3-133
   
   3.10.6.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-133
 
 3.10.6.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-144
   
   3.10.7.  Other Birds............................................................................................................. 3-148
 
 3.10.7.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-148
   


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Table of Contents

3.10.7.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-153
   
 3.10.8.  Amphibians, Reptiles, and Aquatic Species ........................................................... 3-157
   
 3.10.8.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-157
   
 3.10.8.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-157
   
 3.10.9.  Threatened, Endangered, Proposed, and Candidate Animal Species, and 
 BLM Sensitive Species ....................................................................................... 3-158
   
 3.10.10.Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation and Monitoring ................................................ 3-159
     
 3.10.11.Residual Impacts ................................................................................................... 3-161
     
 3.11.  Land Use and Recreation ............................................................................................. 3-162
   
 3.11.1.  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-162
   
 3.11.1.1. Oil and Gas Production .................................................................................. 3-165
 
   3.11.1.2. Coal Mining .................................................................................................... 3-167
   
 3.11.1.3. Recreation ..................................................................................................... 3-167
   
 3.11.2.  Environmental Consequences ............................................................................... 3-169
   
 3.11.2.1. Proposed Action............................................................................................. 3-169
   
 3.11.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action) ................................................................................ 3-169
   
   3.11.2.3. Alternative 2................................................................................................... 3-170
 
 3.11.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ............................................... 3-170
   
   3.11.4.  Residual Impacts ................................................................................................... 3-170
 
 3.12.  Cultural Resources and Native American Consultation ................................................ 3-171
   
 3.12.1.  Cultural Resources................................................................................................. 3-171
   
   3.12.1.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-171
 
 3.12.1.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-176
   
 3.12.1.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ....................................... 3-177
   
 3.12.1.4. Residual Impacts ........................................................................................... 3-177
   
 3.12.2.  Native American Consultation ................................................................................ 3-177
   
 3.12.2.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-177
   
 3.12.2.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-178
   
 3.12.2.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ....................................... 3-178
   
 3.12.2.4. Residual Impacts ........................................................................................... 3-179
   
 3.13.  Visual Resources.......................................................................................................... 3-179
 
   3.13.1.  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-179
   
 3.13.2.  Environmental Consequences ............................................................................... 3-180
   
 3.13.2.1. Proposed Action............................................................................................. 3-180
   
   3.13.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action) ................................................................................ 3-181
 
 3.13.2.3. Alternative 2................................................................................................... 3-181
   
   3.13.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ............................................... 3-182
 
   3.13.4.  Residual Impacts ................................................................................................... 3-182
 


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Table of Contents

3.14.  Noise ............................................................................................................................ 3-182
   
 3.14.1.  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-182
   
 3.14.1.1. Noise Terminology ......................................................................................... 3-182
   
 3.14.1.2. Noise-Sensitive Areas.................................................................................... 3-182
   
 3.14.1.3. Existing Noise Sources and Existing Noise Levels ........................................ 3-184
   
 3.14.2.  Environmental Consequences ............................................................................... 3-185
   
 3.14.2.1. Proposed Action............................................................................................. 3-185
 
   3.14.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action) ................................................................................ 3-187
   
 3.14.2.3. Alternative 2................................................................................................... 3-187
   
 3.14.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ............................................... 3-188
   
 3.14.4.  Residual Impacts ................................................................................................... 3-189
   
 3.15.  Transportation .............................................................................................................. 3-189
   
 3.15.1.  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-189
   
 3.15.1.1. Roadways ...................................................................................................... 3-189
   
 3.15.1.2. Railways ........................................................................................................ 3-189
   
 3.15.1.3. Oil and Gas Pipelines and Electric Corridors ................................................. 3-192
 
     
 3.15.2.  Environmental Consequences ............................................................................... 3-192
 3.15.2.1. Proposed Action............................................................................................. 3-192
   
   
 3.15.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action) ................................................................................ 3-193
 3.15.2.3. Alternative 2................................................................................................... 3-193
   
 3.15.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ............................................... 3-194
   
   3.15.4.  Residual Impacts ................................................................................................... 3-194
 
 3.16.  Hazardous and Solid Waste ......................................................................................... 3-196
   
 3.16.1.  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-196
 
   3.16.2.  Environmental Consequences ............................................................................... 3-196
   
 3.16.2.1. Proposed Action............................................................................................. 3-196
   
 3.16.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action) ................................................................................ 3-197
   
 3.16.2.3. Alternative 2................................................................................................... 3-197
 
   3.16.3.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ............................................... 3-197
   
 3.16.4.  Residual Impacts ................................................................................................... 3-197
   
 3.17.  Socioeconomics ........................................................................................................... 3-198
   
 3.17.1.  Local Economy ...................................................................................................... 3-198
   
 3.17.1.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-198
   
 3.17.1.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-201
   
   3.17.2.  Population .............................................................................................................. 3-203
 
 
 3.17.2.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-203
     
 3.17.2.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-204
 3.17.3.  Employment ........................................................................................................... 3-205
   


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3.17.3.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-205
   
 3.17.3.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-207
   
 3.17.4.  Housing.................................................................................................................. 3-207
   
 3.17.4.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-207
   
 3.17.4.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-209
 
   3.17.5.  Local Government Facilities and Services ............................................................. 3-209
 
   3.17.5.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-209
   
 3.17.5.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-211
   
 3.17.6.  Social Setting ......................................................................................................... 3-212
   
 3.17.6.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-212
   
 3.17.6.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-212
   
 3.17.7.  Environmental Justice ............................................................................................ 3-213
   
 3.17.7.1. Affected Environment..................................................................................... 3-214
   
 3.17.7.2. Environmental Consequences ....................................................................... 3-214
   
 3.17.8.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ............................................... 3-215
   
 3.17.9.  Residual Effects ..................................................................................................... 3-215
   
   3.17.9.1. Human Health Impact Assessment................................................................ 3-215
 
 3.18.	 The Relationship Between Local Short-Term Uses of the Human Environment 
   	 and the Maintenance and Enhancement of Long-Term Productivity ............................ 3-216
   
 3.18.1.  Local Area.............................................................................................................. 3-216
   
 3.18.1.1. Topography.................................................................................................... 3-216
   
   3.18.1.2. Coal Bed Natural Gas .................................................................................... 3-216
 
 3.18.1.3. Air Quality and Visual Resources................................................................... 3-217
   
 3.18.1.4. Water Resources ........................................................................................... 3-217
   
 3.18.1.5. Vegetation...................................................................................................... 3-217
   
 3.18.1.6. Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat ........................................................................... 3-217
   
 3.18.1.7. Recreational Resources................................................................................. 3-218
   
 3.18.1.8. Socioeconomic Resources ............................................................................ 3-218
   
 3.18.2.  Human Health Impact Assessment........................................................................ 3-218
   
 3.18.3.  Greenhouse Gas Emissions .................................................................................. 3-220
   
 3.18.4.  Carbon Sequestration ............................................................................................ 3-224
   
 3.18.5.  Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring ............................................... 3-224
 
   3.19.	 Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitments of Resources ............................................ 3-225
     	 


4.0	 CUMULATIVE ANALYSES ....................................................................4-1
   	   

4.1  Past, Present, and Reasonably Foreseeable Development ............................................. 4-4
   
 4.1.1	 Coal Development ..................................................................................................... 4-4
   	 
   4.1.1.1  Coal Mine Development..................................................................................... 4-4
 
   4.1.1.2  Coal-Related Development .............................................................................. 4-13
   

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4.1.2  Oil and Gas Development ........................................................................................ 4-20
 
   4.1.2.1  Conventional Oil and Gas ................................................................................ 4-20
   
 4.1.2.2  CBNG Development ........................................................................................ 4-21
   
 4.1.2.3  Oil- and Gas-Related Development ................................................................. 4-22
   
 4.1.3  Other Development Activity...................................................................................... 4-26
   
 4.1.3.1  Other Mining .................................................................................................... 4-26
   
 4.1.3.2  Industrial Manufacturing................................................................................... 4-28
   
 4.1.3.3  Wind Power ..................................................................................................... 4-29
   
 4.1.3.4  Solar Power ..................................................................................................... 4-30
 
   4.1.3.5  Reservoirs........................................................................................................ 4-31
 
   4.1.3.6  Other Non-Energy Development...................................................................... 4-31
   
 4.2  Affected Environment and Cumulative Environmental Consequences ........................... 4-34
   
 4.2.1  Topography and Physiography ................................................................................ 4-37
   
 4.2.2  Geology, Mineral Resources, and Paleontology ...................................................... 4-38
 
   4.2.2.1  Geology ........................................................................................................... 4-38
   
 4.2.2.2  Mineral Resources ........................................................................................... 4-38
   
   4.2.2.3  Paleontology .................................................................................................... 4-39
 
 4.2.3  Air Quality ................................................................................................................ 4-41
   
   4.2.4  Water Resources ..................................................................................................... 4-53
 
 4.2.4.1  Groundwater .................................................................................................... 4-53
 
   4.2.4.2  Surface Water .................................................................................................. 4-67
   
   4.2.5  Channel Stability ...................................................................................................... 4-75
 
 4.2.6  Alluvial Valley Floors ................................................................................................ 4-77
   
 4.2.7  Soils ......................................................................................................................... 4-77
 
   4.2.8  Vegetation, Wetlands, and Riparian Areas .............................................................. 4-78
 
   4.2.8.1  Vegetation........................................................................................................ 4-78
   
 4.2.8.2  Special-Status Plant Species ........................................................................... 4-79
 
   4.2.8.3  Noxious and Invasive Weed Species ............................................................... 4-79
 
   4.2.8.4  Wetland and Riparian Species ......................................................................... 4-81
   
 4.2.9  Wildlife and Fisheries ............................................................................................... 4-81
 
   4.2.9.1  Game Species ................................................................................................. 4-82
   
 4.2.9.2  Non-game Species .......................................................................................... 4-85
   
 4.2.9.3  Fisheries .......................................................................................................... 4-86
   
 4.2.9.4  Special-Status Species .................................................................................... 4-88
   
   4.2.10  Land Use and Recreation ........................................................................................ 4-92
 
 
 4.2.10.1  Grazing and Agriculture ................................................................................... 4-93
   
   4.2.10.2  Urban Use........................................................................................................ 4-94
 4.2.10.3  Recreation ....................................................................................................... 4-94
   


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Table of Contents


 4.2.11  Cultural Resources and Native American Concerns ................................................ 4-96
   
 4.2.11.1  Prehistoric Sites ............................................................................................... 4-96
   
 4.2.11.2  Historic Sites .................................................................................................... 4-98
   
 4.2.11.3  Native American Traditional Cultural Places .................................................... 4-98
   
 4.2.11.4  Site Protection ................................................................................................. 4-98
   
 4.2.12  Transportation and Utilities ...................................................................................... 4-99
   
 4.2.13  Socioeconomics..................................................................................................... 4-101
   
 4.2.13.1  Employment and the Economic Base ............................................................ 4-102
   
 4.2.13.2  Labor Market Conditions ................................................................................ 4-103
   
 4.2.13.3  Personal Income ............................................................................................ 4-104
   
 4.2.13.4  Population and Demographics ....................................................................... 4-105
   
 4.2.13.5  Housing.......................................................................................................... 4-108
   
 4.2.13.6  Public Education ............................................................................................ 4-112
   
 4.2.13.7  Facilities and Services ................................................................................... 4-114
   
 4.2.13.8  Fiscal Conditions............................................................................................ 4-115
   
 4.2.13.9  Social Setting ................................................................................................. 4-118
   
   4.2.14  Emissions and By-Products of Coal Mining and Coal-Fired Power Plants ............. 4-119
 
 4.2.14.1  Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Global Warming, and Climate Change ............ 4-120
   4.2.14.2 Cumulative Effects of Combustion of PRB Coal by Power Plants.................. 4-126
 
 4.2.14.3  U.S. Actions and Strategies to Address Greenhouse Gas Emissions ............ 4-132
   4.2.14.4  Current and Future Energy Sources and Emissions of Greenhouse 
 
 Gases in the U.S. ...................................................................................... 4-134
   
 4.2.14.5  Mercury, Coal Combustion Residues, and Other By-Products ...................... 4-138
  

5.0  CONSULTATION AND COORDINATION ..............................................5-1
 
  
5.1.  5.2.  5.3.  5.4.  5.5.  5.6.  5.7 Regional Coal Team Consultation .................................................................................... 5-1
   
 Governor’s Consultation ................................................................................................... 5-1
 
   Public Notice..................................................................................................................... 5-1
   
 Department of Justice Consultation .................................................................................. 5-2
   
 Other Consultations .......................................................................................................... 5-2
   
 List of Contributors, Reviewers, and Preparers ................................................................ 5-3
 
   Distribution List ................................................................................................................. 5-6
   


6.0  REFERENCES CITED............................................................................6-1
 
  
6.1.  6.2.  Printed References ........................................................................................................... 6-1
   
 Personal Communication................................................................................................ 6-26
 
  

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Table of Contents

7.0  GLOSSARY ............................................................................................ 7-1
 
   8.0  INDEX OF KEY WORDS ........................................................................ 8-1
 
  

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

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Table of Contents

LIST OF TABLES 

Table ES-1.  Table ES-2.  Table ES-3.  Table ES-4.  Table 1-1.  Table 1-2.  Table 1-3.  Table 2-1.  Table 2-2.  Table 2-3.  Table 2-4.  Table 2-5.  Table 3.2-1.  Table 3.3-1.  Table 3.4-1.  Table 3.4-2.  Table 3.4-3.  Table 3.4-4.  Table 3.4-5.  Table 3.4-6.  Table 3.4-7.  Table 3.4-8.  Table 3.4-9.  Table 3.7-1.  Table 3.7-2.  Comparison of Coal Reserves, Lease and Permit Areas, Production, Mine Life, and Revenues .................................................................................................................................. ES-11
   
 Projected Maximum Potential Near-Field Impacts (µg/m3) .......................................................ES-40
   
   
 Modeled Change in Visibility Impacts at Class I and Sensitive Class II Areas ..........................ES-41
   
 Recent and Projected PRB Population ......................................................................................ES-44
 Coal Leases Issued and Exchanges Completed Since Decertification of the Federal Coal 
   
 Region in 1990, Powder River Basin, Wyoming .............................................................................1-6
   
 Pending Coal Leases by Application, Powder River Basin, Wyoming ............................................1-9
   
 Summary of Land Status Acreage at the Buckskin Mine through December 2008 ......................1-16
   
 Legal Description of the Proposed Tract ........................................................................................2-4
   
 Legal Description of the BLM Study Area .....................................................................................2-10
   
 Legal Description of the Tract Under Consideration by the BLM ..................................................2-10
 
 Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring Measures for Surface Coal Mining
   
 Operations Legally Required for All Alternatives ..........................................................................2-16
 Comparison of Coal Reserves, Lease and Permit Areas, Production, Mine Life, and 
   
 Revenues by Alternative...............................................................................................................2-21
   
 Overburden/Coal Thickness and Postmining Elevation Change ..................................................3-27
   
 Stratigraphic Relationships and Hydrologic Characteristics, Powder River Basin, Wyoming .......3-29
 Assumed Background Air Pollutant Concentrations, Applicable AAQS, and PSD 
   Increment Values (in µg/m3).........................................................................................................3-45
 
   Buckskin Mine Annual PM10 Monitoring Results and Production (µg/m3) ....................................3-49
 
   
 Northern PRB Mines: 24-Hour PM10 Monitoring Results by Year (µg/m3)....................................3-52
 Thunder Basin National Grassland Average Ozone Monitoring Results (Parts per Billion) 
   for Last Five Years .......................................................................................................................3-67
 
   Annual Ambient NO2 Concentration Data (µg/m3)........................................................................3-71
 
   
 1-hour NO2 Concentrations (parts per billion) ...............................................................................3-72
   
 1-hour SO2 Concentrations (parts per billion) Black Hills Power (Wyodak site) ...........................3-73
   
 Distances and Directions from the General Analysis Area to Sensitive Air Quality Areas ............3-74
   
 Existing Acid-Neutralizing Capacity in Sensitive Lakes ................................................................3-79
   
 NWI-Identified Wetlands in the General Analysis Area ..............................................................3-103
   
 NWI-Identified Wetlands Confirmed to be Non-Wetlands in the General Analysis Area ............3-104


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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Table of Contents Table 3.7-3.  Table 3.9-1.  Table 3.10-1.  Table 3.10-2.  Table 3.10-3.  Potential Wetland Impacts under the Proposed Action and Alternativesa ..................................3-105
 
   
 Vegetation Communities in the General Analysis Area ..............................................................3-111
   
 Potential Impacts on Raptor Nest Sitesa (Intact and Former) in the General Analysis Area
 (through 2009) Under the Proposed Action and Alternatives .....................................................3-129
 
   Peak Grouse Attendance at Leks in the Vicinity of Buckskin Mine (1984–2009) .......................3-141
 
   Forty Migratory Bird Species of Management Concern for Wyoming Coal Mines: Historical
 
 Occurrence and Status in or within 0.5 Mile of the Buckskin Mine Permit Areaa (2007– 2009) .......................................................................................................................................... 3-148
 
   Distribution of Oil and Gas Ownership in the Proposed Tract and BLM Study Area ..................3-165
 
   Current Federal Oil and Gas Leases in the General Analysis Area............................................3-165
 
   Cultural Sites Previously Identified in the General Analysis Area ...............................................3-175
 
   Contribution of Coal Mining to 2008 Assessed Valuation of Campbell County ..........................3-201
 
   Projected Major Revenue Increases under the Proposed Action and Alternativesa ...................3-202
   
   Population Change, 2000 to 2008 ..............................................................................................3-203
 
   Demographic Characteristics, 2000 ...........................................................................................3-204
 
   Campbell County Housing Inventory, 2000 and 2007 ................................................................3-208
 
   Carbon Dioxide Equivalent Conversion Factors .........................................................................3-222
 
   Estimated Annual Equivalent Carbon Dioxide Emissions at the Buckskin Mine.........................3-222
 
 Status and Ownership of Wyoming PRB Coal Mines for 2003, the PRB Coal Review
 
   Baseline Year, and for 2007 ...........................................................................................................4-7
 
 Actual and Projected Wyoming PRB Coal Mine Development, Lower Coal Production
 
   Scenario .......................................................................................................................................4-11
 
 Actual and Projected Wyoming PRB Coal Mine Development, Upper Coal Production
 
   Scenario .......................................................................................................................................4-12
 
   Actual and Projected Wyoming PRB Coal-Related Development (acres) ....................................4-13
 
 Past, Present, and Projected Wyoming PRB Coal Mine and Coal-Related Development 
   Scenario .......................................................................................................................................4-19
 
   Actual Wyoming PRB Conventional Oil and Gas Development Scenario ....................................4-21
 
   Actual Wyoming PRB CBNG Development Scenario...................................................................4-22
 
 Wyoming PRB Conventional Oil and Gas, CBNG, and Related Development Disturbance 
   and Water Production...................................................................................................................4-23
 
 In-Situ Recovery Uranium Projects Currently Proposed in the Task 2 Study Area for the 
   Wyoming portion of the PRB ........................................................................................................4-27
 
   Actual and Projected Wyoming PRB Total Development Scenario, Task 3 Study Area ..............4-35
 
 xiii

Table 3.11-1.  Table 3.11-2.  Table 3.12-1.  Table 3.17-1.  Table 3.17-2.  Table 3.17-3.  Table 3.17-4.  Table 3.17-5.  Table 3.18-1.  Table 3.18-2.  Table 4-1.  Table 4-2.  Table 4-3.  Table 4-4.  Table 4-5.  Table 4-6.  Table 4-7.  Table 4-8.  Table 4-9.  Table 4-10. 

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Table of Contents Table 4-11.  Table 4-12.  Table 4-13.  Table 4-14.  Table 4-15.  Table 4-16.  Table 4-17.  Table 4-18.  Table 4-19.  Table 4-20.  Table 4-21.  Table 4-22.  Table 4-23.  Table 4-24.  Table 4-25.  Table 4-26.  Table 4-27.  Table 4-28.  Table 4-29.  Projected Maximum Potential Near-Field Impacts (µg/m3) ..........................................................4-44
 
   
 Maximum Predicted PSD Class I and Sensitive Class II Area Impacts (µg/m3)...........................4-46
   
   Modeled Change in Visibility Impacts at Class I and Sensitive Class II Areas .............................4-49
 
   Predicted Total Cumulative Change in Acid-Neutralizing Capacity of Sensitive Lakes ................4-51
 
   Recoverable Groundwater in the Fort Union/Wasatch Aquifer System in the PRB.....................4-54
 
   Water Use as of 2002 in the Powder/Tongue River Basin (acre-feet per year) ............................4-68
 
   Surface Water Availability in the Powder/Tongue River Basin (acre-feet per year)......................4-69
 
   Water Use as of 2002 in the Northeast Wyoming River Basins....................................................4-69
 
   Surface Water Availability in the Northeast Wyoming River Basins .............................................4-70
 
   Summary of Proposed Limits for Sodium Absorption Ratios and Electrical Conductivity .............4-72
 
   Impact of CBNG Production Water on Perennial Streams ...........................................................4-76
 
 Potential Cumulative Disturbance to Pronghorn Ranges from Development Activities—
 
   Lower and Upper Coal Production Scenarios...............................................................................4-83
 Potential Cumulative Disturbance to White-tailed Deer Ranges from Development 
 
   Activities—Lower and Upper Coal Production Scenarios .............................................................4-83
 
 Potential Cumulative Disturbance to Mule Deer Ranges from Development Activities—
 
 Lower and Upper Coal Production Scenarios...............................................................................4-84
   
 Potential Cumulative Disturbance to Elk Ranges from Development Activities—Lower and
 
 Upper Coal Production Scenarios ................................................................................................4-84
   Potential Cumulative Impacts on Greater Sage-grouse Leks from Coal Mine 
 
 Development—Upper and Lower Coal Production Scenarios......................................................4-91
   
 PRB Land Use by Surface Ownership .........................................................................................4-92
   Animal Unit Months and Acres of Cropland Estimated Unavailable on Lands Disturbed 
 
 and Not Yet Reclaimed as a Result of Development Activities ....................................................4-94
   
 Square Miles of Projected Cumulative Disturbance and Number of Potentially Affected
 Cultural Resource Sites in the Task 3 Study Area—Lower and Upper Coal Production 
 Scenarios .....................................................................................................................................4-97
   
 PRB Rail Lines Coal Hauling Capacity and Projected Use ........................................................4-100
   
 Recent and Projected PRB Population .......................................................................................4-106
   
 Rental Housing Vacancy Rates ..................................................................................................4-108
   
 Total Housing Stock in 2000 and 2005 .......................................................................................4-109
   Monthly Housing Rents in 2006a in the PRB Study Area and Percent Change from 2004.........4-109
   
 Summary of Mineral Development Tax Revenues Associated with Energy Resource 
   
 Production under the Lower Coal Production Scenario (million $) .............................................4-116
 Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Table 4-30.  Table 4-31.  Table 4-32.  Table 4-33.  Table 4-34.   Table 4-35. 

xiv

Table of Contents Table 4-36.  Table 4-37.  Table 4-38.  Table 4-39.  Table 4-40.  Table 4-41.    Summary of Mineral Development Tax Revenues Associated with Energy Resource Production under the Upper Coal Production Scenario (million $) .............................................4-117
 
   Estimated Annual CO2 Emissions from Projected PRB Coal Production Levels According 
 to Task 2 Report ......................................................................................................................... 4-128
 
   Estimated Annual CO2 Equivalent Emissionsa from Coal Production at PRB Mines with 
 Pending LBAs............................................................................................................................. 4-129
   
 Estimated Annual CO2 Emissions Produced from Combustion of Coal Produced from the 
   Proposed Tract or BLM Study Area ............................................................................................4-130
 
   2004 Percent Contribution to Worldwide Anthropogenic Mercury Emissions .............................4-140
 
   Summary Comparison of Magnitude and Duration of Cumulative Impactsa,b .............................4-144
 


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Table of Contents

LIST OF FIGURES 

Figure 3.1-1.  Figure 3.1-2.  Figure 3.1-3.  Figure 3.3-1.  Figure 3.4-1.  Figure 3.4-2.  Figure 3.10-1.  Figure 3.10-2.  Figure 3.14-1. Figure 4-1.  Figure 4-2.  Figure 4-3.  Figure 4-4.  Figure 4-5.  Figure 4-6.  Average Diurnal Temperature by Season at Buckskin Mine ........................................................3-22
 
   Wind Rose for the Buckskin Mine .................................................................................................3-23
   
 Average Diurnal Wind Speed by Season at the Buckskin Mine ...................................................3-24
 
   North-South and East-West Geologic Cross Sections .................................................................3-31
 
   Buckskin PM10 Monitoring History ................................................................................................3-51
   
 
   Visibility in the Badlands National Park and Bridger Wilderness Area..........................................3-76
 Average Male Sage-grouse Lek Attendance within the Northeast Wyoming Local Working 
 
   Group Area (1967–2008)............................................................................................................ 3-138
 Average Number of Males per Lek Counted in Wyoming (1960–2008) with a Minimum of 
   
 100 Leks Checked Each Year ....................................................................................................3-139
 
   Relationship Between A-Weighted Decibel Readings and Sounds of Daily Life ........................3-183
 
 Recoverable Tons of Federal Coal Leased Versus Tons of Coal Mined Since 1990 in
   
 Campbell and Converse Counties, Wyoming .................................................................................4-5
 
 Projected and Actual Total Coal Production from Campbell and Converse Counties under
   
 the Lower and Upper Production Scenarios.................................................................................4-10
   
 Projected Campbell County Population and Employment to 2020 .............................................4-107
 
 Projected Housing Demand in the PRB Study Area under the Lower Coal Production
   
 Scenario ..................................................................................................................................... 4-111
   
 Projected School Enrollment Trends to 2020 under the Lower Coal Production Scenario .........4-113
   
 Current and Forecast Mix of Electric Generation Sources .........................................................4-137


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Table of Contents

LIST OF MAPS 

Map ES-1.  Map ES-2.  Map ES-3.  Map ES-4.  Map ES-5.  Map ES-6.  Map ES-7.  Map ES-8A.  Map ES-8B.  Map ES-9A.  Map ES-9B.  Map ES-10.  Map 1-1.  Map 1-2.  Map 1-3.  Map 2-1.  Map 2-2.  Map 3.0-1. Map 3.0-2. Map 3.0-3. Map 3.4-1.  Map 3.4-2.  Map 3.4-3.  Map 3.4-4A.  General Location Map with Federal Coal Leases and LBA Tracts ..............................................ES-2
 
   Applicant Proposed Tract and Applicant Original (March 2006) Tract.........................................ES-3
 
   Applicant Proposed Tract and BLM Study Area ..........................................................................ES-7
 
   BLM Tract under Consideration and Applicant Original (March 2006) Tract ...............................ES-8
 
   Areas of Disturbance under the Proposed Action......................................................................ES-14
 
   Areas of Disturbance under Alternative 1 (No Action) ...............................................................ES-15
 
   Areas of Disturbance under Alternative 2 ..................................................................................ES-16
 
   2011 Maximum Modeled PM10 and NO2 Concentrations for Buckskin Mine Ambient Air
 
 Boundary ................................................................................................................................... ES-22
 
   2012 Maximum Modeled PM10 and NO2 Concentrations for Buckskin Mine Ambient Air
 
 Boundary ................................................................................................................................... ES-23
 
   Roads, Highways, Occupied Dwellings, Businesses, and School Bus Stops in the Vicinity 
 of the General Analysis Area ..................................................................................................... ES-25
 
   Enlargement—Roads, Highways, Occupied Dwellings, Businesses, and School Bus Stops
 
 in the Vicinity of the General Analysis Area ...............................................................................ES-26
 
   Extent of Drawdown under the Proposed Action .......................................................................ES-28
   
 General Location Map with Federal Coal Leases and LBA Tracts .................................................1-4
 
   Applicant Proposed and Original (March 2006) Tracts ...................................................................1-5
   
 Buckskin Mine’s Existing Federal Coal Leases and Applicant Proposed Tract ............................1-12
 
   Applicant Proposed Tract and BLM Study Area .............................................................................2-3
   
 BLM Tract under Consideration and Applicant Original (March 2006) Tract ..................................2-9
 
   Areas of Disturbance under the Proposed Action...........................................................................3-4
 Areas of Disturbance under Alternative 1 (No Action) ....................................................................3-5
 Areas of Disturbance under Alternative 2 .......................................................................................3-6
 Buckskin Mine Ambient Air Monitoring Network ...........................................................................3-48
 
   2011 Maximum Modeled PM10 and NO2 Concentrations for Buckskin Mine Ambient Air 
   Boundary ......................................................................................................................................3-55
 
 2012 Maximum Modeled PM10 and NO2 Concentrations for Buckskin Mine Ambient Air 
 
   Boundary ......................................................................................................................................3-56
 Roads, Highways, Occupied Dwellings, Businesses, and School Bus Stops in the Vicinity 
 
   of the General Analysis Area ........................................................................................................3-58


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Table of Contents Map 3.4-4B. Map 3.5-1.  Map 3.5-2.  Map 3.5-3.  Map 3.7-1.  Map 3.10-1.  Map 3.11-1.  Map 3.11-2.  Map 3.15-1.  Map 3.15-2.  Map 4-1.  Map 4-2.  Map 4-3.  Map 4-4.  Map 4-5.  Map 4-6.  Enlargement - Roads, Highways, Occupied Dwellings, Businesses, and School Bus Stops in the Vicinity of the General Analysis Area ..................................................................................3-59 
 Currently Active Groundwater Monitoring and Water Supply Wells at the Buckskin Mine............3-82
 
   Extent of Drawdown under Proposed Action................................................................................3-86
 
   Surface Water Features in the General Analysis Area .................................................................3-89
 
   Wetlands and Other Waters in the General Analysis Area .........................................................3-102
   
 Raptor Nests, Prairie Dog Colonies, and Grouse Leks in the Wildlife Survey Area ...................3-122
 
   Surface Ownership in the General Analysis Area.......................................................................3-163
 
   Oil and Gas Ownership, Leases, and Facilities in the General Analysis Area............................3-164
 
   Transportation Facilities in the Vicinity of the General Analysis Area .........................................3-190
 
   Oil and Gas Pipelines in the General Analysis Area...................................................................3-191
 
   Wyoming Study Area for PRB Coal Review Studies Evaluating Current and Projected 
 Levels of Development ...................................................................................................................4-3
 
   Task 3 Study Area Evaluating Projected Environmental Consequences .....................................4-36
 
   Coal Mine Groundwater Model, Upper Fort Union Formation, Subregion 1—North Gillette, 
 1990–2010 Coal-Mine-Related Groundwater Level Drawdown....................................................4-59
 
   Coal Mine Groundwater Model, Upper Fort Union Formation, Subregion 1—North Gillette, 
 1990–2020 Coal-Mine-Related Groundwater Level Drawdown....................................................4-60
 
   Coal Mine Groundwater Model, Upper Fort Union Formation, Subregion 1—North Gillette, 
 1990–2010 CBNG-Related Groundwater Level Drawdown .........................................................4-62
 
   Coal Mine Groundwater Model, Upper Fort Union Formation, Subregion 1—North Gillette, 
 1990–2020 CBNG-Related Groundwater Level Drawdown .........................................................4-63
 
  

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Table of Contents

LIST OF APPENDICES 

Appendix A. Appendix B. Appendix C. Appendix D. Appendix E. Appendix F. Appendix G. Appendix H. Appendix I. Appendix J. Appendix K. Federal and State Agencies and Permitting Requirements Unsuitability Criteria Coal Lease-by-Application Flow Chart Comments on Draft EIS and BLM Responses Bureau of Land Management Special Coal Lease Stipulations and Form 3400-12 Coal Lease CBNG and Conventional Oil and Gas Wells Capable of Production in the General Analysis Area Air Quality Technical Support Document Non-Mine Groundwater and Surface Water Rights Environmental Quality Council Ruling Respective of Hay Creek Tract as an Alluvial Valley Floor Biological Assessment for Federally Listed Species Under The Endangered Species Act Bureau of Land Management Sensitive Species Evaluation

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations and Acronyms Used in this Report 

µeq/L µg/m3 AQRVs AVF B.P. BACT BAM BHP BLM BNSF Btu C C2P2 CAA CBNG CCPs CCSD CERCLA CFR cfs CMGM CO CO2 CO2e Collins Road microequivalents per liter micrograms per cubic meter air quality related values alluvial valley floor before present best available control technology Belle Ayr Mine Black Hills Power U.S. Bureau of Land Management Burlington Northern Santa Fe British thermal units Celsius Coal Combustion Products Partnership Clean Air Act coal bed natural gas coal combustion products Campbell County School District Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act Code of Federal Regulations cubic feet per second coal mine groundwater model carbon monoxide carbon dioxide equivalent CO2 Campbell County Road 23

xx

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Table of Contents Corps CP dB dBA DM&E DOE dv EC EIS EOR EPA EPRI ESA F FERC FLPMA FMR GAGMO GHG GSP HFCs I-90 IMPROVE Kiewit kV LBA LDN U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. decibel A-weighted decibel Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad Corporation U.S. Department of Energy deciview electrical conductivity environmental impact statement enhanced oil recovery U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Electric Power Research Institute Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended Fahrenheit Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Federal Land Policy Management Act federal mineral royalties Gillette Area Groundwater Monitoring Organization greenhouse gas gross state product hydrofluorocarbons Interstate 90 Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments Kiewit Mining Properties, Inc. kilovolt lease by application day-night noise levels

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

xxi

Table of Contents Leq LRPL MAAQS McGee Road mph MRPL MSHA MW N2O NAAQS NEAP NEPA NIOSH NO NO2 NOx NRC NRHP NWI NWLSWG OSHA OSM P&M PFCs PM10 PM2.5 PRB equivalent noise level least restrictive proposed limit Montana Ambient Air Quality Standard Campbell County Road 73 miles per hour most restrictive proposed limit Mine Safety and Health Administration megawatts nitrous oxide National Ambient Air Quality Standards natural events action plan National Environmental Policy Act National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health nitrogen oxide nitrogen dioxide nitrogen oxides U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission National Register of Historic Places National Wetland Inventory Northeast Wyoming Local Sage-Grouse Working Group Occupational Safety and Health Administration Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Pittsburg and Midway Coal Mining Company perfluorocarbons particulate matter measuring 10 micrometers or less in diameter particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns or less in diameter Powder River Basin

xxii

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Table of Contents PRRCT PSD REMI RMP ROD RV SARA scf/ton SEO SHPO SIP SMCRA SO2 TBNG TDS TEOM monitor TSP UP USFWS USGS USGS CHIA VOCs VRM WAAQS WDEQ WGFD Powder River Regional Coal Team prevention of significant deterioration REMI Policy Insight resource management plan record of decision recreational vehicle Superfund Amendments and Re-authorization Act cubic feet of methane per ton of coal mined Wyoming State Engineer’s Office State Historic Preservation Office state implementation plan Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 sulfur dioxide Thunder Basin National Grassland total dissolved solids Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance monitor total suspended particles Union Pacific U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Geological Survey Cumulative Potential Hydrologic Impacts of Surface Coal Mining in the Eastern Powder River Structural Basin, Northeastern Wyoming volatile organic compounds visual resource management Wyoming Ambient Air Quality Standards Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

xxiii

Table of Contents WIA WOGCC WSO-RMG Wyoming PRB Oil and Gas EIS Wyoming Infrastructure Authority Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission The BLM Wyoming State Office–Reservoir Management Group Final Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Plan Amendment for the PRB Oil and Gas Project, referred to as the

xxiv

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Executive Summary

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Introduction
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Hay Creek II coal lease application (Proposed Action). The final EIS was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its associated rules and guidelines, and presents the BLM’s analysis of environmental impacts from the Proposed Action and alternatives. The BLM will use this impact analysis to make a leasing decision for federal coal reserves adjacent to the Buckskin Mine. A federal coal lease does not authorize mining to occur, but is the first step in that process. The lease merely grants the lessee the exclusive right to pursue a mining permit for the coal tract subject to the terms of the lease, the mining permit itself, and all applicable state and federal laws. Permits to mine are issued by authorized federal and/or state agencies only after a lease has been secured and all appropriate agencies have reviewed and approved an extensive permit application. That application document provides information describing a wide range of baseline resources, as well as detailed mining, mitigation, and reclamation plans.

Background
On March 24, 2006, Kiewit Mining Properties, Inc. (Kiewit), filed the Hay Creek II coal lease application with the BLM for federal coal reserves included in a tract located northwest of and immediately adjacent to the existing Buckskin Mine permit area, approximately 12 miles north of Gillette, Campbell County, Wyoming (map ES-1). The mine is operated by the Buckskin Mining Company, a directly held subsidiary of Kiewit. The Hay Creek II lease by application (LBA) was assigned BLM case file number WYW-172684. The federal coal reserves were applied for as a maintenance tract for the Buckskin Mine, which means the coal tract is adjacent to, and can be recovered by, the existing active coal mine. The intent of the proposed tract is to extend the life of existing operations rather than to expand the mine. Since submitting its original application in 2006 (see “applicant original [March 2006] tract” on map ES-2), Kiewit modified its lease application due to changing needs. The applicant proposed tract (proposed tract) from November 2008 was analyzed in the draft EIS. Unforeseen LBA processing delays caused Buckskin to lose the mechanical advantage provided by the November 2008 modification. Consequently, on September 3, 2010, Kiewit requested that the BLM consider a tract configuration under Alternative 2 (see chapter 2) based on the original tract configuration applied for in March 2006. Because the analyses in the draft EIS encompassed all configurations of Kiewit’s proposed tract, they are still valid for the final EIS. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis, the proposed tract remains unchanged from the draft EIS.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

ES-1

0

10 miles


20


No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map ES-1
 General Location Map with Federal Coal Leases and LBA Tracts


Existing permit boundary Applicant proposed tract Applicant original (March 2006) tract
0 2,500 feet 5,000

Existing Buckskin Mine coal leases Buckskin Mine rail spur

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map ES-2 Applicant Proposed and Original (March 2006) Tracts

Executive Summary

The BLM, Wyoming State Office, Division of Minerals and Lands, has reviewed Kiewit’s application for the proposed tract. That office determined that the lease application and lands involved meet the regulatory requirements for an LBA under 43 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 3425. The Powder River Regional Coal Team reviewed Kiewit’s application at a public meeting held on April 19, 2006, in Casper, Wyoming, and subsequently recommended that the BLM process it.

Evaluation and Environmental Review Process
To process an LBA, the BLM must evaluate the quantity, quality, maximum economic recovery, and fair market value of the federal coal. The BLM also must fulfill the requirements of NEPA by evaluating the environmental impacts of leasing that coal. NEPA requires the BLM to consider and evaluate reasonable alternatives to the Proposed Action, including a “no action” alternative. This EIS has been prepared to evaluate the site-specific and cumulative environmental impacts of leasing and recovering the federal coal reserves in the proposed tract or an alternative tract configuration, as determined by the BLM. In keeping with the purpose of an EIS, the analyses presented in this document are based primarily on existing information. As stated, the BLM leasing process does not authorize mining of federal coal reserves; applicants must obtain permits from appropriate federal and/or state agencies to mine the coal. However, because mining is a logical consequence of issuing a maintenance lease to an existing operation, the impacts of mining the coal are considered in this EIS. The BLM will use the analyses in this EIS to decide whether to hold a competitive sale and issue a lease for the federal coal reserves in the proposed tract or an alternative tract configuration. The LBA process by law and regulation is an open, public, competitive sealed-bid process. If a sale is held for a tract, the bidding would be open to any qualified bidder; it would not be limited to the applicant. A coal lease is issued to the highest bidder at the sale, if a federal sale panel determines that the high bid meets or exceeds the fair market value of the coal as determined by the BLM’s economic evaluation, and if the Department of Justice determines that no antitrust violations would result from assigning the lease to the high bidder. A decision to lease these federal coal reserves would be in conformance with the BLM Resource Management Plan for the Buffalo and Casper field offices. Regardless of whether the successful bidder is the applicant or a new operator, the lessee would be required to submit a permit application, including detailed mining, monitoring, mitigation, and reclamation plans to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) for review. The operator would also be required to submit a Resource Recovery and Protection Plan to the BLM for review. Before mining operations could begin in the new tract, the mining permit must be approved by the WDEQ, the Resource Recovery and Protection Plan must be approved by the BLM, and a Mineral Leasing Act mining plan must be approved by the Assistant Secretary of the Interior.

ES-4

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Executive Summary

Other agencies will also use this EIS analysis to make decisions related to leasing and mining the federal coal in the proposed tract or an alternative tract configuration. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement and all divisions of the WDEQ are cooperating agencies on this EIS. Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the BLM will publish a notice of availability of the final EIS in the Federal Register. After a 30-day availability period, the BLM will make a decision to hold or not to hold a competitive lease sale for the federal coal reserves in the final tract configuration. The record of decision (ROD) for the tract is mailed to all parties on the mailing list and others who commented on the draft EIS during the comment period. Members of the public and/or the applicant can appeal the BLM decision to hold or not to hold a competitive sale and issue a lease for the final tract configuration. The BLM decision must be appealed within 30 days from the date that the notice of availability for the ROD is published in the Federal Register. The decision can be implemented at that time if no appeal is received. If a competitive lease sale is held, it will follow the procedures set forth in 43 CFR 3422, 43 CFR 3425, and BLM Handbook H-3420-1 (Competitive Coal Leasing). After a competitive coal lease sale is held, but before the lease is issued, the BLM must solicit the opinion of the Department of Justice on whether the planned lease issuance creates a situation inconsistent with federal antitrust laws. The Department of Justice has 30 days to make this determination. If the Department of Justice has not responded in writing within the 30 days, the BLM can issue the lease.

Purpose and Need
The purpose of the Proposed Action is to extend the life of existing operations at the Buckskin Mine. The Proposed Action would not expand operations at the Buckskin Mine, but would extend the life of the mine by approximately two years1. More broadly, the Proposed Action responds to the continued demand for coal in the United States, primarily for the purpose of generating electricity. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (2008a), the United States has the world’s largest known coal reserves. Demand for this coal is driven by the electric power sector, which accounts for about 92% of coal consumption (U.S. Energy Information Administration 2008a, 2008b). Approximately half of the electricity currently generated in the United States comes from coal (U.S. Department of Energy 2009a). Wyoming coal is used to generate electricity in 37 other states (Wyoming Mining Association 2009). The BLM recognizes that the continued extraction of coal is essential to meet the nation’s future energy needs and goals. Consequently, private development of federal coal reserves is integral to the BLM coal leasing program under the authority of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as well as the Federal Land Policy Management Act and the Federal Coal Leasing Amendments Act of 1976. Under the Federal Land Policy Management Act, the BLM is mandated to manage public
1

Assuming that coal production would continue at the most recent (2008) annual coal production rate of 25 million tons per year.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

ES-5

Executive Summary

lands for multiple-use so that the lands are utilized in the combination that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people. Management of federal coal resources—leasing, mining, and selling—in the Power River Basin (PRB) contributes to a reliable supply of low-sulfur compliance coal for electric power generation in the United States. This domestic supply enables coal-fired power plants to meet current Clean Air Act requirements and increasing demand without potentially significant increases in power costs while new technologies are developed to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. Management of federal coal resources in the PRB also generates revenue—in the form of bonus, annual rental, and royalty payments—that is used to fund numerous infrastructure and social projects in Wyoming.

Proposed Action and Alternatives
The Proposed Action and two alternatives are analyzed in detail in this final EIS. No new lifeof-mine facilities would be built under any of the alternatives; federal coal reserves would be mined as an extension of the existing mine.  Proposed Action—Under the Proposed Action, the BLM would hold a competitive, sealed-bid sale and issue a lease for the federal coal reserves included in the proposed tract, which is a contiguous block of federal coal reserves adjacent to the existing Buckskin Mine permit area. The proposed tract includes approximately 419 acres (map ES-3) and 77.2 million tons of in-place coal reserves.  Alternative 1—Under Alternative 1, the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be offered for sale at this time. The existing leases at the Buckskin Mine would be developed according to the current approved mining plan. Rejection of the lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in that area in the future. The current coal leases at the mine include approximately 6,438 acres and 460.9 million tons of in-place coal reserves.  Alternative 2 (BLM Preferred Alternative)— The BLM has identified Alternative 2 as its Preferred Alternative for the final EIS. Under that alternative, the BLM would hold a competitive, sealed-bid sale and issue a lease for the federal coal reserves included in an alternative tract configuration within the BLM study area (map ES-3), as determined by the BLM. The entire BLM study area (maximum potential lease area) includes up to approximately 1,883 acres and 269.7 million tons of in-place coal reserves. The BLM is considering an alternative tract configuration that is larger than both Kiewit’s proposed tract and original (2006) tract, but smaller than the BLM study area (map ES-4). However, the BLM will not identify the final tract configuration until it issues the ROD for this leasing action.

ES-6 	

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Existing permit boundary Applicant proposed tract BLM study area Existing Buckskin Mine coal leases Buckskin Mine rail spur

0

2,500 feet

5,000

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map ES-3 Applicant Proposed Tract and BLM Study Area

Existing permit boundary BLM tract under consideration BLM study area Applicant original (March 2006) tract
0 2,500 feet 5,000

Existing Buckskin Mine coal leases Buckskin Mine rail spur

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map ES-4 BLM Tract under Consideration and Applicant Original (March 2006) Tract

Executive Summary

Not all of the federal coal reserves in the proposed tract and BLM study area are considered mineable at present. Campbell County Road 23 (the Collins Road) and Campbell County Road 73 (the McGee Road) cross the BLM study area from its southern to northern boundaries; much of the western boundary of the proposed tract is adjacent to the Collins Road. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) prohibits mining under a public road, in its right-of-way, or within 100 feet on either side of the right-of-way, as specified under unsuitability criterion 3 (43 CFR 3461.5[c][2][iii]). An exception to this prohibition is included in the SMCRA regulations at section 522(e)(4) and 30 CFR 761.11(d)(2), which can be applied if the appropriate road authority allows the road to be relocated or closed after public notice, an opportunity for a public hearing, and a finding that the interests of the affected public and landowners will be protected. Under the same unsuitability criterion, the land underlying the only occupied residence in the BLM study area is also considered unsuitable for mining. Surface disturbance at the residence and a 300-foot buffer around it would be prohibited unless Kiewit were to purchase the surface rights associated with the home and its buffer zone. Kiewit does not currently plan to pursue efforts to close or relocate either county road, or acquire the surface rights to the land associated with the occupied residence; therefore, the company considers the lands around those features inaccessible and operationally limited. Nevertheless, the coal underlying these structures and their buffers is still considered for leasing because those reserves could be mined if the authorized agency determines that one or both roads can be closed or moved, or if Kiewit acquires the surface rights to the occupied residence. Including the coal underlying those features in the lease would also allow for maximum recovery of all the mineable coal adjacent to, but outside of, their respective buffer zones, even if no action is taken to seek an exception to unsuitability criterion 3. If a lease is issued for a tract, the BLM will attach a stipulation stating that no mining activity may be conducted in the portion of the lease underlying the county roads, their rights-of-way, and buffer zones and occupied residence and buffer zone unless approval is obtained from the appropriate authority to move or close the roads or acquire surface rights associated with the occupied residence, respectively. In addition to existing mine operations, the BLM study area and immediate vicinity include agricultural lands (crops, hayfields, and pastures), several overhead electric power lines, gas (coal bed natural gas) pipelines and infrastructure, and two unoccupied residences. No permitted, operating conventional oil wells are located in the general area. Before any surface disturbance or additional mine-related activities could begin, support infrastructure such as power lines, gas pipelines, and flood- and sediment-control features would be built or relocated, as needed. The analyses presented in this final EIS assume that Kiewit would be the successful bidder under both the Proposed Action and Alternative 2 (action alternatives). Kiewit would add the tract as an integral extension of existing operations at the Buckskin Mine. Facilities and infrastructure would be the same as those currently identified in the WDEQ Mine Permit 500 Term T7, approved May 22, 2006, and the BLM Resource Recovery and Protection Plan, approved

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

ES-9

Executive Summary

June 16, 2006. Kiewit would submit an application to the WDEQ to amend its existing surface mining permit and mining plan to incorporate the final tract configuration; that application would include detailed amendments to the current monitoring, reclamation, and mitigation plans to include a new lease area. Table ES-1 describes projected coal production, surface disturbance, mine life, and projected federal and state revenues for the Buckskin Mine under each of the alternatives analyzed in this EIS. These figures are based on the current and projected average annual coal production rate of 25 million tons per year, and the assumption that coal reserves under the public roads and occupied residence would not be mined.

ES-10

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Executive Summary

Table ES-1.

Comparison of Coal Reserves, Lease and Permit Areas, Production, Mine Life, and Revenues
Existing Buckskin Mine Permit Area
460.9 mmt 361.9 mmt 344.3 mmt — 6,438.2 acrese 8,011.5 acres 25 mmt 14 years 350 $563.6 million $417.0 million

Additional Under Alternative 1 (No Action)
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Item
In-Place Coal (as of 12-31-08) Accessible Mineable Coal (as of 12-31-08)c Recoverable Coal (as of 12-31-08)d % Increase in Estimated Recoverable Coal (as of 12/31/08)d Coal Lease Area Permit Area Average Annual Post-2008 Coal Production Remaining Life of Mine (Post-2008)7 Average Number of Employees Total Projected State and Local Revenues (Post-2008)f Total Projected Federal Revenues (Post-2008)g
mmt = million tons
a b	 	 c

Proposed Action
77.2 mmta 60.1 mmta 54.1 mmta 15.7% 419.0 acres 478.0 acres 0 2 years 0 $90.6–$108.8 million $69.2–$87.3 million

Alternative 2
269.7 mmtb 166.3 mmtb 149.7 mmtb 43.5% 1,883.1 acres 2,191.6 acres 0 up to 6 years 0 $250.2–$300.4 million $191.0–$241.1 million

Based on the entire proposed tract, including its overlap with the existing Buckskin Mine permit area. Based on the entire BLM study area, including its overlap with the existing Buckskin Mine permit area. Maximum estimate; does not include coal reserves that are inaccessible because of criteria 3 (i.e., reserves beneath the occupied residence and 
 associated 300-foot buffer zone; or the public road rights-of-way [Collins and McGee roads], their associated 100-foot buffer zones, and other 
 operationally limited lands between the two roads).
 
 Assumes a recovery rate of 95% for coal in the Canyon seam and a 90% for all other coal reserves; does not include coal left behind as support pillars and similar structures, or unavoidably lost through spillage and spontaneous natural fires during normal mining operations. Includes federal and state coal leases currently held by the Buckskin Mining Company. Revenues to the State of Wyoming and local governments include severance taxes; property and production taxes (ad valorem); sales and use taxes; and Wyoming’s share of federal royalty payments, bonus bids, annual rental payments, and Abandoned Mine Land fees. State revenues are based on an assumed price of $7.85 per ton of “recoverable coal,” federal royalty of 12.5% of the value less 51% federal share, plus $0.315 per ton for Abandoned Mine Land fees on assumed 25% state share, plus bonus payments of between $0.30 and $0.97 per ton of LBA leased coal per ton (based on average of six LBAs in 2004 and 2005) times the tonnage of recoverable coal times a 50% state share, plus $0.07 per ton estimated sales and use taxes, plus $0.33 per ton estimate for ad valorem taxes, plus $0.415 per ton in severance taxes. Only the sales and use taxes paid directly by the mine are considered (i.e., taxes generated by vendors and suppliers and by consumer expenditure supported directly and indirectly by the mine are not included. These figures could change based on the outcome of recent legislation that changed the percentage of distribution to states. Federal revenues are based on an assumed price of $7.85 per ton, federal royalty of 12.5% times 51% share, plus $0.315 per ton for Abandoned Mine Land fees times an assumed 75% federal share, plus black lung tax of $0.00261 per ton, plus bonus payments of between $0.30 and $0.97 per ton of LBA leased coal (based on the range of the six LBA sales in 2004 and 2005) times tonnage of recoverable coal minus a 50% federal share. These figures could change based on the outcome of recent legislation that changed the percentage of distribution to states.

d	 	

e f	 	

g

Other alternatives that were considered but eliminated from further analysis in this EIS include:  Alternative 3—Under Alternative 3, the BLM would hold a competitive, sealed-bid sale and issue a lease for a coal tract to a successful bidder other than the applicant for the purpose of developing a new stand-alone mine.  Alternative 4—Under Alternative 4, the BLM would delay the sale of a new coal tract with the goal of increasing the public benefit should higher coal prices be in place at a later date

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application	 	

ES-11

Executive Summary

and/or to allow more complete recovery of the potential coal bed natural gas (CBNG) resource prior to mining. The current economies of mining in the Powder River Federal Coal Region appear to make construction of a new mine economically unfeasible using estimated in-place coal reserves in the proposed tract or alternative tract configuration. The BLM currently estimates that a tract would need to include as much as 500 to 600 million tons of in-place coal to attract a buyer interested in opening a new mine in the Wyoming PRB. Neither the proposed tract (approximately 77 million tons) nor the BLM study area (about 270 million tons) includes sufficient in-place coal resources to justify the costs of opening a new mine. Given these limitations and other assumptions associated with a new mine start, such as the necessary annual production and competition for market share, Alternative 3 is not analyzed further in this EIS. Alternative 4 was not analyzed in detail because it would not produce substantially different impacts from the alternatives analyzed in this EIS; only the timing and possibly the economic return of the sale would differ.

Resources Addressed in this Environmental Impact Statement
The general analysis area represents the maximum surface area that could be disturbed by mining operations (coal extraction and support activities) analyzed in this EIS; it encompasses approximately 2,847.3 acres (map ES-5). The BLM requires that certain elements are analyzed when present in the affected environment. Maps ES-5 through ES-7 show the Proposed Action and two alternatives analyzed in this EIS for most resources, as well as the maximum potential surface disturbance within the general analysis area associated with each alternative. Required elements present in the general analysis area and addressed in this EIS include:  air quality (section 3.4);  water quality (section 3.5);  wetlands/riparian zones (section 3.7);  invasive non-native species (section 3.9);  threatened and endangered species (sections 3.9 and 3.10);  cultural resources (section 3.12);  hazardous or solid wastes (section 3.16);  Native American religious concerns (section 3.17); and  environmental justice (section 3.17). The following additional resources also are present in the general analysis area and are addressed in this EIS:  topography and physiography (section 3.2);  geology, mineral, and paleontological resources (section 3.3);

ES-12

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Executive Summary

 other water resources (section 3.5);  alluvial valley floors (section 3.6);  soils (section 3.8);  vegetation (section 3.9);  wildlife (section 3.10);  land use and recreation (section 3.11);  visual resources (section 3.13);  noise (section 3.14);  transportation resources (section 3.15); and  socioeconomics (section 3.17). 
 Five additional aspects considered in this chapter are: 
  regulatory compliance; 
  mitigation and monitoring; 
  residual impacts; 
  the relationship between local short-term uses of the human environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity (3.18); and  any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources that would be associated with the action alternatives (42 United States Code § 4332[C]) (3.19). The following elements, which are required by the BLM when present in the affected environment, are not present in the general analysis area and are not addressed in this EIS:  areas of critical environmental concern;  prime or unique farmlands;  floodplains;  wild and scenic rivers; and  wilderness. Individual data reports were prepared for each resource; those reports include the information used to prepare the EIS. Copies of those reports can be viewed at the BLM Wyoming High Plains District Office in Casper, Wyoming.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application	 	

ES-13

Applicant proposed tract—coal extraction (419.0 acres) Support area—activities related to mining the proposed tract (241.0 acres) Overlap area—activities related to mining existing leases (474.0 acres) General analysis area Existing permit boundary
No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map ES-5 Areas of Disturbance under the Proposed Action

Overlap area—activities related to mining existing leases (656.0 acres) General analysis area Existing permit boundary

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map ES-6 Areas of Disturbance under Alternative 1 (No Action)

BLM study area—maximum area of coal extraction* (1883.1 acres) Support area—activities related to mining the entire BLM study area* (926.1 acres) Overlap area—activities related to mining existing coal leases (37.9 acres) General analysis area
 Existing permit boundary
 * 	County roads and occupied residences are currently considered unsuitable for mining under Unsuitability Criteria 3. Figure represents maximum potential disturbance if roads and occupied residences are relocated or vacated, respectively.

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map ES-7 Areas of Disturbance under Alternative 2

Executive Summary

Summary of General Setting and Environmental Consequences
The areas where mining and mine-related activities would occur under each alternative are provided below.  Under the Proposed Action (map ES-5), coal extraction would occur in the entire proposed tract (approximately 419 acres). Activities related to mining2 the proposed tract would occur in the support area, a 0.25-mile-wide area north and west of the proposed tract (approximately 241 acres); activities related to mining existing coal leases would continue in the remainder of the overlap area3 (approximately 474 acres).  Under Alternative 1 (map ES-6), activities related to mining existing coal leases would continue in the overlap area3 (approximately 656 acres).  Under Alternative 2 (map ES-7), coal extraction would occur in an alternative tract configuration within the BLM study area (up to approximately 1,883 acres). Activities related to mining an alternative tract configuration would occur in the support area, a 0.25-mile-wide area north and west of the alternative tract configuration (up to approximately 926 acres); activities related to mining existing coal leases would continue in the remainder of the overlap area3 (approximately 38 acres).

General Setting
The general analysis area is adjacent to one of the northern-most operating mines in the PRB, in the part of the Northern Great Plains that includes most of northeastern Wyoming. The climate there is typical of a semi-arid, high plains environment with relatively large seasonal and diurnal variations in temperature. Precipitation occurs predominantly during the spring and fall, with approximately 10% in the form of snow. Surface wind speeds average 10.5 miles per hour throughout the year, with prevailing winds from the north-northwest and south-southeast, depending on the season. The general analysis area is characterized by gently rolling uplands and relatively level agricultural fields; many hills are dissected by drainages that create moderate variations in local relief. Topographic elevations in the general analysis area range from approximately 4,080 feet above mean sea level along Hay Creek in the northern tier to about 4,380 feet above mean sea level in the southwestern portion of the area. The vegetation in the general analysis area consists of species common to eastern Wyoming and is consistent with vegetative communities in the adjacent Buckskin Mine permit area. The proposed tract is dominated (approximately 71%) by

2

Mining and mine-related activities include, but are not limited to, topsoil stripping, stockpile storage, highwall back-sloping (including catch benches), highwall reduction after mining to match undisturbed topography, and construction of flood- and sediment-control structures. These activities are described in section 1.1.3.3. The area of overlap between the general analysis area and the existing permit area. Disturbance in this area would be a result of ongoing mine-related activities associated with existing coal leases.

3

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application	

ES-17

Executive Summary

various upland grasslands. The general analysis area is comprised primarily of upland grasslands (approximately 40%) and agricultural lands (croplands and pastures, 31%). Summary of Impacts Impacts were identified in this EIS based on criteria set forth by the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR 1508.27), BLM NEPA Handbook H-1790-1, and the professional judgment of the specialists completing the analyses. Impacts can be beneficial or adverse, and can be a primary result (direct) of an action, a secondary result (indirect), or cumulative; cumulative impacts are discussed in chapter 4. They can be short-term (operational, persisting during active mining and reclamation); long-term (persisting through the time the reclamation bond is released—minimum of 10 years beyond active reclamation), or permanent. Impacts also vary in terms of significance. Significance can range from no impact or negligible impacts to substantial or significant impacts. Impacts can also be substantial during mining but reduced to no impact or negligible following completion of reclamation. In this EIS, impacts are considered to be adverse unless specifically identified as beneficial. As described above, the general analysis area represents the maximum surface area that could be disturbed by mining activities analyzed in this EIS. Surface disturbance occurs outside of a coal lease area as a result of activities necessary to support mining including, but not limited to, topsoil stripping, stockpile storage, highwall back-sloping (including catch benches), highwall reduction after mining to match undisturbed topography, and construction of flood- and sediment-control structures.

Alternative 1 (No Action Alternative)
Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. However, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Under this alternative, impacts in the general analysis area would be limited to its overlap with the existing Buckskin Mine permit area (approximately 656 acres), and would consist of short-term surface disturbance from activities necessary to support mining on existing leases. In most cases, impacts under the No Action Alternative are the same or similar to those for the action alternatives, but would occur in the limited overlap area and would most often be short-term.

Proposed Action and Alternative 2
The following summary focuses on the expected impacts of the two action alternatives analyzed in this EIS. Topography Under both action alternatives, surface coal mining would have a moderate, permanent impact on the topography of the proposed tract or BLM study area through blasting, hauling, and stockpiling of overburden and interburden, and from coal extraction. Postmining topography

ES-18

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Executive Summary

would be recontoured under either scenario to resemble the premining topography and the basic drainage system would be retained, but the reclaimed lands would be approximately 60 feet lower and somewhat gentler and more uniform in appearance. These changes in the landscape would result in minor to moderate, long-term reductions in microhabitats and habitat diversity in the affected area. As discussed under the Wildlife Resources heading below, effects on wildlife would be minor to moderate, depending on the species, and long-term. Long-term beneficial impacts of the lower and flatter terrain would be reduced water runoff, which would increase infiltration rates for precipitation and reduce erosion, and may also increase vegetative productivity and potentially accelerate recharge of groundwater. These topographic changes would not conflict with regional land use, and the postmining topography would be designed to adequately support the anticipated future land use of the mined area. Geology and Coal Resources The Paleocene Fort Union Formation is the stratigraphic unit (i.e., geological layer) which contains the coal seams that would be mined under the action alternatives. This formation is divided into the Tongue River, Lebo, and Tullock members. The Anderson and Canyon coal seams of the Tongue River Member are targeted for mining in the BLM study area (the maximum extent of leasable coal in the general analysis area). Under both action alternatives, removal of overburden, interburden, and coal reserves would have a significant, permanent impact on the geology and coal resources on up to 419 acres in the proposed tract and 1,883 acres in the BLM study area, with the area of impact depending on the final tract configuration. An average of about 250 feet of overburden and interburden, 30 feet of Anderson coal, and 70 feet of Canyon coal would be removed under either action alternative. Approximately 54 million tons of coal would be recovered from the proposed tract, and up to 149.7 million tons from the BLM study area. Overburden removed during mining would be replaced with a relatively homogenous mixture of partially compacted rock and soil that would be significantly and permanently altered from the original distinct layers. Activities related to mining and reclamation would cause short-term surface disturbance in the support area for the final tract configuration. Other Minerals The Anderson and Canyon coal seams tapped for CBNG development are the same seams that are being mined at the Buckskin Mine. Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission records indicate that as of May 2008, 30 CBNG wells have been completed in the general analysis area. Half of those wells are producing and the rest have been shut in, are no longer producing, have been permanently abandoned, or have expired permits. Commission records indicate that no CBNG wells have been completed below the Anderson and Canyon seams within the general analysis area. No conventional oil and gas wells are located in the general analysis area. Additionally, no bentonite or uranium reserves have been identified in the general

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

ES-19

Executive Summary

analysis area. Clinker (known locally as scoria or red dog) breaks are absent from the proposed tract, but do occur on limited hillsides along the northern edge of the general analysis area. Under the action alternatives, development of other minerals present in the general analysis area could not occur during mining, but could resume after mining. Surface coal mining would have permanent impacts on unrecovered oil and gas (conventional and CBNG) resources located in and above the mined coal seams. Resources that are not recovered prior to mining would be irretrievably lost when the coal is removed. Dewatering wells and active mining would combine with ongoing CBNG production to deplete the hydrostatic pressures and gas resources adjacent to mining areas a short time after mining would begin. The action alternatives would have no impact on bentonite or uranium resources because they are not present in the general analysis area. Mining would remove or reduce limited clinker resources along the northern portion of the general analysis area, resulting in a permanent loss of those resources and a change in topographic relief. Paleontological Resources Two formations exposed on the surface of the general analysis area could contain paleontological resources: the Paleocene Fort Union Formation and the Paleocene and Eocene Wasatch Formation (Breckenridge 1974; Love and Christiansen 1985). Both of these sedimentary formations are known to yield vertebrate fossils in Wyoming (Estes 1975; Roehler 1991; Secord 1998; Robinson et al. 2004). No significant or unique paleontological resources have been reported by the Buckskin Mine and none were recorded on the surface in the general analysis area during surveys conducted for the EIS. No specific mitigation was recommended for the action alternatives and no further paleontological work was recommended or required. Additional surveys for paleontological resources may be required if discoveries are made during mining operations. Undiscovered resources not exposed on the surface or detected during mining would be permanently lost. Air Quality Particulate and gaseous emissions are the two primary types of air pollutants directly associated with surface coal mining in the PRB; both are associated with a variety of health and environmental impacts. In general, PM10 particulate matter is the major significant pollutant from coal mine point (stationary) and fugitive (non-point) sources; PM10 is coarse particulate with mean aerodynamic diameters less than 10 microns. The major sources of particulate emissions (solid particles and liquid droplets that can be suspended in air) at surface coal mines are fugitive dust and tailpipe emissions from large mining equipment. Activities such as blasting, excavating, loading, and hauling of overburden and coal, and wind erosion of disturbed land all produce fugitive dust. The most common point sources of particulate matter are associated with coal crushing, storage, and handling facilities.

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Executive Summary

Gases that contain nitrogen and oxygen in varying amounts are referred to as nitrogen oxides, or NOx. These are the primary fugitive gaseous emissions produced during surface coal mining operations. Nitrogen oxides are generated from tailpipe emissions from mining equipment and other vehicle traffic inside the mine permit area. Blasting to remove overburden can result in emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), because of the incomplete combustion of explosives used in the blasting process. The Buckskin Mine does not use cast blasting to move overburden, which is the most common source of blasting emissions. No NOx point sources occur at the Buckskin Mine. Non-mining air pollutant emission sources are also present within the region, though most (i.e., fugitive dust and tailpipe and exhaust emissions) are similar to those at the coal mines. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide are also generated at power-plants. The closest coal-fired power plants are the Wyodak, WYGEN, and Neil Simpson plants, located about 15 miles southeast of the general analysis area. The Dry Fork Station, a 420-megawatt, coal-fired power plant currently under construction, is located approximately 10 miles southeast of the area. The Buckskin Mine does not provide coal to any power plants in the PRB, and does not dispose of coal combustion by-products from local power plants in its backfill. The current (since December 2006) EPA 24-hour air quality standard for PM2.5 (particulate matter with a mean aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 microns or less) is 35 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), a reduction from the previous level of 65 µg/m3. The current annual PM2.5 standard is 15 µg/m3. PM10 particulates have been monitored at the PRB mines since 1989. The current National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for 24-hour standard for PM10 particulates is 150 µg/m3. The former Wyoming annual PM10 standard of 50 µg/m3 was revoked during the EPA revisions of air quality standards in 2006. The NAAQS for annual NO2 is 100 µg/m3. This gas is not currently regulated at surface coal mines by either national or state ambient air quality standards, though the WDEQ does require an assessment of annual NOx impacts as part of an air quality permitting analysis for new surface coal mines and existing mine plan revisions. Moderate, short-term impacts on air quality are currently present at the Buckskin Mine because of existing mine operations. Long-term modeling for the current Buckskin Mine permit did not forecast any exceedances of the annual PM10 particulate NAAQS at the permitted production rate of 42 million tons per year; Buckskin’s current and anticipated average annual production rate is 25 million tons per year. Results from the Buckskin Mine 24-hour PM10 monitors surpassed the 24-hour national annual average standard (150 µg/m3) on only three occasions since monitoring began in 1989. Two of the three exceedances were deemed an “exceptional event” associated with strong winds by the WDEQ. In all three cases, the Buckskin Mine followed all mitigation and documentation procedures as required by the Natural Events Action Policy, including submitting detailed reports of the exceedance and accompanying meteorological conditions to the WDEQ. The dispersion model for the lands necessary to conduct mining at Buckskin (map ES-8A) showed a maximum PM10 concentration of 32.9 µg/m3 in 2011, one of the two projected “worst-case” years used for the model. Map ES-8B shows the same modeling information for 2012. Both maps also depict the area sources used to model fugitive emissions.
Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application ES-21

14

16

NO2 = 35.6

Applicant Proposed Tract 0 2,500 feet 5,000

BLM Study Area

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map ES-8A 2011 Maximum Modeled PM10 and NO2 Concentrations for Buckskin Mine Ambient Air Boundary

14

16

PM10 = 31.0 NO2 = 35.6

Applicant Proposed Tract 0 2,500 feet 5,000

BLM Study Area

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map ES-8B 2012 Maximum Modeled PM10 and NO2 Concentrations for Buckskin Mine Ambient Air Boundary

Executive Summary

Adjacent landowners to the north of the Buckskin Mine have contacted and met with mine personnel on various occasions regarding their concerns about smoke from coal fires at the mine, NO2, and dust. The landowners and mine representatives are actively working to resolve these issues. The landowners have indicated that they expressed similar concerns to the WDEQ. Nevertheless, the agency has not required the Buckskin Mine to implement any specific measures to control or limit public exposure to NO2 from blasting, such as restrictions regarding blasting size, setbacks, or other parameters. Maximum annual NO2 impacts of 1.6 µg/m3 in 2011 and 1.8 µg/m3 in 2012 were predicted during modeling for the Buckskin Mine; predictions for regional sources and background concentrations were 38.0 µg/m3 and 37.8 µg/m3 for these respective years. All four values were considerably lower than the annual NO2 NAAQS of 100 µg/m3. Public exposure to emissions caused by surface mining operations is most likely to occur along public roads and highways that pass by or through the area of mining operations. One occupied dwelling is located within the general analysis area (map ES-9A and map ES-9B) that could also be affected. The residence is less than 0.25 mile north of the overlap area, west of the McGee Road and within the general analysis area; the home is approximately 1 mile north of the northern-most extent of disturbance that would be associated with the proposed tract. With one exception, all other occupied dwellings in the vicinity of the general analysis area are at least 0.5 mile from the general analysis area (map ES-9A and map ES-9B). Most homes are on the far side of ridges that provide visual and audio buffers from existing and future mine operations. Two school bus stops are located on U.S. Highway 14-16, approximately 0.5 mile west of the general analysis area (map ES-9A). Three other school bus stops are located more than 1.5 miles west and north of the area. Motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents as well as natural sources emit NOx and volatile organic compounds that help form ozone. In March 2008, the EPA promulgated a revised NAAQS for ozone (75 FR 11). The ozone standard was lowered from 80 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion based on the fourth highest 8-hour average value per year at a site, averaged over three years. On January 6, 2010, the EPA proposed to strengthen the ozone standard by lowering the primary 8-hour standard to somewhere between 60 and 70 parts per billion (75 FR 11). The final standard is expected in mid-2011. The WDEQ does not require ozone monitoring at the Buckskin Mine; however, levels have been monitored at WDEQ operated and maintained ambient air quality monitor sites elsewhere in the PRB since 2001. The northern PRB is still considered an ozone attainment area, though ozone readings have occasionally exceeded the current standard of 75 parts per billion at the Thunder Basin air monitoring site in northern Campbell County. On June 2, 2010, the EPA issued a new 1-hour ambient standard for sulfur dioxide (SO2) (EPA-HQ-OAR-2007­ 0352, RIN 2060-A048). The new standard is 75 parts per billion, applied to the three-year average of the fourth highest of the annual distribution of hourly averages. SO2 monitors have been placed in the PRB explicitly to measure impacts from major sources; the nearest monitor is approximately 15 miles southeast of the Buckskin Mine. Neither site has violated the new 1­ hour standard of 75 parts per billion.

ES-24

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Applicant Proposed Tract 0 3,100 feet 6,200

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map ES-9A Roads, Highways, Occupied Dwellings, Businesses, and School Bus Stops in the Vicinity of the General Analysis Area

14


16


Map ES-9B Enlargement—Roads, Highways, Occupied Dwellings, Businesses, and School Bus Stops in the Vicinity of the General Analysis Area

Executive Summary

Impacts of coal mining on lake acidification are expected to remain extremely low because of the distance from the Buckskin Mine to sensitive lakes in the region, the absence of NOx point sources at the mine, the lack of predicted exceedances for NOx under “worst-case” conditions at the permitted coal production rate of 42 million tons per year, and the continuation of the current average annual production rate of 25 million tons per year under any of the alternatives considered in this EIS. Water Resources Under either action alternative, the coal aquifer and any water-bearing strata in the overburden and interburden would be permanently removed and replaced with unconsolidated backfill in the area to be mined. Mining would also cause a moderate, short-term reduction in groundwater in aquifers beyond the final tract configuration as a result of seepage into and dewatering from mine excavations (i.e., drawdown). The extent of drawdown would depend on how long the mine excavations are open, the distance of the aquifers from the mined tract, and the extent of dewatering. Map ES-10 shows the predicted extent of worst-case drawdown in the lowest coal seam (Canyon coal) over the life of the mine within the general analysis area. The area of drawdown in the overburden aquifers would be smaller than in that of the coal aquifers. CBNG development, where present, would continue to have substantial contributions to drawdown, especially in the coal seams. In the absence of CBNG development, drawdown typically is greatest near the mine, and decreases substantially away from the mine. Groundwater is expected to rise to similar levels as observed prior to mining, but it would not have all of the same characteristics because of the more homogeneous nature of the backfill. Due to its proximity to the existing Buckskin Mine, groundwater quality in the backfill aquifer after mining is expected to be similar to that measured in wells completed in the existing backfill at the mine. It is likely that recharged groundwater would be adequate for postmining land uses such as water sources for livestock and wildlife. Mining would not disturb the aquifers below the coal. Two water supply wells from the underburden aquifer are currently used by the Buckskin Mine. Based on monitoring results to date, these wells currently could remain viable through the life of the mine. Coal mining would have substantial, short-term effects on surface drainage systems and water runoff characteristics under either action alternative. Erosion and sediment discharge would likely increase in disturbed areas because of vegetation removal, but infiltration rates would likely improve after reclamation because of changes in soil structure and the presence of vegetation and more moderate topography to reduce runoff. Water flow and direction in that area would be altered by the removal and reconstruction of drainage channels prior to mining and from redirected flow through the use of erosion- and sediment-control structures to manage surface water runoff from disturbed areas. The most prominent surface water feature in the general analysis area is Hay Creek, which is ephemeral (i.e., responds only to rainfall or snowmelt events) in nature. The creek has been or will soon be mined out in the overlap area, and has already been diverted to rejoin the undisturbed creek east of the general analysis area. Additional segments of Hay Creek and several tributaries could be diverted and restored during reclamation under Alternative 2. However, Kiewit does not anticipate implementing any additional channel diversions under either action alternative.
Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application ES-27

Clinker (locally called scoria or red dog)

0

2,500 feet

5,000

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map ES-10 Extent of Drawdown under Proposed Action

Executive Summary

Both action alternatives would result in moderate, long-term impacts on groundwater rights for wells in coal or overburden aquifers until recharge. Effects would be similar for surface water rights. One surface water right on a disconnected drainage would be affected under the Proposed Action, while up to two surface water rights would be affected on disconnected drainages under Alternative 2. Alluvial Valley Floors The action alternatives considered in this EIS would not affect alluvial valley floors. Multiple investigations conducted within the general analysis area have concluded that the Hay Creek valley bottom is not an alluvial valley floor as defined by the WDEQ rules and regulations. No stream-laid deposits are present in the general analysis area. Runoff volume from 24-hour storm events in the vicinity of the Buckskin Mine is typically small relative to the cumulative storage capacity of reservoirs in the valley bottom and would not be sufficient to support any reliable flood irrigation practices. Wetlands Wetland inventories were based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Wetland Inventory (NWI) mapping (USFWS 2007) and a reconnaissance-level field visit throughout the general analysis area. Based on the NWI maps, approximately 64.44 acres of wetlands have been identified in the general analysis area. Of these, 30.7 acres were considered potentially jurisdictional wetlands based on field observations; the remaining 33.74 acres were confirmed to be nonjurisdictional non-wetlands (e.g., borrow pits, old impoundments) or were not found to be present during the field visit. Only the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the authorization to determine which wetlands are jurisdictional or nonjurisdictional. Since the 2007 NWI-based wetland determination was completed, a portion of the general analysis area was formally delineated by wetland biologists. The results of this study are currently being reviewed by the Corps and the issuance of an approved jurisdictional determination is pending. The specific functions (e.g., agriculture, livestock, and wildlife) of each identified wetland will be determined during the delineation associated with the permitting process for the final tract configuration, should a lease be issued, and are, therefore, not addressed in detail as part of the EIS analysis. Under the Proposed Action, surface mining in the proposed tract and related activities in the support area and overlap area (associated with existing coal leases) would have a moderate, permanent impact on four small, potentially jurisdictional NWI-inventoried wetlands (1.21 total acres). Under Alternative 2, surface mining in the BLM study area and related activities in the support area and overlap area could have a moderate, permanent impact on five small, potentially jurisdictional NWI-inventoried wetlands (1.89 total acres). The greatest single acreage of a potentially jurisdictional NWI-inventoried wetland is west of one or both county roads in the area considered operationally limited by Kiewit; Kiewit does not anticipate relocating either road to access coal reserves. All wetland functions at affected sites would be lost during mining and
Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application ES-29

Executive Summary

support activities. Any impacts would be mitigated during reclamation by creating equivalent acreages of wetlands elsewhere in the Buckskin Mine permit area to ensure no net loss of wetland function in the general analysis area. No additional reaches of Hay Creek would be diverted under either action alternative. Soil Resources Five soil formation processes causing different soil types were described in the general analysis area. Soil types and depths in that area are similar to soils currently being salvaged and used for reclamation at the Buckskin Mine and other nearby mines in northern Campbell County. Surface mining would have a moderate, long-term effect on soil resources in 1,134 acres under the Proposed Action and up to 2,847 acres under Alternative 2. Mining in the general analysis area would have a moderate, short- to long-term impact on the physical, biological, and chemical properties of stockpiled soils prior to reclamation. Following reclamation, the action alternatives would have a moderate, beneficial, long-term effect on replaced soils. Such soils would be more uniform in type, thickness, and texture, and would have a more uniform soil chemistry and soil nutrient distribution. Runoff would be decreased and infiltration rates would gradually return to premining levels. Sediment-control measures would be implemented where runoff does occur to preserve reclaimed materials. Average topsoil quality would be improved because soil material that is not suitable to support plant growth would not be salvaged for use in reclamation. The replaced soil would support a stable and productive vegetation community adequate in quality and quantity to support the planned postmining land uses (i.e., wildlife habitat and livestock grazing). Vegetation Resources Eight distinct vegetation communities and four additional categories were identified and mapped in the general analysis area. The proposed tract is dominated (71%) by a variety of common species of upland grasslands; the general analysis area is dominated (71%) by upland grasslands (approximately 40%, combined) and agricultural lands (crops, hay fields, and pastures; approximately 31%). Sagebrush comprises less than 11% of both the proposed tract and the general analysis area. Under either action alternative, active mining and support activities would have a moderate, short-term impact on vegetation. Vegetation would be incrementally removed to accommodate mining. Effects would be greatest on upland grasslands and agricultural lands. Under the Proposed Action, approximately 126 non-contiguous acres of sagebrush would be affected in the proposed tract, support area, and remainder of the overlap area. Under Alternative 2, up to 302 non-contiguous acres of sagebrush would be affected in the BLM study area, support area, and remainder of the overlap area. Average patch size for sagebrush in those areas is 4.9 acres. Impacts associated with the removal of vegetation could include increased soil erosion and differences between premining and postmining vegetative communities. Reclamation, including revegetation, will immediately follow as mining progresses through the area. Estimates of the time elapsed from topsoil stripping through reseeding of any given area range from two to
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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Executive Summary

five years; that time-frame would be considerably longer for areas occupied by mine-related facilities and infrastructure. Reestablished vegetation would be dominated by species mandated in the reclamation seed mixtures, which are approved by the WDEQ. The majority of these species would be native to the general analysis area. Erosion will be monitored to determine if corrective action is needed during establishment of vegetation. Controlled grazing will be used during revegetation as a management tool and to determine the suitability of the reclaimed land for postmining land uses. Any decrease in plant diversity would not seriously affect the potential productivity of the reclaimed areas, and the proposed postmining land use (wildlife habitat and rangeland) should be achieved even with the changes in vegetation composition and diversity. Wildlife Resources Both action alternatives would have a minor to moderate, short-term impact on most wildlife species present in the general analysis area, with longer effects to wildlife habitats. Impacts could include: injuries or mortalities causes by mine-related traffic; direct losses of less mobile wildlife species; restrictions on wildlife movement created by fences, spoil piles and pits; displacement of wildlife from existing habitat in areas of active mining (including abandonment of nests or nesting and breeding habitat for birds); loss of nesting and foraging habitat; increased competition between animals in areas adjacent to mining operations; and increased noise, dust, and human presence. Habitat disturbance would be incremental through the general analysis area, with reclamation progressing as new disturbance occurs. The Hay Creek II general analysis area is not included in or within several miles of either a state sage-grouse core breeding area or connectivity area, as defined by the Governor of Wyoming’s Sage-Grouse Implementation Team (Office of the Governor of Wyoming 2008), or BLM sagegrouse focus area. No greater sage-grouse leks would be physically affected by either action alternative. The nearest sage-grouse lek (Hay Creek) is within the existing permit area approximately 0.5 mile to the southeast of the general analysis area and, thus, is already subject to disturbance from previously permitted activities. The McGee sage-grouse lek is on private surface approximately 1.25 miles north of the general analysis area. That site is on the far side of multiple ridges that provide a visual and audio buffer, and it is not likely to be affected by mine operations. The Daly sage-grouse lek is approximately 1.75 miles southwest of the general analysis area. That lek has been inactive for the last 17 consecutive years, though two adult males were seen approximately 1,000 feet from the lek on one occasion in 2002; the Daly lek has been classified as abandoned by the WGFD (2006). Sage-grouse were last observed at the Hay Creek lek in 2001 and the McGee lek in 2004; both are considered occupied by the WGFD (2006). Two occupied sharp-tailed grouse leks occur within the general analysis area. The McGee II lek is in the overlap area with the current permit area and the McGee III lek is immediately north of the overlap area (Alternative 2). Due to their locations, those leks have been or would be disturbed by previously permitted mining of existing leases. The McGee I sharp-tailed grouse lek is approximately 0.25 mile north of the general analysis area. It would not be in view of the
Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application ES-31

Executive Summary

general analysis area because of the ridgeline that separates the two sites, but it could be affected by noise from within the general analysis area. The Stickel lek is approximately 0.75 mile southeast of the general analysis area and within the existing permit area; this site has been or would be disturbed by previously permitted activities on existing leases. Sharp-tailed grouse were last recorded at the McGee II lek in 2004 and the McGee III lek in 2005. The McGee I lek was last active in 2001, and the Stickel lek in 2002. As described previously, the prevalence of upland grasslands and the limited presence of surface water reduce the area’s value to sagebrush obligates such as the sage-grouse. No grouse nests or broods for either species have been recorded in the general analysis area during targeted surveys or incidental to surveys for other species. No sage-grouse have been observed during winter, though site visits occur less often at that time of year. No sharp-tailed grouse have ever been observed on the proposed tract during any season, though flocks of as many as a dozen birds have infrequently been recorded in the general analysis area, feeding in fallow agricultural fields and perched in the tree shelterbelt near the junction of the Collins and McGee roads in winter. No sharp-tailed grouse have been seen in those locations since at least 2003. The general analysis area does not include any unique or crucial big game habitat, and no elk or white-tailed deer are present there. No bald eagle nests or winter roosts have ever been documented in the general analysis area or surrounding lands; sightings of this species in the vicinity of the general analysis area have averaged less than one bird per winter over the last 26 years (1984–2009). Little (less than 1% of the total area) aquatic habitat is present in the general analysis area, so few aquatic species would be lost during mining operations. Indirect impacts are longer-term and include alterations in topography and vegetative cover following mining and reclamation, which may decrease wildlife carrying capacity and habitat diversity. Because the general analysis area is dominated (71% combined) by upland grassland communities and agricultural lands, the establishment of reclaimed grassland communities after mining has been completed would represent similar or somewhat improved habitats for most wildlife species compared to those in the premining landscape. No mountain plovers have ever been documented in the vicinity of the general analysis area during that period. Additionally, typical suitable habitat (short and sparse vegetation) for this species is not present in the area. None of the 18 migratory bird species of management concern for Wyoming coal mines that have historically been observed in the vicinity are regularly seen in the general analysis area. The upland grasslands and agricultural lands that dominate the area lack the specific characteristics (shrubs, wetlands, prairie dog colonies, or shorter, less dense grasses) typically associated with the species of greatest concern. Up to three intact raptor nests could be affected in the general analysis area. Due to their respective locations and histories, only one of the three intact nests is likely to be affected by future mining operations under either action alternative. That nest is in a tree grove in the overlap area and, thus, is already subject to disturbance from previously permitted mine operations. All appropriate mitigation measures will be taken for that nest, in keeping with the
ES-32 Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Executive Summary

current USFWS-approved monitoring and mitigation plan; the plan would be updated prior to the permitting process and before any new surface associated with either alternative is disturbed. In the long term, following reclamation, wildlife habitat diversity may be somewhat reduced because of gentler topography, less diverse vegetative cover, and reduction in sagebrush density. However, sagebrush comprises less than 11% of the general analysis area, so impacts on sagebrush-obligates would be reduced. Efforts have been initiated in recent years by mining companies to increase the diversity of postmine topography and to increase the amount of sagebrush in the reclamation, as appropriate. Threatened and Endangered Species The action alternatives discussed in this EIS will have no effect on threatened and endangered plant and animal species. Two federally listed plant species occur in Campbell County: the Ute ladies’-tresses (threatened) and blow-out penstemon (endangered). Areas of suitable habitat for the Ute ladies’-tresses within the general analysis area were surveyed during the appropriate survey window in August 2004 and annually from 2006 through 2009; no individuals were located. Surveys conducted for potential blowout penstemon habitat in the general analysis area in 2008 and 2009 confirmed that no suitable habitat for this species is present in the area. In addition, the general analysis area is not located within the documented historical range of the blowout penstemon in Wyoming, which is located approximately 170 miles northwest of the known Nebraska sites and approximately 225 miles northeast of the Wyoming occurrences. On March 5, 2010, the USFWS issued a determination that listing the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act was “warranted, but precluded” by other higher priorities. Although the sage-grouse continues to be managed by the WGFD, its current status as a candidate species under the Endangered Species Act gives further impetus to ongoing annual monitoring efforts. On May 11, 2011, after a thorough review of all available scientific and commercial information, the USFWS determined that the mountain plover is not threatened or endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range, including the Hay Creek II general analysis area and the rest of Campbell County, Wyoming (76 FR 92). The black-footed ferret has been removed from the list of threatened and endangered species for Campbell County, but remains on the national list for such species. The ferret is a nocturnal mammal that depends almost entirely upon the prairie dog for its survival. No black-footed ferrets have ever been documented at the Buckskin Mine or in the surrounding region, and no black-tailed prairie dog colonies (potential ferret habitat) are present within the general analysis area. Land Use and Recreation The entire surface of the existing Buckskin Mine permit area and general analysis area is privately owned by individuals or companies. All of the coal reserves in the proposed tract and BLM study area are federally owned, whereas the remaining subsurface minerals (i.e., oil and gas reserves) are under a mixture of private and federal ownership. Wildlife habitat and livestock grazing are the primary present and historical land uses in the general analysis area. Secondary land uses include pastureland (ranching), dryland cropland, transportation, and CBNG development. Coal mining at the Buckskin Mine is and has been the dominant land use to the
Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application ES-33

Executive Summary

east and south of the general analysis area since the mid 1980s. No conventional oil and gas wells are located in the general analysis area. Under both action alternatives, active mining would have a moderate, short-term impact on most other land uses, with a long-term impact on some wildlife habitats. Grazing uses of the general analysis area would be more limited in disturbance areas during mining, though grazing is used as a management tool in reclaimed areas. Oil and gas development would be curtailed and CBNG that is not recovered prior to mining would be irretrievably lost as the coal is removed. Due to the lack of public lands, opportunities for recreational use and public grazing would not be affected. Existing coal and transportation activities, infrastructure, and facilities would remain in the area; coal production and transportation would continue at their current rates. Kiewit does not anticipate relocating any roads or securing occupied residences to access new federal coal reserves. Livestock and wildlife use is expected to increase once mined areas are fully reclaimed. Cultural Resources The entire general analysis area has been reviewed for previous cultural surveys through a files search and inventoried for cultural resources at a Class III level in the field. Of the 14 sites identified in that area, 6 are prehistoric and 8 are historic (Newberry 2008). Historic site categories documented in the general analysis area fall under the context of rural settlement. Specifically, the historic sites in the general analysis area are associated with homesteading and stock-raising circa the 1910s to the 1940s. All prehistoric and historic sites are determined not eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. No further protection is afforded these sites and no further work is required. No sites of Native American religious or cultural importance have been identified in the general analysis area. Appropriate action must be taken to address concerns related to any cultural or Native American sites identified at a later date. Visual Resources Mining would affect landscapes classified by the BLM as visual resource management Class IV; the overall natural scenic quality of that class rating is considered relatively low. Impacts of coal mining on visibility in the general analysis area would be minor and short-term. Mining activities would be visible from U.S. Highway 14-16 and two county roads (the Collins and McGee roads), though the extent and duration of visibility would vary under each action alternative. No unique visual resources have been identified in or near the general analysis area, and the landscape character would not be significantly changed following reclamation. Current mining activities (blasting procedures and sizes, coal haul rates and distances, dust suppression, etc.) at the Buckskin Mine would not change if the proposed tract or an alternative configuration is leased. Current best available control technology measures for particulates that could contribute to impaired visibility would continue to be employed.

ES-34

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Executive Summary

Noise One occupied residence is located within the general analysis area, less than 0.25 mile north of the overlap area. This residence is in direct line-of-sight of the current mine pit and associated support activities. Mine-related noise under the action alternatives would have a minor to substantial, short-term impact on this residence, depending on the final tract configuration. Most occupied dwellings are located in one of three housing developments west of the existing permit area and on the far side of Highway 14-16. Those residences are currently closer to the existing permit area than they would be to new mining under either action alternative. The high rolling terrain between most residences and the general analysis area provides a visual and audio buffer from current and future mine operations. Additionally, the increase in noise levels would not be considered a significant noise impact because the rate of mining would not change and the western limit of expansion of the mine would be constrained because of the required setbacks at the Collins Road and U.S. Highway 14-16. Noise levels in wildlife habitat adjacent to the expansion area might increase, but anecdotal observations indicate wildlife can adapt to mine noise, especially since similar mining operations have been conducted in the area for many years. No increase in average daily railroad traffic or railroad noise would occur under any of the alternatives analyzed. Transportation Transportation facilities in and near the general analysis area include a federal highway, a state highway, two gravel county roads, various unimproved local and access roads; the improved Buckskin Mine access road; the Buckskin Mine rail spur; oil and gas pipelines; electric corridors; and associated rights-of-way. Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract could impact one public roadway, three overhead power lines, four existing oil and gas pipelines, and one potential new oil and gas easement; impacts would be minor to moderate, and short-term. Under Alternative 2, mining could have similar impacts on two public roadways, eight overhead power lines, six existing oil and gas pipelines, and one potential new oil and gas easement. Most of the power lines in the vicinity are associated with on-going mine operations. No rail lines would be affected under either action alternative. Temporary surface disturbance from mine support activities (e.g., topsoil stripping, soil stockpiling) in the combined buffer area could affect one additional power line and three additional pipelines. Existing road and rail infrastructure would remain in place, though the rate of road and rail use is not expected to increase during that period. Two public roads (the Collins and McGee roads) are located within the general analysis area. Lands within 100 feet of the outside edge of the rightof-way of a public road are considered unsuitable for mining; however, they could be included in the final tract configuration to allow for maximum recovery of all the minable coal adjacent to the 100-foot buffer zones. Active pipelines and utility/power lines would have to be relocated in accordance with previous agreements, or agreements would have to be negotiated for their removal or relocation.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

ES-35

Executive Summary

Hazardous and Solid Waste Potential sources of hazardous or solid waste could include spilled, leaked, or dumped substances, petroleum products, and solid waste associated with coal and oil and gas exploration, oil and gas development, utility line installation and maintenance, or agricultural activities. No such hazardous or solid wastes are known to be present in the general analysis area. Impacts associated with hazardous waste would be negligible and short-term. Hazardous and solid wastes generated in the course of mining the proposed tract would be similar to those currently being created by existing mining operations,. Wastes generated by mining the proposed tract would be handled in accordance with the existing regulations using the procedures currently in use, and in accordance with WDEQ-approved waste disposal plans at the Buckskin Mine Socioeconomics Both action alternatives would have negligible, beneficial, short-term impacts on local employment. The Buckskin Mine anticipates hiring a few additional employees to meet existing staffing needs, but no new hires are expected to occur as a result of a new coal leasing action. Impacts on federal and state revenues would be substantial and beneficial under both action alternatives. The potential additional federal revenue from the general analysis area would range from approximately $69 to $241 million, depending on the alternative selected and the bonus price when the coal is leased. The potential additional revenue to the state of Wyoming from the general analysis area would range from $91 to $300 million, depending on the alternative selected, the bonus price when the coal is leased, and the selling price of the coal. Because average annual coal production rates would not increase, no new employees would be hired as a direct result of a leasing action and therefore no new impacts on the local housing market or increased demands on the existing community facilities or services in the county would occur though existing demands on infrastructure could be extended by up to six years. Environmental Justice Economic and demographic data indicate that neither minority populations nor people living at or below the poverty level comprise a “meaningfully greater increment” of the total population in Gillette or Campbell County than they do in the state as a whole. Also, the Native American population is smaller than in the state as a whole and no known Native American sacred sites are present in or near the general analysis area. Greenhouse Gas Emissions The annual equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2e) emissions at the Buckskin Mine are not expected to increase under either action alternative. The maximum annual coal production would not be affected; average strip ratios and haul distances would be substantially equivalent to those already encountered at the mine. Conversely, projected CO2e emissions over the life of the mine would increase under either action alternative. Although annual average production is not expected to increase, the additional federal coal reserves would extend the mine life by approximately two years under the Proposed Action and up to six years under Alternative 2,

ES-36

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Executive Summary

which would also extend the period for associated CO2e emissions. Methane emissions from Wyoming’s coal mines in 2010 are projected to be 2.3 million metric tons of CO2e (Center for Climate Strategies 2007), of which the Buckskin Mine’s 2008 methane emissions represent 3.4%. Carbon Sequestration Carbon sequestration, the process of carbon capture, separation, and storage or reuse, is being researched as a means to stabilize and reduce concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas. Direct options for carbon sequestration would involve means to capture CO2 at the source (e.g., power plant) before it enters the atmosphere coupled with “value-added” sequestration (e.g., use of captured CO2 in enhanced oil recovery operations). Indirect sequestration would involve means of integrating fossil fuel production and use with terrestrial sequestration and enhanced ocean storage of carbon (U.S. Department of Energy 2007). The PRB has geologic formations and producing oil and gas reservoirs that are potential target candidates for both enhanced oil recovery and/or deep geologic sequestration. The current limiting factor is the lack of pipeline infrastructure and economic feasibility for CO2 transmission and use. No geologic carbon sequestration projects currently exist or are currently planned in the PRB at this time.

Mitigation
The Buckskin Mine’s currently approved mining permit includes extensive baseline information, ongoing monitoring information and commitments, and mitigation measures that are required by the SMCRA and Wyoming State Law. Compliance, mitigation, and monitoring measures that are required by regulation are considered to be part of the Proposed Action and Alternative 2 considered in this EIS. These regulatory requirements, mitigation measures, and monitoring commitments are in place for the No Action Alternative as part of the currently approved mining and reclamation plan for the mine and would be updated prior to the permitting process that would be required to mine the final tract configuration. If impacts are identified during the leasing process that are not mitigated by existing required mitigation measures, the BLM can include additional mitigation measures, in the form of stipulations on a new lease, within the limits of its regulatory authority. Any special stipulations identified by the BLM where additional or increased monitoring measures are recommended to be added to the BLM leases are included in appendix D of the EIS.

Cumulative Impacts
Cumulative impacts result from the incremental impacts of an action added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, regardless of who is responsible for such actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor, but collectively significant, actions occurring over time.

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Executive Summary

Since decertification of the Powder River Federal Coal Region in 1990, 22 federal coal leases containing more than 6.1 billion tons of federal coal have been issued following competitive sealed-bid sales. Three exchanges of federal coal in the Wyoming portion of the Powder River Federal Coal Region have also been completed. Eleven additional coal lease applications, including the Hay Creek II coal lease application, are currently pending. The pending LBA applications contain over 3.3 billion tons of coal. Currently, the BLM is completing a regional technical study, called the PRB Coal Review, to help evaluate the cumulative impacts of coal and other mineral development in the PRB. The study evaluates current conditions as of a baseline year (2002, 2003, or 2004) and projects development levels and potential associated cumulative impacts related to coal and coal-related development, oil and gas and related development, and other development through 2020. Due to variables associated with future coal production, two projected coal production scenarios (representing an upper and a lower production level) were developed. The projected development levels are based on projected demand and coal market forecasts and include production at the Buckskin Mine during the baseline year and projected production for 2010, 2015, and 2020. The Wyoming portion of the PRB is the primary focus of the PRB Coal Review, but the Montana portion of the PRB is included in some studies. Results for those PRB Coal Review studies that have been completed are summarized in chapter 4.0 of the EIS. The remaining studies will be incorporated into the final report as they become available. Cumulative impacts vary by resource, with potential impacts on air quality, groundwater quantity, wildlife habitat, and socioeconomics generally representing the greatest concerns. The original PRB Coal Review air quality study documented the modeled air quality impact of existing operations during a baseline year, 2002, and of projected development activities in 2010. The BLM updated the model in 2008 and conducted the cumulative air quality impact analysis using a revised baseline year of 2004 with development levels projected for year 2015; that analysis was included in the draft EIS. After the draft EIS was issued, modeling of cumulative air quality effects for 2020 was completed; data and analyses for both model years are reflected in this final EIS. The EPA guideline CALPUFF model system version 5.8 (Scire et al. 1999a) was used for the modeling analysis. The revised baseline year emissions inventory was developed using 2004 actual emissions data or emissions estimates and has incorporated the recent analyses of emissions in Wyoming and Montana, which were not available when the 2010 modeling study was done. The impacts for the baseline year (2004) and for 2015 and 2020 lower and upper coal production scenarios were directly modeled. The PRB Coal Review generally considers existing regional air quality conditions in the targeted study areas to be very good. There are limited air pollution emissions sources (few industrial facilities, including the surface coal mines, and few residential emissions in relatively small communities and isolated ranches) and good atmospheric dispersion conditions. The available data show that the region complies with the ambient air quality standards for NO2 and SO2. There have been no monitored exceedances of the annual PM10 standard in the Wyoming PRB. Table ES-2 presents the maximum modeled impacts on ambient air quality at the near-field
ES-38 Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Executive Summary

receptors in Wyoming and Montana. Results shown represent the maximum impact at any point in each receptor group; data are provided for the baseline year (2004) analysis and for both coal production scenarios for 2015 and 2020. Peak impacts occur at isolated receptors and are likely due to unique source-receptor relationships. The model results should not be construed as predicting an actual exceedance of any standard, but are at best indicators of potential impacts. Table ES-3 lists provides a detailed listing of visibility impacts for all analyzed Class I and sensitive Class II areas. For the upper and lower coal production scenarios, it shows the number of additional days that the projected impacts were greater than 1.0 deciview (10% change in light extinction) for each site in each modeled year. The PRB Coal Review provides an assessment of the cumulative impact on surface and groundwater resources associated with future projected levels of coal mining, coal mine dewatering, CBNG groundwater withdrawal and surface disposal, and coal mine and conventional oil and gas surface disposal of groundwater. Updated Coal Review studies describe the baseline year (2002) ground and surface water resource conditions in the study area, which includes the Hay Creek II area and the rest of Campbell County. The reports present potential future cumulative groundwater impacts in the area of CBNG development and coal mine expansion in the eastern PRB. They also provide a cumulative impact assessment of modeled changes in surface water quality as a result of CBNG, conventional oil and gas, and surface coal mining development projected for 2010, 2015, and 2020 (base year of 2003) in the eastern PRB within approximately 25 miles of the coal mines. A stream channel stability analysis was also conducted to evaluate the potential effects to stream channels because of projected CBNG production water discharge. A number of modeling analyses have previously been conducted to help predict the impacts of surface coal mining on groundwater resources in the PRB. In addition, each mine must monitor groundwater levels in the coal and underlying and overlying aquifers and assess the probable hydrologic consequences of mining as part of the mine permitting process. Extending the life of the Buckskin Mine by issuing a new lease would result in additional water being withdrawn from the subcoal Fort Union Formation, but no new subcoal water supply wells would be required. The additional water withdrawal would not be expected to extend the area of water level drawdown over a substantially larger area because of the discontinuous nature of the sands in the Tullock Member and the fact that drawdown and yield reach equilibrium in a well because of recharge effects. Because of the distances separating subcoal Fort Union Formation wells used for mine water supply, these wells have not experienced interference and are not likely to in the future.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

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Executive Summary

Table ES-2.

Projected Maximum Potential Near-Field Impacts (µg/m3)
Averaging Time
Annual Annual 24-hour 3-hour

Pollutant
NO2 SO2

Base Year (2004) Impacts
31.3 15.3 112.3 462.0 13.4 87.6 38.4 250.4 3.3 409.0 1.6 16.1 65.0 162.9 1.0 10.2 2.8 29.1

2015 Lower Coal 2015 Upper Coal 2020 Lower Coal 2020 Upper Coal Development Development Development Development Scenario Scenario Scenario Scenario Impacts Impacts Impacts Impacts
46.7 16.2 119.6 814.1 18.7 179.5 53.5 512.8 6.5 826.3 1.7 16.5 66.5 166.6 1.8 15.4 5.2 44.0 47.4 16.2 119.6 814.1 21.4 179.5 61.0 512.9 6.5 826.4 1.7 16.6 66.5 166.6 1.9 20.6 5.3 58.5 30.5 16.4 143.3 936.7 16.3 218.4 46.6 624.1 2.5 440.1 3.0 24.7 138.9 237.0 0.9 10.2 2.5 29.3 30.6 16.5 143.3 936.7 16.3 218.4 46.6 624.3 2.6 442.7 3.1 27.1 138.9 259.1 0.9 10.2 2.6 29.3

National AAQS
100 80 365 1,300 15 35 — 150 100 188.1 80 365 1,300 — 15 35 — 150

PSD Wyoming Montana Class II AAQS AAQS Increments
100 60 260 1,300 15 35 50b 150 — — — — — — — — — — —a — — — — — — — 100 564 80 365 1,300 1,300 15 35 50 150 25 20 91 512 — — 17 30 25 — 20 91 512 — — — 17 30

Wyoming Near-Field

PM2.5 PM10

Annual 24-hour Annual 24-hour

Montana Near-Field NO2 SO2 Annual 1-hour Annual 24-hour 3-hour 1-hour PM2.5 PM10 Annual 24-hour Annual 24-hour

µg/m3 = microgram per cubic meter; AAQS = Ambient Air Quality Standards; PSD = prevention of significant deterioration; NO = nitrogen oxide; SO2 = sulfur dioxide; PM10 = particulate matter measuring 10 microns or less in diameter; PM2.5 = particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns or less in diameter a No standard or increment.
b The EPA has revoked the NAAQS annual PM 10 standard of 50 µg/m3, but that standard is still effective for Wyoming until it enters into rulemaking to revise the state AAQS. Bold values indicate projected exceedance of national and/or state ambient air quality standards. Source: 2009 update to the Task 3A Report (BLM 2009c).

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Executive Summary

Table ES-3.

Modeled Change in Visibility Impacts at Class I and Sensitive Class II Areas
Coal Development Scenario Base Year (2004) 2015 Lower 2015 Upper 2020 Lower 2020 Upper No. of Days >10% Change in Visibility

Location
Class I Areasa Badlands National Park Bob Marshall Wilderness Area Bridger Wilderness Area Fitzpatrick Wilderness Area Fort Peck Indian Reservation Gates of the Mountain Wilderness Area Grand Teton National Park North Absaroka Wilderness Area North Cheyenne Indian Reservation Red Rock Lakes Scapegoat Wilderness Area Teton Wilderness Area Theodore Roosevelt National Park UL Bend Wilderness Area Washakie Wilderness Area Wind Cave National Park Yellowstone National Park

Change in No. of Days >10% in visibility

218 8 144 91 105 55 70 61 243 42 27 57 178 77 83 262 84

26 0 2 2 10 0 2 3 32 2 1 4 5 8 5 18 2

26 0 2 2 10 0 2 3 47 2 1 4 9 10 5 19 2

44 0 5 6 20 4 6 8 59 3 2 8 24 18 8 28 5

44 0 5 6 21 4 6 8 60 3 2 8 24 18 8 31 5

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Executive Summary
Coal Development Scenario Base Year (2004) Location
Sensitive Class II Areasb 101 251 331 236 126 360 274 66 260 79 261 97 51 222 139 268 130 217 2 20 1 34 18 4 25 6 10 1 19 2 1 36 4 18 10 2 3 20 3 36 18 4 25 7 10 1 21 2 1 36 4 18 10 5 10 26 1 47 29 3 31 14 15 3 36 2 1 49 6 19 17 9 10 26 1 47 30 3 32 15 16 5 37 2 1 52 6 19 17 10

2015 Lower

2015 Upper

2020 Lower

2020 Upper

No. of Days >10% Change in Visibility

Change in No. of Days >10% in visibility

Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Area Agate Fossil Beds National Monument Big Horn Canyon National Rec. Area Black Elk Wilderness Area Cloud Peak Wilderness Area Crow Indian Reservation Devils Tower National Monument Fort Belknap Indian Reservation Fort Laramie National Historic Site Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area Jewel Cave National Monument Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area Mount Naomi Wilderness Area Mount Rushmore National Monument Popo Agie Wilderness Area Soldier Creek Wilderness Area Wellsville Mountain Wilderness Area Wind River Indian Reservation
a

Pristine attainment area. b Certain federal assets with Class II status for which air quality and/or visibility are valued resources. Source: 2009 update to the Task 3A Report (BLM 2009c).

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Executive Summary

Projected cumulative surface water impacts primarily include the impacts of CBNG production water discharge to ephemeral drainages and the surface disturbance and subsequent reclamation of drainages that result from coal mine expansion. Future coal mining in the PRB could remove intermittent or ephemeral streams and stockponds in various watershed. Coal mine permits provide for removal of first- through fourth-order drainages. During reclamation, third- and fourth-order drainages must be restored; first- and second-order drainages often are not replaced (Martin et al. 1988). Coal-mining-related surface water would be discharged into intermittent and ephemeral streams. Based on current trends, it is assumed that most, if not all, of the coal­ mine-produced water would be consumed during operation. As discussed in section 3.5.2.2, changes in surface runoff would occur as a result of the destruction and reconstruction of drainage channels as mining progresses. Sediment control structures would be used to manage discharges of surface water from the mine permit areas. State and federal regulations require treatment of surface runoff from mined lands to meet effluent standards. Monitoring data from the mines indicate that water from the backfill will generally be acceptable for premining uses (primarily livestock watering). Modeling and monitoring indicate that the groundwater drawdown impacts of coal mining and CBNG development are overlapping. The updated PRB Coal Review studies discuss potential cumulative impacts on wildlife from projected development activities in that study area. The area of habitat disturbance and reclamation for 2003 and 2007and the projected cumulative areas of disturbance and reclamation for 2010, 2015, and 2020 are shown in tables 4-2 and 4-3. As discussed above, impacts on wildlife and fisheries can be classified as no impact (threatened and endangered species), shortterm, and long-term. Potential short-term impacts arise from habitat disturbance associated with a project’s development and operation (e.g., coal mines, CBNG wells) and would cease upon project completion and successful reclamation in a given area. Potential long-term impacts consist of long-term or permanent changes to habitats and the wildlife populations that depend on those habitats, irrespective of reclamation success, and habitat disturbance related to longer term projects (e.g., power plant facilities, rail lines). Habitat fragmentation can result from activities such as roads, well pads, mines, pipelines, and overhead electrical power lines, as well as increased noise, elevated human presence, dispersal of noxious and invasive weed species, and dust from unpaved road traffic. These effects result in overall changes in habitat quality, habitat loss, increased animal displacement, reductions in local wildlife populations, and changes in species composition. However, the severity of these effects on terrestrial wildlife would depend on factors such as sensitivity of the species, seasonal use, type and timing of project activities, and physical parameters (e.g., topography, cover, forage, and climate). Potential cumulative effects on fisheries from of development activities would be closely related to impacts on ground and surface water resources. The PRB Coal Review used the REMI Policy Insight regional economic model to project cumulative employment and population levels and associated impacts in the PRB for the upper and lower coal production scenarios in 2010, 2015, and 2020. Table ES-4 presents the recent and projected population levels for the counties included in the PRB Coal Review socioeconomic analysis. The Hay Creek II LBA would have no impact on local or regional populations.
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Executive Summary

Table ES-4.
Year
Census 2000 2003a 2006a 2009a

Recent and Projected PRB Population
Converse County Crook County Johnson County Sheridan County Weston County Six County PRB Total

Campbell County

33,698 36,381 38,934 43,967

12,104 12,326 12,866 13,578

5,895 5,971 6,255 6,653

7,108 7,530 8,014 8,531

26,606 27,116 27,673 29,163

6,642 6,665 6,762 7,009

92,053 95,989 100,504 108,901

Projected Lower Coal Production Scenario 2010 2015 2020 45,925 48,905 50,995 13,103 13,671 14,193 6,542 6,759 6,989 8,389 8,867 9,326 28,459 30,016 31,467 7,108 7,174 7,208 109,526 115,392 120,178

Projected Upper Coal Production Scenario 2010 2015 2020
a

47,662 51,558 54,943

13,160 13,763 14,313

6,570 6,802 7,045

8,424 8,924 9,403

28,579 30,214 31,733

7,137 7,219 7,266

111,532 118,480 124,703

Projected by U.S. Census Bureau based on 2000 data.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2006a) and 2005 Task 3C Report (BLM 2005a).

ES-44

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1.0 Introduction

1.0 INTRODUCTION
This environmental impact statement (EIS 1) presents the analysis of impacts that would result from leasing federal coal reserves in the Hay Creek II lease by application (LBA) tract (Proposed Action). The EIS also analyzes alternatives to the Proposed Action. This EIS was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and associated rules and guidelines. As administrator of the federal coal leasing program for surface and underground mining under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as amended, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considered the lead agency, under NEPA, responsible for the preparation of this EIS. The BLM will use this impact analysis to make a decision regarding unleased federal coal reserves within and adjacent to the Buckskin Mine, an operating surface coal mine in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of northeast Wyoming. Issuing a federal coal lease does not authorize mining to occur, but is the first step in that process. The lease merely grants the lessee the exclusive right to pursue a mining permit for the coal tract subject to the terms of the lease, the mining permit itself, and all applicable state and federal laws. Permits to mine are issued by authorized federal and/or state agencies only after a lease has been secured and all appropriate agencies have reviewed and approved an extensive permit application. That application document provides information describing a wide range of baseline resources, as well as detailed mining, mitigation, and reclamation plans. A minimum of 12 other state and federal agencies will also use this EIS analysis to make decisions related to leasing and mining the federal coal reserves in the proposed tract. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) and all divisions of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) are cooperating agencies on this EIS. The OSM is primarily responsible for administering federal programs that regulate surface coal mining operations. If a tract is leased, that agency will use this EIS to determine whether approval of the mining plan for the tract complies with the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. The WDEQ has entered into a cooperative agreement with the Secretary of the Interior to regulate surface coal mining operations on federal and nonfederal lands in Wyoming. During the permitting process, the WDEQ incorporates input from numerous internal departments as well as various state and federal agencies. The WDEQ has also been delegated authority by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement federal programs of the Clean Air Act (CAA) Amendments of 1990. The WDEQ implements the Wyoming Air Quality Standards and Regulations and CAA Amendments through various air permitting programs. Input from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is used to ensure that adequate monitoring, mitigation, and reclamation plans are in place for wildlife and fisheries

1

Refer to page xx for a list of abbreviations and acronyms used in this document.

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1-1

1.0 Introduction

resources and habitats. The Wyoming Department of Transportation may review the EIS if road construction or relocation projects are considered in the analyses. The public has several opportunities to comment throughout the coal leasing and permitting processes. For leasing decisions, the public may participate during the initial scoping of the project, as well as through public hearings and comment periods that are held for the draft and final EIS. Once the coal is leased by the BLM, the public has several additional opportunities to comment on the actual permit to mine issued by the WDEQ and OSM, including the original permitting process, every major change to the permit after its initial approval, and every five years during the standard permit renewal process for surface coal mines in Wyoming.

1.1 Background
The Buckskin Mine is one of several mines currently operating in the PRB, where the coal seams are notably thick and the overburden is relatively thin throughout the region. The mine is operated by the Buckskin Mining Company, a directly held subsidiary of Kiewit Mining Properties, Inc. (Kiewit).

1.1.1 Buckskin Mine Application
On March 24, 2006, Kiewit filed an application to lease the federal coal reserves included in the Hay Creek II maintenance LBA tract under the regulations at 43 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 3425 (Leasing on Application). A maintenance coal tract is an area of federal coal reserves that is adjacent to an existing coal lease and can be excavated by an active coal mine. The maintenance tract is located approximately 12 miles north of Gillette, Campbell County, Wyoming (map 1-1), northwest of and immediately adjacent to existing federal coal leases for the Buckskin Mine. The tract would maintain current average levels of production rather than expand mine operations. Kiewit initially applied for the Hay Creek II maintenance tract to extend the life of existing operations at the Buckskin Mine. Since submitting its original application in 2006 (see “applicant original (March 2006) tract” on map 1-2), Kiewit modified its lease application due to changing needs (see “applicant proposed tract” on map 1-2). The applicant proposed tract (proposed tract) from November 28, 2008, was analyzed in the draft EIS. That proposed tract was the bare minimum needed to provide a technically and economically feasible method for the Buckskin Mine to pass through a geologic irregularity known as the Sand Channel Basin to reach low-sulfur compliance coal in the existing Spring Draw lease (WYW-78634). Unforeseen LBA processing delays caused Buckskin to lose the mechanical advantage needed to mine past the sand channel. Consequently, on September 3, 2010, Kiewit requested that the BLM consider a tract configuration under Alternative 2 (see chapter 2) based on the original tract configuration applied for in March 2006. Buckskin no longer needs the coal immediately and, therefore, prefers to pursue a tract with a longer-term application for its existing mining operations.

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1.0 Introduction

For the purposes of this analysis, the proposed tract remains unchanged from the draft EIS. Because both the BLM study area and the general analysis area, as defined in chapter 3, encompassed all configurations of Kiewit’s proposed tract, the analyses performed for the draft EIS are still valid for the final EIS. Therefore, because the tract as originally applied for has been fully covered, it will not be analyzed separately in this document. The BLM, Wyoming State Office, Division of Minerals and Lands, has reviewed Kiewit’s application for the proposed tract. That office determined that the lease application meets the regulatory requirements for an LBA. Map 1-1 shows the proposed tract, other currently pending LBA tracts, and the existing federal leases, including previously leased LBA tracts, in the PRB. The proposed tract was assigned BLM case file number WYW-172684. The 2006 application was subsequently modified in May and November of 2008. The November tract modification is evaluated in this EIS.

1.1.2 BLM Coal Leasing Process
The proposed tract is located in the Powder River Federal Coal Region. That area was decertified2 for coal leasing in 1990 at the recommendation of the Powder River Regional Coal Team (PRRCT). The recommendation was made in response to the declining coal market and reduced interest in leasing sufficient quantities of coal to warrant a regional sale process during the previous eight years. The PRRCT is an independent advisory board of the BLM established to provide advice and guidance regarding the federal coal management program in the PRB. The board is comprised of various federal and state agencies, with voting members limited to the BLM and the state governments of Wyoming and Montana. In a region that is decertified, the BLM can consider leasing individual coal tracts by application to continue or extend the life of an existing mine under the rules of 43 CFR 3425. As part of the 1990 decertification decision, the PRRCT has continued to meet regularly to review the BLM’s leasing activity in the PRB and to offer recommendations based on a regional perspective. That board reviewed the Hay Creek II application at a public meeting held on April 19, 2006, in Casper, Wyoming, and recommended that the BLM process the application. As noted, the BLM leasing process does not authorize mining of federal coal reserves; applicants must first obtain permits to retrieve the coal from appropriate federal and/or state agencies. However, because mining is a logical consequence of issuing a maintenance lease to an existing operation, the impacts of mining the coal are considered in this EIS. All impacts identified in this analysis are addressed as part of the permitting process administered by authorized state and/or federal agencies to insure that they are adequately mitigated.

2

A detailed description of the decertification process is provided in the glossary in chapter 7.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1-3

0

10 miles


20


No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 1-1
 General Location Map with Federal Coal Leases and LBA Tracts


Existing permit boundary Applicant proposed tract Applicant original (March 2006) tract
0 2,500 feet 5,000

Existing Buckskin Mine coal leases Buckskin Mine rail spur

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 1-2 Applicant Proposed and Original (March 2006) Tracts

1.0 Introduction

The LBA process by law and regulation is open, public, and competitive. A coal lease is issued to the highest bidder at the sale, if a federal sale panel determines that the high bid meets or exceeds the fair market value of the coal as determined by the BLM’s economic evaluation, and if the U.S. Department of Justice determines that no antitrust violations would result from issuing the lease to the high bidder. In return for receiving a lease, a lessee must make the following payments to the federal government: 1) a bonus equal to the amount it bid at the time the lease sale was held (the bonus can be paid in five yearly installments); 2) annual rental payments; and 3) royalty payments when the coal is mined. Federal bonus, rental, and royalty payments are currently divided between the state in which the lease is located and the U.S. Treasury at a 49% and 51% ratio, respectively. Since the Powder River Federal Coal Region was decertified in 1990, 22 federal coal leases have been sold at competitive sealed-bid sales and 3 exchanges of federal coal in the Wyoming portion of that region have been completed (table 1-1). This is the second application for a maintenance coal tract submitted by the Buckskin Mine since decertification (table 1-1 and map 1-1). Table 1-2 summarizes the 11 lease applications that are currently pending.

Table 1-1. Coal Leases Issued and Exchanges Completed Since Decertification of the Federal Coal Region in 1990, Powder River Basin, Wyoming
LBA Name (Lease Number) Applicant Mine Current Lessee Effective Date LEASES ISSUED
Jacobs Ranch LBA (WYW-117924) Jacobs Ranch Mine Jacobs Ranch Coal Co. 10/1/1992 West Black Thunder LBA (WYW-118907) Black Thunder Mine Thunder Basin Coal Co. 10/1/1992 North Antelope Rochelle LBA (WYW-119554) North Antelope and Rochelle Mines Powder River Coal Co.b 10/1/1992 West Rocky Butte LBA (WYW-122586) No Existing Minec Caballo Coal Co. 1/1/1993 Eagle Butte LBA (WYW-124783) Eagle Butte Mine Foundation Wyoming Land Co.d 8/1/1995 Antelope LBA (WYW-128322) Antelope Mine Antelope Coal Co.e 2/1/1997 1,708.620 147,423,560 20,114,930.00

Acres Leaseda

Mineable Tons of Coala

Successful Bid (in dollars)

3,492.495

429,048,216

71,909,282.69

3,064.040

403,500,000

86,987,765.00

463.205

56,700,000

16,500,000.00

1,059.180

166,400,000

18,470,400.00

617.200

60,364,000

9,054,600.00

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1.0 Introduction

Table 1-1. Continued
LBA Name (Lease Number) Applicant Mine Current Lessee Effective Date
North Rochelle LBA (WYW-127221) North Rochelle Mine Ark Land Co. 1/1/1998 Powder River LBA (WYW-136142) North Antelope Rochelle Mine Powder River Coal Co.b 9/1/1998 Thundercloud LBA (WYW-136458) Jacobs Ranch Mine Thunder Basin Coal Co., LLC 1/1/1999 Horse Creek LBA (WYW-141435) Antelope Mine Antelope Coal Co.e 12/1/2000 North Jacobs Ranch LBA (WYW-146744) Jacobs Ranch Mine Jacobs Ranch Coal Co. 5/1/2002 NARO South LBA (WYW-154001) North Antelope Rochelle Mine BTU Western Resources, Inc. 9/1/2004 West Hay Creek LBA (WYW-151634) Buckskin Mine Kiewit Mining Properties, Inc. 1/1/2005 Little Thunder LBA (WYW-150318) Black Thunder Mine Ark Land LT Co. 3/1/2005 West Antelope LBA (WYW-151643) Antelope Mine Antelope Coal Co.e 3/1/2005 NARO North LBA (WYW-150210) North Antelope Rochelle Mine BTU Western Resources, Inc. 3/1/2005 West Roundup LBA (WYW-151134) North Rochelle Mine West Roundup Resources, Inc. 5/1/2005

Acres Leaseda
1,481.930

Mineable Tons of Coala
157,610,000

Successful Bid (in dollars)
30,576,340.00

4,224.225

532,000,000

109,596,500.00

3,545.503

412,000,000

158,000,008.50

2,818.695

275,577,000

91,220,120.70

4,982.240

537,542,000

379,504,652.00

2,956.725

297,469,000

274,117,684.00

921.158

142,698,000

42,809,400.00

5,083.500

718,719,000

610,999,949.80

2,809.130

194,961,000

146,311,000.00

2,369.380

324,627,000

299,143,785.00

2,812.510

327,186,000

317,697,610.00

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1-7

1.0 Introduction

Table 1-1. Continued
LBA Name (Lease Number) Applicant Mine Current Lessee Effective Date
Eagle Butte West LBA (WYW-155132) Eagle Butte Mine Foundation Wyoming Land Co.d 2/20/2008f South Maysdorf (Mt. Logan) (WYW-174407)g Cordero Rojo Cordero Mining Co. 4/22/2008 North Maysdorf (Mt. Logan) (WYW-154432)g Cordero Rojo Cordero Mining Co. 1/29/2009 West Antelope II North (WYW-163340)h Antelope Mine Antelope Coal, LLC Coal Lease Sale 5/11/2011 West Antelope II South (WYW-177903)h Antelope Mine Antelope Coal, LLC Coal Lease Sale 6/15/2011 Total Leases Issued

Acres Leaseda
1,427.770

Mineable Tons of Coala
255,000,000

Successful Bid (in dollars)
180,540,000.00

2,900.240

288,081,000

250,800,000.00

445.890

54,657,000

48,098,424.00

2,837.630

350,263,000

297,723,228.00

1,908.600

56,356,000

49,311,500.00

53,929.870

6,188,181,776

3,509,478,179.69

EXCHANGES COMPLETED
EOG (Belco) I-90 Lease Exchange (WYW-150152) EOG Resources (formerly Belco)i I-90 Lease Exchanged for New Lease 4/1/2000 Pittsburgh & Midway Coal Exchange (WYW-148816) Pittsburgh & Midway Coal Mining Co. Private Land Exchanged for Federal Coal 1/27/2005 Powder River Coal Company Gold Mine Draw (WYW-003397 and WYW-83394)Powder River Coal Co.b AVF Coal Lease 6/30/2006 Total Exchanges Completed 599.170 106,000,000 Lease rights to Belco I-90 Lease (WYW0322794)

2,045.530

84,200,000

6,065.77 acres of land and some minerals in Lincoln, Carbon, and Sheridan Counties, Wyoming Lease rights to 921.6 acres of leased federal coal underlying an AVF exchanged for adjacent bypass coal

623.000

47,700,000

3,267.70

237,900,000

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1.0 Introduction

Table 1-1. Continued
LBA = lease by application AVF = alluvial valley floor
a b c

Information from sale notice. Name changed to Powder River Coal, LLC in August 2006 and Peabody Powder River Mining, LLC in 2011. The West Rocky Butte LBA was originally leased to Northwestern Resources Company. The lease has been assigned and incorporated into the Caballo Mine. Ownership of the Eagle Butte Mine and Belle Ayr Mine changed from Foundation Coal West, Inc., to Alpha Coal West, Inc. as of July 31, 2009. Notification of new ownership was submitted to the BLM in August 2009. Notification of a name change to Antelope Coal, LLC was submitted to the WDEQ in August 2008. Sale date. The applied-for LBA (original and modified) was classified under one serial number (WYW-154432) until a later determination was made to split it into North and South. The applied-for LBA (original and modified) was classified under one serial number (WYW-163340) until a later determination was made to split it into North and South. The EOG Resources Belco Exchange lease is now owned by the Buckskin Mine.

d	

e f	 g

h	

i	

Source: BLM Lease by Application Data Sheets (BLM 2009a).

Table 1-2. Pending Coal Leases by Application, Powder River Basin, Wyoming
LBA Name (Lease Number) Applicant Mine
Belle Ayr North (WYW-161248) Belle Ayr Mine North Hilight Field (WYW-164812) Black Thunder Mine South Hilight Field (WYW-174596) Black Thunder Mine West Hilight Field (WYW-172388) Black Thunder Mine West Coal Creek (WYW- 172585) Coal Creek Mine Caballo West (WYW-172657) Caballo Mine West Jacobs Ranch (WYW-172685) Jacobs Ranch Mine

Application Date
7/6/2004

Acres as Applied for
1,578.74

Estimated Coala as Applied for (million tons)
191.90

Status
Final EIS available 8/20/2009 Record of Decision available 7/30/2010 Final EIS available 7/30/2010 Record of Decision in preparation Final EIS available 7/30/2010 Record of Decision available 3/4/2011 Final EIS available 7/30/2010 Record of Decision in preparation Final EIS available 8/20/2009 Record of Decision available 6/10/2011 Final EIS available 8/20/2009 Record of Decision available 8/6/2010 Final EIS available 7/30/2010 Record of Decision in preparation

10/7/2005

2,613.50

263.40

10/7/2005

1,976.69

213.60

1/17/2006

2,370.52

377.90

2/10/2006

1,151.26

57.00

3/15/2006

777.49

81.80

3/24/2006

5,944.37

669.60

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1-9

1.0 Introduction

Table 1-2. Continued
LBA Name (Lease Number) Applicant Mine
Hay Creek II (WYW-172684) Buckskin Mine Maysdorf II (WYW-173360) Cordero Rojo Mine North Porcupine (WYW-173408) North Antelope Rochelle Mine South Porcupine (WYW-176095) North Antelope Rochelle Mine Total LBAs Pending
LBA = lease by application; EIS = environmental impact statement
a

Application Date
3/24/2006; Modified 5/19/2008, 11/28/2008, and 9/3/2010 9/1/2006

Acres as Applied for
419.04

Estimated Coala as Applied for (million tons)
77.2

Status
Draft EIS available 3/12/2010 Public hearing 4/22/2010 Final EIS available 7/29/2011 Final EIS available 8/20/2009 Record of Decision in preparation Final EIS available 7/30/2010 Record of Decision in preparation Final EIS available 7/30/2010 Record of Decision in preparation

4,653.84

474.50

9/27/2006; Modified 10/12/2007 9/29/2006; Modified 10/12/2007

5,795.78

601.20

3,185.96

309.70

30,467.19

3,317.80

Estimated tons of in-place or mineable coal, as reported in the lease application, or of recoverable coal as reported by the applicant, depending on the mine.

Source: BLM Lease by Application Data Sheets (BLM 2009a).

1.1.3 Existing Buckskin Mine 1.1.3.1 General Description

The WDEQ approved the current Buckskin Mine permit (Permit 500 Term T7) on May 22, 2006. The existing Buckskin Mine permit area is approximately 8,011.5 acres and encompasses previously permitted federal and state coal leases (5,877.9 and 659.5 acres, respectively). Map 1-3 shows the proposed tract in relation to the existing mine permit area and leases. Approximately 6,727.8 acres is expected to be disturbed by activities related to extracting existing coal reserves. The total anticipated disturbance area exceeds the leased area because of the need for mine support activities, described below in section 1.1.3.3. The permit area is larger than the leased or disturbed area to ensure that all disturbed lands are within the permit boundary and to allow for an easily defined legal land description. As of December 2008, Kiewit estimates the in-place coal reserves in the existing Buckskin Mine leases to be 460.9 million tons, of which 344.3 million tons are recoverable. Through December 2008, the mine had produced a total of 339.8 million tons of coal. Annual production averaged 20.6 million tons over the previous seven years, with a maximum of 25.3 million tons in any single year (Buckskin Mining Company 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009). The Buckskin Mine’s current air quality permit, as approved by the WDEQ, allows mining of as much as 42 million tons of coal per year. Kiewit estimates that the average annual production at
1-10 Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1.0 Introduction

the mine after January 1, 2009, will be 25 million tons per year. If production continues at that rate, Kiewit estimates that the post-2008 recoverable reserves at the Buckskin Mine would be depleted within approximately 14 years. Surface ownership within the existing permit area is private. Existing land uses in the proposed tract include rangeland livestock grazing, wildlife habitat, pastureland, dryland cropland, and coal bed natural gas (CBNG) development. All oil and gas production facilities located in the proposed tract are also privately owned. Surface ownership is discussed further in section 1.5 and section 3.11; ownership of oil and gas estates is discussed in section 3.11.

1.1.3.2

Mine Facilities and Employees

The Buckskin Mine uses one coal crushing facility, which is located at the coal preparation plant. Five active coal storage silos are currently in use at the mine. These facilities provide the capacity to produce, store, and distribute coal at the permitted tonnage. All coal transfer location points and crushing operations are controlled by baghouse-type dust collectors or passive enclosure control systems. The truck dumping operation uses a stilling shed to control fugitive dust. While sufficient production and storage capacity currently exist at the Buckskin Mine, future modifications to those facilities may be implemented to improve operating efficiency and air quality protection. The Buckskin Mine work force currently totals 338 employees. Kiewit is seeking 10 additional employees to meet staffing needs for existing operations.

1.1.3.3

Mining Methods and Activities

Prior to disturbance and in advance of mining, mine support structures such as roads, power lines, substations, and flood- and sediment-control measures are built as needed, and any public utility lines and oil and gas pipelines are relocated, as necessary. During mining, disturbance typically occurs beyond the lease as a result of mine support activities including, but not limited to, highwall reduction, topsoil stripping, stockpile storage, matching reclaimed topography to premining contours, and constructing flood- and sediment-control structures. The first step of the mining process is soil salvage with suitable heavy equipment such as rubber-tired scrapers. Topsoil—the upper portion of soil that is usually darkly colored and rich in organic material—is removed during initial pit development. Whenever possible, topsoil is hauled from salvage areas and placed directly on recontoured lands, but some topsoil is temporarily stockpiled due to scheduling for later use in pit closure and reclamation. If stockpiling is necessary, topsoil is immediately seeded with a temporary plant mix approved by the WDEQ to provide vegetative cover and prevent wind and water erosion.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1-11

Applicant

0

2,500 feet

5,000

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 1-3 Buckskin Mine’s Existing Federal Coal Leases and Applicant Proposed Tract

1.0 Introduction

After soil salvage operations are complete, overburden removal is conducted primarily with truck/shovel fleets. Other equipment used during this phase includes dozers, scrapers, excavators, front-end loaders, graders, and water trucks. When necessary, blasting is used to loosen the overburden; however, the Buckskin Mine does not use cast blasting to move overburden. Blast holes are drilled down through the overburden—the rock and soil above the coal seam, excluding topsoil—to the top of the upper-most mineable coal seam. The drill holes are then loaded with explosives—a mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil—and detonated to fragment the overburden to facilitate efficient excavation. Overburden is placed directly into already mined pits or stockpiled for later use as backfill. The perimeter of the open pit consists of sheer highwalls with vertical heights equal to the combined depth of the overburden, the coal seam, and interburden—the layer of sedimentary rock that separates two mineable coal beds—if present. If necessary, streams are diverted into temporary channels around active mining areas or contained in temporary reservoirs to prevent pits from being flooded. Coal is currently produced at the Buckskin Mine from two coal seams, the Anderson (averaging 45 feet thick) and the Canyon (averaging 70 feet thick). The blasting and shovel/truck fleet methods used to remove overburden are also used to recover the coal. Coal is mined at several working pit faces at the same time to enable blending of the coal to meet customer quality requirements, to comply with the BLM lease requirements for maximum economic recovery of the coal resource, and to optimize coal removal efficiency with available equipment. Exposed coal seams are cleaned with a dozer, drilled, and blasted to facilitate efficient excavation. Coal is loaded with electric-powered shovels or hydraulic excavators into off-highway haul trucks for transport to the coal preparation plant. Coal haul roads are temporary structures constructed in the mine areas. Haul roads are watered and sprayed with dust suppressant to protect air quality. Coal from the Buckskin Mine is sold to a variety of domestic power utilities in an open market and is shipped by commercial rail to the purchasing utilities; none of the coal from the mine is used in power plants currently located in the PRB or sold to international markets.

1.1.3.4

Reclamation Activities

Reclamation activities follow mining activities according to the WDEQ-approved reclamation plan. A direct permanent impact of coal mining is topographic moderation. Mined-out areas must be reclaimed to the original contours or other topographic configurations approved by the WDEQ to the extent possible. All topographic features such as upland draws, channel bottoms, and elevations are reconstructed to closely mimic premining conditions and ensure proper drainage of water across the reclaimed backfill. While the postmining topography is similar to the premining topography, it is typically gentler and more uniform in appearance. The removal of the coal is temporarily and partially offset by the swelling that occurs when overburden and interburden are blasted, excavated, and backfilled; the influence of swelling is diminished or lost once the backfill has settled. Any disturbed drainages are reclaimed to follow premining patterns. In-channel stockponds and playas (shallow topographic depressions) are replaced to provide livestock and wildlife watering sources. As indicated, all postmining topography, including reconstructed drainages, must be approved by the WDEQ. After mining, the land is
Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application 1-13

1.0 Introduction

reclaimed to support the premining uses described in section 1.1.3.1. Oil and gas wells, pipelines, and utility easements are reestablished as required. Most overburden is placed directly into areas where coal has already been removed. Replaced overburden is graded to reflect an approved postmine surface contour, as required by WDEQ and OSM rules. Elevations consistent with an approved postmining topography plan are established as quickly as possible. Once the overburden has been replaced and recontoured, it is sampled and analyzed to verify its suitability as subsoil. Material found to be unsuitable for use in reestablishing vegetation or that could affect groundwater quality due to high concentrations of certain parameters, such as selenium or adverse pH levels, is either removed and treated or adequately covered with suitable overburden material prior to depositing topsoil. Under certain conditions, the postmining topography is not immediately achievable. This occurs when an excess material requires temporary stockpiling, when insufficient material is available from current overburden removal operations, or when future mining could redisturb an area already mined. Once the postmining topography has been completed, the regraded backfill is ripped to relieve soil compaction. Topsoil is then redistributed using rubber-tired scrapers or haul trucks, dozers, and blades and a seedbed is established by ripping or plowing the soil. Once topsoil preparation is completed, it is immediately seeded using native grasses, forbs, and shrubs that are consistent with the postmining land use. Permanent reclamation must be seeded with WDEQ-approved seed mixes. Reseeded areas are monitored for a minimum of 10 years to evaluate the success of vegetation growth and the establishment of a variety of plant species prior to the final (Phase III) release of the reclamation bond. Other parameters, such as successful use of reclaimed areas by livestock and wildlife, also must be demonstrated before Phase III bond release is achieved. All reclamation goes through rigorous monitoring and a process of success verifications dictated by the WDEQ before any bonds are released on reclaimed lands. Chapter 4, Section 2(b)(i) of the WDEQ Coal Rules and Regulations requires that rough backfilling and grading follow coal removal as closely as possible based on the mining conditions. According to a recent OSM evaluation of the Wyoming coal mining industry, the 2007 reclamation-to-disturbance ratio was approximately 80% (12,258 total acres reclaimed versus 15,321 total acres disturbed) (OSM 2008). The remaining 20% of disturbance consists of long-term facilities and infrastructure such as coal storage silos and processing plants, roads, and rail lines. Those lands will be reclaimed when mine operations cease and all infrastructure has been removed from the site. The WDEQ also requires that mining companies post a reclamation bond on all acres disturbed by their activities within their own permit boundary. The bond must be large enough to cover the cost of completing reclamation, should the company default on its obligations. One major condition for receiving Phase III bond release is to document that the reclaimed area has achieved the vegetative cover and production, and plant species diversity equal to a predetermined native comparison area, the reference area. For example, if shrubs were present during baseline vegetative inventories, the reclaimed area must also have a shrub density of one plant per square meter over 20% of the area. The Buckskin Mine has a vigorous annual

1-14

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1.0 Introduction

program of vegetation monitoring to ensure that reclamation efforts are proceeding in a positive manner to achieve final bond release. Land Status categories are calculated on an annual basis and reported in the Annual Report to the WDEQ. The parameters of each phase of bond release are described in detail in WDEQ Guideline 20, available on the agency’s website at http://deq.state.wy.us/lqd/guidelines. Table 1-3 provides a general summary of reclaimed acreages at the Buckskin Mine and their respective stages of bond release. As of December 31, 2008, Buckskin had disturbed approximately 3,815 acres over the life of the mine, of which about 1,035 (27.3%) are associated with long-term mining facilities that will not be reclaimed until all mining operations have ceased. Approximately 1,256 (33%) of the 3,815 disturbed acres had been permanently reclaimed through that year. Approximately 4,018 acres and 1,271 acres were disturbed and reclaimed, respectively, through 2009. Because the analyses for the draft EIS were performed using data collected through 2008, data from 2009 is not included in further discussions in this document with the exception of certain specific resources in response to public comments on the draft EIS. Permanently reclaimed areas refer to all affected lands that have been backfilled, graded, retopsoiled, and permanently seeded according to approved practices specified in the WDEQ approved Reclamation Plan for the mine. Permanently reclaimed lands must then meet various benchmarks associated with vegetative conditions as well as wildlife and livestock grazing before they achieve Phase III bond release. Reclaimed lands often fall into multiple bond release categories at the same time due to two primary factors: the overlap between activities in a given reclamation area; and the time-lag between reclamation actions, such as reseeding with permanent seed mixes, and responses to those actions (e.g., vegetation growth and production) necessary to receive Phase III bond release. Consequently, the reclaimed acreages shown in table 1-3 for three phases of bond release do not add up to the total 1,256 acres of reclaimed land through 2008. To achieve Phase III Bond Release, reclaimed lands must also support the postmining land use (i.e., domestic livestock grazing and wildlife use), as determined through grazing trials and by monitoring wildlife use during the reclamation period. At the Buckskin Mine, reclamation is typically grazed by fencing multiple fields together to create a larger pasture; multiple pastures are sometimes also combined. The mine first began grazing cattle in 1998 and continued grazing efforts in 9 of the 10 subsequent years (1999 through 2008). The number of cattle grazed during a given period ranged from 107 to 200 during that period, with an average grazing time of 34 days (range 12 to 63 days) in a given pasture. Grazing cattle consisted primarily of cow-calf pairs, with a few bulls included in some years. Annual wildlife monitoring efforts at the Buckskin Mine are described in section 3.10, and have included reclaimed lands as they became established. The WGFD reviews the annual wildlife report each year to ensure that proper survey protocols have been followed and to monitor impacts to wildlife populations in the

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1-15

1.0 Introduction

vicinity of the surface coal mines in the PRB. That agency has not identified any deficiencies in the Buckskin Mine annual wildlife reports.

Table 1-3. Summary of Land Status Acreage at the Buckskin Mine through December 2008
Land Status	
Undisturbed areas	 Disturbed areas Long-term facilitiesa Active mining and reclamation Reclaimed landb Phase Ic bond release Phase IId bond release Phase IIIe final bond release
a

Acres
4,196 3,815 1,035 1,525 1,256 1,212 250 250

Approximate Percentages
52% of 8,011 total acres in permit area 48% of 8,011 total acres in permit area 27% of disturbance 40% of disturbance 33% of disturbance 96% of reclamation 20% of reclamation 20% of reclamation

Long-term facilities includes stockpiles, hydrologic control structures, mine buildings, coal-loading facilities, the main access road, electrical substations, vehicle parking areas, the railroad loop, environmental monitoring areas, and other similar structures and features that will not be reclaimed until all mining operations have ceased. Reclaimed land refers to previously disturbed areas that have been planted with permanent seed mixes. Phase I refers to areas where backfilling, re-grading, topsoil replacement, contouring, and drainage control have been completed in a bonded area in accordance with the mine’s approved reclamation plan. Phase II refers to areas that have achieved Phase I release, and also have vegetation species composition commensurate with that of the seed mix(es) and species composition required by the WDEQ-approved Reclamation Plan. Mines often go directly from Phase I to Phase III due to the overlap between Phase II and Phase III. Phase III refers to lands that have been reclaimed to the approved postmine land use and with successful restoration of wildlife habitat; where revegetation performance standards, shrub establishment goals, and tree replacement requirements have been met; the postmining groundwater, and surface water quality and quantity support land uses; any approved postmining road types and corridors on evaluated acreage are in place and functional; and any temporary structures present on lands being evaluated have been removed.

b	 c

d	

e

1.1.3.5

Hazardous and Solid Waste

Wastes produced by current mining activities at Buckskin are handled according to the procedures described in WDEQ Mine Permit 500 Term T7, approved May 22, 2006. Solid waste produced at the existing Buckskin Mine consists of floor sweepings, shop rags, lubricant containers, welding rod ends, metal shavings, worn tires, packing material, used filters, and office and food wastes. A small portion (< 5%) of the solid wastes produced at the mine is disposed of within the Buckskin Mine permit boundary in accordance with WDEQ approved solid waste disposal plans. Solid waste is also disposed of at the Campbell County landfill. Sewage is handled by WDEQ-permitted sewage systems present within the existing mine facilities. Maintenance and lubrication of most of the equipment takes place at existing shop facilities at the Buckskin Mine. Major lubrication, oil changes, and other maintenance operations for most equipment are performed inside the service building bays. Used oil and grease are contained and deposited in storage tanks in that building. All collected used oils and grease are then beneficially recycled off site or used for energy recovery.

1-16

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1.0 Introduction

The Buckskin Mine has reviewed the EPA’s “Consolidated List of Chemicals Subject to Reporting Under Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Re-authorization Act (SARA) of 1986 (as amended)” and the EPA’s “List of Extremely Hazardous Substances,” as defined in 40 CFR 355 (as amended), for hazardous substances used at the mine. Hazardous substances are designated under Section 102 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), as amended; extremely hazardous substances are listed in Section 302 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. The mine maintains files containing Material Safety Data Sheets for all chemicals, compounds, and/or substances that are or would be used during the course of mining. The Buckskin Mine is responsible for ensuring that all production, use, storage, transport, and disposal of hazardous and extremely hazardous materials that occur as a result of mining activities are in accordance with all applicable existing or future federal, state, and local government rules, regulations, and guidelines. All mining activities involving the production, use, and/or disposal of hazardous or extremely hazardous materials are and would continue to be conducted to minimize potential environmental impacts. The mine must also comply with emergency reporting requirements for releases of hazardous materials. Any release of hazardous or extremely hazardous substances in excess of the reportable quantity, as established in 40 CFR 117, is reported as required by CERCLA, as amended. The materials for which such notification must be given are listed in Section 302 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act and Section 102 of CERCLA, as described above. If a reportable quantity of a hazardous or extremely hazardous substance is released, immediate notice is given to the WDEQ and all other appropriate federal and state agencies. Each mining company is expected to prepare and implement several plans and policies to ensure environmental protection from hazardous and extremely hazardous materials. These plans/policies include:  spill prevention control and countermeasure plans;  spill response plans;  stormwater pollution prevention plans;  inventories of hazardous chemical categories pursuant to Section 313 of SARA, as amended; and  emergency response plans. In addition, all mining operations must comply with regulations promulgated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act), Safe Drinking Water Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, Mine Safety and Health Act, and the CAA. In addition, mining operations must comply with all attendant state rules and regulations relating to hazardous material reporting, transportation, management, and disposal.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1-17

1.0 Introduction

Compliance with these regulations is the current practice at the Buckskin Mine. Kiewit’s acquisition of the proposed tract or alternative tract configuration would not change these practices, nor the type and quantity of any wastes generated and disposed of by the mine.

1.2 Purpose and Need for Action
As described in section 1.1.1, the purpose of the Proposed Action is to extend the life of existing operations at the Buckskin Mine. The Proposed Action would not expand operations at the Buckskin Mine, but would maintain current levels of production and extend the life of the mine by approximately two years3. The permitting process that follows the lease sale takes approximately five years to complete. Kiewit is applying for the federal coal reserves in the proposed tract now so that it can secure coal resources to market, enter into new contracts, and complete the permitting process in time to mine the new lease in a logical progression. More broadly, the Proposed Action responds to the continued demand for coal in the United States, primarily for the purpose of generating electricity. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (2008a), the United States has the world’s largest known coal reserves. Demand for this coal is driven by the electric power sector, which accounts for about 92% of coal consumption (U.S. Energy Information Administration 2008a, 2008b). Approximately half of the electricity currently generated in the United States comes from coal (U.S. Department of Energy 2009a). Wyoming coal is used to generate electricity in 37 other states (Wyoming Mining Association 2009). The Energy Policy Act of 2005 directs federal agencies to undertake efforts to ensure energy efficiency and the production of secure, affordable, and reliable domestic energy. A primary goal of the National Energy Policy is to increase domestic energy supplies from diverse sources such as oil, gas, coal, hydropower, wind, solar, and nuclear power in a long-term effort to reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign energy sources. The BLM recognizes that the continued extraction of coal is essential to meet the nation’s future energy needs and goals. Consequently, private development of federal coal reserves is integral to the BLM’s coal leasing program under the authority of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as well as the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) and the Federal Coal Leasing Amendments Act of 1976. Under FLPMA, the BLM is mandated to manage public lands for multiple-use so that the lands are utilized in the combination that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people. FLPMA authorizes the BLM to manage the use, occupancy, and development of public lands through leases and permits (43 CFR 2710). Management—leasing, mining, and selling—of federal coal resources in the PRB contributes to a reliable supply of coal for electric power generation in the United States. The low-sulfur compliance coal from the PRB enables coal-fired power plants to meet current CAA requirements and increasing demand without potentially significant increases in power costs
3

Assuming that coal production would continue at the most recent (2008) average annual coal production rate of 25 million tons per year.

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1.0 Introduction

while new technologies are developed to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. Management of federal coal resources in the PRB also generates revenue—in the form of bonus, annual rental, and royalty payments—that is used to fund numerous infrastructure and social projects in Wyoming.

1.3 Regulatory Authority and Responsibility
The authorities and responsibilities of the BLM and other concerned regulatory agencies are described in this section, including a detailed description of the permitting process that follows BLM leasing of federal coal reserves. The Hay Creek II application was submitted and will be processed and evaluated under the following federal authorities:  Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as amended;  Multiple-Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960;  National Environmental Policy Act;  Federal Coal Leasing Amendments Act of 1976;  Federal Land Policy Management Act; and  Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). As described previously, the BLM is the lead agency responsible for leasing federal coal reserves under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as amended by the Federal Coal Leasing Amendments Act in 1976. The BLM is also responsible for preparing this EIS to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of issuing a coal lease and the subsequent mining of that coal, which would be the logical outcome of any leasing action. As part of the EIS and leasing processes, the BLM also has a responsibility to consult with and obtain the comments and assistance of cooperating agencies, such as the OSM and WDEQ, as well as other state and federal agencies that have jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to potential environmental impacts. After a federal coal lease is issued, the SMCRA gives the OSM primary responsibility to administer programs that regulate surface coal mining operations, as well as the surface effects of underground coal mining operations. Pursuant to Section 503 of the SMCRA, the WDEQ developed a permanent program authorizing that agency to regulate surface coal mining operations and surface effects of underground mining on nonfederal lands within Wyoming. In November 1980, the Secretary of the Interior approved that program. In January 1987, pursuant to Section 523(c) of the SMCRA, the WDEQ entered into another cooperative agreement with the Secretary of the Interior authorizing the WDEQ to regulate surface coal mining operations and surface effects of underground mining on federal lands within the state; no federal surface is included in any of the analysis areas for the Hay Creek II EIS.

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1.0 Introduction

The net result of those actions was to give the WDEQ the authority to serve as an agent of the OSM to issue permits to mine coal in Wyoming. Before a newly leased area can be disturbed, the lessee must submit an extensive permit application package to the WDEQ to amend the current permit document to include any proposed coal mining and reclamation operations associated with the newly leased coal reserves. That agency acts as the conduit for distributing the package to other divisions within the WDEQ, as well as other state and federal agencies with a vested interest or cooperator status in the permitting process and future impacts of mining. The WDEQ carefully reviews the permit application package to ensure that it complies with the permitting requirements, and that the coal mining operation will meet the performance standards of the approved Wyoming program. The BLM and other state and federal agencies also review the application package to ensure that it complies with the terms of the coal lease, applicable state requirements, the Mineral Leasing Act, NEPA, and other state and federal laws and their associated regulations. If the permit application package complies, the WDEQ issues a permit to the applicant to conduct coal mining operations. The final permit application document and the actual permit are then submitted to OSM, which recommends approval, approval with conditions, or disapproval of the Mineral Leasing Act mining plan to the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Land and Minerals Management. Before the mining plan can be approved, the BLM must approve the Resource Recovery Protection Plan for mining the tract. If a proposed LBA tract is leased to an existing mine, the lessee is required to revise its coal mining permit before the coal can be extracted, following the processes outlined above. As a part of that process, a detailed new plan must be developed showing how the newly leased lands would be mined, mitigated, and/or reclaimed. The total disturbance area typically exceeds the leased area because of the need for mine support activities, described in section 1.1.3.3. As noted, the mining, mitigation, and reclamation plans must all be approved by appropriate state and federal agencies before mining can proceed in newly leased coal tracts. All special provisions within the existing permit document, such as species-specific protective measures for plant and animal species of concern, also apply to additional lands within new coal tracts. The WDEQ enforces the performance standards and permit requirements for reclamation during a mine’s operation and has primary authority in environmental emergencies. The OSM retains oversight responsibility over the WDEQ for this enforcement. Appendix A presents other federal and state permitting requirements that must be satisfied to mine the proposed tract.

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1.0 Introduction

1.4 Relationship to BLM Policies, Plans, and Programs
In addition to the federal acts listed under section 1.3, guidance and regulations for managing and administering public lands—including the federal coal reserves in the Kiewit application— are set forth in 40 CFR 1500 (Protection of Environment), 43 CFR 1601 (Planning, Programming, Budgeting), and 43 CFR 3400 (Coal Management). Specific guidance for processing applications follows BLM Manual 3420, Competitive Coal Leasing (BLM 1989) and the 1991 Powder River Regional Coal Team Operational Guidelines for Coal Lease-By-Applications (BLM 1991). The National Environmental Policy Act Handbook (BLM 2008b) has been followed in developing this EIS.

1.5 Conformance with Existing Land Use Plans
The Federal Coal Leasing Amendments Act of 1976 requires that lands considered for leasing be included in a comprehensive land use plan and that leasing decisions be compatible with that plan. The BLM Approved Resource Management Plan (RMP) for Public Lands Administered by the Bureau of Land Management Buffalo Field Office (BLM 2001), governs and addresses the leasing of federal coal in Campbell County. The 2001 document is an update of the previous Buffalo Resource Area RMP (BLM 1985), and will be referred to as the 2001 RMP update throughout this EIS. The major land use planning decision that the BLM must make concerning federal coal resources is a determination of which coal reserves are acceptable for further consideration for leasing. The BLM uses four screening procedures to identify these coal reserves. These screening procedures require the BLM to:  estimate the development potential of the federal coal reserves;  apply the unsuitability criteria listed in the regulations at 43 CFR 3461;  make decisions related to multiple land uses that eliminate federal coal deposits from consideration for leasing to protect other resource values; and  consult with surface owners who meet the criteria defined in the regulations at 43 CFR 3400.0-5(gg)(1) and (2). Only those federal coal reserves that pass these screens receive further consideration for leasing. The BLM has applied these coal screens to federal coal reserves in Campbell County several times, beginning in the early 1980s. In 1993, the BLM began the most recent process of reapplying these screens in Campbell, Converse, and Sheridan counties in eastern Wyoming. This screening analysis process, which includes the portion of Campbell County where the proposed tract is located, was adopted in the 2001 RMP update, and the results were included as Appendix D of that update. That document can be viewed in the 2001 documents section on the Wyoming BLM website at: http://www.blm.gov/rmp/WY/application/index.cfm/rmpid=101.

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1.0 Introduction

Under the first coal screening procedure, a coal tract must be located within an area that has been determined to have coal development potential in order to be acceptable for further consideration for leasing (43 CFR 3420.1-4(e)(1)). In the coal screening analyses published in its 2001 RMP update, the BLM identified the proposed tract as being in an area with this coal development potential. The second screening procedure requires the application of coal mining unsuitability criteria listed in the federal coal management regulations (43 CFR 3461). The coal mining unsuitability criteria were applied to lands in the PRB with high to moderate coal development potential, including the proposed tract and adjacent coal reserves identified by the BLM, during the coal screening conducted for the 2001 RMP update. Appendix B of this EIS summarizes the unsuitability criteria, describes the general findings for the 2001 RMP update, and presents a validation of these findings for the proposed tract, as well as adjacent unleased federal coal reserves. Chapter 2 provides detailed descriptions of the proposed tract and those adjacent coal reserves, as well as the result of the review of the unsuitability criteria specific to both areas. As indicated in appendix B, several criteria will be further evaluated during the leasing process. The third coal screening procedure consists of a conflict analysis for multiple-use activities on the lands associated with the coal reserves that are under consideration for leasing. In accordance with 43 CFR 3420.1-4(e)(3), that analysis must be completed to identify and “eliminate additional coal deposits from further consideration for leasing to protect resource values of a locally important or unique nature not included in the unsuitability criteria.” The 2001 RMP update addresses two types of multiple land-use conflicts: municipal/residential conflicts and multiple mineral development (coal versus oil and gas) conflicts. The proposed tract does not lie within or near an identified buffer zone surrounding an existing community; therefore, no federal coal reserves within that tract configuration have been eliminated from further consideration for leasing due to municipal/residential conflicts. The 2001 RMP update includes two decisions related to multiple mineral development conflicts in Campbell, Converse, and Sheridan counties. With respect to oil and gas leasing in coal mining areas, it determined that oil and gas tracts that would interfere with coal mining operations would not be offered for lease but that, where possible, oil and gas leases would be issued with specific conditions to prevent a development conflict with coal mining operations. With respect to coal leasing in oil and gas fields, the 2001 RMP update states that coal leasing in producing oil and gas fields would be deferred unless or until coal development would not interfere with the economic recovery of the oil and gas resources, as determined on a case-by-case basis. The BLM’s evaluation of the potential for conflict with the development of oil and gas resources within the proposed tract is discussed in section 3.3. The BLM’s policy and guidance on conflicts between surface coal mining and CBNG development is to optimize the recovery of both resources and to ensure that the public receives a reasonable return, as explained in BLM Instruction Memorandum No. 2006-153 (BLM 2006a).

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

1.0 Introduction

The fourth coal screening procedure requires consultation with surface owners who meet the criteria defined in the regulations at 43 CFR 3400.0-5(gg)(1) and (2)4. Surface owner consultation was conducted as part of the coal screening analyses published in the 2001 RMP update. Private surface owners in the Gillette coal development potential area (including Campbell County and northern Converse County) were provided the opportunity to express their preference for or against surface mining of federal coal under their private surface estate during that screening. At that time, no attempt was made to distinguish qualified surface owners. Appendix D of the 2001 RMP update states that “no area should be dropped from further consideration for leasing as a result of responses received from surface owners.” Therefore, no federal coal reserves within the proposed tract have been eliminated from further consideration for leasing due to qualified surface owner conflicts at this time. Private surface owners who are found to be qualified must consent to leasing before the BLM can offer the underlying federal coal reserves for lease. The BLM will review the current surface ownership in the final tract configuration. Prior to offering any tract for lease, consent to leasing must be provided for any lands held by any qualified surface owner. In summary, the proposed tract has been subjected to the four coal planning screens and determined acceptable for further consideration for leasing. Thus, a decision to lease the federal coal reserves in this application would be in conformance with the 2001 RMP update.

1.6 Consultation and Coordination
1.6.1 Initial Involvement
The BLM received the Hay Creek II coal lease application on March 24, 2006. The BLM, Wyoming State Office, Division of Minerals and Lands, initially reviewed the application and ruled that the application and lands involved met the requirements of regulations governing coal leasing on application (43 CFR 3425). On September 18, 2006, the BLM Wyoming State Director notified the Governor of Wyoming that Kiewit had filed a lease application with the BLM for the proposed tract. The PRRCT reviewed this lease application at a public meeting held in Casper, Wyoming, on April 19, 2006, following Kiewit’s presentation about the existing Buckskin Mine and the pending lease application for the proposed tract. The PRRCT recommended that the BLM continue to process this application. The major steps in processing a coal LBA, including permitting steps once the lease is issued, are shown in appendix C. The BLM published a notice of intent to prepare an EIS and a notice of public meeting in the Federal Register on Friday, December 21, 2007. The publication announced the time and location of a public scoping meeting and requested public comment on the application. Letters
4

Chapter 7 includes a definition of the term “qualified surface owner,” based on these regulations.

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1.0 Introduction

requesting public comment and announcing the time and location of the public scoping meeting were mailed to all parties on the distribution list. The BLM published a notice of public scoping meeting in the Federal Register and Gillette News-Record newspaper. A BLM news release announcing preparation of the Hay Creek II coal lease application EIS was issued on January 17, 2008. The public scoping meeting was held on January 31, 2008, in Gillette, Wyoming. At the public meeting, the BLM presented information and accepted public comments about the application. Chapter 5 provides a list of all federal, state, and local governmental agencies that were consulted in preparation of this EIS, all contributors to and reviewers of the information provided in this document, and the distribution list for this EIS.

1.6.1.1

Issues and Concerns

Issues and concerns expressed by the public and government agencies relating to the potential impacts of leasing the proposed tract, specifically, and/or to previous coal lease applications in general include:  potential conflicts between coal mining and both existing and proposed conventional oil and gas development and CBNG development;  potential cumulative impacts of coal leasing decisions combined with other existing and proposed development in the PRB;  validity and currency of resource data;  potential impacts on public access;  potential impacts on cultural and paleontological resources;  potential impacts on greater sage-grouse and other wildlife;  potential impacts on threatened and endangered species and other species of concern;  potential impacts on wetland resources;  potential impacts related to coal loss during transport;  potential impacts on air quality (including cumulative impacts on visibility);  potential impacts on surface and groundwater quality and quantity;  potential impacts of and possible mitigation for nitrogen oxide emissions resulting from blasting of coal and overburden;  potential impacts on human health;  the need to include reasonably foreseeable actions such as the construction and operation of the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad and power plants in the cumulative analysis;  the need to address coal combustion residues and other byproducts from coal-fired power plants;

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1.0 Introduction

 the need to address increasing coal production in the PRB in the cumulative analysis;  the need to lease enough coal that the revenues generated are sufficient for use in the local community;  the need to address site-specific greenhouse gas emissions; and  climate change.

1.6.1.2

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Copies of the draft EIS were sent to all parties on the distribution list and copies were made available for review at the BLM offices in Casper, Buffalo, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. The document was also made available for review on the BLM Wyoming website at: http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/cfodocs/HayCreekII.html. The EPA published a notice in the Federal Register on March 12, 2010, announcing the availability of the draft EIS. A 60-day comment period on the draft EIS commenced with publication of that notice. The BLM also published a notice of availability/notice of public hearing in the Federal Register on March 12, 2010. That notice announced the date and time of a public hearing to be held during the 60-day comment period. The purpose of the hearing, held in Gillette, Wyoming on April 22, 2010, was to solicit public comments on the draft EIS and on the fair market value, maximum economic recovery, and proposed competitive sale of federal coal from the proposed tract. The BLM also published a notice of public hearing in the Gillette News-Record and other local newspapers.

1.6.1.3

Final Environmental Impact Statement

All substantive written comments received on the draft EIS have been included, with corresponding responses from the BLM, in appendix D of this final EIS. Both the BLM and the EPA will publish a notice of availability of the final EIS in the Federal Register. After a 30-day availability period, the BLM will make a decision to hold or not to hold a competitive lease sale for the federal coal reserves within the LBA area.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

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1.0 Introduction

1.6.2 Future Involvement 1.6.2.1 Record of Decision

The record of decision (ROD) for the tract is mailed to all parties on the mailing list and others who commented on the draft EIS during the comment period. Members of the public and/or the applicant can appeal the BLM decision to hold or not to hold a competitive sale and issue a lease for the final tract configuration. An appeal of the BLM’s decision must be filed within 30 days from the date that the notice of availability for the ROD is published in the Federal Register. The decision can be implemented at the end of the 30-day appeal period, if no appeal is received. If a competitive lease sale is held, it will follow the procedures set forth in 43 CFR 3422, 43 CFR 3425, and BLM Handbook H-3420-1 (Competitive Coal Leasing).

1.6.2.2

U.S. Department of Justice Consultation

After a competitive coal lease sale is held, but before the lease is issued, the BLM must solicit the opinion of the U.S. Department of Justice on whether the planned lease issuance creates a situation inconsistent with federal antitrust laws. The Department of Justice has 30 days to make this determination. If the Department of Justice has not responded in writing within the 30 days, the BLM can issue the lease.

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2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives

2.0 PROPOSED ACTION AND ALTERNATIVES
This chapter describes the regulations and documents that guide the identification of alternatives to the Proposed Action, explains how the alternatives were developed and how a final tract configuration will be determined, and, finally, provides detailed descriptions of the Proposed Action, alternatives, and tract configurations considered in this EIS1. This final EIS analyzes three alternatives: the Proposed Action, Alternative 1 (No Action), and Alternative 2 (additional lands added by the BLM). Two additional alternatives were considered but were not analyzed further in this EIS because they were either not logistically feasible (Alternative 3—new mine start) or substantially different (Alternative 4—delay the lease sale) than analyzed alternatives. Supporting information for excluding these alternatives is provided in section 2.3. The BLM selected Alternative 2 as the Preferred Alternative after considering all of the input received on the draft EIS from individuals, agencies, and other interested parties during the public comment period. The comment period began upon the BLM’s issuance of a notice of availability of the draft EIS on March 12, 2010, and lasted for 60 days. This process offered the public sector an opportunity to submit written input during the comment period and oral comments at a public hearing that occurred on April 22, 2010. In addition to comments on the environmental effects described in the draft EIS, the BLM considered fair market value and maximum economic recovery factors, geologic data, and coal data when identifying the Preferred Alternative presented in this final EIS. Following a 30-day public comment period on the final EIS, the BLM will issue a ROD. The ROD will define the final delineation of the Hay Creek II tract. Based on federal regulations (43 CFR 3425.1-9)2, the final coal lease tract can be any configuration that is within the area analyzed for this EIS, as described in section 2.2.3 and chapter 3. If the BLM decides to offer the tract for lease, then a sale will be held. If a sale is held, the bidding would be open to any qualified bidder.

2.1 Background
To process an LBA, the BLM must evaluate the quantity, quality, maximum economic recovery, and fair market value of the federal coal, and fulfill the requirements of NEPA by evaluating the environmental impacts of leasing that coal. NEPA also requires that the BLM consider and evaluate “reasonable alternatives” to meet the objectives of the Proposed Action while avoiding or minimizing environmental impacts. Reasonable alternatives are defined by NEPA as those that are technically, economically, and environmentally practical and feasible to satisfy the stated purpose and need for the proposed federal action. NEPA also requires the analysis of a “no

1		 		 2		 		

Refer to page xx for a list of abbreviations and acronyms used in this document. “The authorized officer may add or delete lands from an area covered by an application for any reason he/she determines to be in the public interest.”

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

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2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives

action” alternative (i.e., the consequence of continuing ongoing activities without a new leasing action). In addition to NEPA requirements, the BLM must meet the requirements contained in the Competitive Coal Leasing Manual (BLM 1989) and follow the regulations for federal coal leasing by application under 43 CFR 3425. Like NEPA, the Competitive Coal Leasing Manual requires that the BLM evaluate other potential boundaries for federal coal tracts that include and/or are near the proposed tract. In its consideration of alternative tract boundaries, the BLM must meet the following goals: 1) achieve maximum economic recovery of the coal resource; 2) maintain or increase the potential for competition; and 3) avoid future bypass or captive tract situations (i.e., stranding an isolated tract and hindering future recovery of those coal resources). In accordance with these goals, the BLM has identified an area encompassing the proposed tract and adjacent unleased federal coal reserves. This area is referred to as the BLM study area (map 2-1). As described under section 2.0, the BLM could decrease the size of the proposed tract or increase it to include some or all of the federal coal reserves in the BLM study area.

2.2 Description of the Proposed Action and Alternatives
Under the Proposed Action, the BLM would hold a competitive sale and issue a lease for the federal coal reserves included in the proposed tract, which is a contiguous block of federal coal reserves adjacent to existing coal leases at the Buckskin Mine (map 2-1). Two alternatives to the Proposed Action are analyzed in this EIS: 1.	 Alternative 1 (No Action): Reject the application to lease federal coal reserves in the proposed tract and not offer a tract for sale at this time. 2.	 Alternative 2 (the BLM Preferred Alternative): Hold a competitive sale and issue a lease for the federal coal reserves included in an alternative tract configuration that would be delineated from some or all of the BLM study area. See section 2.3 for a discussion of other alternatives considered but eliminated from further analysis in this EIS. Under the Proposed Action or Alternative 2, the Buckskin Mine permit area would be enlarged to include the newly leased tract before mining activities could begin. To do this, Kiewit would submit an application to the WDEQ to amend its existing surface mining permit and mining plan, including corresponding monitoring, reclamation, and mitigation plans, to include the new lease area.

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Existing permit boundary Applicant proposed tract BLM study area Existing Buckskin Mine coal leases Buckskin Mine rail spur

0

2,500 feet

5,000

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 2-1 Applicant Proposed Tract and BLM Study Area

2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives

2.2.1

Proposed Action

Under the Proposed Action, the BLM would hold a competitive sale, as described under section 1.1.2, and would issue a lease for the federal coal reserves included in the proposed tract. The Proposed Action assumes that Kiewit would be the successful bidder and would incorporate the proposed tract into its existing mine operations. The Proposed Action would not expand operations at the Buckskin Mine, but would maintain current levels of production for an additional two years beyond the current life-of-mine estimate.

2.2.1.1

Description of the Proposed Tract

The proposed tract is adjacent to existing Buckskin Mine federal coal leases (map 2-1). It encompasses approximately 419 surface acres; approximately 182 acres (43%) overlap the existing Buckskin Mine permit area. The proposed tract is the area from which coal would be mined under the Proposed Action; the area within approximately 0.25 mile north and west of the tract would be used for activities to support mining in the tract. The legal description of the proposed tract is provided in table 2-1. The land description and acreage are based on the BLM Status of Public Domain Mineral Titles (BLM 2007a and 2008c). The entire surface of the proposed tract is privately owned by individuals or companies, while most of the subsurface minerals (all of the coal and the majority of oil and gas reserves) are federally owned. This results in a split estate situation. The BLM has developed a policy to address the split estate issue, which applies to situations where the surface rights are in private ownership and the rights to development of the mineral resources are publicly held and managed by the federal government.

Table 2-1. Legal Description of the Proposed Tract
Campbell County, Wyoming, Sixth Principal Meridian Township 52 North, Range 72 West
Section 19: Lot 5 (W ½) Lot 6 Lot 7 Lot 10 Lot 11 Lot 12 (W ½) Lot 13 (W ½) Lot 14 Lot 15 Lot 18 Lot 19 Lot 20 (W ½) Total Acres
Source: BLM Status of Public Domain Land and Mineral Titles (2007a and 2008c).

Acres
20.71 41.42 42.45 42.31 41.68 20.84 20.93 41.75 41.90 41.97 42.01 21.07 419.04

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2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives

Kiewit estimates that the tract contains approximately 77.2 million tons of in-place federal coal reserves; however, not all of those coal reserves are currently considered mineable. According to 43 CFR 3480.0-5(23), the BLM defines minable coal as the reserve base that is commercially mineable. In other words, mineable coal includes all reserves that are legally and physically accessible, including the coal that would be left in place during the mining process, such as support pillars, fenders (i.e., catch benches), property barriers, or coal underlying public roads (because they could be relocated). Much of the western boundary of the proposed tract is adjacent to Campbell County Road 23 (Collins Road). In accordance with SMCRA, and as specified under unsuitability criterion 3 (43 CFR 3461) (appendix B), lands within 100 feet of the outside line of the right-of-way of a public road are considered unsuitable for surface coal mining. Consequently, the coal reserves underlying the Collins Road, its right-of-way, and an associated 100-foot buffer zone cannot be accessed under current conditions. An exception to this prohibition is included in the SMCRA regulations at Section 522(e)(4) and 30 CFR 761.11(d)(2). This exception can be applied if the Campbell County Board of Commissioners allows the public road to be relocated or closed after the following have occurred: a public notice has been issued, an opportunity for a public hearing has been provided, and a finding that the interests of the affected public and landowners will be protected has been issued (30 CFR 761.11[d]). If Kiewit were to obtain approval from the commissioners to move the Collins Road, the exception to the prohibition on mining within its right-of-way and buffer zone could be applied and the unsuitability determination could be reconsidered. In that case, Kiewit would be able to recover the coal underlying the county road and its associated buffer zones. If Kiewit were to not seek or obtain approval to move or close the road, a stipulation would be attached to any new lease stating that no mine-related surface disturbance may be conducted in the portions of the lease within the road right-of-way and 100-foot buffer zone without proper authorization, and the associated federal coal reserves would remain unsuitable for mining and would not be recovered. Neither the applicant nor the Campbell County Board of Commissioners has submitted a proposal to move this road, and Kiewit does not anticipate pursuing that option. Kiewit estimates that approximately 17.1 million tons of mineable coal underlies the Collins Road and its 100-foot buffer zone within the proposed tract. Therefore, of the 77.2 million tons of in-place federal coal reserves in the proposed tract, Kiewit estimates that approximately 60.1 million tons of mineable coal are currently accessible under criteria 3. Although it may not be recovered as part of the Proposed Action, the coal underlying the road and its buffer area is still considered for leasing because those reserves could be mined under the exception described above. Including this coal in the lease would also allow for maximum recovery of all the mineable coal adjacent to, but outside of, the 100-foot buffer zone, even if the road is not relocated. Kiewit estimates that approximately 54.1 million tons (70%) of the total in-place coal reserves in the proposed tract would be “recoverable” under normal mining practices. Recoverable coal

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2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives

reserves are defined in 43 CFR 3480.0-5(32) as the minable reserve base excluding all coal that would be left in place during the mining process, even though they might be physically accessible (i.e., mineable). Recoverable coal represents reserves that can be mined economically and excludes areas defined as unsuitable for mining (e.g., in road rights-of-way that are not relocated) as well as the coal that is left behind as support pillars and similar structures, or unavoidably lost through cleaning, loading, and hauling (e.g., spillage), and spontaneous natural fires. The BLM independently evaluates the volume and average quality of the coal resources included in proposed LBA tracts as part of the fair market value determination process. The agency’s estimate of the mineable federal coal reserves included in the proposed tract may not agree precisely with the mineable coal reserve and coal quality estimates provided by the applicant. However, the BLM estimate would be published in the official notice if the tract is offered for sale. Under its currently approved mining plan, the Buckskin Mine would retrieve its remaining 344.3 million tons of recoverable coal reserves in approximately 14 years, beginning in January 2009. The mine’s current air quality permit as approved by the WDEQ allows mining of as much as 42 million tons of coal per year. Annual production averaged 20.6 million tons from 2001 through 2008, with a maximum of 25.3 million tons in any single year (Buckskin Mining Company 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009). Under the Proposed Action, Kiewit estimates that the life of the mine would be extended by an additional two years, with a continued average production rate of 25 million tons per year. Additional details about existing coal reserves and tons mined to date are provided in section 1.1.3.1.

2.2.1.2

Mine Facilities and Employees

Under the Proposed Action, the recovery of additional federal coal reserves would use the existing mine facilities and employees described under section 1.1.3.2. The Proposed Action would not require additional facilities or employees.

2.2.1.3

Mining Methods and Activities

Under the Proposed Action, coal would continue to be produced at the Buckskin Mine from the Anderson and Canyon coal seams, and current production methods would be the same as those described under section 1.1.3.3. The design of the Buckskin Mine seeks to confine disturbance to the active mine blocks. Before any surface disturbance or other mine-related activities would begin in the proposed tract, support infrastructure such as roads, power lines, gas pipelines, and flood- and sediment-control features would be built or relocated, as needed; no public roads are currently being considered for construction or relocation. Topsoil and overburden removal is accomplished using a variety of suitable heavy equipment. Whenever possible, topsoil would be hauled directly to a reclamation area and overburden to open pits; however, if scheduling conflicts arise, they would be temporarily stockpiled in separate areas and topsoil piles would be seeded immediately to

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2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives

prevent erosion. Overburden and coal removal have been and would continue to be conducted using blasting and truck/shovel fleets to facilitate efficient excavation.

2.2.1.4

Reclamation Activities

Reclamation activities under the Proposed Action would be consistent with those currently in use at the Buckskin Mine, described in section 1.1.3.4. Mined-out areas would be reclaimed according to an approved postmine plan. Any affected streams would be reclaimed to follow premine drainage patterns (section 3.5). In-channel stockponds and playas (shallow topographic depressions) would be replaced to provide livestock and wildlife watering sources. All postmining topography, including reconstructed drainages, must be approved by the WDEQ. After mining, the land is reclaimed to support the premining uses described in section 1.1.3.1. Oil and gas wells, pipelines, and utility easements are reestablished as required. All reclaimed areas are monitored for a minimum of 10 years to evaluate the success of vegetation growth and the establishment of a variety of native plant species prior to the final (Phase III) release of the reclamation bond. Other parameters, such as successful use of reclaimed areas by domestic livestock and wildlife, also must be demonstrated before Phase III bond release is achieved, as described in section 1.1.3.4.

2.2.2

Alternative 1 (No Action)

Under Alternative 1, the No Action Alternative, Kiewit’s application to lease the coal included in the proposed tract would be rejected: federal coal reserves adjacent to the existing Buckskin Mine would not be offered for competitive sale, and the additional coal would not be mined. For the purposes of this EIS, Alternative 1 assumes that the federal coal reserves in the proposed tract adjacent to the Buckskin Mine would not be mined in the foreseeable future. However, selection of this alternative would not preclude Kiewit or another company from submitting a future lease application for these coal reserves. These coal reserves could be leased as a maintenance tract while the Buckskin Mine is in operation. If it is not leased while the mine is active, it may or may not be leased in the future. The proposed tract evaluated in this EIS does not include enough coal reserves to justify starting a new mine (section 2.3.1); however, they could be combined with unleased federal coal reserves to the west and north to create a larger tract, which could be mined by a new operation in the future. Under Alternative 1, average annual production would continue as described under section 1.3.1.1;  mine facilities and employees would be the same as described under section 1.1.3.2;  mining methods and activities would continue as described under section 1.1.3.3; and  reclamation activities would continue as described under section 1.1.3.4.

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2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives

2.2.3	

Alternative 2 (BLM Preferred Alternative)

The BLM has identified Alternative 2 as its Preferred Alternative for the final EIS. Under that alternative, the BLM is considering a tract configuration that is larger than both Kiewit’s proposed tract and original (2006) tract, but smaller than the BLM study area (map 2-2). The legal descriptions of the BLM study area and the tract under consideration by the BLM are provided in table 2-2 and table 2-3, respectively. As described in section 2.0, the BLM will define the final tract delineation in the ROD based on lands within the BLM study area. The final tract configuration could be smaller or larger than the proposed tract. The final tract configuration could include part or all of the BLM study area. The tract will be considered to be technically, environmentally and economically in the public’s best interest. Because the final tract configuration will be within the BLM study area, and the entire study area was analyzed in this EIS, no further discussion of Kiewit’s original (2006) tract or the tract under consideration by the BLM will be included in this EIS beyond table 2-3. Alternative 2 also assumes that Kiewit would be the successful bidder, and would incorporate a tract configuration other than Kiewit’s proposal into its existing mine operations. Alternative 2 would not expand operations at the Buckskin Mine, but would maintain current levels of production, described in section 1.1.3.1, for up to six years beyond the current life-of-mine estimate.

2.2.3.1	 Description of the BLM Study Area and Tract under Consideration by the BLM
The BLM study area extends north and west of the proposed tract to encompass approximately 1,883 acres (map 2-1). Approximately 618 acres (33%) of the BLM study area overlap the existing mine permit area. The legal description of the BLM study area is provided in table 2-2. Under this alternative, mining would occur in an alternative tract configuration within the BLM study area; the area within approximately 0.25 mile north and west of the alternative tract configuration would be used for activities to support mining in the tract. The tract under consideration by the BLM extends north and west of the proposed tract, and encompasses approximately 1,568 acres. The legal description of this tract is provided in table 2-3. As with other configurations, the area within approximately 0.25 mile north and west of the tract under consideration by the BLM would be used for activities to support mining in that tract. The tract under consideration by the BLM was analyzed in the final EIS as part of the larger BLM study area; therefore, that tract is not discussed separately beyond table 2-3.

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Existing permit boundary BLM tract under consideration BLM study area Applicant original (March 2006) tract
0 2,500 feet 5,000

Existing Buckskin Mine coal leases Buckskin Mine rail spur

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 2-2 BLM Tract under Consideration and Applicant Original (March 2006) Tract

2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives

Table 2-2. Legal Description of the BLM Study Area
Campbell County, Wyoming, Sixth Principal Meridian Township 52 North, Range 72 West
Section 7: Lots 17 through 20 Section 8: Lots 13 through 16 Section 9: Lots 13 through 15 Section 17: Lots 1 through 4, 5 (N. ½), 6 (N. ½), 7 (N. ½), and 8 (N. ½) Section 18: Lots 5 through 11, 12 (N. ½, SW. ¼), 13 (W. ½), 14 through19, and 20 (W. ½) Section 19: Lots 5 (W. ½), 6 through 11, 12 (W. ½), 13 (W. ½), 14 through 19, and 20 (W. ½) Total Acres
BLM = U.S. Bureau of Land Management Source: BLM Status of Public Domain Land and Mineral Titles (2007a and 2008c).

Acres
166.91 162.00 120.58 247.39 612.95 573.27 1,883.10

Table 2-3. Legal Description of the Tract Under Consideration by the BLM
Campbell County, Wyoming, Sixth Principal Meridian Township 52 North, Range 72 West
Section 7: Lots 18 through 20 Section 8: Lots 13 through 16 Section 9: Lots 13 and 14 Section 17: Lots 1 through 4, 5 (N. ½), 6 (N. ½), 7 (N. ½), and 8 (N. ½) Section 18: Lots 5 through 7, 10, 11, 12 (W. ½ & NE. ¼), 13 (W. ½), 14, 15, 18, 19, and 20 (W. ½) Section 19: Lots 5 (W. ½), 6, 7, 10, 11, 12 (W. ½), 13 (W. ½), 14 through 19, and 20 (W. ½) Total Acres
BLM = U.S. Bureau of Land Management Source: BLM Status of Public Domain Land and Mineral Titles (2007a and 2008c).

Acres
127.36 162.00 80.57 247.39 455.33 494.90 1,567.55

The land descriptions and acreages shown in table 2-2 and table 2-3 are based on the same BLM master title plats and coal plats as those listed under section 2.2.1.1 for the Proposed Action. Surface ownership and ownership of oil and gas estates within the BLM study area are discussed in section 3.11. In addition to existing surface disturbance associated with the Buckskin Mine, the BLM study area includes small crop areas, two Campbell County roads (the Collins Road and Campbell County Road 73 [McGee Road]), several overhead electric transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines, and three residences. Only one of the three residences is currently occupied. The coal underlying the Collins and McGee roads and their rights-of-way and associated 100-foot buffer zones have been determined unsuitable for surface coal mining in accordance with SMCRA and as specified under unsuitability criterion 3 (43 CFR 3461), unless the applicant pursues an exception to this prohibition by obtaining authorization to close or relocate one or both roads. Under the same unsuitability criterion, the land underlying the occupied residence, discussed above, is also considered unsuitable for mining. Surface disturbance on this land and a 300-foot buffer around it would be prohibited, unless Kiewit were to purchase the surface rights associated with the residence and its buffer zone.

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Kiewit does not currently plan to pursue efforts to relocate either county road or acquire the surface rights to the land associated with the occupied residence; therefore, the company considers the lands west of both roads and around the occupied residence as inaccessible and operationally limited. Nevertheless, the coal underlying these features and their respective buffer areas must be considered for leasing by the BLM because those reserves could be mined under the exceptions for unsuitability criterion 3 described in section 2.2.1.1. Including these operationally limited coal reserves in the lease would also allow for maximum recovery of all adjacent mineable coal. Although the coal itself may not be recovered, topsoil stripping and other disturbance activities necessary to access previously permitted adjacent reserves would occur up to the edge of buffers associated with the county roads or occupied residence. If a lease is issued for lands under Alternative 2, a stipulation will be attached to the lease stating that no mining activity may be conducted within the areas currently identified as unsuitable for mining without proper authorization or acquisition of surface rights, as applicable. Kiewit estimates that the BLM study area contains approximately 269.7 million tons of in-place coal, and considers approximately 149.7 million tons (56%) of it recoverable. Approximately 103.4 million tons (38%) of coal within the BLM study area would not be accessible (according to Kiewit’s estimates) because of limitations associated with the occupied residence and public road rights-of-way and buffer zones discussed above. Kiewit estimates that the remaining 16.6 million tons (6%) of coal would be left in place as support pillars and similar structures, or unavoidably lost through spillage and spontaneous natural fires. As with the Proposed Action, the BLM would independently evaluate the volume and average quality of the coal resources included under Alternative 2 as part of the fair market value determination process. This estimate may not agree with the estimates provided by the applicant. Nevertheless, the BLM estimate would be published in the public notice if a tract is offered for sale.

2.2.3.2

Mine Facilities and Employees

Under Alternative 2, Kiewit estimates the life of the mine would be extended by up to six years with an average annual production rate of 25 million tons. Mine facilities and employees would be the same as those described in section 1.1.3.2 and under the Proposed Action.

2.2.3.3

Mining Methods and Activities

Mining methods and activities would be the same as those described in section 1.1.3.3 and under the Proposed Action.

2.2.3.4

Reclamation Activities

Reclamation activities would be the same as those described in section 1.1.3.4 and under the Proposed Action.

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2.3 Eliminated Alternatives
The following alternatives were considered in the initial phase of this EIS, but were eliminated from further analysis.

2.3.1

Alternative 3

Under this alternative, the BLM would hold a competitive, sealed-bid sale for the federal coal reserves included in the proposed tract or an alternative tract configuration. Alternative 3 assumes, however, that the successful bidder would be someone other than the applicant, and that this bidder would plan to open a new mine to develop these coal resources. The environmental impacts of developing a new mine to recover the coal resources within the proposed tract or an alternative tract configuration would be greater than under either action alternative or the No Action Alternative due to the need for construction of new facilities and rail lines, increased employment requirements and their associated effects on the local socioeconomics, and the creation of additional sources of particulates (dust). The BLM currently estimates that a tract would need to include as much as 500 to 600 million tons of in-place coal to attract a buyer interested in opening a new mine in the Wyoming PRB. This estimate is based on two primary assumptions. First, an operator would need to construct facilities capable of producing 30 million tons of coal per year to take advantage of the economies of scale offered by the coal deposits in the PRB. Second, 20 to 30 years of coal reserves would be needed to justify the expense of building those facilities. Given these assumptions, neither the proposed tract (approximately 77 million tons) nor the BLM study area (about 270 million tons) includes sufficient in-place coal resources to justify the costs of opening a new mine, though the coal reserves included in this EIS could be combined with unleased federal coal to the west and north to create a larger tract, which could be mined by a new future operation. A company or companies acquiring this coal for a new stand-alone mine would require considerable initial capital investments, including the construction of new surface facilities (e.g., offices, shops, warehouses, processing facilities, loadout facilities, and rail spur), extensive baseline data collection, and development of new, detailed mining and reclamation plans (rather than simply amending existing plans). A new mine start would also require a large number of new employees, which may not be available from the mining sector workforce (which includes the oil and gas industry) considering the current strong demand for labor and low unemployment in Campbell County and surrounding counties in the PRB. In addition, a company or companies acquiring this coal for a new mine would have to compete for customers with established mines in a competitive market. Based on demand forecasting for the Wyoming PRB mines, existing mine capacity is sufficient to provide for expected coal demand through 2020 (BLM 2005b). While these factors do not mean that no new mines would open, it would be difficult for them to produce coal at a price competitive with the existing operations while also incurring the high capital and start-up costs associated with new facilities and operations.

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The potential difficulty in obtaining an air quality permit is another factor that could discourage new mine starts in the Wyoming PRB. A new mine would constitute a new source of air pollutants. Under the WDEQ permitting program, anyone planning to construct, modify, or use a facility capable of emitting designated pollutants into the atmosphere must obtain an air quality permit prior to construction. Surface coal mines fall into this category. Air quality is discussed in detail in section 3.4. To obtain a construction permit, an operator may be required to demonstrate that the proposed activities would not increase air pollutant levels above the state’s 24-hour average annual standards for particulate matter measuring 10 micrometers or less in diameter (PM10). These standards were established by Chapter 6 of the Wyoming Air Quality Standards and Regulations, and can be found on the Internet at http://deq.state.wy.us/aqd/standards.asp. The PRB did not experience any exceedances of these PM10 standards through 2000, but recorded an average of five per year from 2001 through 2007; additional details regarding exceedances at the Buckskin Mine are provided in section 3.4. Although many of the previous exceedances were attributed to high winds, concerns about future potential exceedances of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) may make it more difficult for a company planning to open a new mine to demonstrate that those operations would not result in additional air pollution levels that are above annual Wyoming standards. If a lease sale is held and the successful bidder is not the original applicant, the new operator would be required to submit a new permit application, including detailed mining, monitoring, mitigation, and reclamation plans (versus a simple amendment of current plans) to the WDEQ for review. The new operator would also be required to submit a Resource Recovery and Protection Plan to the BLM for review. Before a new mining operation could begin, this plan must be approved by the BLM, a mining permit must be approved by the WDEQ, and a Mineral Leasing Act mining plan must be approved by the Assistant Secretary of the Interior. In view of these issues, the current economies of mining in the Powder River Federal Coal Region appear to make construction of a new mine economically unfeasible using coal reserves in the proposed tract or BLM study area. Therefore, this alternative is not analyzed further in this EIS.

2.3.2

Alternative 4

Under Alternative 4, the BLM would delay the sale of federal coal reserves in the proposed tract and BLM study area. Under this alternative, it is assumed that a tract could be developed later as either a maintenance tract for an existing mine or a new mine start, depending on how long the sale was delayed. Alternative 4 was not analyzed in detail because it would not produce substantially different impacts from other alternatives that were analyzed in more detail. The environmental impacts of mining the coal later as part of an existing mine would be expected to be similar in nature and essentially equal in magnitude to the action alternatives discussed previously (section 2.2.1 and section 2.2.3). As discussed in section 2.3.1, the environmental

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impacts from a new mine start would be expected to be greater than if the coal reserves were mined as an extension of an existing mine. Delaying the lease sale would not guarantee that the BLM would receive a higher price during the initial bidding process, or a higher bonus bid or royalties and taxes once the lease is issued due to other reasons that may or may not be related to the quality and/or location of the coal reserves themselves. The price of coal and, thus, the rate of mining, is affected by various factors including, but not limited to, customer demand (sales) and transportation options. For example, coal prices were depressed in the early 2000s, which resulted in lower bid prices during that period. In other years, shipping constraints, combined with increased world energy demand and numerous natural disasters in other parts of the country, led to unusually large increases in coal prices. The prices received for coal from the PRB have generally been increasing in recent years. If that trend continues, the fair market value of federal coal reserves could increase and a delayed sale would result in a higher lease bid, as well as higher bonus bid and royalty payments to the government when the lease is issued and coal is mined, respectively. This approach also would allow CBNG resources to be more completely recovered prior to mining. Likewise, if the fair market value of the coal reserves were to decrease, a delayed sale would bring lower initial and bonus bids as well as lower royalty, tax, and annual rental payments. Royalty and tax payments are the largest revenue sources from new leases, but cannot be collected until the coal is permitted and mined; this process requires several years after the lease is issued. Therefore, the price of coal when it is mined (and essentially sold to the customer) affects royalty and tax payments. Higher coal prices result in greater royalty and tax payments, regardless of whether coal lessees have short- or long-term contracts with their customers. The reverse is true when coal prices decrease. Other considerations include the value of making low-sulfur coal available now versus leaving mineable coal in place for future development, in anticipation of cleaner fuel sources being developed in the future. Continued leasing of low-sulfur coal from the PRB enables existing coal-fired power plants to more easily meet current CAA requirements until new technologies are developed to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. This approach provides a stable supply of power to meet increasing demand without a potentially significant increase in power costs for individuals and businesses, and meets current energy requirements while the new technologies are developed. If cleaner fuel sources are developed in the future, they could be phased in with less economic impact on the public. An economic analysis could be conducted to estimate the range of potential future economic benefits that would result from delaying the lease sale until coal prices rise. However, because it is impossible to predict with any certainty when or if those rates would increase, any projected benefits from delaying the lease sale would be speculation. CBNG resources are currently being recovered from leases in and near the proposed tract and BLM study area. As of May 2008, 30 wells had been completed in the BLM study area and immediate vicinity (appendix E). Of those, 15 wells are currently producing and 3 have been shut in and may be re-instated for production in the future. Twelve other wells are no longer
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producing, have been permanently abandoned, or have expired permits (Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission 2009). Additional information relative to conventional oil and gas and CBNG development in the proposed tract and immediately adjacent area is provided in section 3.3.2. Several existing mechanisms can facilitate the continued recovery of these oil and gas resources prior to mining if the federal coal in the proposed tract or an alternative tract configuration is leased under the current timeline, as described below.  The BLM can attach a Multiple Mineral Development stipulation to the lease. Such a stipulation would state that the BLM has the authority to withhold approval of coal mining operations that would interfere with the development of mineral leases issued prior to the coal lease.  Mining the proposed tract or alternative tract configuration cannot occur until the coal lessee has a permit to mine the tract as approved by the WDEQ and a Mineral Leasing Act mining plan approved by the Secretary of the Interior. Before that mining plan can be approved, the BLM must approve the Resource Recovery and Protection Plan for mining the tract. Prior to approving the plan, the BLM can review the status of CBNG development in the final tract configuration and the mining sequence proposed by the coal lessee. The WDEQ permit approval process generally takes several years to complete. This interval would allow additional time for CBNG resources to be recovered from the leased tract.  The BLM has a policy in place regarding conflicts between CBNG and coal recovery. This policy directs the BLM decision makers to optimize the recovery of both resources and to ensure that the public receives a reasonable return (BLM 2006a). As described previously, rental and royalty provisions from the proposed tract or an alternative tract configuration would benefit the United States, if coal prices increased by the time mining began. Given the mechanisms currently in place, a large portion of the economically recoverable CBNG resources in the area would be expected to be recovered after a lease is issued and before mining occurred. The environmental impacts of mining the coal later as part of an existing mine would be expected to be similar in nature and essentially equal in magnitude to the action alternatives discussed in section 2.2.1 and section 2.2.3. If a new mine is required to mine the coal, the environmental impacts would be expected to be greater than if each tract were mined as an extension of an existing mine.

2.4 Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring
In general, the levels of mitigation and monitoring required for surface coal mining by the SMCRA and Wyoming state law are more rigorous and extensive than those required for other surface disturbing activities. Those regulations and laws require surface coal mines to collect a wide range of detailed baseline information prior to mining, and implement extensive reclamation and/or mitigation measures and monitoring programs during and after mining. The

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currently approved permit to conduct mining operations for the Buckskin Mine (i.e., the No Action Alternative) includes these requirements. Required mitigation and monitoring programs are also considered to be part of the action alternatives considered in this EIS. These data collection requirements, monitoring commitments, and mitigation plans would be amended to include mining operations in the proposed tract or alternative tract configuration if they are leased and permitted for mining. The major mitigation and monitoring measures that are required by state or federal regulation are summarized in table 2-4. Specific information about some of these measures (including their results at the Buckskin Mine) is included in chapter 3. If impacts are identified during the leasing process that are not addressed by existing required mitigation measures, the BLM can require additional measures in the form of stipulations on the new lease within the limits of its regulatory authority. The mining and reclamation plan would also have to be revised to address any new concerns that are not included under existing procedures; that revised plan would have to be approved for the final tract configuration before any mining operations could be conducted, regardless of who acquires the tract.

Table 2-4. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring Measures for Surface Coal Mining Operations Legally Required for All Alternatives
Resource
Topography and Physiography Geology and Minerals

Regulatory Compliance or Mitigation Required by Stipulations, State, or Federal Lawa
 Reclaim to approximate original contour or other approved topographic configuration  Identify and selectively place or mix chemically or physically unsuitable overburden materials to minimize adverse effects on vegetation or groundwater

Monitoringa
 WDEQ checks as-built vs. approved topography with each annual report  WDEQ requires monitoring in advance of mining to detect unsuitable overburden  Monitoring vegetation growth in reclaimed areas to determine need for soil amendments  Sampling regraded overburden for compliance with root zone criteria  On-site air quality monitoring for PM10 and/or TSP  Off-site ambient monitoring for PM10 and/or TSP  On-site compliance inspections

Soil

 Salvage soil suitable to support plant growth for use in reclamation  Protect soil stockpiles from disturbance and erosional influences  Selectively place at least 4 feet of suitable overburden on the graded backfill surface below replaced topsoil to meet guidelines for vegetation root zones

Air Quality

 Conduct dispersion modeling of mining plans for annual average particulate pollution impacts on ambient air  Implement particulate pollution control technologies  Implement work practices designed to minimize fugitive particulate emissions  Use EPA or state-mandated best available control technology, including: – Fabric filtration or wet scrubbing of coal storage silo and conveyor vents – Watering or using chemical dust suppression on haul roads and exposed soils – Containing truck dumps and primary crushers – Covering conveyors

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Table 2-4. Continued
Resource Regulatory Compliance or Mitigation Required by Stipulations, State, or Federal Lawa
– Promptly revegetating exposed soils – High-efficiency baghouse dust collection systems or passive enclosure control systems or atomizers/foggers on the crusher, conveyor transfer, storage bin and train loadout, meeting a standard of 0.01 grains per dry standard cubic foot of exit volume – Watering active work areas – Reclamation planning to minimize surface disturbances subject to wind erosion – Paving access roads – Haul truck speed limits – Limited material drop heights for shovels and draglines  Follow voluntary and required measures to avoid exposing the public to NO2 from blasting clouds, including: – Phoning neighbors and workers to notify them prior to blasting – Monitoring weather and atmospheric conditions prior to decisions to blast – Timing blasts to avoid temperature inversions and to minimize inconvenience to neighbors – Closing public roads when appropriate to protect the public – Minimizing blast sizes – Posting signs on major public roads Surface Water  Build and maintain sediment-control ponds or other devices during mining  Reclaim drainages to approximate premining drainage patterns  Reclaim stockponds and playas to approximate premine characteristics

Monitoringa




 Monitoring storage capacity in sediment ponds  Monitoring quality of discharges  Monitoring streamflow and water quality  Monitoring wells  track water levels in overburden, coal, interburden, underburden, and backfill  Monitoring wells  track water quality in overburden, coal, interburden, underburden, and backfill  Monitoring to determine restoration of essential hydrologic functions of any declared AVF  Monitoring reclaimed wetlands using same procedures used to identify premining jurisdictional wetlands

Groundwater Quantity

 Evaluate cumulative impacts on water quantity associated with proposed mining  Replace existing water rights that are interrupted, discontinued, or diminished by mining with water of equivalent quantity

Groundwater Quality

 Evaluate cumulative impacts on water quality associated with proposed mining  Replace existing water rights that are interrupted, discontinued, or diminished by mining with water of equivalent quality

Alluvial Valley Floors

 Identify all AVFs that would be affected by mining  Comply with WDEQ determination of significance to agriculture of all identified AVFs affected by mining  Protect downstream AVFs during mining  Restore essential hydrologic function of all AVFs affected by mining     Identify all wetlands that would be affected by mining Comply with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identification of jurisdictional wetlands Replace all jurisdictional wetlands that would be disturbed by mining Replace functional wetlands as required by surface managing agency, surface landowner, or WDEQ

Wetlands

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Table 2-4. Continued
Resource
Vegetation

Regulatory Compliance or Mitigation Required by Stipulations, State, or Federal Lawa
 Revegetate reclaimed areas according to a comprehensive revegetation plan using approved permanent reclamation seed mixtures consisting predominantly of species native to the area  Reclaim 20% of disturbed area with native shrubs at a density of one per square meter  Control erosion on reclaimed lands prior to seeding with final seed mixture using mulching, cover crops, or other approved measures  Chemically and mechanically control weed infestation  Use direct hauling for topsoil  Selectively plant shrubs in riparian areas  Plant sagebrush  Create depressions and rock piles  Use special planting procedures around rock piles  Post reclamation bond covering the cost of reclamation  Reclaim to approximate premine topography to the maximum extent possible  Plant a diverse mixture of grasses, forbs, and shrubs in configurations beneficial to wildlife  Design fences to permit wildlife passage  Raptor-proof power transmission poles per current APLIC recommendations  Use raptor-safe power lines per current APLIC recommendations  Create artificial raptor nest sites  Increase habitat diversity by creating rock clusters and shallow depressions on reclaimed land  Plant cottonwoods along reclaimed drainages  Reclaim drainages, wetlands, and AVFs disturbed by mining  Reduce vehicle speed limits to minimize mortality  Instruct employees not to harass or disturb wildlife  Follow USFWS approved avian monitoring and mitigation plans  Avoid disturbance near bald eagle winter roost sites  Reclaim bald eagle perching and foraging areas disturbed by mining  Reclaim sage-grouse and mountain plover habitat disturbed by mining  Survey for sage-grouse, mountain plovers, and black-tailed prairie dogs  Survey for Ute ladies'-tresses and blowout penstemon  Comply with USFWS block clearance from black-footed ferret surveys in project area  Same as Wildlife and Sensitive Species above  Reclaim mined areas for historic uses (grazing and wildlife)

Monitoringa
 Monitoring revegetation growth and diversity until release of final reclamation bond (minimum 10 years)  Monitoring erosion to determine need for corrective action during establishment of vegetation  Use of controlled grazing during revegetation evaluation to determine suitability for postmining land uses  Baseline and annual wildlife monitoring surveys  Monitoring for Migratory Bird Species of Management Concern in Wyoming

Wildlife and Sensitive Species

Threatened, Endangered, Proposed, and Candidate Species Land Use

 Baseline and annual wildlife monitoring surveys

 Monitoring of controlled grazing prior to bond release evaluation  Monitoring mining activities during topsoil stripping  Ceasing activities and notifying authorities if unidentified sites are encountered during topsoil removal

Cultural Resources

 Conduct predisturbance Class I and III surveys to identify cultural properties on all state and federal lands, and on private lands affected by federal undertakings  Consult with SHPO to evaluate eligibility of cultural properties for the NRHP  Avoid or recover data from significant cultural properties identified by surveys, according to an approved plan  Notify appropriate agency personnel if historic or prehistoric materials are uncovered during mining operations  Instruct employees of the importance of and regulatory obligations to protect cultural resources

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Table 2-4. Continued
Resource
Native American Concerns Paleontological Resources

Regulatory Compliance or Mitigation Required by Stipulations, State, or Federal Lawa
 Notify Native American tribes with known interest in this area of leasing action and requesting help in identifying potentially significant religious or cultural sites  Conduct predisturbance surveys to identify paleontological resources on all state and federal lands, and on private lands affected by federal undertakings  Notify appropriate agency personnel if potentially significant paleontological sites are discovered during mining  Instruct employees of the importance of and regulatory obligations to protect paleontological resources  Reclaim postmining landscapes to approximate original contours and replanting with native species

Monitoringa
 No specific monitoring program  Ceasing activities and notifying authorities if unidentified resources are encountered during topsoil removal  No specific monitoring program; land contours and plant communities monitored as part of topography and vegetation requirements, respectively  Mine Safety and Health Administration inspections  Monitoring conducted by pipeline company per WDEQ requirements  Surveying and reporting to document volume of coal removed  No specific monitoring other than required by these other regulations and response plans

Visual Resources

Noise Transportation Facilities Socioeconomics

 Protect employees from hearing loss  Relocate existing pipelines, if necessary, in accordance with specific agreement between pipeline owner and coal lessee  Pay royalty and taxes as required by federal, state, and local regulations. No mitigation measures are proposed  Dispose of solid waste and sewage according to approved plans  Store and recycle waste oil  Maintain files containing Material Safety Data Sheets for all chemicals, compounds, and/or substances used during course of mining  Ensure that all production, use, storage, transport, and disposal of hazardous materials are in accordance with applicable existing or hereafter promulgated federal, state, and government requirements  Comply with emergency reporting requirements for releases of hazardous materials as established under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, as amended  Prepare and implement spill prevention control and countermeasure plans, spill response plans, inventories of hazardous chemical categories pursuant to section 312 of Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act, as amended  Prepare emergency response plans.

Hazardous and Solid Waste

WDEQ = Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality; PM10 = particulate matter of 10 micrometers or less in diameter; TSP = total suspended particulates; EPA = Environmental Protection Agency; NO2 = nitrogen dioxide; AVF = alluvial valley floors; USFWS = U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; SHPO = State Historic Preservation Office; NRHP = National Register of Historic Places.
a

These requirements, reclamation and mitigation plans, and monitoring plans are required by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act and Wyoming state law. They are already in place for the existing Buckskin Mine in its current approved WDEQ mining and reclamation plan (the No Action Alternative). Under the Proposed Action and Alternative 2, these requirements, reclamation and mitigation plans, and monitoring plans would be addressed in a mining plan revision for the additional leased tract; they would be approved by appropriate state and federal agencies before mining could occur.

Source: WDEQ Rules and Regulations.

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2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives

If impacts are identified during the leasing process that are not addressed by existing required mitigation measures, the BLM can require additional mitigation measures (stipulations) for the new lease within the limits of its regulatory authority. In general, the levels of mitigation and monitoring required by SMCRA and Wyoming state law for surface coal mining are more extensive than those required for other surface-disturbing activities; however, concerns are periodically identified that are not addressed under existing procedures.

2.5	 Summary of Coal Production and Disturbance under the Proposed Action and Alternatives
The decision-making process for public lands and/or federal minerals in Wyoming is conducted in compliance with NEPA, which requires all federal agencies to:  involve the interested public in their decision-making process;  consider reasonable alternatives to the proposed actions;  develop measures to mitigate environmental impacts; and  prepare environmental documents that disclose the impacts of the proposed actions and alternatives. Table 2-5 compares coal reserves, lease and permit areas, production, mine life, and revenues for the Buckskin Mine and under existing conditions and under the Proposed Action and alternatives analyzed in this EIS. These figures were based on an average production rate of 25 million tons per year, which is the current projected life-of-mine rate. Detailed discussions of the direct and indirect environmental impacts under the Proposed Action and analyzed alternatives are provided in chapter 3; a summary of those impacts is provided in table 3.0-2. Cumulative environmental impacts, based on upper and lower estimates for future coal production in the region, are discussed in chapter 4, and a summary of those impacts is provided in table 4-41. The Proposed Action and alternatives for the Hay Creek II EIS fall within those projections. As described in section 2.3, Alternatives 3 and 4 were considered in the initial phase of this EIS, but were eliminated from further analysis because they were not feasible or were not substantially different from other analyzed alternatives, respectively.

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2.0 Proposed Action and Alternatives

Table 2-5. Comparison of Coal Reserves, Lease and Permit Areas, Production, Mine Life, and Revenues by Alternative
Existing Buckskin Mine Permit Area
460.9 mmt 361.9 mmt 344.3 mmt — 6,438.2 acrese 8,011.5 acres 25 mmt 14 years 350 $563.6million $417.0 million

Additional Under Alternative 1 (No Action)
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Item
In-Place Coal (as of 12-31-08) Accessible Mineable Coal (as of 12-31-08)c Recoverable Coal (as of 12-31-08)d % Increase in Estimated Recoverable Coal (as of 12/31/08)d Coal Lease Area Permit Area (as of 12/31/08) Average Annual Post-2008 Coal Production Remaining Life of Mine (Post-2008) Average Number of Employees Total Projected State and Local Revenues (Post-2008)f Total Projected Federal Revenues (Post-2008)g
mmt = million tons
a b	 c

Proposed Action
77.2 mmta 60.1 mmta 54.1 mmta 15.7% 419.0 acres 478.0 acres 0 2 years 0 $90.6–$108.8 million $69.2–$87.3 million

Alternative 2
269.7 mmtb 166.3 mmtb 149.7 mmtb 43.5% 1,883.1 acres 2,191.6 acres 0 up to 6 years 0 $250.2–$300.4 million $191.0–$241.1 million

Based on the entire proposed tract, including its overlap with the existing Buckskin Mine permit area. Based on the entire BLM study area, including its overlap with the existing Buckskin Mine permit area. Maximum estimate; does not include coal reserves that are inaccessible due to criteria 3 (i.e., reserves beneath the occupied residence and associated 300-foot buffer zone; or the public road rights-of-way [Collins and McGee roads], their associated 100-foot buffer zones, and other operationally limited lands between the two roads). Assumes a recovery rate of 95% for coal in the Canyon seam and a 90% for all other coal reserves; does not include coal left behind as support
 pillars and similar structures, or unavoidably lost through spillage and spontaneous natural fires during normal mining operations..
 Includes federal and state coal leases currently held by the Buckskin Mining Company. Revenues to the State of Wyoming and local governments include severance taxes; property and production taxes (ad valorem); sales and use taxes; and Wyoming’s share of federal royalty payments, bonus bids, annual rental payments, and Abandoned Mine Land fees. State revenues are based on an assumed price of $7.85 per ton of “recoverable coal,” federal royalty of 12.5% of the value less 51% federal share, plus $0.315 per ton for Abandoned Mine Land fees on assumed 25% state share, plus bonus payments of between $0.30 and $0.97 per ton of LBA leased coal per ton (based on average of six LBAs in 2004 and 2005) times the tonnage of recoverable coal times a 50% state share, plus $0.07 per ton estimated sales and use taxes, plus $0.33 per ton estimate for ad valorem taxes, plus $0.415 per ton in severance taxes. Only the sales and use taxes paid directly by the mine are considered (i.e., taxes generated by vendors and suppliers and by consumer expenditure supported directly and indirectly by the mine are not included. These figures could change based on the outcome of recent legislation that changed the percentage of distribution to states. Federal revenues are based on an assumed price of $7.85 per ton, federal royalty of 12.5% times 51% share, plus $0.315 per ton for Abandoned Mine Land fees times an assumed 75% federal share, plus black lung tax of $0.00261 per ton, plus bonus payments of between $0.30 and $0.97 per ton of LBA leased coal (based on the range of the six LBA sales in 2004 and 2005) times tonnage of recoverable coal minus a 50% federal share. These figures could change based on the outcome of recent legislation that changed the percentage of distribution to states.

d	

e f	

g

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

3.0	 AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL 	 CONSEQUENCES
This chapter describes the affected environment (existing conditions) and analyzes the environmental consequences (potential direct and indirect impacts) on various resources resulting from the Proposed Action and alternatives. In keeping with the purpose of an EIS1, the analyses presented in this document are based primarily on existing information. The general analysis area is substantially similar to the adjacent existing Buckskin Mine permit area in its physical features and resources. Detailed sitespecific environmental data were collected and impact analyses prepared to secure the existing coal leases and necessary mining permits for the mine. The analysis area for many of these previous efforts encompassed most, if not all, of the general analysis area. Therefore, these previous surveys and impact analyses are relevant to the general analysis area in most cases. Impact Determinations Impacts were identified in this EIS based on criteria set forth by the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR 1508.27), BLM NEPA Handbook H-1790-1, and the professional judgment of the specialists completing the analyses. Impacts can be beneficial or adverse, and can be a primary result (direct) of an action, a secondary result (indirect), or cumulative; cumulative impacts are discussed in chapter 4. They can be short-term (operational, persisting during active mining and reclamation); long-term (persisting through the time the reclamation bond is released—minimum of 10 years beyond active reclamation), or permanent. Impacts also vary in terms of significance. Significance can range from no impact or negligible impacts to substantial or significant impacts. Impacts can also be substantial during mining but reduced to no impact or negligible following completion of reclamation. In this EIS, impacts are considered to be adverse unless specifically identified as beneficial. Resources Analyzed in this EIS Resources addressed in this chapter were identified during the scoping process or by an interdisciplinary team review as having the potential to be affected. The BLM requires that certain elements are analyzed when present in the affected environment. The following required elements are present in the general analysis area and are addressed in this EIS:  air quality (section 3.4);  water quality (section 3.5);  wetlands/riparian zones (section 3.7);  invasive nonnative species (section 3.9);  threatened and endangered species (sections 3.9 and 3.10);

1

Refer to page xx for a list of abbreviations and acronyms used in this document.

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

 cultural resources (section 3.12);  hazardous or solid wastes (section 3.16);  Native American religious concerns (section 3.17); and  environmental justice (section 3.17). The following additional resources also are present in the general analysis area and are addressed 
 in this EIS: 
  topography and physiography (section 3.2); 
  geology, mineral, and paleontological resources (section 3.3); 
  other water resources (section 3.5); 
  alluvial valley floors (section 3.6); 
  soils (section 3.8); 
  vegetation (section 3.9); 
  wildlife (section 3.10); 
  land use and recreation (section 3.11); 
  visual resources (section 3.13); 
  noise (section 3.14); 
  transportation resources (section 3.15); and 
  socioeconomics (section 3.17). 
 Five additional aspects considered in this chapter are: 
  regulatory compliance; 
  mitigation and monitoring; 
  residual impacts; 
  the relationship between local short-term uses of the human environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity (section 3.18); and  any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources that would be associated with the action alternatives (section 3.19) (42 United States Code § 4332[C]). The following elements, which are required by the BLM when present in the affected environment, are not present in the general analysis area and are, therefore, not addressed in this EIS:  areas of critical environmental concern;  prime or unique farmlands;  floodplains;

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

 wild and scenic rivers; and  wilderness. Individual data reports were prepared for each resource; those reports include the information used to prepare the EIS. Copies of those reports can be viewed at the BLM Wyoming High Plains District Office in Casper, Wyoming. As discussed in chapter 2, regulatory compliance, mitigation, and monitoring required by federal and/or state law are considered to be part of the action alternatives and are described for each resource area. Summary of Disturbance Areas and Impacts The general analysis area represents the maximum surface area that could be disturbed by mining activities analyzed in this EIS; it encompasses approximately 2,847.3 acres (map 3.0-1). The areas where mining and mine-related activities would occur under each alternative are provided below.  Under the Proposed Action (map 3.0-1), coal extraction would occur in the entire proposed tract (approximately 419 acres). Activities related to mining2 the proposed tract would occur in the support area, a 0.25-mile-wide area north and west of the proposed tract (approximately 241 acres); activities related to mining existing coal leases would continue in the remainder of the overlap area3 (approximately 474 acres).  Under Alternative 1 (map 3.0-2), activities related to mining existing coal leases would continue in the overlap area (approximately 656 acres).  Under Alternative 2 (map 3.0-3), coal extraction would occur in an alternative tract configuration within the BLM study area (up to approximately 1,883 acres). Activities related to mining an alternative tract configuration would occur in the support area, a 0.25-mile-wide area north and west of the alternative tract configuration (up to approximately 926 acres); activities related to mining existing coal leases would continue in the remainder of the overlap area (approximately 38 acres). Table 3.0-1 compares coal lease and disturbance acreages under the Proposed Action and alternatives. As described in section 3.0, additional disturbance beyond the respective lease boundaries is associated with overstripping and other mine-support activities necessary to recover the coal. The numbers presented in table 3.0-1 include the overlap between the general analysis area and the existing permit boundary (map 3.0-1).

2	

Mining and mine-related activities include, but are not limited to, topsoil stripping, stockpile storage, highwall back-sloping (including catch benches), highwall reduction after mining to match undisturbed topography, and construction of flood- and sediment-control structures. These activities are described in section 1.1.3.3. The area of overlap between the general analysis area and the existing permit area. Disturbance in this area would be a result of ongoing mine-related activities associated with existing coal leases.

3	

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3-3

Applicant proposed tract—coal extraction (419.0 acres) Support area—activities related to mining the proposed tract (241.0 acres) Overlap area—activities related to mining existing leases (474.0 acres) General analysis area Existing permit boundary
No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.0-1 Areas of Disturbance under the Proposed Action

Overlap area—activities related to mining existing leases (656.0 acres) General analysis area Existing permit boundary

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.0-2 Areas of Disturbance under Alternative 1 (No Action)

BLM study area—maximum area of coal extraction* (1883.1 acres) Support area—activities related to mining the entire BLM study area* (926.1 acres) Overlap area—activities related to mining existing coal leases (37.9 acres) General analysis area
 Existing permit boundary
 * 	County roads and occupied residences are currently considered unsuitable for mining under Unsuitability Criteria 3. Figure represents maximum potential disturbance if roads and occupied residences are relocated or vacated, respectively.

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.0-3 Areas of Disturbance under Alternative 2

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-1.

Comparison of Coal Lease and Disturbance Areasa in the General Analysis Area
Alternative 1b (No Action) 0 0
656.0 acres

Item
Coal Lease Area Potential Additional Disturbance Areaa Potential Total Disturbance Areab
a b	

Proposed Action
419.0 acres 478.0 acres 1,134.0 acres

Alternative 2
1,883.1 acres 2,191.6 acres 2,847.3 acres

Includes coal extraction and additional disturbance associated with mine-support activities; excludes overlap with existing permit area. Includes overlap area between general analysis area and existing permit boundary. Disturbance in this area would result from activities related to mining existing coal leases.

Table 3.0-2 presents a comparative summary of the direct and indirect environmental impacts under the Proposed Action and alternatives. Table 4-41 presents the same summary for the cumulative effects under each option. These impacts are analyzed in greater detail in chapter 3 and chapter 4, respectively.

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2.

Summary Comparison of Magnitude and Duration of Direct and Indirect Impacts in the General Analysis Area under the Proposed Action and Alternatives
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc No Action Alternatived Alternative 1 Proposed Actionf Action Alternativese Alternative 2g

Description of Potential Impact by Resource
3.2 TOPOGRAPHY AND PHYSIOGRAPHY Lower surface elevation

No impact

Moderate, permanent on 419 acres

Moderate, permanent on up to 1,883 acres

Permanent topographic moderation, which could result in:  Microhabitat reduction  Habitat diversity reduction  Big game carrying capacity reduction  Reduction in water runoff and peak flows  Increased precipitation infiltration  Reduction in erosion  Potential enhanced vegetative productivity  Potential acceleration of groundwater recharge Minor to moderate, long-term on 656 acres Minor to moderate, long-term on 656 acres Minor, long-term on 656 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 656 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 656 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 656 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 656 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 656 acres Minor to moderate, long-term on 1,134 acres; no impact on rough breaks Minor to moderate, long-term on 1,134 acres Minor, long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 1,134 acres Minor to moderate, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Minor to moderate, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Minor, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on up to 2,847 acres

3.3 GEOLOGY, MINERAL RESOURCES, AND PALEONTOLOGY Removal of coal Removal and replacement of topsoil and overburden Physical characteristic alterations in replaced overburden No impact No impact No impact Significant, permanent on 419 acres Significant, permanent on 419 acres Significant, permanent on 419 acres Significant, permanent on up to 1,883 acres Significant, permanent on up to 1,883 acres Significant, permanent on up to 1,883 acres

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2. Continued
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc Description of Potential Impact by Resource
Loss of unrecovered CBNG through venting and/or depletion of hydrostatic pressure Loss of access for development of subcoal conventional oil and gas resources and other minerals/loss of resources

No Action Alternatived Alternative 1
No impact

Action Alternativese Proposed Actionf
Moderate to substantial, permanent on 419 acres Moderate, short-term on access to 419 acres; minor, short-term on access to 715 surface acres; no impacts on clinker, uranium, or bentonite resources Moderate to substantial, permanent on 1,134 acres

Alternative 2g
Moderate to substantial, permanent on up to 1,883 acres Moderate, short-term on access to up to 1,883 acres; minor, short-term on access to up to 964 surface acres; minor, permanent on clinker resources; no impacts on uranium or bentonite resources Moderate to substantial, permanent on up to 2,847 acres

Minor, short-term on access to 656 acres; minor, permanent on clinker resources; no impacts on uranium or bentonite resources Moderate to substantial, permanent on 656 acres

Destruction of paleontological resources that are not exposed on the surface 3.4 AIR QUALITY Particulate emissions:  Elevated concentrations associated with projected average production rate of 25 mmt per year in compliance with ambient standards  Potential for public exposure to particulate emissions along U.S. Highway 14-16, various county roads, and occupied dwellings in the area

Moderate, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances

Moderate, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations Minor, short-term for most residences; highway is ≥1 mile away; county road adjacent for 0.6 mile stretch; moderate for one occupied residence within 0.25 mile of overlap area

Moderate, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations Minor to moderate, short-term; highway is ≥0.5 mile away; two county roads pass through area; moderate, short-term for one occupied residence within 0.25 mile; substantial, shortterm for one occupied residence within general analysis area Minor to moderate, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations

Minor, short-term for most residences; highway and county roads average 0.5 mile away; moderate for one occupied residence within 0.5 mile; moderate for one occupied residence within 0.25 mile Minor, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances

 Potential for human health impacts as a result of exposure to particulate emissions NOx emissions from machinery:  Elevated concentrations associated with average production of 25 mmt per year in compliance with ambient standards

Minor, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations

Minor to moderate, short-term; no NOx point sources at Buckskin; no projected increase or exceedances

Minor to moderate, short-term; no NOx point sources at Buckskin; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations

Minor to moderate, short-term; no NOx point sources at Buckskin; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2. Continued
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc Description of Potential Impact by Resource
 Potential for public exposure along U.S. Highway 14-16, various county roads, and occupied dwellings in the area

No Action Alternatived Alternative 1
Minor to substantial, short-term; no NOx point sources at Buckskin; highway and county roads average 0.5 mile away; moderate, short-term for one occupied residence within 0.5 mile; substantial, short-term for one occupied residence within 0.25 mile Minor, short-term; no NOx point sources at Buckskin; no projected increase or exceedances

Action Alternativese Proposed Actionf
Minor to substantial, short-term; no NOx point sources at Buckskin; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations; highway is ≥1 mile away; county road adjacent for 0.6 mile stretch; moderate for one occupied residence within 0.25 mile of overlap Minor, short-term; no NOx point sources at Buckskin; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations

Alternative 2g
Minor to substantial, short-term; no NOx point sources at Buckskin; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations; highway is ≥0.5 mile away; two county roads pass through area; moderate for one occupied residence within 0.25 mile; substantial for one occupied residence within general analysis area Minor to moderate, short-term; no NOx point sources at Buckskin; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations

 Potential for human health impacts as a result of exposure

NOx emissions from blasting (in compliance with Buckskin Mine permit blasting conditions):  Elevated concentrations associated with average production of 25 mmt per year in compliance with ambient standards  Potential for public exposure along U.S. Highway 14-16, various county roads, and occupied dwellings in the area Minor, short-term Minor, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations Minor, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations highway is ≥1 mile away; county road adjacent for 0.6 mile stretch; nearest occupied home > 0.5 mile away Minor, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations Minor, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations Minor, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations highway is ≥0.5 mile away; two county roads pass through area; minor for one occupied residence within 0.25 mile and one within general analysis area Minor, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations

Minor, short-term

 Potential for human health impacts as a result of exposure Visibility:  Elevated concentrations of fine particulate matter associated with average production rate of 25 mmt per year

Minor, short-term

Minor, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances; no changes in current VRM class; no visual resources unique to area present

Minor, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations; no projected changes in current VRM class; no visual resources unique to area present

Minor, short-term; no projected increase or exceedances in currently approved mining operations; no projected changes in current VRM class; no visual resources unique to area present

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2. Continued
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc Description of Potential Impact by Resource
Acidification of lakes:  NO2 emissions from mining coal at Buckskin  SO2 emissions derived from burning Buckskin Mine coal to produce power 3.5 WATER RESOURCES Groundwater:  Removal of coal and overburden aquifers  Replacement of existing coal and overburden with unconsolidated backfill material  Depressed water levels in overburden and coal aquifers adjacent to mine  Change in hydraulic properties in backfilled areas  Increase in total dissolved solids concentrations in backfilled areas  Use of subcoal aquifers for water supply  Decrease in water supply for groundwater-right holders within the 5-foot drawdown area Surface water:  Diversion and/or disruption of surface drainage systems  Reconstruction of surface drainage systems Substantial, short-term on 656 acres; no channel diversions Permanent on 656 acres Substantial, short-term on 1,134 acres; no channel diversions Permanent on 1,134 acres Substantial, short-term on up to 2,847 acres; no channel diversions expected Permanent on up to 2,847 acres No impact No impact Substantial, permanent on 419 acres Substantial, permanent on 419 acres Substantial, permanent on up to 1,883 acres Substantial, permanent on up to 1,883 acres Minor, short-term; no NO2 point sources at Buckskin; no sensitive lakes in vicinity Moderate, short-term in vicinity of power plants; no sensitive lakes in vicinity Minor, short-term; no NO2 point sources at Buckskin; no sensitive lakes in vicinity Moderate, short-term in vicinity of power plants; no sensitive lakes in vicinity Minor, short-term; no NO2 point sources at Buckskin; no sensitive lakes in vicinity Moderate, short-term in vicinity of power plants; no sensitive lakes in vicinity

No Action Alternatived Alternative 1 Proposed Actionf

Action Alternativese Alternative 2g

No impact No impact No impact No impact No impact

Moderate, short-term Moderate, long-term Moderate, short-term Negligible, short-term Moderate, long-term

Moderate, short-term Moderate, long-term Moderate, short-term Negligible, short-term Moderate, long-term

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2. Continued
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc Description of Potential Impact by Resource
 Increased runoff and erosion rates on disturbed lands due to vegetation removal  Increased infiltration on reclaimed lands due to topographic moderation  Increased runoff on reclaimed lands due to loss of soil structure  Potential for adverse downstream effects as a result of sediment produced by large storms Water rights:  Disruption of water supply for waterrights holders with wells completed in the coal or overburden aquifer within the 5-foot drawdown area or with surface water rights within the disturbance area 3.6 ALLUVIAL VALLEY FLOORS Removal and restoration of AVFs Disruptions to streamflows supplying downstream AVFs 3.7 WETLANDS Removal of jurisdictional wetlands and loss of wetland function until reclamation occurs Removal of nonjurisdictional wetlands Moderate, permanent on 0.73 acre of potentially jurisdictional wetlands; no net loss No impact; all non-wetlands Moderate, permanent on 1.21 acres of potentially jurisdictional wetlands; no net loss No impact; all non-wetlands Moderate, permanent on 1.89 acres of potentially jurisdictional wetlands; no net loss No impact; all non-wetlands No impact; no AVFs No impact; no AVFs; stream diversions constructed for existing approved mining operations maintain streamflow No impact; no AVFs No impact; no AVFs; closed drainage prevents streamflow No impact; no AVFs No impact; no AVFs; stream diversions constructed to maintain streamflow No impact Moderate, long-term (until recharge) for groundwater wells; minor long-term for one surface water right; no connected drainages; no new creek diversions Moderate, long-term (until recharge) for groundwater wells; moderate, long-term for up to two surface water rights; no connected drainages; no new creek diversions

No Action Alternatived Alternative 1
Minor to moderate, short-term on 656 acres with implementation of flood- and erosion-control structures and reseeding Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 656 acres Moderate, long-term on 656 acres Minor to moderate, temporary due to existing diversion

Action Alternativese Proposed Actionf
Minor to moderate, short-term on 1,134 acres with implementation of flood- and erosion­ control structures and reseeding Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, long-term on 1,134 acres Minor to moderate, temporary; no connected drainages

Alternative 2g
Minor to moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres with implementation of flood- and erosion-control structures and reseeding Moderate, beneficial, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Minor to moderate, temporary; limited drainage systems

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2. Continued
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc Description of Potential Impact by Resource
3.8 SOILS Changes in physical properties after reclamation would include:  Increased near surface bulk density and decreased soil infiltration rate resulting in increased potential for soil erosion  More uniformity in soil type, thickness, and texture  Decreased runoff due to topographic modification Moderate, long-term on 656 acres Moderate, long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, long-term on up to 2,847 acres

No Action Alternatived Alternative 1 Proposed Actionf

Action Alternativese Alternative 2g

Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 656 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 656 acres

Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 1,134 acres

Moderate, beneficial, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on up to 2,847 acres

Changes in biological properties in soils that are stockpiled before reclamation would include:  Reduction in organic matter  Reduction in microorganism population  Reduction in seeds, bulbs, rhizomes, and live plant parts Changes in chemical properties would include:  More uniform soil nutrient distribution 3.9 VEGETATION During mining:  Progressive removal of existing vegetation  Increased erosion  Wildlife habitat and livestock grazing loss Moderate, short-term on 656 acres Moderate, short-term on 656 acres Moderate, short-term on 656 acres Moderate, short-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, short-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, short-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 656 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, beneficial, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, short- to long-term on 656 acres Moderate, short- to long-term on 656 acres Moderate, short- to long-term on 656 acres Moderate, short- to long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, short- to long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, short- to long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, short- to long-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, short- to long-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, short- to long-term on up to 2,847 acres

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3-13

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2. Continued
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc Description of Potential Impact by Resource
After revegetation:  Changes in vegetation patterns  Reduction in vegetation diversity  Reduction in shrub density  Decreased big game habitat carrying capacity  Decreased habitat for shrub-dependent species  Potential invasion of nonnative plant species 3.10 WILDLIFE Big game displacement from active mining areas Decreased big game habitat carrying capacity Increased competition on adjacent undisturbed or reclaimed lands, especially big game Restriction of wildlife movement, especially big game Increased mortality of small mammals Displacement of small- and medium-sized mammals Minor to moderate, short-term on 656 acres for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or white-tailed deer present Minor, long-term on 656 acres for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or white-tailed deer present Minor to moderate for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or white-tailed deer present Moderate, short-term on 656 acres for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or white-tailed deer present Moderate, short-term on 656 acres Moderate, short-term on 656 acres Minor to moderate, short-term on 1,134 acres for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or whitetailed deer present Minor, long-term on 1,134 acres for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or white-tailed deer present Moderate, short-term for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or white-tailed deer present Moderate, short-term on 1,134 acres for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or white-tailed deer present Moderate, short-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, short-term on 1,134 acres Minor to moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or white-tailed deer present Minor, long-term on up to 2,847 acres for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or whitetailed deer present Moderate, short-term for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or white-tailed deer present Moderate, short-term for pronghorn and mule deer; no elk or white-tailed deer present Moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres Negligible, long-term on 656 acres Negligible, long-term on 656 acres Minor, long-term on 86 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Minor, long-term on 656 acres Minor, long-term on 86 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Moderate, short-term on 656 acres Negligible, long-term on 1,134 acres Negligible, long-term on 1,134 acres Minor, long-term on 4,126 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Minor, long-term on 1,134 acres Minor, long-term on 126 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Moderate, short-term on 1,134 acres Negligible, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Negligible, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Minor, long-term on 302 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Minor, long-term on up to 2,847 acres Minor, long-term on 302 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres

No Action Alternatived Alternative 1 Proposed Actionf

Action Alternativese Alternative 2g

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2. Continued
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc Description of Potential Impact by Resource
Surface and noise disturbance of occupied sage-grouse leks

No Action Alternatived Alternative 1
No surface impact; minor, short-term noise impact; one sage-grouse lek within 0.5 mile; last active in 2001, confirmed inactive in 13 of last 14 years Minor, long-term on 86 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Minor, long-term on 86 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Minor, short-term on 656 acres Minor, short-term; one intact nest present Minor, short-term on 656 acres Minor, short-term on 656 acres

Action Alternativese Proposed Actionf
No surface impact; minor, short-term noise impact; one sage-grouse lek within 0.5 mile; last active in 2001, confirmed inactive in 13 of last 14 years Minor, long-term on 4,126 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Minor, long-term on 126 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Minor, short-term on 1,134 acres Minor, short-term; one intact nest present Minor, short-term on 1,134 acres Minor, short-term on 1,134 acres

Alternative 2g
No surface impact; minor, short-term noise impact; one sage-grouse lek within 0.5 mile; last active in 2001, confirmed inactive in 13 of last 14 years Minor, long-term on 302 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Minor, long-term on 302 noncontiguous acres; average patch size 4.9 acres Minor, short-term on up to 2,847 acres Minor, short-term; three intact nests present Moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres

Disturbance of potential sage-grouse nesting habitat during mining Loss of sage-grouse nesting habitat after reclamation Alteration of plant and animal communities after reclamation Abandonment of raptor nests Loss of foraging habitat for raptors Loss of nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for Migratory Bird Species of Management Concern (including the bald eagle) Reduction in waterfowl nesting and feeding habitat Loss of habitat for aquatic species during mining Road kills by mine-related traffic Reduction in habitat carrying capacity and habitat diversity on reclaimed lands Potential reduction in microhabitats on reclaimed lands

Negligible, short-term on 656 acres; few water bodies present, ephemeral or limited seasonal presence Negligible, short-term on 656 acres; few water bodies present, ephemeral or limited seasonal presence Minor, short-term Minor, short-term on 656 acres Minor to moderate, long-term on 656 acres

Negligible, short-term on 1,134 acres; few water bodies present, ephemeral or limited seasonal presence Negligible, short-term on 1,134 acres; few water bodies present, ephemeral or limited seasonal presence Minor, short-term Minor, short-term on 1,134 acres Minor to moderate, long-term on 1,134 acres

Negligible, short-term on up to 2,847 acres; few water bodies present, ephemeral or limited seasonal presence Negligible, short-term on up to 2,847 acres; few water bodies present, ephemeral or limited seasonal presence Minor, short-term Minor, short-term on up to 2,847 acres Minor to moderate, long-term on up to 2,847 acres

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2. Continued
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc Description of Potential Impact by Resource No Action Alternatived	 Alternative 1 Proposed Actionf Action Alternativese Alternative 2g

Threatened, Endangered, Proposed, And Candidate Species (Appendix J) Blowout penstemon Ute ladies’-tresses Greater sage-grouse 3.11 LAND USE AND RECREATION Reduction of livestock grazing Loss of wildlife habitat Loss of access for subcoal oil and gas development Removal of oil and gas production facilities	 Moderate, short-term on 656 acres Negligible to moderate, short- to longterm on 656 acres Minor, short-term for access on 656 acres Moderate, short-term on 1,134 acres Negligible to moderate, short- to long-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, short-term for access on 419 acres; minor, short-term for access on 715 surface acres Moderate, short-term for CBNG access on 1,134 acres; no impact on conventional oil and gas production No impact; entirely private surface Moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres Negligible to moderate, short- to long-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, short-term for access on up to 1,883 acres; minor, short-term for access on up to 964 surface acres Moderate, short-term for CBNG access on up to 2,847 acres; no impact on conventional oil and gas production No impact; entirely private surface No effect No effect Minor, long-term No effect No effect Minor, long-term No effect No effect Minor, long-term

Moderate, short-term for CBNG access on 656 acres; no impact on conventional oil and gas production No impact; entirely private surface

Loss of access to public land available for recreation and grazing

3.12 CULTURAL RESOURCES AND NATIVE AMERICAN CONSULTATION Cultural Resources  Sites that are not eligible for NRHP No impact; ineligible sites discovered during operations may be destroyed without protection or further work No impact on known sites; impacts on eligible sites discovered during operations would be avoided or mitigated through data recovery prior to mining No impact; up to 14 known ineligible sites and additional ineligible sites discovered during operations may be destroyed without protection or further work No impact on known sites; impacts on eligible sites discovered during operations would be avoided or mitigated through data recovery prior to mining No impact; up to 14 known ineligible sites and additional ineligible sites discovered during operations may be destroyed without protection or further work No impact on known sites; impacts on eligible sites discovered during operations would be avoided or mitigated through data recovery prior to mining

 Sites that are eligible for NRHP

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2. Continued
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc Description of Potential Impact by Resource
 Sites that are unevaluated for NRHP eligibility

No Action Alternatived Alternative 1
No impact on known unevaluated sites; impacts on unevaluated sites are not permitted; unevaluated sites would be evaluated prior to mining No impact on known sites

Action Alternativese Proposed Actionf
No impact on known unevaluated sites; impacts on eligible sites discovered during operations would be avoided or mitigated through data recovery prior to mining No impact on known sites

Alternative 2g
No impact on known unevaluated sites; impacts on eligible sites discovered during operations would be avoided or mitigated through data recovery prior to mining No impact on known sites

Native American heritage sites 3.13 VISUAL RESOURCES During mining:  Alteration of landscape by mining facilities and operations  Visibility of mining operations from highway Following reclamation:  Smoother sloped terrain  Reduction in sagebrush density 3.14 NOISE Increased noise levels

Moderate, short-term on 656 acres Moderate, short-term; highway is 0.5 to 2.5 miles away

Moderate, short-term on 1,134 acres Moderate, short-term; highway is ≥1 mile away

Moderate, short-term on up to 2,847 acres Moderate, short-term; highway 0.5 to 1.5 miles away

Minor to moderate, permanent on 656 acres Minor, long-term on 86 noncontiguous acres

Minor to moderate, permanent on 1,134 acres Minor, long-term on 126 noncontiguous acres

Minor to moderate, permanent on up to 2,847 acres Minor, long-term on 302 noncontiguous acres

Minor to substantial, short-term; one occupied residence within 0.25 mile, most homes ≥1 mile away on far side of active roads or hills for audio buffer

Minor to substantial, short-term; <0.25 mile to nearest occupied residence; most homes on far side of active roads or hills for audio buffer

Minor to substantial, short-term; one occupied residence in operationally limited lands within general analysis area; most homes on far side of active roads or hills for audio buffer

3.15 TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES Use of railroads to ship coal Employee and service contractor use of highways to and from mine sites Relocation of pipelines Moderate, short-term Moderate, short-term No impact; all lines already addressed Moderate, short-term Moderate, short-term Moderate, short-term; four existing pipelines and one potential new easement affected Moderate, short-term Moderate, short-term Moderate, short-term; six existing pipelines and one potential new easement affected

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2. Continued
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc Description of Potential Impact by Resource
Relocation of utility lines Mining operations near Collins and McGee roads 3.16 HAZARDOUS AND SOLID WASTE Waste generated by mining operations 3.17 SOCIOECONOMICS Employment Negligible, beneficial, short-term; new hires expected for existing operations Substantial, beneficial short-term Substantial, beneficial short-term Moderate, beneficial short-term No impact No impact No impact No impact No impact Negligible, beneficial, short-term; no new hires expected; current employment levels extended for 2 years Substantial, beneficial, short-term Substantial, beneficial, short-term Moderate, beneficial, short-term No impact No impact Negligible, short-term; no new demands; extends current demands by 2 years Negligible, beneficial, short-term; extends current benefits by 2 years No impact Negligible, beneficial, short-term; no new hires expected; current employment levels extended for up to 6 years Substantial, beneficial, short-term Substantial, beneficial, short-term Moderate, beneficial, short-term No impact No impact Negligible, short-term; no new demands; extends current demands by up to 6 years Negligible, beneficial, short-term; extends current benefits by up to 6 years No impact Negligible, short-term Negligible, short-term Negligible, short-term

No Action Alternatived Alternative 1
Negligible, short-term; all or most lines already addressed Minor , short-term; 0.25 mile along one county road; no roads expected to be closed or relocated

Action Alternativese Proposed Actionf
Minor, short-term; three overhead power lines affected, both within existing permit area Minor to substantial, short-term; 0.6 mile along one county road; no roads expected to be closed or relocated

Alternative 2g
Minor, short-term; eight overhead power lines affected, seven in existing permit area Minor to substantial, short-term; approximately 3 miles along two county roads; no roads expected to be closed or relocated

Revenues from royalties and taxes to the state and local government Revenues from royalties and taxes to the federal government Economic development Additional housing and infrastructure needs Population Local government facilities and services Social setting Environmental justice

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.0-2. Continued
Magnitudea and Durationb of Impactc Description of Potential Impact by Resource No Action Alternatived Alternative 1 Proposed Actionf Action Alternativese Alternative 2g

CBNG = coal bed natural gas; mmt = million tons; NOx = oxides of nitrogen; NO2 = nitrogen dioxide; ; VRM = visual resource management; SO2 = sulfur dioxide; AVF = alluvial valley floor; NRHP = National Register of Historic Places
a b	

Refer to sections 3.2 through 3.17 for discussions on magnitude of impacts for each resource under each alternative. Short-term impacts are operational impacts that persist during mining (life of mine) and reclamation. The current life-of-mine estimate (No Action Alternative) is 14 years; under the Proposed Action, the life-of-mine would extend two years beyond the current estimate; under Alternative 2, life-of-mine would be extended by up to six years beyond the current estimate. Long-term impacts persist through the time the reclamation bond is released—a minimum of 10 years beyond active reclamation. Permanent impacts persist beyond reclamation. All impacts are assumed adverse unless noted otherwise. Impacts under the No Action Alternative apply to the overlap area. These impacts would be limited to disturbance associated with mine support activities (e.g., topsoil stripping) and reclamation activities, described in section 1.1.3.3 and section 1.1.3.4, respectively, for currently permitted mining in existing coal leases. Kiewit has no plans to mine operationally limited lands. However, impacts presented in this table consider maximum potential disturbance under each alternative. Under the Proposed Action, coal extraction would occur in the entire proposed tract (419 acres). Activities related to mining and reclaiming (described in section 1.1.3.3 and section 1.1.3.4, respectively) the proposed tract would occur in the support area, a 0.25-mile-wide area north and west of the proposed tract (241 acres); activities related to mining the existing coal lease would occur in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres). Under Alternative 2, coal extraction would occur in an alternative tract configuration within the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres). Act ivities related to mining in the BLM study area would occur in the support area, a 0.25-mile-wide area north and west of the BLM study area (up to 926 acres); activities related to mining existing coal leases would continue in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres). These areas comprise the maximum potential disturbance analyzed in this EIS, referred to throughout as the general analysis area.

c d	

e f	

g

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

3.1. General Setting
This section provides an overview of the physical setting and climatic characteristics of the general analysis area and surrounding region.

3.1.1.

General Location and Characteristics

The general analysis area is adjacent to one of the northern-most operating mines in the PRB, in the part of the Northern Great Plains that includes most of northeastern Wyoming. This region is also within the Great Plains Steppe and Shrub Province of the Dry Domain ecoregion of the continent (USDA Forest Service 2009). Ecoregions are comprised of large areas of similar climate where ecosystems are present in predictable patterns. The defining characteristic of a dry climate is that annual losses of water through evaporation at the earth’s surface exceed annual water gains from precipitation. As a result of that overall water deficiency, no permanent streams originate in dry climate zones. The Dry Domain ecoregion is the most extensive in the world, and occupies one-quarter or more of the earth’s land surface. Wyoming has a relatively cool climate due to its elevation. Away from the mountains, the mean maximum temperatures in July range between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) and the mean minimum temperatures that month range from 50 to 60 °F (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 1985). January is typically the coldest month, with minimum temperatures often ranging from 5 to 10 °F. Early freezes in the fall and late in the spring are characteristic of the state, and result in long winters and short (average 125 days) growing seasons. Sunshine dominates approximately 60% of winter days and about 75% of summer days. Spring and summer are the wettest months, though rainfall amounts are highly variable and can be somewhat localized. Relative humidity ranges from 5 to 75%, depending on the season, with an average of 25 to 30% on the warmer summer days. Wyoming is quite windy, with frequent periods of sustained wind speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour (mph) and regular gusts exceeding 60 mph. Snow typically falls from November through May, with periodic accumulations of more than 10 feet in the mountains and more moderate levels of snowfall and accumulation at lower elevations. The low relative humidity, high percentage of sunshine, and higher average winds all contribute to a high rate of evaporation across the state. The vegetation in the general analysis area consists of species common to eastern Wyoming and is consistent with vegetative communities in the adjacent Buckskin Mine permit area. The proposed tract is dominated (approximately 71%) by various upland grasslands. The general analysis area is comprised primarily of upland grasslands (approximately 40%) and agricultural lands (croplands and pastures, 31%). Section 3.9 provides a detailed discussion on vegetation resources.

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

3.1.2.

Climate and Meteorology in the General Analysis Area

As indicated, the climate in the general analysis area is typical of a semi-arid, high plains environment with relatively large seasonal and diurnal variations in temperature (figure 3.1-1). Recurring periods of extended drought, sometimes lasting several years, are not unusual. Summers are relatively short and warm, while winters are longer and cold. The average daily mean temperature at the adjacent Buckskin Mine meteorological station from 1986 through 2007 was 46º F. The highest recorded temperature at the mine during that period was 106º F and the lowest was minus 33º F. July is the warmest month, with a mean daily temperature of 72º F, and January is the coldest month, with a mean daily temperature of 26º F. The frost-free period for this area lasts between 100 and 130 days (Curtis 2004). Precipitation occurs predominantly during the spring and fall, with approximately 10% in the form of snow. The average annual precipitation measured at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorological station (Gillette 9ESE) located about 14 miles southeast of the Buckskin Mine was 15.67 inches (Western Regional Climate Center 2008). May (2.67 inches) and June (2.69 inches) are the wettest, while January (0.57 inch) and February (0.56 inch) are the driest. Snowfall averages 56.4 inches per year at the Gillette 9ESE station, with the highest monthly averages occurring in March (10.4 inches) and April (8.4 inches). In keeping with the Dry Domain ecoregion, evapotranspiration, at approximately 31 inches of water per year, exceeds annual precipitation (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 1969). Surface wind speeds at the Buckskin Mine meteorological station average 10.5 mph throughout the year. Prevailing winds are from the north-northwest and south-southeast directions (figure 3.1-2), depending on the season. The area experiences extreme wind gusts, especially during thunderstorm activity in June, July, and August. Distinct diurnal changes occur, with average wind velocities increasing during the day due to solar insulation, and decreasing during the night (figure 3.1-3). Local variations in wind speed and direction are primarily due to differences in topography. Wind speeds at the mine’s meteorological station are highest in the winter and spring. From May through September, winds are calmer and directions are more random, although winds from the north or southeast still occur slightly more often than from other directions. During periods of strong wind, dust from energy operations, agricultural fields, unpaved roads, construction areas, drought areas, and other human-made and natural sources may affect air quality across the region. Air quality can also be affected when air is trapped by poor ventilation due to persistent light or calm winds, and by the presence of inversions. Such episodes are referred to as air stagnation events (Wang and Angell 1999). An average of 15 air-stagnation events occurs annually in the PRB with an average duration of two days each (BLM 1974).

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

3-21

90

80

70

60
Temperature F

50

Winter Spring Summer

40

Fall

30

20

10

0 0 4 8 12 Hour of Day 16 20 24

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Figure 3.1-1 Average Diurnal Temperature by Season at Buckskin Mine



No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Figure 3.1-2 Wind Rose for the Buckskin Mine

16

14
Wind Speed miles per hourper hour (mph) Wind Speed miles (mph)

12

10 Winter Spring Summer Fall

8

6

4

2

0 0 4 8 12 Hour of Day 16 20 24

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Figure 3.1-3 Average Diurnal Wind Speed by Season at the Buckskin Mine

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

3.2. Topography
This section describes the topographic characteristics of the general analysis area and surrounding region, and identifies potential impacts on surface elevation and other topographic features in the general analysis area that would result from the Proposed Action and alternatives.

3.2.1.

Affected Environment

The northern portion of the PRB is a high plains area within the unglaciated Missouri Plateau subregion of the Great Plains Province in northeast Wyoming. The PRB is both a topographic drainage and geologic structural basin. The structural basin is an elongated, asymmetrical syncline approximately 120 miles east to west and 200 miles north to south. It is bounded in Wyoming by the Black Hills on the east; the Big Horn Mountains on the west; and the Hartville Uplift, Casper Arch, and Laramie Mountains on the south. The northern extent of the structural basin is the Miles City Arch and the Yellowstone River in Montana. The axis of the structural basin trends from the southeast to the northwest near the western margin of the syncline. The PRB is located on the gently dipping eastern limb of the structural basin, with the geological stratain that area dipping gently to the west at 1 to 2 degrees toward the axis of the basin. The Powder River Basin is so named because it is drained by the Powder River, although it is also drained in part by other major rivers, including the Big Horn, Tongue, Little Missouri, Belle Fourche, and Cheyenne rivers. The general analysis area is within the Powder River drainage basin. Hay Creek and Little Powder River, tributaries of the Powder River, are the most prominent natural topographic features in the general analysis area, though Rawhide Creek, Little Rawhide Creek, and Calf Creek also drain the immediate area. Broad plains, rolling hills, and tablelands dominate the PRB landscape. Internally drained playas are common in the basin, as are buttes and plateaus capped by sandstone or clinker (baked and fused rock resulting from in-place burning of coal deposits during the prehistoric era). Elevations throughout the PRB range from less than 2,500 feet to more than 6,000 feet above mean sea level. The major river valleys have wide, flat floors and broad floodplains. The drainages dissecting the basin are incised and typically are intermittent (do not flow year-round) or ephemeral (respond only to rainfall or snowmelt events) and, thus, do not provide year-round water sources. The general analysis area is characterized by gently rolling uplands and relatively level agricultural fields. Many hills are dissected by drainages that create moderate variations in local relief. The overall topographic trend of hills is roughly northwest to southeast. Topography in the southern portion of the general analysis area exhibits a local southwest-to-northeast trend associated with an ephemeral drainage in sections 18 and 19. Map 3.0-1 identifies sections in the general analysis area. Slopes range from flat in the northwestern part of the general analysis area to greater than 30% in the northeast. Topographic elevations range from about 4,080 feet above mean sea level along Hay Creek in section 16 (northeast) to about 4,380 feet above mean sea level in the east-central
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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

portion of section 19 (southwest). Local relief is greatest in sections 8 and 9 (north-northeast), where drainages deeply dissect the uplands and create relatively steep slopes and prominent bluffs of sandstone that are resistant to erosion. The flattest portion of the general analysis area is in the broad valley bottom of Hay Creek in the north-central portion of section 18. A topographic depression encompassing about 8.8 acres is located in the west-central portion of that section.

3.2.2.

Environmental Consequences

3.2.2.1. Proposed Action
Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) would have a moderate, permanent impact on surface elevation. Activities in the support area (241 acres) would have no impact on surface elevation. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have no impact on surface elevation. Activities such as blasting, hauling, and stockpiling would remove overburden and interburden to a combined average depth of approximately 250 feet, and coal to a combined total depth of about 100 additional feet in the proposed tract. The postmining topography would be recontoured to resemble the premining topography, but would be approximately 60 feet lower (table 3.2-1) and somewhat gentler and more uniform. In addition, activities related to mining the proposed tract and existing leases would result in indirect impacts, described below, in the support area and remainder of the overlap area, respectively. Impacts resulting from topographic moderation include minor to moderate, long-term reductions in microhabitats (e.g., cutbank slopes) and habitat diversity. These impacts would be greater in those areas characterized as rough breaks, though these areas constitute less than 0.5% of the general analysis area. Potential effects of topographic moderation on wildlife species are described in section 3.10. A beneficial, long-term impact of the lower and flatter terrain would be reduced water runoff, which would allow for moderate increases in infiltration and a moderate reduction in peak flows. This may help counteract the potential for increased erosion that could occur because of higher density of reclaimed soils near the surface (section 3.8.2.1). It may also increase vegetative productivity and potentially accelerate recharge of groundwater. In-channel stockponds and playas (i.e., shallow topographic depressions) would be replaced to provide livestock and wildlife watering sources. These topographic changes would not conflict with regional land use, and the postmining topography would be designed to adequately support the anticipated future land use. All postmining topography and water features must meet the specifications outlined in the mining and reclamation plan approved by the WDEQ.

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.2-1.

Overburden/Coal Thickness and Postmining Elevation Change
250 feet 100 feet 11% 90% –61 feet

Average overburden thickness (including interburden) Average coal thickness Overburden swell factor Coal recovery factor Postmining elevation changea
a

Reclaimed (postmining) elevation surface change is calculated as:
 (overburden + unrecovered coal thicknesses) x (overburden swell) – (overburden + coal thicknesses).


3.2.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action)
Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have no impact on surface elevation. Impacts on other characteristics associated with topographic changes would be the same as described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future.

3.2.2.3. Alternative 2
Under Alternative 2, surface coal mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) would have a moderate, permanent impact on surface elevation. Activities in the support area (926 acres) would have no impact on surface elevation. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have no impact on surface elevation. Impacts on other characteristics associated with topographic changes would be the same as described under the Proposed Action.

3.2.3.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

Chapter 4 of the WDEQ Rules and Regulations requires that topography be restored as closely as possible to premining contour and that it blend into the existing, undisturbed topography as much as possible. Despite these efforts, some local relief would be reduced after coal removal. The amount of coal that would be removed and the degree to which the overburden spoils would change in volume due to excavation would be considered in the postmine topography design. These designs will be developed for approval as part of the required mining and reclamation plans. All topographic features such as upland draws, channel bottoms, and elevations will be reconstructed to closely mimic premining conditions and ensure proper drainage of water across the reclaimed spoils. The WDEQ monitors topographic restoration for at least 10 years postmining by regularly checking the as-built topography in the annual reports filed by the mines to see if it conforms to the approved topography. Under either of the action alternatives, Kiewit will reestablish vegetation in all reclaimed areas and implement sediment-control measures where runoff occurs to preserve reclaimed materials.
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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Kiewit will monitor success of revegetation and erosion-control measures routinely, per WDEQ guidelines, and will implement mitigation measures, as necessary, to correct any deficiencies.

3.2.4.

Residual Impacts

Topographic moderation is a permanent consequence of mining. Reclaimed landforms are expected to mimic premining topography, but will have less topographic variation and will be slightly lower in elevation. Any indirect impacts of topographic moderation on wildlife habitat diversity would also be considered permanent. See section 3.10 for indirect impacts on wildlife as a result of topographic moderation.

3.3. Geology, Mineral Resources, and Paleontology
This section discusses the topographic, geologic, and mineral resources in the general analysis area and adjacent Buckskin Mine permit area, including assessments of premine topography and pertinent information regarding geology, as well as coal, CBNG, and clinker resources, referred to locally as scoria or red dog. It also identifies potential impacts on these resources that would result from the Proposed Action and alternatives.

3.3.1.

General Geology and Coal Resources

3.3.1.1. Affected Environment
The general analysis area contains the following stratigraphic units (layers) (in descending order from the surface): Quaternary (recent) deposits, the Eocene Wasatch Formation, and the Paleocene Fort Union Formation. The Paleocene Fort Union Formation contains the coal seams that would be mined under the action alternatives. Table 3.3-1 shows the stratigraphic relationships of the geologic units in the general analysis area. These stratigraphic units are discussed below. Quaternary deposits in the general analysis area consist of unconsolidated stream-laid deposits, slope wash, wind-blown deposits, colluvium, residuum, and clinker. Stream-laid deposits occur in portions of the Hay Creek valley bottom and some associated upland draws beyond the general analysis area for this EIS. Those deposits consist of a loose mix of sand, gravel, and silt deposited by stream flow within Hay Creek and its tributaries. Slope wash occurs along the bottom slopes of hills and in channel bottoms, including the Hay Creek valley bottom in section 18, and consists of reworked sediment deposited by flow over the ground surface (e.g., runoff). Some surface sands are concentrated into small areas comprised predominately of fine-grained sand. Residuum (residual material) deposits commonly cover and are derived in place from the underlying Wasatch deposits, and may occur on relatively steep terrain. Colluvium is comprised of material that has been transported downslope by rock falls, slides, and slumps, and occurs along steep hill sides. This material generally consists of large, angular clinker and rock fragments residing in an unsorted matrix of sand, silt, and clay. Materials above some of the shallow coal seams in the general analysis area have been altered by the natural combustion
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(burning) of underlying coal seams, producing clinker. These clinker areas exist on limited hillsides along the northern portion of the general analysis area.

Table 3.3-1. 	 Stratigraphic Relationships and Hydrologic Characteristics, Powder River Basin, Wyoming
Geologic Unit
Recent Alluvium (Holocene)

Hydrologic Characteristics
Typically fine grained and poorly sorted in intermittent drainages. Occasional very thin, clean, inter-bedded sand lenses. Low yields and excessive dissolved solids generally make these aquifers unsuitable for domestic, agricultural and livestock usage. Low infiltration capacity unless covered by sandy eolian blanket. Baked and fused bedrock above the coal seam resulting from burning coal which ignites on the outcrop from lightning, manmade fires, or spontaneous combustion. The reddish clinker (locally called scoria or red dog) formed by melting and partial fusing of the layers above the coal from the burning coal. The baked rock varies greatly in the degree of alteration; some is dense and glassy while some is vesicular and porous. It is commonly used as a road construction material and is an aquifer wherever saturated. Lenticular fine sands inter-bedded predominantly very fine grained siltstone and claystone may yield low to moderate quantities of poor to good quality water. The discontinuous nature and irregular geometry of these sand bodies result in low overall permeabilities and very slow groundwater movement in the overburden on a regional scale. Water quality in the Wasatch formation generally does not meet Wyoming Class I drinking water standards due to the dissolved mineral content. Some wells do, however, produce water of considerably better quality which does meet the Class I standard. Wyodak Formation Splits: Anderson/ Canyon Seams The coal serves as a regional groundwater aquifer and exhibits highly variable aquifer properties. Permeability and porosity associated with the coal arise almost entirely from fractures. Coal water typically does not meet Class I or Class II (irrigation) use standards. In most cases, water from coal wells is suitable for livestock use. The coal water is used throughout the region as a source of stock water and occasionally for domestic use. The Lebo Member, also referred to as “The Lebo Confining Layer,” has a mean thickness of 711 feet in the PRB and a thickness of about 400 feet in the vicinity of Gillette. The Lebo typically yields small quantities of poor quality groundwater. Where sand content is locally large, caused by channel or deltaic deposits, the Lebo may yield as much as 10 gpm. The Tullock Member has a mean thickness of 785 feet in the PRB and a mean sand content of 53% which indicates that the unit generally functions well as a regional aquifer. Yields of 15 gpm are common buy vary locally and may be as much as 40 gpm. Records from the State Engineer’s Office indicate that maximum yields of approximately 300 gpm have been achieved from this aquifer. Water quality in the Tullock Member often meets Class I standards. The extensive sandstone units in the Tullock Member are commonly developed regionally for domestic and industrial uses. The City of Gillette is currently using eight wells completed in this zone to meet part of its municipal water requirements. Sandstone and interbedded sandy shales and claystone provide yields generally of less than 20 gpm. Higher yields are sometimes achieved where sand thicknesses are greatest. Water quality is typically fair to good.

Clinker (Holocene to Pleistocene)

Wasatch Formation (Eocene)

Tongue River Member

Lebo Member Fort Union Formation (Paleocene)

Tullock Member

Upper Lance Lance Formation (Upper Cretaceous)

Fox Hills Sandstone

Sandstone and sandy shales yield up to 200 gpm, however, yields are frequently significantly less. The water quality of the Fox Hills is generally good with TDS concentrations commonly less than 1000 milligrams per liter.

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Table 3.3-1. Continued
Geologic Unit
Lewis Formation (Upper Cretaceous) Pierre Shale

Hydrologic Characteristics
This unit is comprised predominantly of marine shales with only occasional local thin sandstone lenses. Maximum yields are minor and overall the unit is not water bearing. Water obtained from this unit is poor, with high concentrations of sodium and sulfate as the predominant ions in solution.

gpm = gallons per minute 
 Sources: Hodson et al. 1973; Lewis and Hotchkiss 1981.


The Wasatch Formation in the general analysis area consists of sandstone, siltstone, shale, and thin coals that extend from the surface to the Anderson coal seam; that seam defines the top of the underlying Fort Union Formation. The Wasatch Formation is somewhat sandier than the underlying Fort Union Formation, especially near the surface, where sands can be traced laterally for considerable distances. The Rider coal seam occurs in the Wasatch Formation; it is present in much of the western portion of the general analysis area, but in the east the coal layer thins out, is eroded out, or is burned. The Rider seam is up to 15 feet thick in the general analysis area, but is not a target coal for mining. The Wasatch Formation, in combination with any overlying Quaternary deposits, is considered overburden relative to the shallowest (Anderson) coal seam that is targeted for mining in the general analysis area. The overburden thickness varies from about 30 to 200 feet. It is thinnest in low-lying draws in sections 8 and 9 and in the valley bottom of Hay Creek in section 18. The Fort Union Formation lies between the Anderson and Canyon coal seams, and consists primarily of sandstones, siltstones, shales, mudstones, and coal. The formation is divided into the Tongue River, Lebo, and Tullock members. Two coal seams are present in the Tongue River Member of the Fort Union Formation, both of which are targeted for mining in the BLM study area (the maximum extent of leasable coal in the general analysis area). Two geologic cross sections through the proposed tract are shown on figure 3.3-1. The Anderson seam resides at the top of the Fort Union Formation and defines the contact between the Fort Union and the overlying Wasatch formations. The Canyon coal seam is lower in the Tongue River member, typically 150 to 190 feet beneath the Anderson, but it is within 40 feet of the Anderson where the seams are present in the northeastern portion of the BLM study area. The Anderson coal seam is present in most of the western portion of the BLM study area (maximum coal lease boundary), but it is discontinuous and absent in most of the northern and eastern portions. Where present, it averages about 45 feet thick and ranges from about 30 to 65 feet thick. The Canyon coal seam is present in most of the western portion of the BLM study area, but it is absent in most of the eastern portion. Where present, it averages about 70 feet thick and ranges from about 55 to 75 feet thick.

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

Elevation (feet above mean sea level)

Elevation
 (feet above mean sea level)


Figure 3.3-1 North-South and East-West Geologic Cross Sections

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

The Canyon and Anderson coal seams are sub-bituminous and are generally low-sulfur, low-ash coals. In the BLM study area, the heating value of the coal seams is expected to range from 8,000 to 8,500 British thermal units (Btu) per pound. The ash content in the coal seams is expected to vary from 3.5 to 7.0%, the sulfur content from 0.2 to 0.5%, and the moisture content from 28 to 31%.

3.3.1.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining would have a significant, permanent impact on the federal coal reserves and stratigraphic layers of the overburden and interburden within the proposed tract (419 acres). This action would have no impact on coal, overburden, and interburden in the support area (241 acres); activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have no impact on these resources. Impacts would occur from the base of the lowest coal seam mined to the surface through blasting, hauling, and stockpiling of overburden and interburden, as well as coal extraction. An average of about 250 feet of overburden and interburden, 30 feet of Anderson coal, and 70 feet of Canyon coal would be removed over about 419 acres. Approximately 54.1 million tons of coal would be recovered from the 77.2 million tons of in-place reserves. Overburden removed during mining would be replaced with a mixture of partially compacted rock and soil that would be significantly altered from the original distinct layers. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have no impact on geology, because overburden and interburden would not be removed in that area. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, surface coal mining would have a significant, permanent impact on the federal coal reserves and stratigraphic layers of the overburden and interburden within the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres). This action would have no impact on coal, overburden, and interburden in the support area (926 acres). Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have no impact on these resources. Overburden, interburden, and coal would be removed in the same manner and to the same average depths as under the Proposed Action, with the same changes to premining stratigraphic layers and postmining backfill. Up to 149.7 million tons of coal would be recovered from 269.7 million tons of in-place reserves. .

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3.3.1.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation and Monitoring
Chapter 4 of the WDEQ Rules and Regulations requires that land be restored to conditions equal to or greater than the highest previous use. To accomplish this, the Buckskin Mine will continue the drilling and sampling programs conducted on existing leases to identify overburden material that may be unsuitable for reclamation (i.e., material that is unsuitable for revegetation in disturbed areas or that may affect groundwater quality due to high concentrations of certain elements). These plans are in place for the existing Buckskin Mine and will be revised under either action alternative.

3.3.1.4. Residual Impacts
The action alternatives would have permanent significant impacts on the coal resources and geology in the general analysis area extending vertically from the base of the Canyon coal seam to the surface. Coal would be removed from the area, and the current layered stratigraphy would be transformed into a mixture of unconsolidated backfill material.

3.3.2.

Other Mineral Resources

3.3.2.1. Affected Environment
The PRB contains large reserves of fossil fuels including oil, natural gas (from conventional reservoirs and from coal beds), and coal, all of which are currently being produced. In addition, uranium, bentonite, and clinker are mined in the PRB (Wyoming State Geological Survey 2003). Conventional Oil and Gas The Powder River structural basin is one of the richest petroleum provinces in the Rocky Mountain area. As of December 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated the mean levels of undiscovered oil and non-coal bed natural gas resources in the PRB as 639 million barrels of oil, 1.16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 131 million barrels of natural gas liquids (U.S. Geological Survey 2006). Conventional oil and natural gas (excluding CBNG) have been produced in the PRB for more than 100 years, with an estimated 500 fields producing oil or natural gas from oil-bearing strata during that period. Depths to conventional gas and oil-bearing strata generally range from 4,000 and 13,500 feet below grade, though some wells are as shallow as 250 feet. No conventional oil and gas wells are located in the general analysis area. Coal Bed Natural Gas PRB coal bed methane (also known as CBNG) is naturally occurring methane trapped by water pressure in the coal or by impermeable strata above it. In the PRB, this gas is primarily biogenic in origin and is generated by large, subsurface, naturally occurring microbial communities residing in the coal (Ulrich and Bower 2008).

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The BLM has completed numerous environmental assessments and three EISs analyzing CBNG projects in Wyoming. The most recent of these analyses is the Final EIS and Proposed Plan Amendment for the PRB Oil and Gas Project, referred to as the Wyoming PRB Oil and Gas EIS (BLM 2003). The EIS covers almost 12,500 square miles, encompasses almost the entire PRB and spans all or parts of Campbell, Converse, Johnson, and Sheridan counties, and covers private, state, and federal lands. It analyzes the standard suite of potential environmental impacts of CBNG development in the PRB, and assumes that approximately 39,400 new CBNG wells would be drilled, completed, and produced over the next 10 years, in addition to the more than 12,000 CBNG wells that had been drilled or were permitted for drilling when the EIS was prepared. Under favorable geologic conditions, methane can be trapped at shallow depths in and above coal seams; this commonly occurs in the PRB. CBNG has been commercially produced in this region since 1989 when production began at the Rawhide Butte Field, approximately 5 miles southwest of the general analysis area (De Bruin and Lyman 1999). CBNG exploration and development are currently ongoing throughout the PRB. The predominant CBNG production to date in the general analysis area has occurred from the Wyodak-Anderson coal zone, which includes the Anderson and Canyon coal seams at and adjacent to the Buckskin Mine. The Wyodak-Anderson zone appears to be gas-bearing throughout the PRB and, as described above, the methane in the coal beds has been determined to be biogenic in origin. CBNG is also produced from deeper coal beds in the PRB, below the Anderson and Canyon seams. For CBNG to be collected, the hydrostatic pressure in the coal must be reduced to a level that can vary from seam to seam, which allows the gas to desorb (release) from the coal. This is accomplished by removing water from the coal bed. CBNG reservoirs can be affected by any nearby activities, including coal mining, that reduce the hydrostatic pressure in the coal bed or by the introduction of atmospheric oxygen or other substances which interfere with the metabolic processes of the methane producing bacteria which naturally occur there. The BLM Wyoming State Office–Reservoir Management Group (WSO-RMG) has recently prepared a variety of detailed analyses of CBNG resources in the lands near the existing surface coal mines in the Wyoming PRB for coal leasing and other actions. The WSO-RMG completed a report in 2006 that describes the existing/affected environment of the coal mining areas and adjacent lands with respect to CBNG resources, and documents the observed and inferred resource depletion that has and will continue to occur (WSO-RMG 2006). WSO-RMG and the USGS have collected coal gas content data from coal cores near the mines and in other areas of the PRB. Measured gas content was minimal in all of the WyodakAnderson coal cores collected in 2000 at locations near the surface coal mines, indicating that the coal seams were already substantially depleted of CBNG in the vicinity of the mines at that time. Average total gas content from the core desorption analyses was approximately 6.8 standard cubic feet per ton near the coal mines in 2000, compared with an average measured gas content of 37.6 standard cubic feet per ton from coal cores taken outside the mining areas. Analyses performed by WSO-RMG, USGS, CBNG operators, and others have shown that dewatering of the coal beds, by both CBNG production and mine dewatering, reduces the hydrostatic pressure
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in the coals and allows the gas to desorb and escape from the coal, and decreases the anaerobic production of methane. These effects have been ongoing, and it is likely that desorption and decreased production has continued since 2000; as a result, coal gas content and the gas-in-place adjacent to the existing mines would currently be expected to be less than in 2000. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) well data from the mining townships generally show that operator interest in the eastern PRB mining areas peaked prior to 2000 and declined rapidly following 2001. Activity had declined to almost negligible levels during 2005 (WSO-RMG 2006). The Anderson and Canyon seams tapped for CBNG are the same seams that are being mined at Buckskin Mine. CBNG occurs in these seams within the general analysis area and is common in equivalent seams throughout the PRB. WOGCC records indicate that as of May 2008, 30 CBNG wells have been completed in the general analysis area (appendix F). Fifteen wells (13 in the Canyon seam and 2 in the Anderson seam) are producing and 3 wells (2 in the Canyon and 1 in the Anderson) have been shut in and may be reinstated for production in the future. Twelve other wells are no longer producing, have been permanently abandoned, or have expired permits (Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission 2009). WOGCC records indicate that no CBNG wells have been completed below the Anderson and Canyon seams within the general analysis area. Manufactured Methane from Coal Beds A large percentage of the discovered natural gas (methane) reserves are believed to have been generated through the anaerobic microbial process of methanogenisis (Rice and Claypool 1981). Methane gas produced in this manner is often referred to as biogenetic methane. This process uses a group of predominantly anaerobic microorganisms that metabolizes the complex organic molecules in hydrocarbon deposits and produces the methane as a waste product. Biogenic methane has been detected in a wide variety of unconsolidated sediment and rock types around the world, including PRB coals (Law et al. 1991; Rice 1993). Luca Technologies Inc. has developed a method of enhancing biogenetic methane production from indigenous bacterial communities residing in the PRB coals. The company transforms uneconomically producing CBNG wells and uses the existing infrastructure for its coal conversion and methane production operations, which are handled by their directly owned subsidiary, Patriot Energy Resources. The company has completed a test project near Sheridan, Wyoming, and has begun operations using a mineral nutrient to feed the microbacteria currently residing in the PRB coal seams. These communities are currently capable of producing up to 30 million cubic feet per day when provided nutrients (DeBruyn pers. comm.). Methane produced in this manner has been commercially produced since 2007. The amount of coal converted through methanogenisis is less than 1% at the current level of technology. The future rate of the technological development and production of methane using microbacteria is unknown at this time but it is expected that, with continued success and public demand for either methane, hydrogen, or other biological metabolic byproducts of the microbial

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consortia, such operations could remain in place for the foreseeable future (DeBruyn pers. comm.). Other Minerals Bentonite, uranium, and clinker also are commercially produced in the PRB, though to a far lesser degree than the other resources discussed in this section. Layers of bentonite (decomposed volcanic ash) of varying thickness are present throughout the PRB. Some of the thicker layers are mined where they are near the surface, mostly around the edges of the basin. Bentonite has a large capacity to absorb water, making it usable in a number of common processes and products. Bentonite reserves have not been identified in the general analysis area. Substantial uranium resources are found in southwestern Campbell and northwestern Converse counties. Uranium exploration and mining were quite active in the 1950s, when numerous claims were filed in the PRB. A decreased demand combined with increased foreign supply reduced uranium mining activities in the early 1980s, although staking of mining claims is currently increasing. No known uranium reserves exist in the general analysis area. Clinker is present in the general analysis area and can be used for construction aggregate as well as a road treatment to provide traction in winter. These clinker resources exist on limited hillsides along the northern portion of the general analysis area.

3.3.2.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) would have a moderate to substantial, permanent impact on CBNG resources not recovered prior to mining. This action would have a moderate, short-term impact on access to subcoal conventional oil and gas resources in the proposed tract. The Proposed Action would have no impact on clinker, uranium, and bentonite because they are not present in the proposed tract. Activities in the support area (241 acres) would have no impact on unrecovered CBNG reserves, a minor, short-erm impact on access to sub-coal conventional oil and gas reserves, and no impact on other mineral resources. Impacts in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) from mining existing coal leases would be the same as for the support area. Unrecovered CBNG resources in the overburden, interburden, and coal seam would be lost through venting and/or depletion of hydrostatic pressure during the mining process, but CBNG below the lowest mined coal seam would not be affected. Fifteen producing CBNG wells are present in the general analysis area. Before mining operations could begin, all active CBNG wells would have to be plugged and abandoned, and all gas production equipment would have to be removed. CBNG resources that have not been recovered from the Canyon and Anderson coal seams prior to mining would be lost when the coal is removed. Dewatering wells and active mining would combine with ongoing CBNG production to deplete the hydrostatic pressures and methane resources adjacent to mining areas. Mining would begin shortly after that process is completed. It is also likely that any undrilled spacing units in the proposed tract will have been
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drained by production from the existing wells and nearby mining activity prior to initiation of mining. Mining operations within the proposed tract would not begin until permitting is completed, which generally requires several years after a lease is acquired. By that time, it is likely that most of the economically recoverable CBNG resource would have been produced. No conventional oil and gas wells are present in the proposed tract. Oil and gas (conventional and CBNG) reservoirs located below the mineable Canyon and Anderson coal seams would not be directly disturbed by coal removal. Those resources could be plugged prior to mining. Following mining and reclamation, oil and gas lessees could drill new wells to recover those resources from any productive reservoirs below the lowest mined coal seam. Redeveloping deep oil, gas, and CBNG reservoirs would likely occur only if the lessee believes that the value of the reserves justifies the expense of recompleting or drilling wells. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Acton Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) would have no impact on unrecovered CBNG reserves and a minor, short-term impact on access to sub-coal conventional oil and gas reserves. This alternative would have a minor, permanent impact on limited clinker resource, but no impact on uranium or bentonite reserves. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, surface coal mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) would have a moderate to substantial, permanent impact on CBNG resources not recovered prior to mining. This action would have a moderate, short-term impact on access to sub-coal conventional oil and gas resources in the proposed tract. Alternative 2 would have a minor, permanent impact on clinker resources, but no impact on uranium or bentonite reserves because they are not present in the BLM study area. Activities in the support area (926 acres) would have no impact on unrecovered CBNG reserves, a minor, short-term impact on access to sub-coal conventional oil and gas reserves, a minor, permanent impact on clinker, and no impact on other mineral resources. Impacts in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) from mining existing coal leases would be the same as for the support area. As for the Proposed Action, gas reserves below the lowest mined coal seam would still be accessible to operators after mining and reclamation have been completed. Mine-related activities in the support area and remainder of the overlap area would affect up to 12.5 acres of the limited clinker reserves.

3.3.2.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring
The potential does exist for conflicts between coal operations and CBNG and conventional oil and gas wells completed, ongoing, or possible in formations and coal beds below the Canyon and Anderson seams.

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If the federal coal in the tracts is leased and conflicts do develop between the various industry operators under the action alternatives, several mechanisms are in place that can be used to facilitate recovery of the conventional oil and gas and CBNG resources prior to mining. These mechanisms include:  The BLM could attach a multiple mineral development stipulation to the federal coal lease, which states that the BLM will not approve operations that would unreasonably interfere with the development and/or production of existing mineral leases issued before the coal lease on the same lands (see appendix E).  Conventional oil and gas wells could be abandoned during mining and reclamation operations, then be recompleted or redrilled following mining.  The BLM could offer royalty incentives to CBNG operators to accelerate production, as provided for in the BLM Instruction Memorandum (2003-253), to recover the natural gas while simultaneously allowing uninterrupted coal mining operations. This memorandum also states that it is the policy of the BLM to encourage oil and gas and coal companies to resolve conflicts between themselves; when requested, the BLM will assist in facilitating agreements between the companies.  Mining the proposed tract or alternative tract configuration cannot occur until the coal lessee has a permit to mine the tract approved by the WDEQ and a Mineral Leasing Act mining plan approved by the Secretary of the Interior. Before the mining plan can be approved, the BLM must approve the Resource Recovery Protection Plan for mining the tract. Prior to approving the plan, the BLM can review the status of CBNG and conventional oil and gas development and the mining sequence proposed by the coal lessee. The permit approval process generally takes the coal lessee several years, during which time CBNG resources can be recovered.  Prior to mining the federal coal reserves, Kiewit could negotiate an agreement with owners and operators of existing oil and gas and pipeline facilities, regarding removal and relocation of their infrastructure. Clinker is often removed during mining because its use in construction is deemed viable enough to segregate it from other overburden materials. It may be feasible to recover clinker from the overburden in some areas as part of the overburden removal process. Clinker not disturbed by mining under the action alternatives could also be removed after mining.

3.3.2.4. Residual Impacts
Clinker deposits excavated for construction or other uses would be permanently removed. CBNG resources not recovered before mining would be vented to the atmosphere and permanently lost. Oil and gas resources (conventional and CBNG) below the lowest coal seam to be mined could be recovered when mine operations are completed.

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3.3.3.

Paleontology

3.3.3.1. Affected Environment
Two formations exposed on the surface of the proposed tract could contain paleontological resources: the Paleocene Fort Union Formation and the Paleocene and Eocene Wasatch Formation (Breckenridge 1974; Love and Christiansen 1985). Both of these sedimentary formations are known to yield vertebrate fossils in Wyoming (Estes 1975; Roehler 1991; Secord 1998; Robinson et al. 2004). The BLM’s Potential Fossil Yield Classification system ranks geologic formations based on their potential to yield significant paleontological resources. The five main classes in the system are:  class 1 – very low  class 2 – low  class 3 – moderate or unknown  class 4 – high  class 5 – very high Additional subcategories have been identified within some classes. Under this classification system, the Fort Union Formation in the PRB is considered to be class 4 and the Wasatch Formation in that region is a class 3a (Hanson pers. comm.). A more detailed description of the two classifications for the Fort Union and Wasatch formations is provided below. Class 3—Moderate or Unknown. Fossiliferous sedimentary geologic units where fossil content varies in significance, abundance, and predictable occurrence; or sedimentary units of unknown fossil potential.  terrestrial (continental) in origin with sporadic known occurrences of vertebrate fossils;  vertebrate fossils and scientifically significant invertebrate or plant fossils known to occur intermittently, predictability known to be low; or  poorly studied and/or poorly documented; potential yield cannot be assigned without ground reconnaissance. Class 3a—Moderate Potential. Units are known to contain vertebrate fossils or scientifically significant non-vertebrate fossils, but these occurrences are widely scattered. Common invertebrate or plant fossils may be found in the area, and opportunities may exist for hobby collecting. The potential for a project to be sited on or impact a significant fossil is low but is somewhat higher for common fossils.

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Class 4—High. Geologic units containing a high occurrence of significant fossils. Vertebrate fossils or scientifically significant invertebrate or plant fossils are known to occur and have been documented but may vary in occurrence and predictability. Surface-disturbing activities may adversely affect paleontological resources in many cases. Class 4a—Unit is exposed with little or no soil or vegetative cover. Outcrop areas are extensive with exposed bedrock areas often larger than 2 acres. Paleontological resources may be susceptible to adverse impacts from surface-disturbing actions. Illegal collecting activities may impact some areas. Class 4b—Areas underlain by geologic units with high potential but have lowered risks of human-caused adverse impacts and/or lowered risk of natural degradation due to moderating circumstances. The bedrock unit has high potential, but a protective layer of soil, thin alluvial material, or other conditions may lessen or prevent potential impacts on the bedrock resulting from the activity. –	 Extensive soil or vegetative cover; bedrock exposures are limited or not expected to be impacted. –	 Areas of exposed outcrop are smaller than 2 contiguous acres. –	 Outcrops form cliffs of sufficient height and slope so that impacts are minimized by topographic conditions. –	 Other characteristics are present that lower the vulnerability of both known and 
 unidentified paleontological resources (BLM 2007b). 
 As a result of the 2007 paleontological survey findings (described below), the classifications for the Fort Union and Wasatch formations in the PRB have changed. The Fort Union Formation was upgraded from a class 3 to a class 4 statewide average and the Wasatch Formation in the PRB was downgraded to class 3a, although outside the PRB the Wasatch is a class 5 statewide (Hanson pers. comm.). Fossils other than vertebrates that occur in the Fort Union Formation include gastropods (limpets, snails and slugs), bivalves (oysters, mussels, and clams) and plant fossils. Fossils that occur in the Wasatch Formation include mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles (Jones & Stokes 2007). A pedestrian reconnaissance survey for fossils was conducted in November 2007 for the general analysis area. All outcrops were closely inspected, including bare, sparsely vegetated, or thin soil areas; stream and drainage bank exposures; large colluvium, lag areas, and colluvium near outcrops. Several fossil types were found during the survey in four locations. None of the four localities was within the proposed tract. One locality was just within the northeastern tip of the BLM study area, and the remaining three were along the northern tier of the general analysis area. Fossils found in the Fort Union Formation include: crocodilian scutes (boney external plates or scales); a short segment of a limb bone from a large mammal; a small unidentifiable bone fragment (possibly crocodile); gastropod shell fragments; and small, highly weathered, and

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fossilized wood fragments. Invertebrate trace fossils and small root traces were found in the Wasatch Formation. No significant or unique paleontological resources or localities have been recorded within the general analysis area, including those found during field surveys for this EIS. While the occurrences of crocodilian scutes, the limb bone, and small bone fragments are notable because they are the only vertebrate fossils currently known to have been found in the PRB Fort Union Formation, they are not considered to be of high scientific value because they were solitary finds, and no sign of other vertebrate fossils was observed in the immediate area. In addition, the mammalian species to which the limb bone segment belongs could not be determined: neither the taxon nor element represented by the bone fragment could be identified (Jones & Stokes 2007). While these findings indicate other vertebrate fossils could be found in the general analysis area, the likelihood of such a find would be minimal. Based on these survey results, no specific mitigation was recommended by the paleontologist in the field report and no further paleontological work was recommended or required by the BLM regional paleontologist.

3.3.3.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining and related activities would have no impact on significant or unique paleontological resources on the surface of the proposed tract (419 acres) or in the support area (241 acres). This action could have a moderate to substantial, permanent impact on paleontological resources beneath the surface of these areas, assuming such resources are present. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) associated with mining existing coal leases would have no impact on significant or unique paleontological resources on the surface, but could have a moderate to substantial, permanent impact on such resources beneath the surface. No significant fossils were found in the outcrops of the Fort Union and Wasatch formations exposed on the surface of the proposed tract; however, fossils with scientific significance could be present but not exposed at the surface. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) associated with mining existing coal leases would have no impact on significant or unique paleontological resources on the surface. However, such activities could have a moderate to substantial, permanent impact on paleontological resources beneath the surface of that area, assuming such resources are present. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future.

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining and related activities would have no impact on significant or unique paleontological resources on the surface of the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) or support area (926 acres). Those activities could have a moderate to substantial, permanent impact on paleontological resources beneath the surface, assuming such resources are present. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) associated with mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts on paleontological resources located on and beneath the surface as in the support area.

3.3.3.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring
If a tract is leased under one of the action alternatives, the BLM will attach a stipulation (appendix E) to the lease requiring the operator to report significant paleontological finds to the authorized federal agency and suspend production in the vicinity of the find until an approved paleontologist can evaluate the paleontological resource.

3.3.3.4. Residual Impacts
Paleontological resources not identified and removed prior to or during mining operations would be permanently lost. No such incidents have occurred within the existing Buckskin Mine lease, or elsewhere in the PRB coal region.

3.4. Air Quality
This section summarizes the affected environment in the general analysis area and the potential air quality impacts of the Proposed Action and alternatives. Appendix G provides background information on the air quality regulatory framework, regional conditions, modeling efforts, and the best available control technology (BACT) process. That appendix also provides the history of monitoring for particulate matter in the PRB. The information presented in this section and in appendix G is based on data provided by the Buckskin, Eagle Butte, Rawhide, Dry Fork, and Wyodak mines and from various state and federal sources. Existing and projected cumulative air quality impacts are discussed in chapter 4.

3.4.1.

Background

3.4.1.1. Air Quality Determinants
The air quality of any region is controlled primarily by the magnitude and distribution of pollutant emissions and the regional climate. The transport of pollutants from specific source areas is strongly affected by local topography, winds (speed and direction), and precipitation. In the mountainous region of the western United States, topography is particularly important in channeling pollutants along valleys, creating upslope and downslope circulations that may entrain airborne pollutants, and blocking the flow of pollutants toward certain areas. Local

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effects, however, are commonly superimposed on the general widespread weather regime and are only important during those periods when the large-scale wind flow is weak. Wyoming can be characterized as having a combination of both highland and mid-latitude semiarid climates. The dominant factors that affect the climate of the area are elevation, local relief, and the mountain barrier effect. This barrier effect can produce marked temperature and precipitation differences between windward and leeward slopes. Generally, temperatures decrease and precipitation increases with increasing elevation. Section 3.1.1 contains additional information about the meteorology and climate in the general analysis area. The general analysis area (map 3.0-1) is located in the northern portion of the PRB. The topography is primarily rolling plains and tablelands of moderate relief with occasional valleys and buttes. Elevations range from about 4,080 to 4,380 feet above mean sea level. The Big Horn Mountains lie approximately 60 miles to the west and the Black Hills lie approximately 60 miles to the east.

3.4.1.2. Applicable Air Quality Standards and Regulations
The CAA requires the EPA to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and welfare. These standards define the maximum level of air pollution allowed in the ambient air. The CAA established NAAQS for six pollutants, known as “criteria” pollutants, which “… cause or contribute to air pollution which may be reasonably anticipated to endanger public health or welfare and the presence of which in the ambient air results from numerous or diverse mobile or stationary sources.” The six present-day criteria pollutants are lead, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone, and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), where PM10 is coarse particulate with mean aerodynamic diameters less than 10 microns and PM2.5 is fine particulate with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less. Both particle sizes are small enough to penetrate into the lungs; PM2.5 in particular can cause serious health problems. Air quality regulations applicable to surface coal mining include the NAAQS, Wyoming Ambient Air Quality Standards (WAAQS), prevention of significant deterioration (PSD), new source performance standards, and the Federal Operating Permit Program (Title V). These regulatory programs are described in appendix G. Air pollution impacts are limited by local, state, tribal, and federal air quality regulations and standards, and state implementation plans (SIPs) established under the CAA and the CAA Amendments of 1990. In Wyoming, air pollution impacts are managed by the WDEQ under the Wyoming Air Quality Standards and Regulations and the EPA-approved SIP. A memorandum of agreement dated January 24, 1994, between EPA and the State of Wyoming allows the WDEQ to use particulate monitoring in lieu of short-term modeling to assess 24-hour compliance and to predict short-term ambient impacts from mining. Annual impacts are predicted using the industrial source complex long-term model, version 3 (ISC3LT). Appendix G contains a more detailed discussion of compliance and BACT demonstration.

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3.4.1.3. Emissions Sources in the General Analysis Area
Air quality conditions in rural areas are typically better than in large, urban, or heavily industrialized areas. The northern PRB is a semi-industrial area containing six surface coal mines, multiple power plants, numerous natural gas wells and conventional oil and gas wells, and supporting rail and road infrastructure. Occasional high concentrations of CO, ozone, and particulate matter may occur in this region as well as in the urban areas of Gillette, Sheridan, and Buffalo, especially under stable atmospheric conditions that occur during winter. The major types of emissions that come from surface coal mining activities are in the form of fugitive dust and tailpipe emissions from large mining equipment. Activities such as blasting, excavating, loading and hauling overburden and coal, and the large areas of disturbed land produce fugitive dust. Stationary or point sources are associated with coal crushing, storage, and handling facilities. In general, PM10 particulate matter is the major pollutant from coal mine point and fugitive sources. Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from blasting and mining equipment exhaust can also be present, particularly at the larger surface mines in the southern PRB. As discussed in appendix G, NO2 is a product of incomplete combustion at sources such as gasoline- and diesel-burning engines or from mine blasting activities. Generally, blasting-related NOx emissions are more prevalent at operations that use the technique referred to as cast blasting (Chancellor pers. comm.). This describes a type of direct blasting in which the explosion is designed to cast the overburden from on top of the coal into the previously mined area. The Buckskin mine does not use this technique and does not anticipate doing so in the future. The higher strip ratios (ratio of overburden to coal) at Buckskin do not lend themselves to dragline excavation, with which cast blasting is commonly associated. Concentrations of the six criteria pollutants in the PRB and applicable standards are shown in table 3.4-1. Non-mining air pollutant emission sources in the region include:  emissions exhaust (primarily CO and NOx) from existing natural-gas-fired compressor engines used in production of natural gas and CBNG;  gasoline and diesel vehicle tailpipe emissions of combustion pollutants, volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide (CO2), NOx, PM10 particulate matter, PM2.5 particulate matter, and SO2;  dust (particulate matter) generated by vehicle travel on unpaved graded roads, windblown dust from neighboring areas, agricultural activities such as plowing, and paved road sanding during the winter months;  transport of air pollutants from emission sources located outside the region;  emissions from railroad locomotives used to haul coal (primarily NO2 and PM10); and  SO2 and NOx from power plants.

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Table 3.4-1.
Criteria Pollutant
Carbon monoxide Nitrogen dioxide Ozone Sulfur dioxide

Assumed Background Air Pollutant Concentrations, Applicable AAQS, and PSD Increment Values (in µg/m3)
Averaging Timea
1-hour 8-hour Annual 1-hour 8-hour 1-hour 3-hour 24-hour Annual 24-hour Annual 24-hour Annual

Background Concentration
3,336d 1,381 5e 16e 134f 162g 181g 62g 13g 54i 13i 13j 4j

Primary NAAQSb
40,000 10,000 100 187 147 200 — 365 80 150 — 35 15

Secondary NAAQSb
40,000 10,000 100 — 147 — 1,300 — — 150 — 35 15

WAAQS
40,000 10,000 100 — 147 — 1,300 260 60 150 50 65 15

PSD Class I Incrementsc
— — 2.5 — — — 25 5 2 8 4 — —

PSD Class II Incrementsc
— — 25 — — — 512 91 20 30 17 — —

PM10h PM2.5h

µg/m3 = micrograms per cubic meter; NAAQS = National Ambient Air Quality Standards; WAAQS = Wyoming Ambient Air Quality Standards a Annual standards are not to be exceeded; short-term standards are not to be exceeded more than once per year. b Primary standards are designed to protect public health; secondary standards are designed to protect public welfare. c All NEPA analysis comparisons to the PSD increments are intended to evaluate a threshold of concern and do not represent a regulatory PSD Increment Consumption Analysis. d Data collected by Amoco at Ryckman Creek for an eight-month period during 1978-1979, summarized in Riley Ridge EIS (BLM 1983). e Data collected at Thunder Basin National Grassland, Campbell County, Wyoming in 2002. f Data collected at Thunder Basin National Grassland, Campbell County, Wyoming in 2005-2009 (fourth highest daily 8-hour high). g Data collected by Black Hills Power & Light at Wygen 2, Campbell County, Wyoming in 2002. h On October 17, 2006, EPA published final revisions to the NAAQS for particulate matter that took effect on December 18, 2006. The revision strengthens the 24-hour PM2.5 standard from 65 to 35 µg/m3 and revokes the annual PM10 standard of 50 µg/m3. The State of Wyoming will enter into rulemaking to revise the WAAQS. i Data collected at the Eagle Butte Mine, Campbell County, Wyoming in 2002. j Data collected at the Buckskin Mine in 2002. Source: Task 1A Report (BLM 2005c); EPA AQS Database (2002a and b, 2005a, 2006a, 2007a, 2008a, 2009a).

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

3.4.2.

Particulate Emissions

3.4.2.1. Affected Environment
Particulates include solid particles and liquid droplets that can be suspended in air. Particulates, especially fine particulates such as PM2.5, have been linked to numerous respiratory related illnesses and can adversely affect individuals with pre-existing heart or lung diseases. They are also a major cause of visibility impairment in many parts of the United States. While individual particles cannot be seen with the naked eye, collectively they can appear as black soot, dust clouds, or gray hazes. The current (since December 2006) EPA 24-hour air quality standard for PM2.5 is 35 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), a reduction from the previous level of 65 µg/m3. The current annual PM2.5 standard is 15 µg/m3. The current 24-hour standard for PM10 particulates is 150 µg/m3. The annual PM10 standard of 50 µg/m3 was revoked during the EPA revisions of air quality standards in 2006. In view of the December 2006 revisions to the NAAQS for particulate matter, the State of Wyoming entered into rulemaking to revise the WAAQS for particulate matter so that they remain as stringent as or more stringent than the NAAQS. Current federal ambient air standards for all six criteria pollutants are shown in table 3.4-1, including those for current PM10 and PM2.5 standards in Wyoming. Additional information on the history of this process is provided in appendix G. The PRB has one of the most extensive networks of monitoring sites for PM10 in the United States; most of these monitoring sites are funded and operated by the coal mines. The WDEQ requires that such information is collected to document the quality of the air resource at each of the PRB mines. According to EPA AirData, 36 PM10 monitors, 6 PM2.5 monitors, and 6 total suspended particulates (TSP) monitors were stationed in the Wyoming portion of the PRB in 2007. Data for TSP and PM10 date back to 1980 and 1989, respectively. Approximately 57,000 TSP samples were collected through 2004, and approximately 47,550 PM10 samples through 2007. Information about the regulatory framework, the monitoring network, and PM10 concentration trends since monitoring began are included in appendix G. Existing site-specific air quality information is included in the Air Quality Data Report, which can be viewed at the BLM High Plains District Office in Casper, Wyoming. The Buckskin Mine ambient monitoring network consists of two low-volume Rupprecht & Patashnick Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance (TEOM) PM10 particulate continuous monitors. The monitors were installed in late October 2000 to replace two high-volume TSP monitors located at the same sites. The continuous monitors collect uninterrupted, hourly average concentrations for particulate matter. The TEOM monitors meet the EPA Automated Equivalency Method (EQSA-0495-100). The particulate and meteorological monitoring network is operated in accordance with the Buckskin Mine Quality Assurance Project Plan (Buckskin Mining Company 2001), which was updated in 2008. Although they are no longer used at the Buckskin Mine, TSP monitoring is still conducted in some PRB locations, in part to serve as an indication of overall atmospheric levels of particulate matter.

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The former high-volume air quality monitors at Buckskin sampled TSP every six days for a 24-hour cycle. The continuous TEOM monitors in use since 2000 are identified as west TEOM monitor (AQS ID: 0884) and north TEOM monitor (original AQS ID: 0899). In 2008, the north TEOM monitor was moved to a WDEQ approved location just outside the existing Buckskin Mine permit boundary (new AQS ID: 1899). The new site is more representative of ambient air and better positioned to measure both meteorological conditions and air quality impacts from mining. A meteorological station is also located at the new north TEOM monitor site. Current monitor locations are shown on map 3.4-1. Table 3.4-2 provides the annual average, maximum, and second-highest PM10 concentrations for each monitor. These data were collected from 2002 through 2009. Annual coal and overburden production are also presented for reference. Figure 3.4-1 shows coal and overburden production at the Buckskin Mine in relation to average PM10 concentrations over the last eight years. It can be seen that, while overburden production increased dramatically from 2007 through 2009, average PM10 concentrations at both monitoring sites dropped during the same period. This may be attributable to the easing of drought conditions and/or the increased emphasis on dust management at the mine. Results from the Buckskin Mine 24-hour PM10 monitors surpassed the 24-hour annual average standard (150 µg/m3) on only three occasions since monitoring began. On August 16, 2002, the north TEOM monitor recorded a maximum 24-hour PM10 concentration of 191.7 µg/m3. On December 27, 2003, the west TEOM monitor recorded a maximum 24-hour PM10 concentration of 202.4 µg/m3. On March 27, 2007, the north TEOM monitor measured a maximum 24-hour PM10 concentration of 244.0 µg/m3; the west TEOM monitor recorded a maximum of 177.7 µg/m3 the same day. The 2002 and 2007 measurements correlated with strong winds (e.g., more than 33 mph with gusts of 42 mph) and were judged as “exceptional events” by the WDEQ, as provided for by the recently implemented Natural Events Action Plan (NEAP). Therefore, those two overages were not counted as official exceedances by the WDEQ. No extraordinary winds or other weather conditions occurred during the 2003 measurement, and the WDEQ considered that event as an exceedance. In all three cases, the Buckskin Mine followed all mitigation and documentation procedures as required by the NEAP, including submitting detailed reports of the exceedance and accompanying meteorological conditions to the WDEQ.

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North TEOM Monitor and Meteorological Station

14

16

West TEOM Monitor

TEOM (Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance ) PM10 Continuous Monitor Applicant Proposed Tract
0 2,500 feet 5,000

BLM Study Area

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.4-1 Buckskin Mine Ambient Air Monitoring Network

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.4-2.
Year
2002

Buckskin Mine Annual PM10 Monitoring Results and Production (µg/m3)
Quarter
1 2 3 4 Annual

North Average
14.9 20.0 25.1 11.1 17.8 10.9 15.6 29.2 15.1 17.7 14.5 18.7 20.1 13.6 16.7 14.0 16.4 25.3 13.1 17.2

North High
37.5 95.7 181.7 29.3 181.7 35.1 56.3 77.6 47.6 77.6 53.7 116.3 42.3 40.1 116.3 78.5 68.8 60.0 42.2 78.5

North 2nd High
34.1 73.4 71.0 22.6 95.7 29.8 42.7 76.9 40.3 76.9 47.5 41.1 40.2 33.8 53.7 47.0 58.7 51.6 41.3 68.8

West Average
12.9 18.3 21.9 11.5 16.2 10.7 14.2 26.5 18.0 17.4 13.4 16.8 17.7 11.7 14.9 12.7 14.9 24.4 12.3 16.1

West High
34.9 60.9 70.5 25.7 70.5 49.7 41.3 80.1 202.4 202.4 47.3 74.9 38.5 27.7 74.9 48.5 48.5 61.1 57.1 61.1

West 2nd High
30.9 43.4 57.9 23.3 60.9 23.4 39.2 63.0 139.1 139.1 41.4 33.3 33.7 25.6 47.3 30.9 46.6 53.8 32.8 57.1

MM Tons Coal

MM BCY Overburden

18.3

36.5

2003

1 2 3 4 Annual

17.5

31.9

2004

1 2 3 4 Annual

20.3

29.5

2005

1 2 3 4 Annual

19.6

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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.4-2. Continued
Year
2006

Quarter
1 2 3 4 Annual

North Average
13.1 21.7 34.2 16.9 21.5 18.9 20.2 40.2 18.4 24.4 14.9 17.7 38.6 26.3 24.4 18.8 19.2 28.6 18.5 21.3

North High
41.9 72.1 101.4 63.6 101.4 244.0 102.5 107.3 75.6 244.0 81.0 53.0 96.6 91.7 96.6 70.3 67.5 102.2 61.3 102.2

North 2nd High
38.3 60.7 84.7 58.2 84.7 59.9 59.0 84.6 65.9 107.3 66.5 46.9 82.2 78.7 91.7 66.3 62.4 81.2 58.3 81.2

West Average
14.7 19.0 28.5 14.1 19.1 17.0 19.6 31.1 13.6 20.3 13.3 15.8 25.8 16.2 17.8 10.7 13.4 23.0 12.7 15.0

West High
54.1 58.6 63.7 39.0 63.7 177.7 75.3 72.5 53.7 177.7 58.8 46.1 60.1 77.5 77.5 37.0 30.6 50.6 65.9 65.9

West 2nd High
47.2 49.6 58.5 34.5 58.6 62.9 54.5 68.9 42.8 75.3 47.4 28.6 50.8 55.7 60.1 28.2 30.1 45.5 57.5 57.5

MM Tons Coal

MM BCY Overburden

22.8

27.1

2007

1 2 3 4 Annual

25.3

31.7

2008

1 2 3 4 Annual

26.1

50.8

2009

1 2 3 4 Annual

25.4

60.9

MM tons = million tons; MM BCY= million bank cubic yards

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Coal removal (million tons) Overburden removal (million bank cubic yards) North TEOM Monitor

30

Million Tons or Million Bank Cubic Yards

60

West TEOM Monitor

25

50
Annual Average PM10 (μg/m3)

20

40 15 30

10 20

5 10

0 2002 2003 2004 2005 Year 2006 2007 2008 2009

0

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Figure 3.4-1 Buckskin PM10 Monitoring History

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

The northern group of mines consists of five mines in addition to Buckskin: Dry Fork, Eagle Butte, Fort Union, Rawhide, and Wyodak. All of the mines, with the exception of Fort Union, operate in accordance with a Quality Assurance Project Plan specific to each mine. The Fort Union Mine has not been in operation for the last several years. Table 3.4-3 summarizes results from monitors in operation at these mines from 2002 through 2009. The maximum and second maximum annual PM10 results are also presented.

Table 3.4-3.
Mine Year
2002

Northern PRB Mines: 24-Hour PM10 Monitoring Results by Year (µg/m3)
Dry Fork (DF) DF-1 / DF-2a
85 79 96 95 73 70 113 107 112 103 109 101 31 27 28 26

Eagle Butte (EB) EB-2
143 66 65 61 62 61 60 53 73 60 168b 65 60 67 64 49

Rawhide Hilltop (TEOM)
N/A N/A N/A N/A 61 39 76 70 72 72 107 101 104 91 84 72

Wyodak Site 1
52 48 52 50 79 62 129 69 96 71 143 100 91 83 101 91

Sampler
Maximum 24-hr 2nd Highest 24-hr

DF-3N & 3M
49 34 45 33 25 24 29 27 68 44 44 40 28 28 24 23

EB-5
54 36 47 34 40 33 49 48 47 46 41 39 49 41 26 22

EB-3N & 3S
74 66 76 76 66 64 115 85 99 93 144 139 91 82 61 58

North (TEOM)
N/A N/A N/A N/A 43 42 61 59 78 75 178b 84 66 65 10 69

Site 4 (TEOM)
N/A N/A N/A N/A 131 92 165b 126 143 95 129 122 123 103 96 72

2003

Maximum 24-hr 2nd Highest 24-hr

2004

Maximum 24-hr 2nd Highest 24-hr

2005

Maximum 24-hr 2nd Highest 24-hr

2006

Maximum 24-hr 2nd Highest 24-hr

2007

Maximum 24-hr 2nd Highest 24-hr

2008

Maximum 24-hr 2nd Highest 24-hr

2009

Maximum 24-hr 2nd Highest 24-hr

µg/m3 = micrograms per cubic meter; N/A = Sampler not installed; TEOM = Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance
a b

TSP sampler DF-2 replaced PM10 sampler DF-1 in 2008. Exceeded 24-hour standard of 150 µg/m3; WDEQ deemed all to be Exceptional Events due to high winds.

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Collectively, the five other mines in the northern group exceeded the 24-hour PM10 NAAQS annual average of 150 µg/m3 on only three occasions during the last eight years (2002 through 2009). In 2005, the Wyodak Mine recorded a value of 165 µg/m3. In 2007, the Eagle Butte and Rawhide mines recorded 168 µg/m3 and 178 µg/m3, respectively. All three values were deemed “exceptional events” by the WDEQ due to high winds. The WDEQ requires that surface mine permits compile detailed emissions inventories and demonstrate compliance with NAAQS before permit amendments are granted. A BACT analysis is also required to demonstrate the use of “best available technology” in controlling point and fugitive PM10 emissions. In 2006, the Buckskin Mine submitted detailed PM10 modeling analyses to the WDEQ in support of a request for a permit modification. The PM2.5 standard was not enforced by Wyoming when this permit amendment application was submitted, nor is it currently applied to modeling of surface mine emissions. In addition, the old TSP standard has not been part of the state’s monitoring requirements for more than 10 years (appendix G). Therefore, any discussion of particulate modeling in Wyoming is confined to PM10 emissions. The permit revision request addressed the impacts associated with a proposed production increase to its current permitted level of 42 million tons per year and proposed improvements to mine facilities. These analyses considered all PM10 emission sources and included the neighboring Eagle Butte, Rawhide, Dry Fork, Wyodak, and Fort Union mines. The WDEQ approved the mine modification in Permit MD-1379, issued January 17, 2007. In its assessment of the modeling process, the agency noted that “…the applicant’s dispersion modeling analyses were conducted using EPA-approved models and methodologies, and the Division has reviewed and verified the source parameters, default settings, and related modeling inputs used in the applicant’s modeling analyses. Through the required dispersion modeling analyses, the applicant has successfully demonstrated to the Division that all applicable air quality standards will be attained if the proposed changes in the applicant’s mine plan and mining operations are approved” (WDEQ 2006). Based on WDEQ approval of this permit modification, Buckskin is not aware of any significant technical or modeling issues. The maximum modeled impact from Buckskin and neighboring mines (including background) is about 80% of the NAAQS. The modeling analysis demonstrated that emissions from the permitted production level of 42 million tons per year would not cause or significantly contribute to exceedances of the NAAQS annual average. Buckskin’s current average production level of 25 million tons per year is expected to continue under the action alternatives considered in this EIS. A detailed description of the modeling process for this analysis is provided in appendix G. As indicated, the recent modeling analysis was conducted for a maximum coal production rate of 42 million tons per year. Mining years 2011 and 2012 were selected as the projected “worst-case” based on Buckskin-specific and regional life-of-mine emission inventories for PM10 and NOx. The highest model-predicted PM10 impact from Buckskin and neighboring mines during either year was 40.4 µg/m3 (including a background concentration of 12 µg/m3) compared to the annual WAAQS of 50 µg/m3. Moreover, at the model receptor with highest predicted
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3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

cumulative impact, Buckskin’s contribution was less than 1 µg/m3. The maximum predicted contribution from Buckskin at any receptor was 16 µg/m3. Given that the highest prediction for either worst-case year falls below the annual PM10 WAAQS, that standard is expected to be met throughout the life of the mine. Map 3.4-2 shows the modeled PM10 and NO2 impacts at receptors located along the permitted Buckskin Mine boundary for 2011. Map 3.4-3 shows the same parameters for 2012. Both maps also depict the area sources used to model fugitive emissions. In addition to these modeling analyses, the Buckskin Mine also prepared a demonstration of short-term compliance with the 24-hour PM10 standard based on results from a single monitoring cycle as part of the 2006 air quality permit modification request. According to WDEQ policy (appendix G), a modeling analysis for short-term data was not required or conducted because the model tends to significantly over-predict 24-hour impacts of surface coal mines, and the agency therefore considers it to be an inaccurate representation of those impacts. Instead, the short-term compliance analysis focused on historical monitoring data and continuing employment of BACT on mine-wide emissions. That analysis again concluded that the 24-hour PM10 WAAQS would be protected throughout the life of the mine. Fugitive emissions are the greatest emission source for surface coal mines in the Wyoming PRB. Such sources do not count against the PSD major source applicability threshold for incremental increases in criteria pollutants. Therefore, Buckskin and the other Wyoming PRB coal mines have not been subject to permitting under the PSD regulations because the mine emissions that are subject to PSD applicability levels fall below the allowable thresholds. Additional information regarding PSD requirements is provided in appendix G. Based on permits in place in the baseline year of 1997, when the CAA Amendments were enacted, only some fraction of the mine emissions included in the WDEQ air quality permit analyses contributes to the allowable increase (increment) in criteria pollutants in the region. Therefore, the concentrations predicted by the WDEQ air quality permit analyses should not be compared to PSD increments.

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14

16

NO2 = 35.6

Maximum Concentration Model Receptors on LNCM Boundary Existing Buckskin Mine Permit Boundary 2011 Model Area Sources Applicant Proposed Tract 0 2,500 feet General Analysis Area 5,000 BLM Study Area

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.4-2 2011 Maximum Modeled PM10 and NO2 Concentrations for Buckskin Mine Ambient Air Boundary

Maximum Concentration Model Receptors on LNCM Boundary Existing Buckskin Mine Permit Boundary 2011 Model Area Sources Applicant Proposed Tract BLM Study Area General Analysis Area

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.4-3 2012 Maximum Modeled PM10 and NO2 Concentrations for Buckskin Mine Ambient Air Boundary

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

3.4.2.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and support area (241 acres) would have a moderate, short-term impact on particulate emissions. This alternative would have a minor, short-term impact on exposure risks for travelers on public roads and occupied residences nearest the proposed tract and support area. The potential for human health impacts as a result of such exposure would be minor and short-term in these areas. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have a moderate, short-term impact on particulate emissions. Activities in the overlap area would have a minor, short-term impact on exposure risks for travelers on public roads and for most occupied residences and a moderate, short-term impact for one occupied residence; potential human health impacts would be minor and short-term. Under this action alternative, production would continue at the existing average annual rate of 25 million tons. Because PM10 exceedances were not forecast under the existing permit for 42 million tons per year, no exceedances are anticipated under this alternative at the lower production rate. As stated above, the PM2.5 standard is not currently applied to modeling of surface mine emissions. Ongoing sources of particulate emissions would continue as a result of mining the proposed tract, but would not be expected to increase on an annual basis Kiewit has no plans to change existing blasting procedures or sizes (section 1.1.3.3) when mining the proposed tract. Current BACT measures (section 3.4.2.3) for particulates would be employed. Coal haul rates and distances would not change significantly from current permitted levels, and all unpaved mine roads would continue to be treated for dust suppression. Currently, no occupied residences are located within the proposed tract or support area (maps 3.4-4A and 3.4-4B).the highway is more than 1 mile away from these areas and the closest occupied dwelling is more than 0.5 mile from the proposed tract. The support area would be adjacent to approximately 0.6 mile of the Collins County Road. Activities in the overlap area would be within 0.25 mile of one occupied residence.

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Map 3.4-4A Roads, Highways, Occupied Dwellings, Businesses, and School Bus Stops in the Vicinity of the General Analysis Area

14


16


Map 3.4-4B Enlargement—Roads, Highways, Occupied Dwellings, Businesses, and School Bus Stops in the Vicinity of the General Analysis Area

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts on particulate emissions, risks of exposure, and human health as described for that area under the Proposed Action. As stated above, the PM2.5 standard is not currently applied to modeling of surface mine emissions. Production would continue at the existing average annual rate of 25 million tons. Because PM10 exceedances were not forecast under the existing permit for 42 million tons per year, no exceedances are anticipated under this alternative. The highway and county roads average 0.5 mile from the overlap area, though the McGee County Road parallels that area for a few hundred. Currently, no occupied residences are located in the overlap area; the nearest occupied dwelling is approximately 0.25 mile to the northwest and on the far side of the county road (maps 3.4-4A and 3.4-4B). Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, surface coal mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and support area (926 acres) would have a moderate, short-term impact on particulate emissions. This alternative would have a minor to moderate, short-term impact on exposure risks for travelers on public roads and occupied residences nearest the BLM study area and support area. Potential human health impacts from such exposure would be minor to moderate and short-term. Alternative 2 would have a substantial, short-term impact on one occupied residence within the general analysis area. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have a moderate, short-term impact on particulate emissions. These activities would have a minor, short-term impact on exposure risks for travelers on public roads and for most occupied residences and a moderate, short-term impact for one occupied residence. Production rates, exceedance projections, and application of PM2.5 under this alternative would be the same as under the Proposed Action. Ongoing sources of particulate emissions would continue, but would not be expected to increase on an annual basis. Details provided under the Proposed Action regarding blasting procedures and sizes, BACT measures, coal haul rates and distances, dust suppression, and modeled impacts and exceedances would be the same for this alternative. Currently, one occupied residence is located in the general analysis area (maps 3.4-4A and 3.4-4B). This residence is less than 0.25 mile from mining activities under existing mine operations. Therefore, this would not be a new impact under Alternative 2.

3.4.2.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring
Before any mining could begin under the action alternatives, Buckskin would need an air quality permit modification from the WDEQ and would need to conduct new air quality modeling in support of that application demonstrating ongoing compliance with all applicable ambient standards. Control of point and fugitive sources of particulates and emissions at all PRB coal

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mines is accomplished with a variety of measures described in section 1.1.3.3. For example, emissions at coal crushing, storage, and handling facilities (point sources) are controlled with baghouse dust collection systems, passive enclosure controls, or atomizers/foggers. These are all considered BACTs by the WDEQ. Fugitive emissions are also controlled with a variety of other BACT measures. For example, the mine access road has been paved and water trucks are used to apply water and chemical dust suppressants on all haul roads used by trucks and/or scrapers. Haul truck speed limits are imposed to further help reduce fugitive emissions from roads. Material drop heights for loaders (shovels, backhoes, front-end loaders) and draglines (bucket to truck bed or backfill) are limited to the minimum necessary to conduct the mining operations. Timely revegetation of disturbed areas is used to minimize wind erosion. Fugitive emissions from the coal truck dumps are controlled with stilling sheds. All of these control measures are employed at the Buckskin Mine, including the following additional mining practices and equipment.  Scoria is distributed on haul roads to further reduce fugitive dust; scoria is comprised of baked and fused rock resulting from natural in-place burning of coal deposits.  Operating baghouses are inspected daily and observed malfunctions are immediately corrected.  Storage silos and loadout silos are used to contain coal awaiting shipment from the Buckskin Mine coal preparation plant.  A retractable chute minimizes drop height when loading rail cars.  Windrows are bladed in pit advance areas that have been stripped of topsoil.  Topsoil stockpiles and sediment-control structures are seeded immediately.  Coal fires are promptly extinguished. The WDEQ is continually reviewing the data and considering regulatory options, such as increasing the frequency of monitoring. Continuous PM10 monitoring is now required at many PRB mines, including Buckskin. Other regulatory options may include enforcement actions such as notices of violation resulting in a consent decree and/or modified permit conditions. The WDEQ is also coordinating with the EPA to develop additional monitoring requirements in CBNG development areas, high PM10 mitigation action plans in permits, and additional mitigation measures under the SIP. In April 2006, the WDEQ in a joint effort with PRB mining stakeholders developed a detailed NEAP for the coal mines of Campbell and Converse counties, Wyoming. The NEAP was developed under the framework afforded by the EPA’s Natural Events Policy of May 30, 1996. Buckskin is complying with the NEAP developed jointly by the WDEQ and the PRB coal operators. The NEAP recognizes that certain NAAQS exceedances due to natural events are uncontrollable. While all practical mitigation measures need be implemented during those events, exceedances

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attributable to natural events should not be considered against the NAAQS attainment designation for the region. Specific NEAP goals include:  Provide for the protection of public health.  Develop a public information program.  Provide a mechanism for “flagging” exceedances due to uncontrollable natural events.  Implement best available control measures and reasonably available control measures based on the severity of the event.  Provide a mechanism for excluding flagged data when they meet specific wind speed criteria and best available and reasonably available control measures are in place. The PRB mining operators had already implemented these measures for several years when formal approval of the NEAP was received from EPA Region VIII in 2007. While the basinwide NEAP was developed to address exceedances of the 24-hour PM10 standard that are attributable to high wind events, additional procedures have been formalized at each mine to address potential exceedances. Buckskin has in place mitigation procedures and an action plan to avoid exceedances of the 24-hour ambient air quality standard at the two continuous particulate (PM10) monitoring systems. The recording of high particulate readings automatically triggers an alarm, which invokes certain actions by Buckskin personnel to address the high readings. This procedure and the specific actions to be taken are detailed in Buckskin’s TEOM Action Plan, as approved by the WDEQ. That action plan is included in the Air Quality Data Report, which can be viewed at the High Plains District office of the BLM in Casper, Wyoming. Through the end of 2001, at minimum, each mine monitored air quality for a 24-hour period every six days at multiple monitoring sites. More recently, monitoring has occurred at active mines for a 24-hour period every three days, with some mines (including Buckskin) conducting continuous monitoring. Numerous monitors are also located in Sheridan, Gillette, Arvada, and Wright, Wyoming. The extensive air quality monitoring network currently in use enables the WDEQ to manage the air resource using monitoring data rather than modeled predictions. The agency also uses monitoring stations located elsewhere in the state to anticipate issues related to air quality throughout Wyoming. These monitoring stations are located to measure ambient air quality rather than impacts from a specific source. Monitors located to measure impacts from a specific source may be used to establish trends. These data are used to proactively arrest or reverse trends towards air quality problems. When the WDEQ became aware that particulate readings in the PRB were increasing due to increased CBNG activity and prolonged drought, the agency approached the counties, coal mines, and CBNG industry. A coalition involving those entities has made significant efforts towards minimizing dust from graded roads. Measures taken have ranged from implementing speed limits to paving heavily traveled roads. As a participant in this program, the Buckskin Mine has
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periodically applied magnesium chloride to two county roads (the Collins Road and the McGee Road) and a secondary access road. All of these measures are believed to have reduced the impacts of nearby, non-mining activity on Buckskin’s monitors. Monitoring is also used to measure compliance. When monitoring shows that any standard has been violated, the WDEQ can take a range of enforcement actions to remedy the situation. Where a standard is exceeded specific to an operation, the enforcement action is specific to the facility. For many facilities, neither the cause nor the solution is simple. The agency normally uses a negotiated settlement in those instances.

3.4.3.

Emissions of Nitrogen Oxides and Ozone

3.4.3.1. Affected Environment
Gases that contain nitrogen and oxygen in varying amounts are referred to as nitrogen oxides, or NOx. One type of NOx is NO2, a reddish-brown gas that is heavier than air and has a pungent odor. NO2 is by far the most toxic of this group and can combine with atmospheric moisture to form nitric acid and nitric oxide. Because several NOx species can be chemically converted to NO2 in the atmosphere, NO2 emissions control is focused on all NOx gases, while the ambient standard is expressed in terms of NO2. NOx forms when fuel is burned at high temperatures either naturally or by human activities. The primary direct source of NOx emissions during coal mining operations is tailpipe emissions from mining equipment and other vehicle traffic inside the mine permit area. Blasting that is done to remove overburden can result in emissions of several products, including NO2, because of the incomplete combustion of explosives used in the blasting process. When this occurs, gaseous, orange-colored clouds may be formed, and they can drift or be blown off mine permit areas. The rate of release is not well known but is believed to depend on a wide number of factors which include, but are not necessarily limited to: downhole confinement; downhole moisture; type/blend of ammonium nitrate, fuel oil, and emulsion; and detonation velocity. Various compounds and derivatives in the NOx family, including NO2, nitric acid, nitrous oxide (N2O), nitrates, and nitric oxide, may cause a wide variety of health and environmental impacts. According to the EPA (2007b), the following are the main causes of concern with respect to NOx:  It is one of the main precursors involved in the formation of ground-level ozone, which can trigger serious respiratory problems.  It reacts to form nitrate particles, acid aerosols, as well as NO2, which also cause respiratory problems; and affects air quality related values (AQRVs) of visibility and deposition.  It contributes to the formation of acid rain.  It contributes to nutrient overload that deteriorates water quality.

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 It contributes to atmospheric particles that cause visibility impairment, most noticeably in national parks.  It reacts to form toxic chemicals.  N2O is a greenhouse gas (GHG) that contributes to climate change.  It can be transported over long distances. 
 That agency also associates the following severe health risks specifically with NO2 (EPA 2001a): 
  It may cause significant toxicity because of its ability to form nitric acid with water in the eye, lung, mucous membranes, and skin.  Acute exposure may cause death by damaging the pulmonary system.  Chronic or repeated exposure to lower concentrations of NO2 may exacerbate pre-existing respiratory conditions, or increase the incidence of respiratory infections. Potential health risks associated with inhalation of ground-level ozone and NOx related particles include acute respiratory problems, aggravated asthma, decreases in lung capacity in some healthy adults, inflammation of lung tissue, respiratory-related hospital admissions and emergency room visits, and increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, including bronchitis and pneumonia (EPA 2007c). Adjacent landowners to the north of the Buckskin Mine have contacted and met with mine personnel on various occasions regarding their concerns about smoke from coal fires at the mine, NO2, and dust. The landowners and mine representatives are actively working to resolve those issues. The landowners have expressed similar concerns to the WDEQ. Nevertheless, WDEQ the agency has not required Buckskin to implement any specific measures to control or limit public exposure to NO2 from blasting, such as restrictions regarding blasting size, setbacks, or other parameters. Although no NAAQS or WAAQS regulate short-term NO2 levels, concern does exist about the potential health risk associated with short-term exposure to NO2 from blasting emissions. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (NIOSH 2005), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the EPA have identified the following short-term exposure criteria for NO2:  NIOSH’s recommended “immediately dangerous to life and health” level is 20.0 parts per million (37,600 µg/m3).  EPA’s “significant harm” level, a 1-hour average, is 2.0 parts per million (3,760 µg/m3).  OSHA’s “short-term exposure limit,” a 15-minute time weighted average, which was developed for workers, is 5.0 parts per million (9,400 µg/m3, which must not be exceeded during any part of the workday, as measured instantaneously).  NIOSH’s recommendation for workers is a limit of 1.0 parts per million (1,880 µg/m3) based on a 15-minute exposure that should not be exceeded at any time during the workday.  EPA recommends that concentrations not exceed 0.5 parts per million (940 µg/m3) for a 10-minute exposure to protect sensitive members of the public (EPA 2003a).
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A study conducted by Dr. Edward Faeder for the Black Thunder Mine recommended a limit of 5.0 parts per million (9,400 µg/m3) for a 10-minute exposure. According to the EPA, “The exact concentrations at which NO2 will cause various health effects cannot be predicted with complete accuracy because the effects are a function of air concentration and time of exposure, and precise measurements have not been made in association with human toxicity. The information that is available from human exposures also suggests that there is some variation in individual response” (EPA 2001a). Many mines in the PRB have implemented procedures aimed at reducing the amount of NOx, particularly NO2, released from the incomplete combustion of blasting agents; blasting NOx is most often associated with cast blasting, which is used at larger mines with dragline operations. Because blast clouds are of a short-term, transient nature, the level of short-term exposure deemed to be “safe” is unknown. While this issue remains the subject of great debate, it should be noted that neither the EPA nor WDEQ has established NAAQS for NO2 for averaging times shorter than one year. Despite extensive expert testimony provided to the Wyoming Environmental Quality Commission during hearings conducted in 2002 that argued for the establishment of a de facto “standard” ranging from 0.5 to 5.0 parts per million for a 10-minute exposure, the agency determined that insufficient evidence was available to establish a short-term exposure limit and concluded that additional study was required. On the order of the Director of the WDEQ, members of the mining industry in the PRB conducted a comprehensive, multi-year monitoring and modeling study of NO2 exposures from blast clouds. Based on results from that study (Thunder Basin Coal Company 2002) and supplemental data collected at the Buckskin Mine and elsewhere in the PRB, a series of “safe” setback curves for coal, overburden, and cast shots for various wind speed classes was derived from the sampled data, conservative projections of concentrations at greater/lesser distances than measured, and an assumed safe level (based on a comprehensive review of available health effects data) of 5.0 parts per million for 10 minutes. Appendix F provides additional details about this study and the data collection process. Thus, while disagreement still exists regarding acceptable exposure levels, a large amount of actual data is now available from which informed decisions can be made regarding blasting practices. Regardless of the outcome of the debate on the allowable exposure level, the data show clearly that reduction in blast size and increases in setback distances are effective methods for mitigating the frequency and extent of public exposures. Public exposure to emissions caused by surface mining operations is most likely to occur along public roads and highways that pass through the area of the mining operations. Occupants of dwellings in the area could also be affected. Sources of fugitive NOx emissions at the Buckskin Mine include the tailpipe emissions from the mining equipment, emissions from the trains used to haul the coal from the mine, and blasting the overburden and coal to facilitate excavation. As described in section 1.1.3.3, the Buckskin Mine does not use cast blasts to move overburden, though other blasting techniques are used in this process. Although all blasting methods have

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some potential for NOx emissions, cast blasts are the most likely source. No NOx point sources occur at the mine. The WDEQ has determined that an assessment of annual NOx impacts must be included as part of an air quality permitting analysis for new surface coal mines and existing mine plan revisions. The potential NOx emissions related to mining operations at the existing Buckskin Mine are described in the air quality permit application submitted to the WDEQ in June 2006; the purpose of the permit revision request was described in section 3.4.2.1. NOx modeling was conducted in support of that June 2006 air permit application. Mining sources of NOx were modeled as fugitive emissions from the areas where mining activities were projected to occur at Buckskin and the other five mines in the northern PRB. These included the overburden and coal blasting emissions, mobile emissions, and stationary emissions described in section 3.4.1.3. Regional sources of NOx were also modeled, including local power plants, gas compressor stations, railroads, highways, and the City of Gillette. Individual and combined impacts from Buckskin, the other northern mines, and regional sources were evaluated at all model receptors. These receptors were placed around the perimeter of the northern group of mines and outward in a rectangular grid with 500-meter spacing. The extent of the receptor grid was sufficient to encompass the area of significant NOx impact from the Buckskin Mine (1.0 µg/m3 or more). NO2 impacts were derived by multiplying modeled NOx concentrations by 75% and adding a background NO2 concentration of 14 µg/m3. This approach followed 40 CFR Part 51, section 6.2.3, appendix W of the EPA’s Guideline on Air Quality Models. The background NO2 concentration was based on WDEQ guidance and ambient NOx monitoring results at the Foundation Coal’s Belle Ayr Mine in 2001 and 2002; that mine is approximately 20 miles southeast of the Buckskin Mine. Additional descriptions of the modeling process for this analysis is provided in appendix G. Maximum annual NO2 impacts (including regional sources and background concentration) at any model receptor of 38.0 µg/m3 and 37.8 µg/m3 were predicted in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Both of those values were considerably lower than the annual NO2 NAAQS of 100 µg/m3. At the model receptor where these predicted maximum values were calculated, Buckskin’s contributions were estimated at 1.6 µg/m3 in 2011 and 1.8 µg/m3 in 2012. This receptor is located in an area affected primarily by neighboring mines. A background NO2 concentration of 14 µg/m3 was assumed based on WDEQ guidance and ambient NOx monitoring results at the Belle Ayr Mine in 2001 and 2002. Maps 3.4-2 and 3.4-3 show maximum modeled impacts at the Buckskin Mine boundary receptors of 35.6 µg/m3 and 35.7 µg/m3 in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Because modeled impacts from the worst-case years fall well below the NAAQS, the NO2 NAAQS will be protected throughout the life of the mine. Ozone is a regulated air pollutant that can cause respiratory health effects in people with chronic respiratory problems. Ozone develops in the atmosphere as a result of other pollutants, such as NOx and volatile organic compounds (VOC) – called precursors. In March 2008, the EPA promulgated a revised NAAQS for ozone (75 FR 11). The ozone standard was lowered from
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80 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion based on the fourth highest 8-hour average value per year at a site, averaged over three years. On January 6, 2010, the EPA proposed to strengthen the ozone standard by lowering the primary 8-hour standard to somewhere between 60 and 70 parts per billion (75 FR 11). The final standard is expected in mid-2011. Ozone readings have occasionally exceeded the current standard of 75 parts per billion at the Thunder Basin air monitoring site in Campbell County. Violations of the standard have occurred in the Upper Green River Basin (UGRB) of Wyoming where certain conditions promote ozone formation. As a result of the violations of the ozone standard in that region, former Governor Freudenthal submitted a recommendation to the EPA on March 12, 2009 that the agency should designate the UGRB as an ozone nonattainment area. The northern PRB is still considered an ozone attainment area. Table 3.4-4 shows maximum, mean, and fourth highest daily 8-hour high averages for the last five years at a monitor located 20 miles northeast of the Buckskin Mine. While no violations occurred, it is apparent that ambient air in the project area is close to the ozone NAAQS, which applies to the fourth highest daily 8-hour high. This may reflect increased oil and gas activities in the area, increased coal mining in the PRB, ozone transport from other regions such as the UGRB, or a combination of these factors.

Table 3.4-4. 	 Thunder Basin National Grassland Average Ozone Monitoring Results (Parts per Billion) for Last Five Years
Year
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
a b

Maximum Daily 8-Hour High
68 75 81 78 71

Mean Daily 8-Hour High
42 45 44 49 47

Fourth Highest Daily 8-Hour Higha
63 72 72 74 62

NAAQSb
75 75 75 75 75

NAAQS = National Ambient Air Quality Standards Ambient air value used for comparisons with NAAQS Based on 8-hour rolling average.

Source: 75 FR 11.

It is evident from Table 3.4-4 that such lowering of the standard as proposed by the EPA would potentially trigger non-attainment status for ozone in the northern PRB. The impact of nonattainment status on surface coal mines in the PRB is currently unclear. It would likely require any coal mine seeking a new or renewed air quality permit from the WDEQ to demonstrate that ozone precursor emissions (NOx and VOC) will not increase as a result. Because Kiewit has no plans to increase production levels at the Buckskin Mine under the Proposed Action, such a demonstration can be made.

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3.4.3.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and support area (241 acres) would have a minor to moderate, short-term impact on NOx emissions. This alternative would have a minor to substantial, short-term impact on exposure risks for travelers on public roads and occupied residences nearest the proposed tract and support area, depending on their distance from emissions sources. The potential for human health impacts from such exposure would be minor and short-term in these areas. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have a moderate, short-term impact on NOx emissions. Activities in the overlap area would have a minor, short-term impact on exposure risks for travelers on public roads and for most occupied residences and a moderate, short-term impact for one occupied residence; potential human health impacts would be minor and short-term. Production would continue at the existing average annual rate of 25 million tons. Because NOx exceedances were not forecast under the existing permit for 42 million tons per year, no exceedances are anticipated under this alternative. Ongoing sources of short-term NOx emissions would continue as a result of mining the proposed tract, but would not be expected to increase on an annual basis. Because the Buckskin Mine does not plan to increase production levels under the Proposed Action, a demonstration that ozone precursor emissions (NOx and VOC) will not exceed pending changes to the primary ozone standard cannot be made. Kiewit has no plans to change blasting procedures or sizes (section 1.1.3.3) when mining the proposed tract, but is committed to working with adjacent landowners to address concerns when they arise. Current control and notification measures for NOx emissions (section 3.4.3.3) would be modified to the extent possible to address concerns by adjacent landowners. Currently, no occupied residences are located within the proposed tract or support area (maps 3.4-4A and 3.4-4B). The highway is more than 1 mile away from these areas and the closest dwelling is more than 0.5 mile from the proposed tract. The support area would be adjacent to approximately 0.6 mile of the Collins County Road. Activities in the overlap area would be within 0.25 mile of one occupied residence. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts on NOx emissions, risks of exposure, and human health as described for that area under the Proposed Action. Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Production would continue at the existing average annual rate of 25 million tons. Because NOx exceedances were not forecast under the existing permit for 42 million tons per year, no exceedances are anticipated under this alternative. Ongoing sources of NOx emissions (e.g.,

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vehicles, blasting [not cast-blasting]) would be limited to the overlap area and would be associated with activities necessary to support mining on existing leases. Because the Buckskin Mine does not plan to increase production levels under the Proposed Action, a demonstration that ozone precursor emissions (NOx and VOC) will not exceed pending changes to the primary ozone standard cannot be made. The highway and county roads average 0.5 mile from the overlap area, though the McGee Road parallels that area for a few hundred feet. Currently, no occupied residences are located in the overlap area; the nearest occupied dwelling is approximately 0.25 mile to the northwest and on the far side of the county road (maps 3.4-4A and 3.4-4B). The Buckskin Mine works with adjacent landowners to address concerns when they arise. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, impacts associated with NOx emissions would be the same as those described under the Proposed Action for most circumstances. This alternative would have a substantial, short-term impact on one occupied residence within the general analysis area. Production would continue at the existing average annual rate of 25 million tons. Because NOx exceedances were not forecast under the existing permit for 42 million tons per year, no exceedances are anticipated under this action alternative. Ongoing sources of short-term NOx emissions would continue as a result of mining in up to 1,883 acres of the BLM study area, but would not be expected to increase on an annual basis. Because the Buckskin Mine does not plan to increase production levels under the Proposed Action, a demonstration that ozone precursor emissions (NOx and VOC) will not exceed pending changes to the primary ozone standard cannot be made. Details provided under the Proposed Action regarding blasting procedures and sizes, BACT measures, coal haul rates and distances, dust suppression, and modeled impacts and exceedances would be the same for this alternative. Kiewit has no plans to change its blasting procedures or scale associated with mining in the BLM study area, but is committed to working with adjacent landowners to address concerns when they arise. Current control and notification measures for NOx emissions would be modified to the extent possible to address concerns by adjacent landowners. Currently, one occupied residence is located in the general analysis area (maps 3.4-4A and 3.4-4B). This residence is less than 0.25 mile from mining activities under existing mine operations. Therefore, this would not be a new impact under Alternative 2.

3.4.3.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring
Before any mining of the proposed tract could begin, the Buckskin Mine would need an air quality permit modification from the WDEQ and would need to conduct new air quality modeling in support of that application demonstrating ongoing compliance with all applicable ambient standards. As described in section 3.4.3.2, the WDEQ has received no reports of public exposures to NO2 from blasting activities conducted at the Buckskin Mine; therefore, the agency has not required
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the mine to implement any specific measures to control or limit public exposure to mine emissions. Additionally, the mine does not use cast blasts to move overburden; that is the most common source of the NO2 clouds of greatest concern to local residents. Nevertheless, Buckskin has voluntarily committed to employ a variety of notification and control measures associated with blasting emissions in a good-faith effort to keep the public informed of blasting activities. Several other surface coal mines in the PRB use similar voluntary blasting notification and control measures to avoid NO2 impacts on the public. Voluntary measures that have been instituted at Buckskin (and other mines), particularly when large blasts are planned, include:  notifying neighbors by telephone (both private parties and other mining operations) in the general area of the mine prior to large blasts;  monitoring weather and atmospheric conditions prior to the decision to detonate a large blast;  minimizing blast size to the extent possible;  posting signs on major public roads that enter the general mine area and on all locked gates accessing the active mine area;  closing public roads that enter the general mine area, depending on wind conditions and blast location with respect to the road; and  providing post-blast notification to neighbors of potential exposure to the blasting cloud. The WDEQ has required several mines, including the neighboring Eagle Butte and Wyodak mines (map 1-1), to stop traffic on adjacent state and federal highways during blasting because of concerns with fly rock and the “startle factor.” The agency does not require the Buckskin Mine to stop traffic because the blasting area does not affect any major public roads. NO2 was monitored in Gillette from 1975 through 1983. Because of public concerns about NO2 emissions from blasting (particularly cast blasts) and a general concern by the WDEQ about levels of NOx from all types of development in the PRB, the coal mining industry instituted a monitoring network in cooperation with the agency to gather data on those emissions beginning in 2001. Additional monitoring was conducted throughout the PRB from 2003 to 2006. Details regarding funding and ownership of the coal monitoring program are provided in appendix G. The results of the most recent NOx monitoring are summarized in table 3.4-5. The results indicate annual average NO2 concentrations at all sites are well below the NAAQS of 100 µg/m3. The WDEQ and respective mines maintain these monitoring stations, and the agency relies on the ongoing monitoring data and emission inventories in air quality permit applications to demonstrate compliance with the annual NO2 ambient air standard.

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Table 3.4-5.
Year
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007

Annual Ambient NO2 Concentration Data (µg/m3)
Antelope Mine
7.5 2.9 5.5 5.1

Belle Ayr Mine
13.2 10.3 9.5 14.4

Thunder Basin National Grassland
5.6 3.8 8.4 8.1 3.8

Campbell Co.
13.2 9.4 7.5 5.7 7.5

Tracy Ranch

5.5 7.2 11.2 6.9

µg/m3 = micrograms per cubic meter; NO2 = nitrogen dioxide Source: EPA 2009b.

On February 9, 2010, the EPA published a primary, 1-hour standard for NO2 (75 FR 26). Effective April 12, 2010, the standard is set at a level of 100 parts per billion, based on the three-year average of the 98th percentile of the yearly distribution of 1-hour daily maximum concentrations. The rationale for this new standard is the protection of public health, based on the latest scientific knowledge. To date, the WDEQ air quality permitting process has not required the Buckskin Mine to perform short-term modeling of NO2 impacts. Therefore, no model outputs are currently available to assess the mine’s compliance with the 1-hour NAAQS standard for NO2. It is anticipated that short-term modeling will be required at a future date, pending incorporation of the new 1-hour NO2 standard in Wyoming’s SIP and WAQSR. In the Final Rule, the EPA acknowledged that the data from the current nationwide NO2 network is inadequate to fully assess compliance with the revised NAAQS. As a result, the EPA is in the process of promulgating new NO2 monitoring network design requirements (75 FR 26). Notwithstanding this deficiency, historical NO2 concentrations are available on an hourly basis at two monitoring sites in the northern PRB. These data afford a surrogate measure of compliance with the 1-hour standard in the general area of the Buckskin Mine. Both monitors record hourly average ambient NO2 concentrations. The first monitor is located on the Thunder Basin National Grassland (TBNG), 20 miles northeast of the Buckskin Mine. Located upwind from mining activity in the northern PRB, the TBNG monitor is believed to represent background concentrations. The data record at this site is continuous for the most recent five-year period (2005–2009), making it possible to calculate a 2007-2009 three-year average of the 98th percentile of the yearly distribution of 1-hour daily maximum NO2 concentrations. The second monitor is located near the Belle Ayr Mine (BAM), approximately 20 miles southeast of Buckskin. This monitor lies in an area potentially affected by several nearby coal mines. The data record at this site is intermittent during the 2005 through 2009 period because of changes in ownership of the monitor. Thus, it is not possible to directly calculate a recent, three-year average of the 98th percentile of the yearly distribution of 1-hour daily maximum NO2

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concentrations for this location. However, data recovery for years 2005, 2006, and 2009 were sufficient to compute a non-consecutive, three-year average. Table 3.4-6 summarizes hourly NO2 monitoring results for the TBNG and BAM sites. The three-year averages for the two sites reflect the calculation methods discussed above. Based on the TBNG monitor, a background concentration of 11 parts per billion can be compared to the NAAQS of 100 parts per billion, where both apply to the three-year average of the 98th percentile of the yearly distribution of 1-hour daily maximum NO2 concentrations. The BAM monitor shows a comparable three-year average of nearly 35 parts per billion (after omitting incomplete data years), roughly three times the background value but one-third of the NAAQS standard.

Table 3.4-6.
Year

1-hour NO2 Concentrations (parts per billion)
Thunder Basin National Grassland (TBNG) Belle Ayr Mine (BAM) Valid Days
287 359 72 0 268

Valid Days
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 365 365 342 278 323 3-Yr Avg
N/A = Not applicable Source: Argonne 2002.

High
21.00 32.00 21.00 14.00 14.00

98th Percentile
12.00 12.00 11.00 11.00 11.00

Average
6.72 4.49 4.28 4.27 4.17

High
38.09 150.80 46.42 N/A 73.80

98th Percentile
33.66 38.92 46.42 N/A 32.30

Average
14.51 22.51 21.77 N/A 14.58

11.00 parts per billion

34.96 parts per billion

NO2 = nitrogen dioxide

On June 2, 2010, the EPA issued a new 1-hour ambient standard for SO2 (EPA-HQ-OAR-2007­ 0352, RIN 2060-A048). The new standard is 75 parts per billion, applied to the three-year average of the 99th percentile (fourth highest) of the annual distribution of hourly averages. IML operates two SO2 monitors in the PRB, one for Black Hills Power (BHP) at the Wyodak site east of Gillette, and one for Wyoming Refining in Newcastle. Both monitors are near (and downwind from) major sources of SO2. The closest monitor is at BHP, approximately 15 miles southeast of the Buckskin Mine. In the last eight years, BHP has recorded only two hourly readings above 75 parts per billion (98.3 parts per billion on 3/13/07 and 77.4 parts per billion on 7/30/2008). Wyoming Refining shows similar results (207.8 parts per billion on 11/19/08 and 89.7 parts per billion on 9/28/05). Despite the fact that the monitors have been placed explicitly to measure impacts from major sources of SO2, neither site has violated the new 1-hour standard of 75 parts per billion, which applies to the three-year average as described above. Table 3.4-7 shows the most recent three-year average of the 99th percentile of the annual distribution of hourly averages at BHP to be 61.1 parts per billion.

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Total SO2 emissions from the Buckskin Mine for the year 2008 were calculated to be 32.3 tons (Buckskin Mining Company 2009). The primary source of these emissions is diesel fuel combustion, which would continue at roughly the same rate under the Proposed Action. SO2 emissions from the Wyodak site, which includes several coal-fired power plants operated by BHP and Pacificorp, total in the thousands of tons per year. Based on the demonstration of historical compliance at the Wyodak site and the fact that SO2 emissions at Wyodak exceed those at the Buckskin Mine by two orders of magnitude, ambient impacts from Buckskin are expected to be well below the new EPA SO2 air quality standard.

Table 3.4-7.
Year
2007 2008 2009

1-hour SO2 Concentrations (parts per billion) Black Hills Power (Wyodak site)
High
21.00 14.00 14.00 3-Year Average

99th Percentile
61.2 61.9 60.3 61.1

Average
4.28 4.27 4.17

SO2 = sulfer dioxide Source: Quick et al. 2003.

3.4.4.

Visibility

Visibility refers to the clarity with which scenic vistas and landscape features are perceived at great distances. Visibility can be defined as the distance one can see and the ability to perceive color, contrast, and detail. PM2.5 is the main cause of visibility impairment. Visual range, one of several ways to express visibility, is the farthest distance from which a person can see a landscape feature. Without the effects of human-caused air pollution, a natural visual range is estimated to be about 140 miles in the western part of the United States and 90 miles in the eastern part (EPA 2001b). Presently, the visibility conditions monitored in the Bridger Wilderness Area are among the best in the United States. Visibility impairment is expressed in terms of deciview (dv). The dv index was developed as a linear perceived visual change (Pitchford and Malm 1994), and is the unit of measure used in the EPA’s regional haze rule to achieve the national visibility goal. This goal was established as part of the CAA to prevent any future, and remedy any existing, impairment of visibility in mandatory federal class I areas that result from human-caused air pollution. The dv index is a scale related to visual perception that has a value near zero for a pristine atmosphere. A change in visibility of 1.0 dv represents a “just noticeable change” by an average person under most circumstances. Increasing dv values represent proportionately larger perceived visibility impairment.

3.4.4.1. Affected Environment
Air quality related values, including the potential air pollutant effects on visibility, are applied to pristine attainment PSD Class I (e.g., national parks) and sensitive Class II (areas outside

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designated Class I zones) areas; those classifications are described in more detail in section 2.3 of appendix G. The land management agency responsible for the Class I area (most restrictive) sets a limit of acceptable change for each AQRV. The AQRVs reflect the land management agency’s policy and are not legally enforceable standards. Table 3.4-8 shows approximate distances and directions from the general analysis area to 31 PSD Class I and sensitive Cass II areas in the vicinity of the PRB.

Table 3.4-8. 	 Distances and Directions from the General Analysis Area to Sensitive Air Quality Areas
Distance (miles)
MANDATORY FEDERAL PSD CLASS I AREA Badlands National Parka Bridger Wilderness Area Fitzpatrick Wilderness Area Gates of the Mountain Wilderness Area Grand Teton National Park North Absaroka Wilderness Area Red Rocks Lake Wilderness Area Scapegoat Wilderness Area Teton Wilderness Area Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Unit) Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit) U.L. Bend Wilderness Area Washakie Wilderness Area Wind Cave National Park Yellowstone National Park TRIBAL FEDERAL PSD CLASS I Fort Peck Indian Reservation Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation FEDERAL PSD SENSITIVE CLASS II Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area Agate Fossil Beds National Monument Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Black Elk Wilderness Area Cloud Peak Wilderness Area Crow Indian Reservation Devils Towner National Monument Fort Belknap Indian Reservation Fort Laramie National Historic Site Jewel Cave National Monument 219 168 137 113 81 120 42 316 164 117 WNW SSE WNW ESE W NW ENE NNW SSE ESE 252 74 N NNW 165 225 215 343 265 210 307 393 237 242 196 287 215 123 236 ESE WSW WSW NW WSW WNW W NW WSW NNE NNE NW WSW SE W

Direction to Receptor

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Table 3.4-8. Continued
Distance (miles)
Mount Rushmore National Memorial Popo Agie Wilderness Area Soldier Creek Wilderness Area
PSD = prevention of significant deterioration of air quality
a

Direction to Receptor
ESE SW SE

112 208 197

The U.S. Congress designated the wilderness area portion of Badlands National Park as a mandatory federal PSD class I area. The remainder of Badlands National Park is a PSD class II area.

The regional haze rule calls for improved visibility on the most impaired days and no additional impairment on the least impaired days (EPA 1999). The EPA participates in the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) visibility monitoring program as part of its visibility protection program. The IMPROVE monitoring sites were established to be representative of all Class I areas. Figure 3.4-2 shows annual averages for the 20% best, average, and worst visibility days in the Badlands National Park and Bridger Wilderness Area from 1989 through 2005. To date, the Badlands National Park has statistically shown improved visibility on the least impaired days and no change in visibility on the average and most impaired days. The Bridger Wilderness Area has shown no statistically significant change in visibility on the least, average, or most impaired days (IMPROVE 2005). The Wyoming State Implementation Plan for Class I Visibility Protection states “Wyoming’s long-term strategy will focus on the prevention of any future visibility impairment in Class I areas that can be attributed to a source or small group of sources as the federal land managers have not identified any current impairment in the state’s Class I areas due to such sources” (WDEQ 2003). The report is available at http://deq.state.wy.us/aqd/visibility.asp. Surface coal mines are not considered to be major emitting facilities in accordance with the WDEQ Rules and Regulations (chapter 6, section 4). Therefore, the State of Wyoming does not require mines to evaluate their impacts on class I areas, though the BLM does consider such issues during leasing.

3.4.4.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and support area (241 acres) would have a minor, short-term impact on visibility. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have a minor, short-term impact on visibility.

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No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Figure 3.4-2 Visibility in the Badlands National Park and Bridger Wilderness Area

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Production would continue at the existing average annual rate of 25 million tons. Because visibility has improved or remained relatively unchanged under the existing permit for 42 million tons per year, only minor changes in visibility are anticipated under this alternative. Ongoing sources of impacts on visibility would continue as a result of mining the proposed tract, but would not be expected to increase on an annual basis. Kiewit has no plans to change blasting procedures or sizes associated with the mining the proposed tract. Coal haul rates and distances would not change significantly from current permitted levels and all unpaved mine roads would continue to be treated for dust suppression. Current BACT measures for particulates (outlined in section 3.4.2.3) that could contribute to impaired visibility would continue to be employed. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts on visibility as described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Production would continue at the existing average annual rate of 25 million tons. Because visibility has improved or remained relatively unchanged under the existing permit for 42 million tons per year, only minor changes in visibility are anticipated under this alternative. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, surface coal mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and support area (926 acres) would have a minor, short-term impact on visibility. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have a minor, short-term impact on visibility. Production would continue at the existing average annual rate of 25 million tons. Because visibility has improved or remained relatively unchanged under the existing permit for 42 million tons per year, only minor changes in visibility are anticipated under this alternative. Ongoing sources of particulate emissions would continue as a result of mining in up to 1,883 acres of the BLM study area, but would not be expected to increase on an annual basis. Kiewit has no plans to change blasting procedures or sizes associated with the mining the proposed tract. Coal haul rates and distances would not change substantially from current permitted levels and all unpaved mine roads would continue to be treated for dust suppression. Current BACT measures for particulates (outlined in section 3.4.2.3) that could contribute to impaired visibility would continue to be employed.

3.4.4.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring
As discussed in section 3.4.2.1 and section 3.4.3.1, PM2.5 is the main cause of visibility impairment from coal mining operations, with secondary impacts from NOx emissions. Mitigation measures in use to limit emissions of particulate matter are discussed in section

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3.4.2.3 and NOx mitigation measures are discussed in section 3.4.3.3. Additional information is provided in appendix G. Visibility monitoring in Wyoming consists of both the WDEQ-sponsored Wyoming visibility monitoring network and the IMPROVE program. The WDEQ has placed two visibilitymonitoring stations in the PRB. The TBNG site is 32 miles north of Gillette (about 20 miles northeast of the Buckskin Mine) and the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area site (Cloud Peak) is 14 miles west of Buffalo (approximately 84 miles west of Gillette and the Buckskin Mine). Both sites include a variety of sophisticated monitoring equipment, as described in section 3.0 of appendix G. These sites are being used to characterize the extent, frequency of occurrence, and magnitude of impairments to visual air quality. The IMPROVE steering committee approved the incorporation of the TBNG and Cloud Peak sites into the IMPROVE network in June 2002. Although these stations are not located in Class I areas, the collected data will be comparable to monitoring data available from such areas elsewhere in the state. This information can help scientists determine the types and concentrations of air pollutants and their direction of travel in order to project visibility impacts on Class I areas. The Wyoming visibility monitoring network was recently supplemented with the development of a website at http://www.wyvisnet.com/all.html to allow public access to real-time monitored visibility and air quality conditions (WDEQ 2005a).

3.4.5.

Acidification of Lakes

Lake acidification is the change in acid-neutralizing capacity, or the lake’s capacity to resist acidification. The acidification of lakes and streams is caused by atmospheric deposition of pollutants (acid rain). According to the EPA, SO2 and NOx are the main causes of acid rain (EPA 2009c); both elements are primarily derived from burning fossil fuels. Most lakes and streams have a pH between 6 and 8 (on a scale of 1 to 14), although some lakes are naturally acidic even without the effects of acid rain. Acid rain primarily affects sensitive water bodies located in watersheds whose soils have a limited ability to neutralize acidic compounds (called “buffering capacity”). Lakes and streams become acidic (i.e., pH value goes below 7) when the water itself and its surrounding soil cannot buffer the acid rain enough to neutralize it. In areas where buffering capacity is low, acid rain also releases aluminum from soils into lakes and streams; aluminum is highly toxic to many species of aquatic organisms. Several regions in the United States were identified in a national surface water survey as containing many of the waters sensitive to acidification. They include the Adirondacks and Catskill mountains in New York, the mid-Appalachian highlands along the east coast, the upper Midwest, and mountainous areas of the western United States. Scientists predict that the decrease in SO2 emissions required by a nationwide acid rain program will significantly reduce acidification due to atmospheric sulfur. Without the reductions in SO2 emissions, the proportions of acidic aquatic ecosystems would remain high or dramatically worsen (EPA 2005b). The USDA Forest Service has been monitoring air quality in the Wind

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River Mountain Range in Wyoming since 1984 and is seeing a general trend of decreasing sulfates. In contrast, nitrates have been increasing globally.

3.4.5.1. Affected Environment
AQRVs, including the potential air pollutant effects on the acidification of lakes and streams, are applied to PSD Class I and Class II areas. The land management agency responsible for the Class I area in a particular region sets limits of acceptable change for each AQRV. The AQRVs reflect the land management agency’s policy and are not legally enforceable standards. Lake acidification is expressed as the change in acid-neutralizing capacity, which represents the lake’s capacity to resist acidification from acid rain. This unit of change is measured in microequivalents per liter. Table 3.4-9 shows the existing acid-neutralizing capacity monitored in some mountain lakes in Wyoming and their distance from the general analysis area. For comparison, the USDA Forest Service considers lakes with acid-neutralizing capacity values between 25 and 100 microequivalents per liter to be very sensitive to atmospheric deposition, and lakes with values less than or equal to 25 microequivalents per liter to be extremely sensitive to atmospheric deposition.

Table 3.4-9.
Wilderness Area
Bridger

Existing Acid-Neutralizing Capacity in Sensitive Lakes
Lake
Black Joe Deep Hobbs

Background AcidNeutralizing Capacity (µeq/L)
69.0 61.0 68.0 5.8a 55.3 32.7 61.4 55.5

Distance from General Analysis Area (miles)
218 243 239 82 89 85 250 220

Cloud Peak

Upper Frozen Emerald Florence

Fitzpatrick Popo Agie
μeq/l = microequivalents per liter
a

Ross Lower Saddlebag

The background acid-neutralizing capacity is based on only six samples taken between 1997 and 2001.

Source: Argonne 2002.

3.4.5.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and support area (241 acres) would have a minor, short-term impact on lake acidification. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have a minor, short-term impact on lake acidification. These levels of impacts on lake acidification are expected because of the distances from the Buckskin Mine to sensitive lakes in the region (table 3.4-9). Production would continue at the

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existing average annual rate of 25 million tons, and ongoing sources of impacts on lake acidification would continue as a result of mining the proposed tract. These impacts would not be expected to increase on an annual basis. Impacts of coal mining on acid deposition are due primarily to NOx emissions from mining operations, as discussed in section 3.4.3 above. Studies have demonstrated that lake acidification is a regional phenomenon (Dillon et al. 1978). Kiewit has no plans to change its coal production rates or operations, including blasting methods, hauling rates and distances, or other emissions sources. Operations at the Buckskin Mine will continue to employ current control and notification measures for NOx emissions (outlined in section 3.4.3.3) to minimize the release of emissions into the atmosphere. Modeling for the current Buckskin Mine permit did not forecast any exceedances of the annual particulate or NO2 NAAQS at the currently permitted production rate of 42 million tons per year that could further contribute to lake acidification; Buckskin’s current and anticipated average annual production rates are 25 million tons per year. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected, and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts on lake acidification as described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Production would continue at the existing average annual rate of 25 million tons. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, surface coal mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and support area (926 acres) would have a minor, short-term impact on lake acidification. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have a minor, short-term impact on lake acidification. These levels of impacts on lake acidification are expected because of the distances from the Buckskin Mine to sensitive lakes in the region (table 3.4-9). Production would continue at the existing average annual rate of 25 million tons. Ongoing sources of impacts on lake acidification would continue as a result of mining the final tract configuration. These impacts would not be expected to increase on an annual basis. Kiewit has no plans to change its coal production rates or operations, including blasting methods, hauling rates and distances, or other emissions sources, though the company is committed to working with adjacent landowners to address any concerns that arise. Operations at the Buckskin Mine will continue to employ current control and notification measures for NOx emissions (outlined in section 3.4.3.3) to minimize the release of emissions into the atmosphere. Modeling for the current Buckskin Mine permit did not forecast any exceedances of the annual particulate or NO2 NAAQS at the currently permitted production rate of 42 million tons per year

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that could further contribute to lake acidification; Buckskin’s current and anticipated average annual production rates are 25 million tons.

3.4.6.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

Mitigation and monitoring for coal mine emissions, including the emissions that contribute to the acidification of lakes, are discussed in sections 3.4.2.3, 3.4.2.4, 3.4.3.3, and 3.4.3.4. Other air quality monitoring programs that are in place in the PRB include the Wyoming Air Resources Monitoring System which monitors sulfur and nitrogen concentrations near Buffalo, Sheridan, and Newcastle, and the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, which monitors precipitation chemistry in Newcastle.

3.4.7.

Residual Impacts on Air Quality

No residual adverse impacts on air quality would occur following mining and reclamation.

3.5. Water Resources
This section describes the affected environment as it relates to water resources in the general analysis area, and identifies potential impacts on water resources that would result from the Proposed Action and alternatives.

3.5.1.

Groundwater

3.5.1.1. Affected Environment
Six water-bearing hydrologic units in the general analysis area could be disturbed by mining. In descending order, these units are recent alluvium, the Wasatch Formation, the Anderson coal seam, the Fort Union Formation interburden, and the Canyon coal seam. While the Anderson and Canyon coal seams belong to the Fort Union Formation geologically, they divide the Fort Union Formation into multiple distinct hydrologic sections. The interburden between the Anderson and Canyon coal seams exhibits very low permeability and has insufficient yield potential to be considered an aquifer; therefore, it will not be discussed here. The Fort Union Formation that underlies the Canyon coal will not be physically disturbed by mining activities but may be used for water supply. Aquifer characterization in the general analysis area is based on more than 80 groundwater monitoring wells installed in and adjacent to the WDEQ permit area between 1980 and 2000; the locations of currently active monitoring and water supply wells are shown on map 3.5-1. These wells were installed in each of the primary geologic units: alluvium (recent stream-laid and slope-wash deposits), the Wasatch overburden, and the Anderson and Canyon coal seams. These geological units are discussed below.

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0

2,500 feet


5,000


No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.5-1 Currently Active Groundwater Monitoring and Water Supply Wells at Buckskin Mine

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Recent Alluvium Groundwater in recent alluvium (sediments deposited by water flow) occurs primarily near and along the valley and draw bottoms associated with Hay Creek. It is directly connected to and recharged by groundwater in adjacent clinker and the Wasatch overburden. Alluvial groundwater flow generally follows topography, flowing out of upland areas into the valley and draw bottoms, then down-valley along the Hay Creek drainage. Hydraulic gradients are similar to the topographic and valley-bottom slopes on which the deposits reside. Aquifer testing indicates that the hydraulic conductivity, the capacity to transmit water, of stream-laid deposits along the Hay Creek valley bottom ranges from about 0.40 to 230 feet per day. Deposits in the general analysis area are finer-grained compared to those downstream, and exhibit hydraulic conductivities in the lower range. Although not alluvium, clinker is considered recent and can be an important groundwater resource. Recent testing and mine dewatering of the clinker near the Hay Creek valley bottom indicates hydraulic conductivities that may exceed 2,000 feet per day. Such high values are common for clinker along the coal outcrops in the PRB. Groundwater quality in the alluvial deposits is poor, and is generally unsuitable for domestic, agricultural, and livestock uses as defined by the Wyoming groundwater classification suitability criteria (WDEQ 2005b). Total dissolved solids (TDS), the measure of dissolved salts in water and an overall measure of water quality, is relatively high in the Hay Creek alluvium with an average of about 4,500 milligrams per liter. Isolated areas exhibit higher TDS concentrations because of surface water reservoirs that concentrate salts and locally affect alluvial groundwater. Sulfate, which contributes to the overall TDS, is generally high in the alluvium, roughly 10 times the suitability criteria limit. Wasatch Formation The principal groundwater occurrence in the Wasatch Formation is in sandstones that can be traced laterally for considerable distances. Aquifer testing of Wasatch sands indicates relatively low hydraulic conductivities that range from less than 1 to about 13 feet per day, with the highest values associated with surface sands that are commonly eolian in origin. These surface sands are the primary contributors of groundwater to the Hay Creek valley alluvium. Wasatch groundwater generally follows topography, flowing northeast from the upland areas and discharging into the Hay Creek valley and to the limited clinker deposits in sections 16 and 21. Seeps (groundwater emanating at grade over a broad area) occur in some upland areas where groundwater in the sandstones is near grade, especially in draws. Groundwater in the Wasatch sandstones is generally better quality when compared to other aquifer units, with an average TDS concentration of about 2,500 milligrams per liter. Overburden groundwater quality meets suitability criteria for livestock, but exceeds TDS and sulfate limits for domestic and irrigation uses.

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Anderson and Canyon Coals The most extensive aquifer units in the general analysis area are the Canyon and Anderson coal seams. The aquifers are defined by the top and bottom of the seam, and are commonly confined by shale, silt, or clay. However, in some areas, groundwater in both seams may also occur in unconfined conditions and may even be unsaturated. Hydraulic conductivities in the coal seams are generally low and exhibit a range of about 0.0020 to 2.0 feet per day. The variation is due to the degree to which the coal is fractured or its location relative to grade, which controls the degree of weathering. Measurements taken in the 1980s showed that groundwater flow in the Anderson coal seam was primarily to the east and northeast from upland areas toward discharge zones in the Hay Creek valley. In 2000, some groundwater in the Anderson coal seam was found to flow from east to west. Although some changes in groundwater flow patterns are a result of mine dewatering, changes can also be attributed to CBNG operations west of the general analysis area that began in the mid 1990s. Based on measurements taken in the 1980s, groundwater flow in the Canyon coal seam was similar to that of the Anderson coal seam (primarily to the northeast). In 2000, flows changed direction from east to west. As with the Anderson coal, in addition to mine dewatering, CBNG activities have contributed to the changes in groundwater flow patterns in the Canyon coal (Hydro-Engineering 2007). Water quality in the Anderson and Canyon coal seams exhibits considerable variation depending on the concentrations of major dissolved constituents, and is dominated by calcium, magnesium, and sulfate. Groundwater in the overburden affects water quality in the coals. CBNG drawdown may further affect water quality by creating induced hydraulic gradients in the coals. Coal groundwater, where present and still unaffected by mining or CBNG, is suitable for livestock use in some areas. In other areas, it is unsuitable for livestock or irrigation use because of elevated dissolved constituents or sodium adsorption ratio, a measure of the effect of sodium on soils. Elevated ammonia is consistent in both coal seams where bicarbonate dominates the anionic species, a phenomenon typical for coal groundwater in general. Subcoal Fort Union Formation The target coal seams in the general analysis area occur within the uppermost portion of the Tongue River member of the Fort Union Formation. The underlying Lebo and Tullock members consist of lithologies similar to that of the Tongue River, with sandstone predominating the Tullock and shale predominating the Lebo. The Lebo is commonly a confining unit between the Tongue River and Tullock members. The Tullock aquifer commonly exhibits transmissivity - the rate at which water is transmitted through an aquifer - that is higher than that of the Tongue River aquifer. This makes it a common water supply. The average transmissivity for this member as reported by the OSM (1984) is 290 square feet per day (2,200 gallons per day per foot).

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The Buckskin Mine uses two water supply wells completed in the Tullock aquifer south of the general analysis area (map 3.5-1). These wells supply water for both mining operations and on-site domestic use.

3.5.1.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) would have substantial, permanent impacts on aquifers within the area to be mined. Mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have no impact on aquifers, nor would activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases. The Proposed Action would result in reduced water levels in groundwater aquifers and water supply wells beyond the proposed tract, as described below. The reduction in groundwater is referred to as drawdown. It results from seepage of groundwater into, and dewatering ahead of, mine excavations. The extent of drawdown would depend on the distance of the aquifers from the proposed tract, the size of mine excavations, how long the excavations are open, and the extent of dewatering. Map 3.5-2 illustrates the extent of drawdown under the Proposed Action, taking into account mining of existing leases. The extent of dewatering depends on aquifer transmissivity, storage capacity, and heterogeneity, as well as the period over which dewatering occurs. Drawdown would extend preferentially in clean Wasatch sands that exhibit a relatively higher transmissivity than in less permeable materials. Dewatering through drawdown would also be most prevalent where these sands are laterally continuous. Drawdown patterns are more variable in aquifers that have more heterogeneous sands, such as the Wasatch and Fort Union sands, but will likely be a short-term occurrence as backfill water quality stabilizes over time. Concentrations of total dissolved solids would also increase under this alternative. Aquifer drawdown extends farther and occurs in a more consistent manner in the Anderson and Canyon coal seams than in the overburden because the aquifers have more homogeneous characteristics and are generally confined. However, drawdown can be substantially affected by variations in hydrogeologic characteristics such as fracture density, proximity to crop lines, recharge potential from overlying units, and lateral continuity. Such variations have been observed at the Buckskin Mine and would be likely in the proposed tract. Therefore, drawdown in the coals away from the mine is expected to behave in a similar manner to historical patterns at the mine. Overall groundwater is expected to rise to levels approaching those observed prior to mining over a relatively long period, likely greater than 50 years. However, the variety of underground water feature, such as vertical hydraulic gradients and perched aquifer zones, would not occur to the same degree because of the more homogeneous nature of the backfill. Therefore, the variety of water levels typically present prior to mining would not occur postmining. CBNG development, where present, would continue to have substantial effects on drawdown, especially in the coal seams. In the absence of CBNG development, drawdown typically is greatest near the mine, and decreases substantially away from the mine. Therefore, the Proposed Action would have greater impacts on near-mine groundwater resources than on those farther from the mine.
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Clinker (locally called scoria or red dog)

0

2,500 feet

5,000

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.5-2 Extent of Drawdown under Proposed Action

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Two water supply wells from the underburden aquifer are currently used by the Buckskin Mine. Although the evaluation of adequate water supply is ongoing as mining progresses, the mine may not require additional underburden water supply wells to mine the proposed tract. Due to its proximity to the existing Buckskin Mine, groundwater quality in the backfill aquifer on the proposed tract is expected to be similar to that measured in existing wells completed in the backfill at the mine. Variations in water quality may occur because of differences in the proportions of materials (i.e., sands, silts, and clays) used to reclaim the aquifer. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area related to mining existing leases would have no impact on groundwater. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) would have substantial, permanent impacts on aquifers within the area to be mined. Mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have no impact on aquifers, nor would activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases. Long-term groundwater reduction in near-mine aquifers west of the BLM study area would extend farther than under the Proposed Action. Based on monitoring results to date, the two water supply wells currently in use could remain viable through the life of the mine. Groundwater quality in the backfill aquifer in the general analysis area is expected to be similar to that measured in existing wells completed in the backfill at the mine.

3.5.1.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring
If one of the action alternatives is implemented, Kiewit will complete baseline studies regarding regional and site-specific hydrogeologic characteristics to account for additional permitted area. As part of the baseline hydrogeologic studies for the existing permit area, Kiewit has installed monitoring wells in the alluvium, overburden, interburden, coals, and underburden to evaluate impacts on groundwater from mining activities. Also installed as part of the mining permit reclamation plan are backfill monitoring wells to evaluate groundwater of mine spoils as they re-saturate. If one of the action alternatives is implemented, Kiewit will expand these monitoring programs to address additional lease area as well as reclaimed areas on existing leases and will document groundwater monitoring in the mining permit amendment as well as in annual reports submitted to the WDEQ.

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3.5.2.

Surface Water

3.5.2.1. Affected Environment
Surface Water Characteristics The most prominent surface water feature in the general analysis area is Hay Creek (map 3.5-3). Hay Creek topographically originates northwest of the general analysis area, in the NW4 of section 7, and then flows into the area and through section 18. The creek has been mined out in the central and southern portions of section 17, and is diverted to rejoin the undisturbed creek in the western half of section 16. Hay Creek is considered a minor stream in the regional drainage network of the Little Powder River. According to chapter 1, section 4 of the WDEQ Rules and Regulations, Hay Creek, although unclassified, would be characterized as a class 4 stream having intermittent or ephemeral flow that is protected for agricultural uses and wildlife watering. The creek is ephemeral in nature (i.e., responds only to rainfall or snow-melt events) as it enters the general analysis area in the SW4 of section 7. Down-valley of this location the valley bottom flattens, and Hay Creek is a poorly defined, ephemeral channel. Downstream of its undisturbed location in section 16, the creek varies between intermittent (i.e., flows for less than half of the year) and ephemeral as it courses eastward along a well-defined channel. At its confluence with the Little Powder River, about 2 miles east of the general analysis area, Hay Creek drains 15 square miles. The channel elevation drops about 34 feet over a channel length of 8,100 feet across the area, equating to an average channel slope of 0.0042. Hay Creek monitoring has been conducted since 1999 in the general analysis area in the NE4NE4 of section 18, and east of the area in the SE4NE4 of section 16. Monitoring has included both continuous flow measurements and periodic water quality sampling. Monitoring at both stations indicates that Hay Creek varies from dry to average base flows (flows that occur from normal contributions of groundwater) on the order of less than 1 cubic foot per second (cfs). Response to intense rainfall events may elevate the flow temporarily. CBNG well discharges have also affected stream flow in Hay Creek, resulting in fairly consistent but unnatural flows. Estimated runoff in the general analysis area, based on quantitative modeling, is 2.7 cfs for a 10-year, 6-hour storm and 17 cfs for a 2-year, 24-hour storm. These estimates ignore the retarding effects of watershed impoundments on flow rates, so they represent maximum estimated runoff values. The runoff from the 2-year event is agriculturally significant because such a storm has an equal chance of occurring in any given year, and thus can be important for natural flood irrigation.

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2,500 feet


5,000


No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.5-3 Surface Water Features in the General Analysis Area

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Several impoundments are located in the general analysis area, in sections 17, 18, and 19. Named reservoirs with State Engineer’s Office appropriations in the general analysis area include Franklin #1 stock reservoir in the N2 of section 18 and Hay Creek blocking dike reservoir in the NW4NW4 of section 17. While these reservoirs provide a beneficial use for their appropriation, they affect groundwater and surface water hydrology. By temporarily storing water from both base flow and ephemeral events, these reservoirs generally decrease downstream flow by allowing localized evaporation and infiltration to groundwater. Impoundments in the general analysis area have storage capacities ranging from about 0.90 to 12 acre-feet, with a combined storage capacity of about 26 acre-feet. Estimated annual runoff volumes from contributing watersheds generally exceed the storage volumes of these impoundments. Reservoirs south of the general analysis area in the central and southern portions of section 17 have been mined out. Several ephemeral channels in the general analysis area contribute drainage area to the Hay Creek valley. Three prominent, southeast-trending draws are located in sections 8 and 9, and two other prominent draws are located in sections 18 and 19. Surface Water Quality Monitoring at various locations along Hay Creek in the general analysis area indicates that water quality is poor. Water quality varies along the creek and is affected by in-channel impoundments that extend the amount time that the water is exposed to alluvial materials and concentrations of dissolved minerals through evaporation. Surface water quality has also been affected by CBNG discharges that contribute to apparent elevated sodium bicarbonate levels that are more characteristic of coal groundwater and not surface water in Hay Creek. Water quality is generally acceptable for livestock most of the time. Elevated TDS, sodium adsorption ratio, manganese, and sulfate may exceed WDEQ suitability criteria for irrigation. Prior to mining in the northern portion of section 17, TDS downstream of McGee Reservoir was roughly double that at upstream locations primarily as a result of elevated calcium and magnesium sulfate.

3.5.2.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a substantial, short-term impact on surface drainage systems and a permanent impact on reconstructed surface drainage systems. This alternative would have a minor to moderate, short-term to long-term impact on increased runoff and erosion rates immediately following vegetation removal, but a moderate, beneficial, long-term impact on increased infiltration on reclaimed lands. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases also would have similar impacts to those in the proposed tract and support area. Erosion and sediment discharge would likely increase in disturbed areas because of vegetation removal.

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Water flow and direction in that area would be altered by the removal and reconstruction of drainage channels prior to mining and from redirected flow through the use of erosion- and sediment-control structures to manage surface water runoff from disturbed areas. No connected water bodies cross the proposed tract, so no additional channel diversions are anticipated. Regardless of planned mining and reclamation activities, large storms that exceed capacity designs for sediment-control structures (typically a storm that would exceed the 10-year, 24-hour rainfall) could produce sediments that have temporary impacts on areas downstream of mining operations. Effects on soil structure and hydrologic function in reclaimed areas would be long-term. Hay Creek and other affected drainages would be restored in approximately their original locations. Upon completion of reclamation, when soil structure and vegetation have been fully reestablished, the basic hydrologic functions of surface water flow, quality, and sediment discharge in the valley bottom would be restored to resemble premining conditions. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases would have a substantial, short-term impact on surface water. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Water flow and direction in that area would be altered by the removal and reconstruction of any drainage channels prior to mining. Flow from the limited water resources in the area would be redirected through the use of erosion- and sediment-control structures to manage surface water runoff from disturbed areas. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and support area (926 acres) would have the same impacts on various surface water characteristics as those described under the Proposed Action. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases also would have similar impacts to those described under that alternative, Erosion and sediment discharge would likely increase in disturbed areas because of vegetation removal. Water flow and direction would be altered by the removal and reconstruction of drainage channels prior to mining and from redirected flow through the use of erosion- and sediment-control structures to manage surface water runoff from disturbed areas. Additional impacts on Hay Creek’s main channel, extending from the NW corner of section 18 to the point where it enters the existing mine permit along the eastern section line of section 18, could occur. Channels draining into the Hay Creek valley bottom could also be removed to recover coal in the western half of section 18 and section 19. As described in chapter 2, Kiewit does not anticipate relocating any county roads or causing new disturbance in the operationally limited lands

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between the two roads. Consequently, Kiewit does not anticipate the construction of any further diversions on Hay Creek west of the current permit boundary.

3.5.2.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring
If one of the action alternatives is implemented, Hay Creek and major channels will be restored after completion of mining operations, in accordance with SMCRA and Article 4 of the Wyoming Environmental Quality Act. Other permit requirements outlined in chapter 4 section 2(e) of the WDEQ Rules and Regulations include constructing sediment-control structures to manage and treat surface water discharges from disturbed areas and restoring reservoirs and playas disturbed during mining. Reservoirs in sections 17, 18, and 19 would be reconstructed and replaced in the approximate premining locations. Surface water quantity and quality in the restored Hay Creek channel would be monitored periodically per WDEQ requirements.

3.5.3.

Water Rights

3.5.3.1. Affected Environment
The State Engineer’s Office administers water rights in Wyoming, which are granted for both groundwater and surface water. Their records indicate that, as of May 2008, 2,380 permits for groundwater rights are within 3 miles of the general analysis area, 1,166 of which are for non-coal applicants. Groundwater rights for non-coal applicants are listed in appendix H. The breakdown of groundwater rights is as follows:  324 stock, CBNG;  152 CBNG;  156 miscellaneous;  101 monitoring;  96 stock, miscellaneous, CBNG;  71 miscellaneous, stock;  73 stock;  64 temporary filings;  60 domestic, stock;  38 domestic;  19 CBNG, reservoir supply, miscellaneous;  8 stock, miscellaneous;  2 industrial;

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 1 domestic, miscellaneous; and  1 irrigation. State Engineer’s Office records indicate that, as of May 2008, 368 permits for surface water rights are within 3 miles of the general analysis area, 308 of which are for non-coal applicants. Surface water rights for non-coal applicants are listed in appendix H. The breakdown of surface water rights is as follows: Adjudicated (129 total):  71 irrigation;  26 miscellaneous ;  20 stock;  9 irrigation, domestic; and  3 irrigation, reservoir supply. Un-adjudicated (179 total):  106 stock;  32 irrigation;  15 irrigation, reservoir supply;  13 oil refining/production, temporary use, industrial, drilling;  6 irrigation, domestic;  5 industrial; and  2 stock, domestic.

3.5.3.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) would have a moderate, long-term impact on groundwater wells; mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a minor, long-term impact on one surface water right. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases would have no impact on water rights. Groundwater rights associated with existing water supply wells would experience impacts from the removal of aquifers in the proposed tract as a result of mining. Additionally, mine dewatering would affect existing wells near the proposed tract in the Wasatch or Fort Union formations above the Canyon coal seam; wells below the Canyon coal seam would not be affected.

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Additional impacts on groundwater rights from CBNG development would continue. Impacts on water supply wells completed in the same coals where CBNG development is occurring may be affected as well as other wells that have hydraulic connections to these coals. The extent of impacts on these wells by CBNG development depends on how close they are to the CBNG extraction wells, the length of time groundwater withdrawals occur, and the hydraulic connection to aquifers from which CBNG groundwater withdrawals are occurring. One surface water right associated with the small tributary to Hay Creek would be removed during mining. Mining activities would also affect surface water rights down-slope of the general analysis area as a result of significantly altered hydraulic characteristics of the Hay Creek valley and its associated draws. Potential impacts include a reduction of surface water flow and a change in surface water quality from mining-related sediment discharges. Surface water rights up-slope of the general analysis area would not be affected. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases would have no impact on water rights. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Impacts on downstream surface water rights would be related to the previous diversion of a portion of Hay Creek from the northern half of section 17, as well as surrounding ephemeral draws. No new impacts on groundwater or surface water rights would occur due to the nature of mine-related support activities in the overlap area associated with existing coal leases. Impacts related to CBNG development could affect water rights in the overlap area. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) would have a moderate, long-term impact on groundwater wells, while mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a minor, long-term impact on up to two surface water rights. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases would have no impact on water rights. Additional groundwater rights could be removed, and dewatering impacts on groundwater rights could extend farther to the west. One additional surface water right in the western half of section 18 could be removed; an additional reach of Hay Creek in the northwestern corner of section 18 could be removed; and channels that lead to the Hay Creek valley bottom could be removed to recover coal in the western half of sections 18 and 19. The latter two impacts are not expected because Kiewit does not anticipate relocating any county roads or causing any new disturbance on the operationally limited lands between the roads.

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3.5.3.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring
SMCRA and Wyoming state statutes (Title 41—Water) govern the protection of groundwater and surface water rights. Mine operators are required to provide the owner of a water right whose water source is interrupted, discontinued, or diminished by mining with water of equivalent quantity and quality. If one of the action alternatives is implemented, Kiewit will update the list of private water supply wells that could be affected by mining and predict impacts on those wells as part of the WDEQ permitting process. Kiewit will commit to replacing those water supplies affected by mining with water of equivalent quality and quantity. Kiewit will reconstruct Hay Creek, surrounding channels, and reservoirs to restore surface water rights affected by mining. The permit reclamation plan must specify reconstruction methods to restore surface water features similar to those characterized prior to mining. Periodic monitoring of surface water flows and quality will be required ensure that flows and water quality are similar to premining conditions. Adjacent landowners to the north of the Buckskin Mine have contacted and met with mine personnel regarding their concerns about the impacts of mining on their water wells. The landowners and mine representatives are actively working to resolve those issues.

3.5.4.

Residual Impacts

The action alternatives would have minor to moderate, long-term impacts on groundwater quantity as a result of removing aquifers and extracting groundwater. Although groundwater quantity would begin to recover once the backfill is replaced and the aquifer recharge begins, full recovery of groundwater levels in and adjacent to the general analysis area could extend well beyond the life of mine. The action alternatives would have permanent impacts on groundwater elevations (i.e., water table depths) related to perching (underground benches that can trap water), geologic layering (affecting underground water flow), or heterogeneity (affecting permeability). Groundwater quality is expected to return to premining conditions—adequate for livestock use— though it may exhibit slight but permanent variations related to the nature of the backfill. Because of the ephemeral nature of Hay Creek in the general analysis area, the action alternatives would have no residual impacts on surface water. Successful reclamation would ensure that rainfall would be adequately conveyed through reclaimed channels and stored in reclaimed reservoirs.

3.6. Alluvial Valley Floors
This section discusses the affected environment as it relates to alluvial valley floors (AVFs) in the general analysis area and the adjacent Buckskin Mine permit area and identifies any impacts on AVFs that would result from the Proposed Action and alternatives.

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Prior to leasing and mining, AVFs must be identified because, under the SMCRA, mining on AVFs is prohibited unless the affected AVF is undeveloped rangeland that is insignificant to farming or is of such small acreage that it would have a negligible impact on a farm’s agricultural production. These restrictions also apply to AVFs that are downstream of mining but might be affected by streamflow or groundwater impacts. AVFs not significant to agriculture can be disturbed during mining but must be restored as part of the reclamation process.

3.6.1.

Affected Environment

Hay Creek is ephemeral in nature (i.e., it responds only to rainfall or snowmelt events) as it enters the general analysis area in the SW4SW4 of section 7 and flows to the east. Down-valley of this location the creek bottom flattens a poorly defined channel throughout the remainder of the general analysis area. Section 3.5 describes various aspects of the Hay Creek drainage, including its physical characteristics, potential for flood irrigation, and apparent subirrigated areas, among other features. In alluvial valley floors, subirrigation refers to the supplying of water to plants from underneath, or from a semi-saturated or saturated subsurface zone where water is available for use by vegetation (30 CFR 701.5). WDEQ Rules and Regulations define AVFs as unconsolidated stream-laid deposits where water is available in sufficient quantities for agricultural activities (30 CFR 701.5). OSM and WDEQ have established guidelines to identify AVFs. These guidelines require detailed studies of geomorphology, soils, hydrology, vegetation, and land use, and are used to identify the following elements:  presence of unconsolidated stream-laid deposits,  potential for flood irrigation practices,  evidence of past or present flood irrigation, and  apparent subirrigated areas and the potential for natural flood irrigation. Areas identified as AVFs following these studies are evaluated for their significance to farming by the WDEQ. The WDEQ has not identified the agricultural productivity of the Hay Creek valley floor as significant to farming. Moreover, interviews with landowners and lessees who have agricultural operations in the Hay Creek valley floor consistently described failed or no attempts to develop artificial flood irrigation along Hay Creek (Buckskin Mining Company 2000).

3.6.1.1. Studies Conducted to Determine Presence of Alluvial Valley Floors
The primary AVF investigation in the general analysis area was completed in 2000. Investigations specific to section 16, east of that area, were completed by Triton Coal Company between 1980 and 1982, and the results from these investigations were incorporated into the

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2000 investigation. These AVF studies were conducted as part of the WDEQ mine permitting process to recover coal under Buckskin Mine’s existing leases. These investigations initially concluded that the Hay Creek valley bottom (including the portion that passes through the general analysis area) is not an AVF, as defined by WDEQ. That agency challenged this conclusion and determined that a portion of the Hay Creek valley floor is an AVF. The Wyoming Environmental Quality Council overturned this determination and upheld the original conclusion that the valley floor is not an AVF. A copy of the Environmental Quality Council order is included in appendix I. The findings of the investigations are described below. Presence of Unconsolidated Stream-Laid Deposits No stream-laid deposits are present in the general analysis area. Stream-laid deposits do occur in portions of the Hay Creek valley bottom and some associated upland draws beyond the general analysis area. Those areas consist of sand, gravel, and silt deposited by streamflow within Hay Creek and its tributaries. Prior to mining through the creek channel in the northern portion of section 17, mapped stream-laid deposits down-valley of the general analysis area occupied about 57 acres on the creek bed. These deposits typically varied from about 80 to 500 feet wide, and were about 20 feet thick. Stream-laid deposits terminate before entering the reservoir in the general analysis area in the SW4NW4 of section 17. Upstream of that reservoir in the general analysis area, the valley-bottom deposits consist of slope wash overlying bedrock. Slope wash occurs along the bottom slopes of hills and in channel bottoms, including the Hay Creek valley bottom in section 18, and consists of reworked sediment deposited by overland flow. These are not fluvial (stream-laid) deposits associated with Hay Creek. Potential for Flood Irrigation Runoff from the 2-year, 24-hour storm event, generally considered agriculturally useful, yields about 11 acre-feet of water in the vicinity of the Buckskin Mine. This runoff volume is small relative to the cumulative storage capacity of reservoirs in the valley bottom and would not be sufficient to support any reliable flood irrigation practices. Poor surface water and groundwater quality in Hay Creek and its alluvium, respectively, would make it generally unsuitable for domestic, agricultural, and livestock uses. The poor groundwater quality is attributed to the effect of reservoirs that locally concentrate salts and to natural groundwater quality characteristics of adjacent deposits that recharge the alluvium. Water quality is discussed in detail in section 3.5. Groundwater quality in the Hay Creek alluvium is poor, and is generally unsuitable for domestic, agricultural, and livestock uses. Sulfate, which contributes to the overall TDS, is generally high in the alluvium, roughly ten times the suitability criteria limits. The poor groundwater quality is attributed to the effect of reservoirs that locally concentrate salts and to natural groundwater quality characteristics of adjacent deposits that recharge the alluvium.

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The agriculturally useful flood is of insufficient volume to support any reliable flood irrigation practices. Runoff from the 2-year, 24-hour storm event, which is generally considered to be of agricultural use, yields about 11 acre-feet of water. This runoff volume is small relative to the cumulative storage capacity of reservoirs in the valley bottom and will not produce a flood that is useful for irrigation. Soils in the valley bottom also are of poor quality and are not suitable for irrigation purposes. Elevated electrical conductivity, boron, and selenium make the soils along Hay Creek unsuitable for irrigated row crops or improved pasture. The elevated electrical conductivity results in less water being available to plants because of osmotic potentials that exceed the capability of the plant to extract water from the soil. Boron toxicity may result in slowed growth and reduced production. Toxic concentrations of selenium may result in selenosis in livestock. Evidence of Flood Irrigation and Subirrigated Areas Plant species of agricultural interest have developed voluntarily in the native rangelands of the Hay Creek valley floor without any evidence that they were intentionally introduced for range improvement practices. Plant communities in the general analysis area that require flood irrigation are limited to the channel bottom along Hay Creek. Subirrigated vegetation occurs along and in the Hay Creek channel, adjacent to the channel in specific areas, and in isolated locations in upland areas. No evidence exists to indicate that these subirrigated plant species were specifically developed to exploit natural subirrigation.

3.6.2.

Environmental Consequences

3.6.2.1. Proposed Action
Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have no impact on AVFs. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases also would have no impact on AVFs. No AVFs are present in the proposed tract or support area, or in the remainder of the overlap area. No primary drainages occur in any of those areas. One isolated, ephemeral draw crosses the northwestern corner of the proposed tract and support area, but it does not connect with Hay Creek or any other drainage and, therefore, does not include AVFs. As described in section 3.5, groundwater intercepted by dewatering activities would be routed through settling ponds to meet state and federal water quality criteria. Dewatering the alluvium in the proposed tract would not affect off-site alluvial groundwater downstream of the tract because no alluvium is present there and because the closed drainage in the area cannot contribute flow or alluvium to other systems. Dewatering could indirectly affect off-site alluvial groundwater up-valley of the proposed tract by creating a zone of influence (drainage area) that could extend beyond the tract boundary.

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3.6.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action)
Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases would have no impact on AVFs. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area the future. No AVFs have been identified in the overlap area. The majority of the portion of the Hay Creek channel that flows through that area has already been diverted as part of previously permitted mining activities, and Kiewit does not anticipate diverting any additional sections of that creek.

3.6.2.3. Alternative 2
Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and support area (926 acres) would have no impact on AVFs. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases also would have no impact on AVFs. No AVFs are present in the BLM study area and support area, or in the remainder of the overlap area, including the Hay Creek channel and floodplain. Mining could remove additional portions of the Hay Creek valley floor and associated features in the northern half of section 18 and the southwestern corner of the northwestern quarter of section 17. Kiewit does not anticipate any further diversions on Hay Creek, and has constructed a blocking dike at the western end of the current diversion to channel streamflow from the natural drainage into the existing structure. Indirect impacts (potential dewatering of alluvium) upstream of mine operations would be the same as those described for the Proposed Action, but could extend over a larger area. The Buckskin Mine has constructed a diversion for the valley floor that has been mined out in section 17. As mining approaches the valley floor in section 18, dewatering activities would deplete alluvial groundwater in the valley. Mining would subsequently progress across the valley floor and remove the alluvium. Stream diversions could be constructed to ensure that instream flows are preserved while mining progresses across the valley floor, though no additional diversions are expected to be constructed at this time. Groundwater intercepted by dewatering activities would be routed through settling ponds to meet state and federal water quality criteria. If additional diversions are constructed, discharges from these ponds would potentially increase the frequency and amount of flow in Hay Creek downstream of mining activities, thereby increasing surface water supplies outside the general analysis area to the east. Dewatering the alluvium in the final tract configuration would have no direct impact on off-site alluvial groundwater downstream of the tract because the alluvium in section 17 has already been removed. Dewatering could indirectly affect off-site alluvial groundwater up-valley of the tract by creating a zone of influence (drainage area) that could extend up-valley and northwest of the tract.

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3.6.3.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

Chapter 5 of the WDEQ Rules and Regulations and SMCRA both address AVFs. If either of the action alternatives is implemented, the following mitigation and monitoring will be required. Basic surface water functions in Hay Creek will be restored during reclamation to ensure that water can be conveyed from the upstream, undisturbed point on the creek channel to the downstream tie-in point east of the general analysis area. The portion of the channel that will pass through reclamation will be constructed to simulate the characteristics of the premining native channel. Consideration will be given to erosional stability and to the reconstruction of ephemeral channels that would lead into the reclaimed valley floor. Surface water will be monitored to evaluate water quantity and quality through the reclaimed areas. Monitoring sites and frequency will be determined by WDEQ guidelines.

3.6.4.

Residual Impacts

No AVFs have been identified in the general analysis area, and the majority of Hay Creek has already been diverted according to appropriate regulations to accommodate existing mining operations. Groundwater is expected to recharge and be reestablished in a similar manner to premining conditions, but may not exhibit the same hydrologic or chemical characteristics. The stream channel and the reclaimed valley floor would be reconstructed to mimic premining characteristics, but reconstruction would be an approximation. These impacts would be permanent but insignificant due to the absence of AVFs in the general analysis area.

3.7. Wetlands
This section discusses the affected environment as it relates to wetlands identified in the general analysis area through the National Wetland Inventory (NWI) mapping system (USFWS 2007). It identifies potential impacts on those wetlands that would result from the Proposed Action and alternatives. For the purposes of this analysis, wetland determinations in the general analysis area were based on the NWI maps and a 2007 reconnaissance-level field visit by trained ICF International (ICF) wetland biologists. The field visit was conducted to ground-truth the current status of previously mapped NWI wetlands, in keeping with current BLM Data Adequacy Standards (1987) for EIS analyses of wetlands.

3.7.1.

Affected Environment

“Waters of the U.S.” is a collective term for all areas subject to regulation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) under section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Waters of the U.S. include special aquatic sites, large or small geographic areas that possess special ecological characteristics of productivity, habitat, wildlife protection, or other important and easily disrupted ecological values (40 CFR 230.3). Wetlands are a type of special aquatic site defined as “those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and

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duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions” (33 CFR 328.3(a)(7)(b)). Jurisdictional wetlands are defined as those wetlands that are within the extent of the Corps’ regulatory review. These wetlands must contain three components: hydric soil, a dominance of hydrophytic vegetation, and wetland hydrology.4 Nonjurisdictional wetlands are generally associated with internally drained depressions/playas that are isolated; nonjurisdictional other waters generally occur where areas of open water are ponded in a depression/playa area. As discussed in detail under section 3.7.3, only the Corps, in conjunction with the EPA, can make an official determination of jurisdiction under section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Functional wetlands are areas that may contain only one or two of the three wetland criteria. The USFWS uses this third categorization in producing the NWI maps, which are based on aerial photo interpretation with limited or no field verification. The NWI maps show several wetlands occurring in the general analysis area (USFWS 2007). Many of these areas correspond with wetlands and other waters of the U.S. that were identified during previous wetland delineations of the Buckskin Mine; however, some of the information shown on these maps is relatively old and does not reflect current conditions (map 3.7-1). Based on the NWI maps, approximately 64.44 acres of wetlands have been identified in the general analysis area. Of these, 30.7 acres were considered potentially jurisdictional wetlands based on field observations (table 3.7-1); the remaining 33.74 acres were either considered as potentially nonjurisdictional wetlands (e.g., borrow pits, old impoundments) or were not found to be present during the field visit (table 3.7-2). As described above, only the Corps, in conjunction with the EPA, can make an official determination of jurisdiction under. The majority of the potential jurisdictional wetlands identified on the NWI maps and during the 2007 field visit were associated with Hay Creek and other ephemeral tributaries in the general analysis area. Some wetlands previously mapped through the NWI may have been altered by agricultural uses and permitted mine disturbance or by CBNG-related water production in the general analysis area.

4	

As a result of recent Supreme Court rulings (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County vs. United States Army Corps of Engineers, January 9, 2001; and consolidated cases Rapanos vs. United States and Carabell vs. United States, known as the “Rapanos” decision, June 19, 2006) non-navigable, isolated intrastate wetlands (e.g., playas) and other waters of the U.S. are not considered jurisdictional.

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R. 73 W.

R. 72 W.

10 12
10

7
9 8 7
Hay C ree k

16

8

9
13

18 17

No

rth

11

Fo

k

r

Ha

y Cree k

6
RO AD

12

Hay Creek Diversion (2 004-2020)

EE

MC G

13


5

3

19

H ay

Cre

ek

18


4

15

17


16

Sedimentation No. 33 Reservior (2004-2020)

15


14

2

NWI-Identified Wetlands Determined to Be Wetlands
k D raw

1

NWI-Identified Wetlands Determined to Be Non-Wetlands Existing Buckskin Mine Permit Boundary
Backfill 3 Sump

24

19

20
TCO Sump

General Analysis Area 21 BLM Study Area Applicant Proposed Tract Primary Drainages Ephemeral Tributary Pond or Reservoir
0 600

RO

AD

LL IN S

25

30

29


CO

Diversions

28

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.7-1 NWI Wetlands and Other Waters in the General Analysis Area

Lo

Sedimentation No. 34 Reservior (2004-2020)

n

e

P ea

±
1,200 Feet

22

27

2,400

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Table 3.7-1.
Wetland Name
NWI 1 NWI 2 NWI 5 NWI 6 NWI 7

NWI-Identified Wetlands in the General Analysis Area
NWI Wetland Classificationsa
PABFh PEMAh PEMCh PEMAh PEMA PEMC

Wetland Typeb
Freshwater pond Freshwater emergent wetland Freshwater emergent wetland Freshwater emergent wetland Freshwater emergent wetland

Field Determinationc
Wetland (impounded) Wetland (CBNG pond) Wetland (impounded) Wetland (CBNG pond) Wetland (temporary ponding) Wetland (dry playa)

Acres
0.24 0.26 0.10 0.29 3.0

NWI 8

PUBFx PEMA PEMC

Freshwater emergent wetland and freshwater pond

22.82

NWI 9 NWI 11 NWI 12

PUSAx PEMA PEMCh PABFh)

Other Freshwater emergent wetland Freshwater emergent wetland and freshwater pond Freshwater emergent wetland Freshwater emergent wetland Freshwater pond

Wetland (surface ponding) Wetland (farmed wetland) Wetland (impounded)

0.10 2.24 0.58

NWI 14 NWI 15 NWI 17 Total Acres

PEMCh PEMAh PABFh

Wetland (CBNG pond) Wetland (impoundment) Wetland (dry impoundment)

0.24 0.15 0.68 30.7

NWI = National Wetland Inventory; P = palustrine; EM = emergent; AB = aquatic bed; US = unconsolidated shore; A = temporarily flooded; F = semi-permanently flooded; C = seasonally flooded; x = excavated; h = diked/impounded; CBNG = coal bed natural gas
a b c

Some of the wetlands studied had multiple wetland classifications associated with the wetland. Based on USFWS NWI map. Based on 2007 reconnaissance-level field visit.

Source: USFWS 2007; Cowardin et al. 1979.

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Table 3.7-2.
Wetland Name
NWI 3 NWI 4 NWI 10

NWI-Identified Wetlands Confirmed to be Non-Wetlands in the General Analysis Area
NWI Wetland Classificationsa
PEMA PEMA PABFh PEMA PEMAh

Wetland Typeb
Freshwater emergent wetland Freshwater emergent wetland Freshwater emergent wetland and freshwater pond

Field Determinationc
Not a wetland (borrow pit) Not a wetland (borrow pit) Not a wetland

Acres
2.58 1.09 11.67

NWI 13 NWI 16

PEMC PEMA PEMCx

Freshwater emergent wetland Freshwater emergent wetland

Not a wetland (old impoundment) Not a wetland (non irrigated hay field) Not a wetland Not a wetland (disturbed area)

0.10 14.7

NWI 18 NWI 19

PEMCh PEMA PABFh

Freshwater emergent wetland Freshwater emergent wetland and freshwater pond

0.16 3.44

Total Acres
NWI = National Wetland Inventory; P = palustrine; EM = emergent; AB = aquatic bed; A = temporarily flooded; F = semi-permanently flooded; C = seasonally flooded; x = excavated; h = diked/impounded
a a c

33.74

Some of the wetlands studied had multiple wetland classifications associated with the wetland. Based on USFWS NWI map. Based on 2007 reconnaissance-level field visit or unrelated 2008 wetland delineation in the overlap area.

Source: USFWS 2007; Cowardin et al.1979.

Wetlands occur in a variety of forms in the general analysis area, with palustrine wetlands being the most common and abundant. Palustrine wetlands are defined by their close association with emergent herbaceous marshes, swales, or wet meadows and are supported by saturated soils along the banks of the drainages (Cowardin et al. 1979). Wetlands support a variety of vegetation types and occur mainly along drainages in the general analysis area. Hydrology for these areas is provided primarily by surface runoff from adjacent uplands and discharged CBNG waters. Hay Creek, which flows primarily from west to east, several other tributaries that generally flow into Hay Creek, and various open water areas (e.g., stockponds, impounded reservoirs) are potential other waters of the U.S. These features carry or store water but do not meet the criteria for classification as wetlands. The Buckskin Mine’s approved mining plan allows disturbance of a portion of the Hay Creek channel. Beginning in 2006, approximately 1.75 miles of the channel were diverted into the Hay Creek Diversion (map 3.5-3) to facilitate mining in the northern extent of the existing Buckskin Mine permit area. Additional details regarding water resources are provided in section 3.5.

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Soils in the general analysis area consist mainly of loams, sandy loams, and some clay loams. One hydric soil unit, Felix Clay, is located in the general analysis area (NRCS 2008), on slopes ranging from 0 to 2% and in soils that are developing in alluvium derived from sandstone and shale on gently sloping uplands. The hydric soil unit is located near wetlands NWI 8 and NWI 9 (table 3.7-1). Section 3.8 contains additional information on soils in the general analysis area. The specific functions (e.g., agriculture, livestock, and wildlife) of each identified wetland will be determined during the delineation associated with the permitting process, should a lease be issued and are, therefore, not addressed in detail as part of the EIS analysis.

3.7.2.

Environmental Consequences

3.7.2.1. Proposed Action
Under the Proposed Action, surface mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a moderate, permanent impact on two small, potentially jurisdictional NWI-inventoried wetlands (NWI 1 and NWI 14, 0.48 acre) (table 3.7-3, map 3.7-1). Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases would have a moderate, permanent impact on two additional potentially jurisdictional NWI-inventoried wetlands (NWI 12 and NWI 15, 0.73 acre). NWI 1 consists of a small, semi-permanently flooded, diked impoundment in the extreme northwestern corner of the proposed tract (map 3.7-1); field observations over the years have indicated that the reservoir is wet primarily during early spring months. NWI 14 is associated with a CBNG pond, and the remaining two NWI-inventoried wetlands are associated with impoundments. All wetland functions would be lost during mining and support activities. These impacts would be mitigated during reclamation by creating equivalent acreages of wetlands elsewhere in the Buckskin Mine permit area to ensure no net loss of wetland function in the general analysis area (section 3.7.3). No additional reaches of Hay Creek would be diverted under the Proposed Action.

Table 3.7-3.
Wetland Name	
NWI 1 NWI 12 NWI 14 NWI 15 NWI 17 Total Acres 	
a b	

Potential Wetland Impacts under the Proposed Action and Alternativesa
Alternative 1 (Acres)
0.58 0.15

Proposed Action (Acres)
0.24 0.58 0.24 0.15

Alternative 2 (Acres) b
0.24 0.58 0.24 0.15 0.68

0.73

1.21

1.89

Wetlands partially within a disturbance area were considered a full take, because a partial take of a wetland could affect the function of the entire wetland. NWI 2, NWI 5, NWI 6, NWI 7, NWI8, NWI 9, and NWI 11 are located in the operationally limited lands where mining activity is not anticipated to occur; therefore, Alternative 2 would not affect these wetlands. The remaining NWI-inventoried wetlands were confirmed as non-wetlands during the 2007 site visit (table 3.7-2).

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3.7.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action)
Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have a moderate, permanent impacts on two NWI-inventoried wetlands in the overlap area (NWI 12 and NWI 15, 0.73 acre) (table 3.7-3, map 3.7-1). As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. These impacts would be mitigated during reclamation by creating equivalent acreages of wetlands elsewhere in the Buckskin Mine permit area to ensure no net loss of wetland function in the general analysis area (section 3.7.3).

3.7.2.3. Alternative 2
Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a moderate, permanent impact on three small, potentially jurisdictional NWI-inventoried wetlands (NWI 1, NWI 14, and NWI 17, 1.16 acres) (table 3.7-3, map 3.7-1). Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) that are related to mining existing coal leases would have a moderate, permanent impact on two additional potentially jurisdictional NWI-inventoried wetlands (NWI 12 and NWI 15, 0.73 acre). Approximately 28.8 acres (94%) of the NWI-inventoried wetlands are west of one or both county roads and in the area considered operationally limited by Kiewit; Kiewit does not anticipate relocating either road to access federal coal reserves. All wetland functions would be lost during mining activities, but the general analysis area would experience no net loss of wetlands due to permit requirements to create equivalent acreages of wetlands elsewhere in the Buckskin Mine permit area (section 3.7.3). Kiewit does not expect to divert any additional segments of Hay Creek under Alternative 2 due to the location of the drainage in the operationally limited area west of the county roads.

3.7.3.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

Since the 2007 NWI-based wetland determination was completed, a portion of the general analysis area was formally delineated by ICF wetland biologists. The results of this study are currently being reviewed by the Corps and the issuance of an approved jurisdictional determination is pending. Because the jurisdictional status of the delineated wetlands and other non-wetland waters has yet to be determined, the results of the post-2007 delineation are not presented in this document. If an action alternative is implemented, a wetland delineation will be completed for all areas outside of the area recently delineated. That report will be submitted to the Corps for verification and an approved jurisdictional determination will be requested. If unavoidable impacts on jurisdictional wetlands and other waters of the U.S. are proposed under either action alternative, a section 404 Permit Application will be prepared. Kiewit will mitigate for all affected jurisdictional wetlands in accordance with section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

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Mitigation is required at a minimum one-to-one ratio for jurisdictional wetlands. The wetland replacement plan, which must be approved by the Corps, requires no net loss of wetland area and function. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act does not cover nonjurisdictional wetlands; however, Executive Order 11990 requires that all federal agencies protect all wetlands. Mitigation for impacts on nonjurisdictional wetlands will be specified during the permitting process as required by the authorized state or federal agency (which may include the WDEQ and the OSM). Because surface land in the general analysis area is privately owned, the private surface owner may also contribute to decisions regarding mitigation for impacts on nonjurisdictional wetlands. The WDEQ allows and sometimes requires mitigation of nonjurisdictional wetlands, depending on the quality of the wetland functions. That agency may also require replacement of wetlands or playas with hydrologic significance. Wetland mitigation may begin prior to mining activities, depending on hydrologic resources available. Interim mitigation may be provided through the many sediment-control structures (ponds) created during mining, drainage diversion, removal of livestock from riparian areas, and repair of damaged wetlands.

3.7.4.

Residual Impacts

Replaced wetlands (jurisdictional or functional) may not duplicate the exact function and landscape features of the premining wetlands, but all wetland replacement plans will be approved by the Corps, which has special required permitting procedures to assure that no net loss of wetlands will occur after reclamation.

3.8. Soils
This section describes the affected environment as it relates to soils in the general analysis area, and identifies potential impacts on soils that would result from the Proposed Action and alternatives.

3.8.1.

Affected Environment

The affected environment described in this section is based on National Resources Conservation District soil surveys of Campbell County, Wyoming, which includes the proposed tract and general analysis area (National Resources Conservation Service 2004). Soils vary in composition and depth depending on where and how they were formed. Major factors involved in the formation of soils include whether the material was transported, the source of the material, and how the material was weathered after transportation. Five soil formation processes causing different soil types were noted in the general analysis area: 1) soils developing predominantly in alluvium (stream-laid) or eolian (wind-blown) deposits derived from sandstone and shale on upland ridges; 2) soils developing predominantly in alluvium

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derived from sandstone and shale on gently sloping uplands; 3) soils developing predominantly in alluvium or colluviums (material that has been transported downslope by rock falls, slides, and slumps) derived from porcelanite on gently sloping uplands; 4) soils developing predominantly in residuum (residual material )weathered from sandstone and shale on gently sloping uplands; and 5) soils developing predominantly in alluvium over residuum weathered from sandstone and shale on gently sloping uplands. Soil surveys were conducted in 2007 by BKS Environmental Associates, Inc., to an Order 1-2 resolution. The inventories included field sampling and observations at the appropriate number of individual sites to provide adequate sample sizes, and analysis of representative collected samples. Soils in the general analysis area were identified by series, which consist of soils that have similar horizons (distinct horizontal layers) in their profile (sequence of soil layers). Soil types and depths in the general analysis area are similar to soils currently being salvaged and used for reclamation at the Buckskin Mine and other nearby mines in northern Campbell County. Additional detailed information about the soil types sampled during 2007 is included in the Soils Data Report, which can be viewed at the High Plains District office of the BLM in Casper, Wyoming. These site-specific soil surveys located hydric (saturated) soils and inclusions of hydric soils, which are components used in identifying wetlands. Wetlands are discussed in section 3.7 of this EIS. Areas with soils that are not suitable to support plant growth include sites with high salinity (salty content), high sodicity (amount of sodium present), or excessive clay or sand content.

3.8.2.

Environmental Consequences

3.8.2.1. Proposed Action
Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a moderate, long-term impact on bulk density and infiltration rates in soils. Activities in these areas would have a moderate, beneficial, long-term impact on soil uniformity and decreased runoff, as well as chemical properties. The Proposed Action would have a moderate, short- to long-term impact on biological properties in soils that are stockpiled before reclamation. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts as those in the proposed tract and support area. Soils would be incrementally removed as mining and activities related to mining progress through the area. Soils removed and stockpiled during mining would be replaced under reclamation. The replaced soils would have a more uniform soil chemistry and soil nutrient distribution. Average topsoil quality would be improved because soil material that is not suitable to support plant growth would not be salvaged for use in reclamation. This would result in more uniform vegetative productivity on reclaimed lands. The baseline soils analysis of the proposed tract and support area indicates that the amount of suitable soil available for redistribution on disturbed areas would have an average depth of

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17 inches (1.4 feet). The replaced soil would support a stable and productive vegetation community adequate in quality and quantity to support the planned postmining land uses (i.e., wildlife habitat and livestock grazing). Reclamation would result in a temporary increase in the near-surface bulk density of soils in the proposed tract. The average soil infiltration rates would generally decrease, which would increase the potential for runoff and soil erosion. However, topographic moderation following reclamation would potentially reduce runoff, which would tend to offset the effects of decreased soil infiltration capacity. The change in soil infiltration rates would not be permanent because revegetation and natural weathering would eventually form a new soil structure in the reclaimed soils. Infiltration rates would gradually return to premining levels. The reclaimed landscape would contain stable landforms and drainage systems that would support the postmining land uses. Reconstructed stream channels and floodplains would be designed and established to closely mimic priming conditions and ensure proper drainage of water across the reclaimed spoils. Sediment-control measures would be implemented where runoff occurs to preserve reclaimed materials. Indirect impacts on biological organisms in the soil on the proposed tract and support area would include short- to long-term reduction in soil organic matter, microbial populations, seeds, bulbs, rhizomes, and live plant parts in soil resources that are stockpiled before replacement.

3.8.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action)
Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have similar impacts to those described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future.

3.8.2.3. Alternative 2
Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a moderate, short- to long-term impact on most soils characteristics following reclamation. These activities would have moderate, beneficial, long-term impacts on soil uniformity and reduced runoff postmining. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have similar impacts and beneficial effects as those in the BLM study area and support area. Baseline soils characteristics and reclamation practices would be the same as those described under the Proposed Action.

3.8.3.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

If either of the action alternatives is implemented, Kiewit will mitigate for the impacts on soil resources in accordance with WDEQ reclamation standards and requirements.

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Soils suitable to support plant growth will be salvaged for use in reclamation. Soil stockpiles will be protected from disturbance and erosional influences. Soil material that is not suitable to support plant growth will not be salvaged; soil or overburden materials containing potentially harmful chemical elements (e.g., selenium) will not be used in reclamation. A minimum of 4 feet of suitable overburden will be placed on the graded backfill surface below the replaced soil to meet state guidelines for vegetation root zones; those depths will be confirmed by sampling before topsoil is applied. Redistributed topsoil will be sampled to document redistribution depths and seeded to reduce wind erosion. Sediment-control structures will be constructed, as needed, to trap eroded soil. Vegetation growth will be monitored in reclaimed areas to confirm vegetation establishment and acceptability for bond release and determine if soil amendments are needed. Appropriate normal husbandry practices may be implemented to achieve specific reclamation goals.

3.8.3.

Residual Impacts

The action alternatives would result in long-term alteration of soil characteristics. Existing soils would be mixed and redistributed, and soil-forming processes would be disturbed by mining.

3.9. Vegetation
This section addresses existing vegetation in the general analysis area and impacts on vegetation resulting from the Proposed Action and alternatives. Wetlands are addressed in section 3.7. Threatened, endangered, proposed, and candidate plant species, and BLM Sensitive Species are addressed in appendices J and K, respectively.

3.9.1.

Affected Environment

The affected environment for the general analysis area is based on the following:  Vegetation communities in the overlap area (656 acres) were mapped and quantitatively sampled during baseline inventories for a permit amendment in 2000. All field sampling and mapping efforts were conducted in accordance with WDEQ mine permitting requirements.  Vegetation communities in the remainder of the general analysis area (2,191 acres) were mapped and quantitatively sampled in 2007 and 2008; those efforts also complied with WDEQ permitting requirements. Additional detailed information about these survey methods and results is included in the Vegetation Data Report, which can be viewed at the High Plains District office of the BLM in Casper, Wyoming. That report includes a map showing the primary vegetation communities in the general analysis area. Vegetation in the general analysis area consists of species common to eastern Wyoming and is consistent with vegetation that occurs in the existing Buckskin Mine permit area. Eight distinct vegetation communities were identified and mapped in the general analysis area. Four additional categories were also mapped: Disturbed Areas, Tree Shelterbelts, Rough Breaks, and Open Water. Each of the latter three groups accounts for less than 1% of the total area. All vegetation
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communities and additional classifications are described below. Table 3.9-1 provides acreages and percent composition for each category.

Table 3.9-1.

Vegetation Communities in the General Analysis Area
General Analysis Area BLM Study Area Acres
532.9 54.4 56.1 160.8 77.1 207.1 331.5 77.4 202.8 0.8 37.5 19.1 20.4 9.0 88.7 5.0 2.0 1,883.0

Proposed Tract Acres
39.3 3.7 12.0 0.0 2.2 41.7 252.6 4.1 45.8 0.9 9.5 7.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 419.0

Vegetation Community
Agricultural Cropland Agricultural Pasture: Moderate Management Agricultural Pasture: Intensive Management Bunchgrass Prairie Lowland Prairie Mixed Grass Prairie Sandy Prairie Riparian Bottomland Big Sagebrush Shrubland Trees: Shelter Belt Disturbed: Roads Disturbed: CBNG Disturbed: Residential Disturbed: Other Non-Mining Disturbed: Mining Rough Breaks Open Water Totala
CBNG = coal bed natural gas
a

Acres
727.1 86.2 56.1 232.8 124.9 462.6 455.9 174.3 302.0 0.8 46.4 41.0 20.4 11.9 88.7 12.5 3.4 2,847.0

Composition (%)
25.5 3.0 2.0 8.2 4.4 16.2 16.0 6.1 10.6 0.03 1.6 1.4 0.7 0.4 3.1 0.4 0.1 100.0

Composition (%)
28.3 2.9 3.0 8.5 4.1 11.0 17.6 4.1 10.8 0.04 2.0 1.0 1.1 0.5 4.7 0.3 0.1 100.0

Composition (%)
9.4 0.9 2.8 0.0 0.5 10.0 60.3 1.0 10.9 0.2 2.3 1.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 100.0

Totals are rounded.

Source: LandTrak Resources, Inc. 2009.

3.9.1.1. Agricultural Cropland
Agricultural cropland in the general analysis area consists of dryland, small grain production, and alfalfa hay production. The small grain production appears to use a fallow rotation cropping system. The alfalfa hay production is mostly dryland. Approximately 25.5 % (727.1 acres) of the general analysis area is Agricultural Cropland.

3.9.1.2. Agricultural Pasture
The classification system used for Agricultural Pasture—low management, moderate management, and intensive management—evaluates management efforts based largely on the presence of sagebrush.

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Low Management Low management Agriculture Pasture, which contains stands of old-growth sagebrush, is not present in the general analysis area. Moderate Management Moderate management Agriculture Pasture accounts for approximately 3.0% (86.2 acres) of the general analysis area. This vegetation community is largely a mixture of cool-season, introduced pasture grasses such as crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) and smooth brome (Bromus inermis). A minor component of cool-season native species is present, as well. Some management of shrub species has occurred in this vegetation community. Typically, this vegetation community is hayed when sufficient moisture has occurred to make harvesting economically viable. In dry years, this community is used as early-season pasture for livestock production. If it is not hayed for several years, the sagebrush will become reestablished in this vegetation community. Intensive Management Intensive management Agricultural Pasture accounts for approximately 2.0% (56.1 acres) of the general analysis area. This vegetation community is located mostly along the edges of Agricultural Cropland. It is typically mowed annually to allow access to the cropland. This vegetation community is comprised almost exclusively of cool-season, introduced pasture grasses such as crested wheatgrass and smooth brome. Frequent mowing prevents shrubs from becoming reestablished.

3.9.1.3. Bunchgrass Prairie Grassland
Bunchgrass Prairie Grassland accounts for approximately 8.2% (232.8 acres) of the general analysis area. This community typically occurs on clinker sandstone or shale hills, knolls, and slopes that are moderately steep to steep. Soils are predominantly in the Ironbutte, Fairburn, Mittenbutte, Samday, Shingle, and Rock Outcrop map units that have shallow soils and usually a high coarse-fragment content. Vegetation species associated with Bunchgrass Prairie Grassland include: little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparius), bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata), Indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides), needle-and-thread (Hesperostipa comata), and some blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis). Some big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) occurs in this community, typically in small, mosaic patterns as described in the Big Sagebrush Shrubland category, below.

3.9.1.4. Lowland Prairie Grassland
Lowland Prairie Grassland accounts for approximately 4.4% (124.9 acres) of the general analysis area. This community occurs primarily on gently sloping, often saline plains: on gently sloping benches usually adjoining Riparian Bottomlands: and in closed basins. Within this community, the amount of soil saturation, concentration of soil salts, and presence or absence of subirrigation varies with topographic position. Salt concentrations in lowland prairie soils influence

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plant-available water, thus affecting vegetation composition. Soil salt accumulations play a part in limiting moisture in the subirrigated category of the lowland prairie vegetation community. Transitional zones between soil water conditions in this community may be abrupt, or gradual and subtle, depending on local topographic and stormwater runoff conditions. Some portions of the lowland prairie benefit from periodic subirrigation which usually results in more robust growth of community vegetation. When present, subirrigation water tends to occur 16 inches below the ground surface. Soils are predominantly Boruff, Haverdad, and Felix series. Vegetation species associated with Lowland Prairie Grassland include: western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii), saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata), streambank/thickspike wheatgrass (Elymus lanceolatus), and big sagebrush.

3.9.1.5. Mixed-Grass Prairie Grassland
Mixed-grass Prairie Grassland accounts for approximately 16.2% (462.6 acres) of the general analysis area. This community occupies rolling hills and ridges with moderate to deep soil development. Soils are predominantly loams, sandy clay loams, fine sandy loams, and sandy loams. Occasionally, clay loams and loamy sands are found in this community. This community is most strongly correlated with deeper soils, including Bidman, Cambria, Kishona, Lawver, Teckla, and Wibaux loams, and Hiland sandy clay loam. Vegetation species associated with Mixed-grass Prairie Grassland include: western wheatgrass, Indian ricegrass, needle-and-thread, blue grama, and big sagebrush. When big sagebrush occurs in this community, it is typically in small, mosaic patterns and accounts for less than 20% of the total vegetation cover composition.

3.9.1.6. Sandy Prairie Grassland
Sandy Prairie Grassland accounts for approximately 16.0% (455.9 acres) of the general analysis area. This community occurs on rolling hills and plains, with occasional wind blow-outs. It is most commonly associated with fine sandy loams and sandy loams (e.g., Taluce, Terro, Vonalee, and Vonalf soils), but also occurs on loams, sandy clay loams, loamy sands, and fine sands. The soil series is generally is found on deeper soils; however, moderately deep soils are not uncommon. Vegetation species associated with Sandy Prairie Grassland include: Indian ricegrass, needle-and-thread, blue grama, prairie sand reed (Calamovilfa longifolia), and threadleaf sedge (Carex filifolia).

3.9.1.7. Riparian Bottomland
Riparian Bottomland accounts for approximately 6.1% (174.3 acres) of the general analysis area. This community is associated primarily with Hay Creek and is limited in distribution due to the drainage’s narrow width throughout most of its length. In a few atypical instances, isolated

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Riparian Bottomland communities grow on hillsides in saturated soils associated with groundwater seeps. Species composition in riparian bottomland varies, and is primarily correlated with site-specific hydrologic conditions. This community can be subdivided into two main sub-communities: Riparian Bottomland Meadow and Riparian Bottomland Marsh. Riparian Bottomland Meadow is the predominate sub-community found throughout Hay Creek. The most prevalent vegetation type is cordgrass, with minor inclusions of spikerush and bullrush. Riparian Bottomland Marsh and emergent vegetation zones exist around the perimeters of stockponds. The dominant vegetation types in this sub-community are bullrushes, spikerushes, and sedges. Rushes typically have a higher relative cover value than cordgrass in these areas. Production values for Riparian Bottomland sites can vary independently of cover values. These bottomland communities typically occur on soils that are characteristically deep and poorly drained, including Boruff series and mollic fluvaquents.

3.9.1.8. Big Sagebrush Shrubland
Big Sagebrush Shrubland accounts for approximately 10.6% (302 acres) of the general analysis area (table 3.9-1). For purposes of this study, this community is defined as areas in which shrub and sub-shrub species comprise more than 20% of the total vegetation cover. Big Sagebrush Shrubland is found on a variety of topography, including gentle slopes, rolling hills and steep, dissected breaks. This community occurs commonly on shallow clay loams (such as the Theedle and Shingle series) and deep loams (such as the Forkwood and Cushman series), and occasionally on sandy loams. This shrub community occurs in a mosaic pattern across the landscape. Individual shrub patches range from 0.3 acre to 27.0 acres, with 4.9 acres as the average area. The patches are loosely connected by narrow corridors of other vegetation communities (usually Mixed Grass Prairie or Lowland Prairie Grassland) with only a few shrubs present.

3.9.1.9. Disturbed Areas
In addition to surface mining, several other forms of disturbance are present in the general analysis area. Those combined features comprise approximately 7.2% (208.4 acres) of the area and include county roads, historic two-track roads, CBNG roads and infrastructure, residential sites, and other disturbance not related to mining.

3.9.1.10. Tree Shelterbelt
Most of the trees in the general analysis area are associated with residential disturbance. Due to their extremely limited presence, residential trees were included in the Tree Shelterbelt category. One stand of plains cottonwood (Populus deltoids) is present in the southeastern quarter of section 19, T52N R72W, within the overlap area. This cottonwood stand encompasses approximately 0.03% (0.8 acre) of the general analysis area.

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3.9.1.11. Rough Breaks
Rough Breaks refers to areas within the general analysis area where rock outcrops (including clinker) and badlands clay soils are associated with steep topography and limited vegetation. This category comprises 0.4% (12.5 acres) of the general analysis area.

3.9.1.12. Open Water
Open Water refers to water standing in reservoirs and stockponds in the general analysis area. Water bodies comprise 0.1% (3.4 acres) of the general analysis area.

3.9.2.

Environmental Consequences

Impacts on wetlands and wildlife/livestock relative to vegetative disturbance are discussed in section 3.7 and section 3.10, respectively.

3.9.2.1. Proposed Action
Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a moderate, short-term impact on vegetation, erosion, and grazing opportunities during mining. This alternative would have a negligible, long-term effect on changes in vegetation patterns and diversity after revegetation in the proposed tract and support area. It would have a minor, long-term impact on approximately 46 non-contiguous acres of sagebrush in these areas, as well as on wildlife use of the area; no rough breaks would be affected. The Proposed Action would have a moderate, short-term impact on the potential for invasion by nonnative plant species. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts as most of those in the proposed tract and support area. Exceptions would be that activities in the overlap area would impact approximately 80 non-contiguous acres of sagebrush and one stand of plains cottonwood encompassing approximately 0.8 acre in section 19, T52N R72W. Native vegetation would be incrementally removed and reclaimed during and after mining, respectively. Sandy Prairie Grassland community is the most prevalent in the disturbance areas (table 3.9-1), followed to a lesser degree by agricultural lands and shrublands. Disturbance in the agricultural lands would likely disrupt one landowner’s ranching and farming operation. An additional five vegetative communities would also be affected, but to a considerably lesser degree. Impacts associated with the removal of vegetation could include increased soil erosion and differences between premining and postmining vegetative communities. The transition from native to reclaimed grasslands would be the least dramatic, with species composition expected to be similar to premining communities. As indicated, vegetation loss and subsequent reclamation would likely occur incrementally across disturbed areas, depending on the direction and rate of mining. Shrubs and trees affected by mining activities would be reestablished according to the current WDEQ-approved reclamation plan for the Buckskin Mine.

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3.9.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action)
Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have similar impacts to those described under the Proposed Action for most factors during mining and following reclamation. It would have a minor, long-term effect on approximately 86 non-contiguous acres of sagebrush, as well as on wildlife use of the area. This alternative would impact one stand of plains cottonwood, encompassing approximately 0.8 acre in section 19, T52N R72W. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Vegetation removal and reclamation would occur incrementally in the overlap area. Shrubs and trees affected by mining activities would be reestablished according to the current WDEQ-approved reclamation plan for the Buckskin Mine.

3.9.2.3. Alternative 2
Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have the same impacts on vegetative characteristics during mining and following reclamation as those described under the Proposed Action. This alternative would have a minor, long-term impact on approximately 302 noncontiguous acres of sagebrush and 12 non-contiguous acres of rough breaks; two stands of trees (primarily cottonwoods) would be affected in the BLM study area and support area, as would wildlife use of the area. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts as those in the BLM study area and support area, though no additional sagebrush or rough breaks would be affected in that area. One stand of plains cottonwood, encompassing approximately 0.8 acre in section 19, T52N R72W, would be removed from the overlap area prior to mining. Vegetation removal and reclamation would occur incrementally throughout the general analysis area. Agricultural Cropland is the most prevalent habitat in this area, followed by Mixed Grass Prairie, Sandy Prairie, and Big Sagebrush (table 3.9-1). The remaining vegetation communities and habitat classifications could also experience some level of disturbance (table 3.9-1). Shrubs and trees affected by mining activities would be reestablished according to the current WDEQ-approved reclamation plan for the Buckskin Mine. Impacts associated with the removal of vegetation could include increased soil erosion and differences between premining and postmining vegetative communities. The latter impacts would be reduced due to the similarity between premining and postmining vegetation in most of the affected area. Vegetation loss and subsequent reclamation would likely occur incrementally across the final tract configuration, depending on the direction and rate of mining. Impacts on vegetation from topsoil stripping and other mine-related activities would be addressed in accordance with the WDEQ approved mining and reclamation plan.

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Mining activities under this alternative could impact trees within residential disturbance areas if Kiewit acquires the surface rights for those homes; however the company does not intend to pursue that option. Disturbance in agricultural lands would likely disrupt one landowner’s ranching and farming operation.

3.9.3.	

Threatened, Endangered, Proposed, and Candidate Plant Species, and BLM Sensitive Species

The current list of federal endangered, threatened, and candidate species for Campbell County, Wyoming, includes two plant species. As of March 2010, the blowout penstemon (Penstemon haydenii) is considered endangered and the Ute ladies’-tresses (Spiranthes diluvialis) is classified as threatened (http://www.fws.gov/wyominges/PDFs/CountySpeciesLists/ Campbell-sp.pdf). Appendix J of this document contains the biological assessment for federally listed species, and appendix K contains a discussion of the BLM sensitive species evaluation. No federally listed plant species would be affected under any alternative analyzed in this EIS.

3.9.4.	

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

If either action alternative is implemented, reclamation, including revegetation, will immediately follow as mining progresses through the area. Estimates of the time elapsed from topsoil stripping through reseeding of any given area range from two to five years. This would be longer for areas occupied by stockpiles, haul roads, some sediment-control structures, and other mine facilities. Some roads and facilities would not be reclaimed until all coal removal has ended and active operations have ended. No new life-of-mine facilities would be built in the proposed tract or the final tract configuration, because in either case the tract would be mined as an extension of the existing mine. By the time mining ceases, more than 75% of disturbed lands will be reseeded. The remaining 25% will be reseeded during the subsequent two to three years as the life-of-mine facilities area is reclaimed. Reclamation will approximate premining vegetation, and reestablished vegetation will primarily consist of native species except were agricultural lands occur. Areas reclaimed for native species will be revegetated as specified in the approved mine plan using reclamation seed mixtures approved by the WDEQ. Those efforts will likely focus on a mixture of upland prairie grasslands with graminoid/forb-dominated areas to simulate the dominance of upland grasslands in the premining landscape. Initially, reclaimed lands will be dominated by grassland vegetation, which may be less diverse than the native premining vegetation, but more diverse than agricultural areas. At least 20% of the native vegetation area will be reclaimed to native shrubs at a density of one per square meter or as required by current regulations. Shrubs will be selectively planted in riparian areas and trees will be replaced at a one-to-one ratio. Estimates for the time it will take to restore shrubs, including sagebrush, to premining density levels range from one or two decades to up to 100 years. Native vegetation from surrounding areas would enhance reclamation activities
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through natural seed dispersal. The reclamation plan for the final tract configuration will include steps to control invasive, nonnative plant species. Revegetation growth and diversity will be monitored and managed, including treating invasions of nonnative species, until the final reclamation bond is released (a minimum of 10 years). Erosion will be monitored to determine if corrective action is needed during establishment of vegetation. Controlled grazing will be used during revegetation as a management tool and to determine the suitability of the reclaimed land for postmining land uses. Following completion of reclamation (seeding with the final seed mixture) and before release of the reclamation bond, a permanent, diverse, and productive vegetative cover would be established throughout the disturbance area. The decrease in plant diversity would not seriously affect the potential productivity of the reclaimed areas, and the proposed postmining land use (wildlife habitat and rangeland) should be achieved even with the changes in vegetation composition and diversity. Reclamation of agricultural pastures and croplands may occur, but is highly dependent on the postmine topography and landowner agreements. It is most likely that agricultural lands will be reclaimed to pastures suitable for either haying or livestock rather than croplands. Such areas will be reclaimed using a seed-mix of native grass and legume species. Agricultural croplands will be reseeded to either annual cereal grain, such as winter wheat, or to hayland with a legume such as alfalfa. Again, reclamation of cropland is dependent on postmine topography and soil suitability for crop production. Following reclamation bond release, management of the privately owned surface areas would revert to the private surface owners, who would have the right to manipulate the reclaimed vegetation. Revegetation success and patterns in reclaimed areas would be at least partially affected by the influence of postmining topography on surface water drainage patterns. For example, the maximum postmining overland slope would be 20%, in accordance with WDEQ policy. However, the average reclaimed overland slope would not be known until the technical review of the permit revision application has been completed by the WDEQ. Although no substantial changes in the average overland slope are predicted once reclamation is complete, the location and orientation of individual slopes could influence the direction and amount of runoff from rain and snow events, which could then result in different rates of vegetative reestablishment throughout reclamation. The climatic record of the western United States suggests that droughts could occur periodically during the life of the mine. Such droughts could severely hamper revegetation efforts, because lack of sufficient moisture would reduce germination and could damage newly established plants. Severe thunderstorms could also adversely affect newly seeded areas. Same-aged vegetation would be more susceptible to disease resulting from increased vulnerability during periods of water stress (too little or too much) than plants of various ages. Once a stable vegetative cover is established, the impact of these events would be similar to impacts on native vegetation. Restoration of wetlands is discussed in section 3.7; monitoring of livestock grazing standards is discussed in section 3.10.

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3.9.5.

Residual Impacts

Reclaimed vegetative communities may never completely restore the preming native plant community. Immediately following reclamation, revegetated areas would be characterized primarily by a mixture of upland prairie grasslands with graminoid/forb-dominated areas, which does resemble the current dominant community. An overall reduction in species diversity, especially for the shrub component, could occur. The decrease in plant diversity would not seriously affect the potential productivity of the reclaimed areas, and the proposed postmining land use (wildlife habitat and livestock grazing) should be achieved even with the changes in vegetation composition and diversity. No net loss of jurisdictional wetlands would occur due to restoration requirements of the Corps (section 3.7). Any wetlands serving as stockponds or other agricultural uses would be restored in accordance with the requirements of the surface landowner.

3.10. Wildlife
This section describes the affected environment as it relates to wildlife in the general analysis area and various surrounding buffers, depending on the species, as well as impacts on wildlife and wildlife habitats that would result from the Proposed Action and alternatives.

3.10.1.

General Setting

Sections 3.1, 3.2, and 3.9 provide detailed descriptions of the general setting, topography, and vegetative composition, respectively, of the general analysis area. The most pertinent information for wildlife is summarized here for reference. The terrain in the general analysis area consists primarily of gently sloping uplands and relatively level agricultural fields, with more rugged topography in the northeastern portion of the area. Elevations in the general analysis area range from approximately 4,080 to 4,380 feet above mean sea level. Predominant wildlife habitat types classified in the general analysis area broadly correspond with the major plant communities defined during the vegetation baseline study. The proposed tract itself is dominated (approximately 71%) by various upland grassland habitats (table 3.9-1). Habitats in the general analysis area are comprised primarily (71%) of upland grasslands and agricultural lands (approximately 40% and 31%, respectively). For this EIS, Big Sagebrush Shrublands are defined as vegetation communities where shrub and sub-shrub species comprise more than 20% of the total vegetation cover. This habitat type makes up less than 11% of both the proposed tract (approximately 46 noncontiguous shrub acres) and surrounding general analysis area (approximately 302 noncontiguous shrub acres). The shrub community is dominated by big sagebrush and occurs in a broken mosaic pattern across the landscape. Individual shrub patches range from 0.3 acre to 27.0 acres in size, with an average of 4.9 acres. The patches are loosely connected by narrow corridors of other vegetative communities (usually Mixed-grass Prairie or Lowland Prairie), with few shrubs present. Other
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habitats present to a limited extent in the general analysis area include Riparian Bottomlands, Rough Breaks, Open Water, and Tree Shelterbelts, as well as previously disturbed areas (roads, pipelines, oil and gas storage tank complexes, and well pads). No major drainages pass through the proposed tract itself, though a closed, unnamed drainage system crosses its northwestern corner (map 3.5-3). Hay Creek flows from west to east through the northern half of the general analysis area, with a considerable portion of the channel passing through the existing Buckskin Mine permit area. Several primary and secondary tributaries are also in that area. Under natural conditions, Hay Creek and all tributaries in the area are considered ephemeral (i.e., respond only to rainfall or snowmelt events). The determination of stream classification was made using the flume monitoring data collected by the Buckskin Mine and reported in the existing permit document. Additional information regarding groundwater and surface water in the general analysis area is presented in section 3.5. CBNG discharge water has increased the frequency and duration of streamflow events in some portions of the general analysis area. The USFWS NWI maps (2007) show one small wetland (a 0.24-acre, semi-permanently flooded, diked impoundment) in the extreme northwestern corner of the proposed tract (map 3.7-1); however, field observations over the years have indicated that it is wet primarily during early spring months. One playa and one small instream impoundment are present in the northwestern portion of the surrounding general analysis area. Those features are also seasonal, with water typically present in spring but dry by mid- to late summer. The playa is the only water body in the general analysis area that provides habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, and other aquatic species. Due to its limited availability, it serves primarily as a staging area during spring migrations. Additional information regarding these water features is provided in section 3.5 and section 3.7. Due to the lack of permanent water sources, the general analysis area does not support any fisheries; fish species are, therefore, not discussed in this EIS. As described in section 1.1.3, a variety of ongoing mining and reclamation support activities occur in the overlap between the general analysis area and existing permit area. Mine operations and facilities throughout the rest of the existing permit area include storage silos, coal crushing and preparation plants, and a railroad spur and loading facility, among others. These activities often involve a variety of heavy equipment and occur 24 hours per day, every day of the year. Blasting occurs during daylight hours on a nearly daily basis. Disturbance and reclamation activities occur incrementally and sequentially throughout the permit area. Because the mine also operates at night, artificial lighting is present in active pit areas and on haul roads to ensure the safety of mine employees.

3.10.2.

Survey Requirements and History

Long-term information on species occurrence and habitat use in the general analysis area was based primarily on results from annual wildlife monitoring surveys conducted for the existing Buckskin Mine over the past 26 years (1984–2009). The extent of these annual surveys was based on guidance from Appendix B of the WDEQ Coal Rules and Regulations, and included multiple seasons, depending on the species and requirements in place at the time. Appendix B of

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the WDEQ Coal Rules and Regulations specifies that annual wildlife monitoring surveys for larger, wide-ranging species at existing surface coal mines include the permit area and the area within a 0.5- to 2-mile radius, depending on the species. Surveys for smaller, less mobile species (e.g., small mammals and rabbits) or species with small breeding territories (e.g., breeding birds) are limited to the permit area only. Guideline 5 of those rules and regulations recommends that the survey area for wildlife baseline inventories include the area that would be disturbed as a result of mining plus up to a 2-mile radius, again depending on the species. Those baseline and annual monitoring survey areas were developed in collaboration with the WGFD and USFWS, the agencies responsible for regulating wildlife on non-federal surface in Wyoming. The BLM Data Adequacy Standards for the Powder River Coal Region (BLM 1987) describe the minimum data requirements needed to make coal leasing recommendations for wildlife populations and their habitats within the PRB Coal Production Region. Because most coal mines in the PRB have collected long-term annual monitoring data for a wide variety of vertebrate species as part of their WDEQ permit requirements, and because most surveys include lands beyond current permit boundaries, the BLM typically accepts that information as meeting the minimum requirements of these standards. The long-term (26 years) database available for the Buckskin Mine permit area and surrounding lands meets those minimum requirements. Guideline 5 and the BLM Data Adequacy Standards both call for up to a 2-mile radius for some species surveys. Therefore, the long-term data provided for this EIS analysis included the general analysis area and the area within a surrounding 2-mile radius (map 3.10-1). Because of its elevated level of concern in recent years, a 3-mile radius has been analyzed for sage-grouse leks (map 3.10-1) in other recent coal EISs; to remain consistent with those documents, a 3-mile radius was also analyzed for this EIS. The 3-mile radius is the area in which two-thirds of the hens that were bred at those leks would be expected to nest. Information for each major group of vertebrate species is provided in the following subsections. Supporting data and a vegetation distribution map for the general analysis area are included in the Wildlife Data Report, which can be viewed at the BLM Wyoming High Plains District Office in Casper, Wyoming. Due to their proximity to the existing Buckskin Mine permit area, the entire proposed tract and the southern third (33%) of the general analysis area have been included in annual wildlife surveys for the last 26 years (1984–2009). Approximately 95% of the general analysis area has been surveyed annually for the last eight years (2002–2009) in conjunction with a previous permit amendment at the mine. The entire general analysis area and expanded adjacent lands were included in targeted baseline surveys conducted for the LBA process from late 2007 through 2009.

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BO

Burrowing Owl

0

5,000 feet

0

5,000 10,000 feet

10,000

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.10-1 Raptor Nests, Prarie Dog Colonies, and Grouse Leks in the Wildlife Survey Area

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Supplemental information on species occurrence and habitat use in the general analysis area was obtained from several sources, including: baseline inventories conducted at the Buckskin Mine from 1977 through 1979 (original study), in 1988 (Spring Draw tract), and from early 1999 through early 2000 (original Hay Creek amendment); annual wildlife monitoring reports submitted to the WDEQ by the Buckskin Mine and overlapping Eagle Butte and Rawhide mines from 1984 through 2009; the Final Eagle Butte Environmental Assessment (BLM 1994); the Final South Powder River Basin Coal EIS (BLM 2003); the Final EIS for the West Hay Creek Coal Lease Application (BLM 2004); the Final EIS for the Eagle Butte West Coal Lease Application (BLM 2007c); and from BLM, WGFD, and USFWS records and contacts from 2007 through 2009.

3.10.3.

Big Game

3.10.3.1. Affected Environment
No crucial big game habitat or migration corridors are recognized by the WGFD in the general analysis area, or elsewhere in the coal mine region of the PRB. Crucial range is defined as any particular seasonal range or habitat component that has been documented as the determining factor in a population’s ability to maintain and reproduce itself at a certain level. The pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are the only two big game species ever recorded in the general analysis area. No white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) or elk (Cervus elaphus) have ever been observed in that area, though both species have rarely been seen within 2 to 3 miles of the general analysis area. The pronghorn is the most common big game species in the general analysis area. However, because the area is dominated by upland grasslands and agricultural lands (71%, combined), this species is not usually observed in great numbers. Pronghorn are most often associated with sagebrush communities, particularly in winter (Sundstrom et al. 1973; Fitzgerald et al. 1994); Big Sagebrush Shrublands comprise less than 11% of both the proposed tract and general analysis area. The WGFD has classified the habitat in the vicinity of the Buckskin Mine as a mix of yearlong and winter/yearlong pronghorn range. Both range types describe areas where a population or substantial portion of a population of animals makes general use of the habitat on a year-round basis. In yearlong range, pronghorn may occasionally leave the area under severe conditions. In winter/yearlong range, the area receives a predictable and significant influx of additional animals from other seasonal ranges in the winter. The entire general analysis area is within the WGFD’s Gillette herd unit. In post-season 2007, the WGFD estimated that population to be 16,823 animals, with an objective of 11,000 (WGFD 2008a). The home range for pronghorn can vary between 400 acres to 5,600 acres. Several factors influence pronghorn movements, including season, habitat quality, population characteristics, water availability, and local livestock occurrence. Typically, daily movement does not exceed 6 miles. Pronghorn may make seasonal migrations between summer and winter habitats, but migrations are often triggered by availability of succulent plants and not local weather conditions (Fitzgerald et al. 1994). As

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noted above, no big game migration corridors have been documented in the general analysis area. Mule deer use a wide variety of habitats, but typically prefer sagebrush-grassland, rough breaks, and riparian bottomland. As described, those habitats are limited throughout the general analysis area. Browse is an important component of the mule deer’s diet throughout the year, comprising as much as 60% of total intake during autumn, while forbs and grasses typically make up the rest of their diet (Fitzgerald et al. 1994). This species tends to be migratory in certain areas of the state, traveling from higher elevations in the summer to winter ranges that provide more food and cover. The WGFD has classified the region surrounding the Buckskin Mine as a mix of yearlong and winter/yearlong range for mule deer. The entire area is located within the WGFD’s Powder River mule deer herd unit. The agency estimated the 2007 post-season mule deer population for the herd unit at 49,560, which was below the current objective of 52,000 (WGFD 2008a). White-tailed deer are generally managed separately by the WGFD in the Central herd unit. This deer species prefers treed riparian habitats; no such habitats occur in the general analysis area. The agency classifies nearly the entire area as out of the normal white-tailed deer use range. The nearest known habitat for this species is located in the cottonwood corridor along the Little Powder River, approximately 2 miles east of the general analysis area. White-tailed deer have rarely been recorded outside of that corridor. A resident elk herd lives in the Rochelle Hills located several miles southeast of the general analysis area. Elk do wander from the protection of the Rochelle Hills to forage in native and reclaimed grasslands at some mines in the central and southern parts of the PRB but they have only rarely been documented within a few miles of the Buckskin Mine. None of the areas considered in this EIS are classified by the WGFD as within normal elk use range.

3.10.3.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have minor to moderate, short-term impacts on pronghorn and mule deer, with long-term impacts on habitat carrying capacity. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts as described under the Proposed Action. This alternative would have no impact on elk and white-tailed deer because they are not present in the area. Mining and reclamation activities would occur incrementally throughout area. Some big game animals would be displaced from portions of the proposed tract, support area, and overlap area to adjacent habitats during mining. Because they are more prevalent, pronghorn would be most affected. However, long-term (since 1984) monitoring at the Buckskin Mine has demonstrated that pronghorn are more common in sagebrush shrubland habitats south of those areas than in the grasslands that dominate them. Similarly, mule deer would experience few impacts, given their infrequent use of these lands and the availability of suitable habitat in adjacent areas that would

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remain undisturbed by mining. Big game displacement would be temporary and incremental, occurring over several years and allowing for gradual changes in distribution patterns. Big game living in the areas adjacent to the proposed tract and support area could be adversely affected by increased competition from displaced animals. Noise, dust, and associated human presence would cause some foraging areas adjacent to mining activities to be avoided. However, pronghorn and mule deer have continued to occupy areas within and adjacent to active mining operations, suggesting that some animals do become habituated to such disturbances. Big game animals are highly mobile and can move to undisturbed areas. The construction of additional fences, spoil piles, and pits related to mining would likely restrict big game movement in or through the proposed tract to some degree. Pronghorn may not be able to negotiate these barriers during severe winter storms. However, WDEQ guidelines require fencing that is designed to permit passage of pronghorn and other big game species to the extent possible. Changes in big game carrying capacity would be minimal due to the relatively low level of big game use in the area and the current dominance of upland grassland and agricultural habitats in potential impact areas. Mule deer have regularly been documented in reclaimed grasslands at the adjacent Buckskin Mine and elsewhere in the PRB. Long-term restoration of sagebrush and other shrub species would facilitate pronghorn use of reclaimed mine lands over time. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts as described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. This alternative would have no impact on elk and white-tailed deer because they are not present in the area. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have the same impacts on big game during mining and following reclamation as those described under the Proposed Action. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have the same impacts as those under the Proposed Action. This alternative would have no impact on elk and white-tailed deer because they are not present in the area. Because the general analysis area is dominated (71% combined) by upland grassland communities and agricultural lands, the establishment of reclaimed grassland communities after mining has been completed would represent similar or somewhat improved habitats for big game, respectively, compared to those in the premining landscape. Long-term monitoring conducted at the Buckskin Mine has demonstrated that pronghorn are not common in the grasslands and agricultural lands that dominate the general analysis area. Mule deer are even less abundant in this area; both species use suitable habitat in adjacent areas that would not be affected by either action alternative.

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3.10.4.

Other Mammals

3.10.4.1. Affected Environment
A variety of small and medium-sized mammal species may occur in the general analysis area. Some predators that could be present include the coyote (Canis latrans), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), and striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis). Furbearers common to the area include the bobcat (Lynx rufus), long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata), and badger (Taxidea taxus). Prey species include various rodents (e.g., mice, rats, voles, gophers, ground squirrels, and chipmunks), cottontails (Sylvilagus spp.), and jackrabbits (Lepus spp.). These prey species are cyclically common and widespread throughout the region and are important food sources for raptors and other predators. Because water is extremely limited, species such as the muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), raccoon (Procyon lotor), and beaver (Castor canadensis) are uncommon throughout the general analysis area. Woodland species such as porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) and bats (e.g., hoary [Lasiurus cinereus] and big brown [(Eptesicus fuscus]) also have little habitat in the general analysis area. Few of those species have been recorded in the area during the last 26 years of annual monitoring, and those that were observed were not seen with any regularity. The black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) is a BLM sensitive species for the Buffalo Field Office due to its periodic occurrence in the federal listing process under the ESA of 1973, as amended. The most recent action regarding this species occurred on December 3, 2009, when the USFWS completed a status review of the black-tailed prairie dog and determined that it does not warrant protection as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA (74 FR 63344). Nevertheless, that agency continues to encourage the protection of prairie dog colonies for their value to the prairie ecosystem and the myriad of species that rely on them. No prairie dog colonies occur in the proposed tract or general analysis area. The nearest colony is approximately 80 acres in size and is located in a narrow valley on the far side of a ridge that marks the northeastern extent of the general analysis area (map 3.10-1). Because neither action alternative would affect this species, no further discussion is provided for the black-tailed prairie dog in this section.

3.10.4.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a moderate, short-term impact on small and medium-sized mammals. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts as those in the proposed tract and support area. The Proposed Action would have no impact on prairie dog colonies, or species dependent upon water (e.g., muskrats) or extensive woodlands (e.g., porcupines) due to the absence of these habitat types in the affected area.

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Mining and reclamation activities would occur incrementally throughout the area. Due to the high reproductive potential of most of these species, small and medium-sized mammals (e.g., lagomorphs, coyotes, and rodents) can quickly recolonize reclaimed lands. Because the proposed tract is dominated (71%) by upland grassland communities, the establishment of reclaimed grassland communities after mining has been completed would not result in a dramatic change in habitat types from the premining landscape. Medium-sized mammals could be directly affected by collisions with mine-related vehicles or traffic. Species inhabiting disturbed areas would be temporarily displaced to other habitats by mining, potentially resulting in increased competition and mortality, if those habitats are already at their carrying capacity. These populations would rebound as vegetation is reestablished or small mammal prey species recolonize reclaimed areas. Direct losses of small mammals would be higher than for other wildlife because their mobility is more limited and many retreat into burrows when disturbed. Populations of prey animals such as mice, voles, and ground squirrels would decline during mining. However, these animals have a high reproductive potential and tend to reoccupy and adapt to reclaimed areas quickly. Results from research projects on small mammal use of reclamation conducted on mined lands in the Wyoming and Montana PRB have indicated that reclamation objectives to encourage recolonization by small mammal communities are being achieved (Shelley 1992, Clayton et al. 2006 ). Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts as those described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a moderate, short-term impact on small and medium-sized mammals. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts. This alternative would have no impact on prairie dog colonies. Because Kiewit does not intend to disturb operationally limited lands west of the county roads, Alternative 2 would have no impact on mammalian species dependent upon water or extensive woodlands; such habitats are absent or extremely limited in the affected area. Because the general analysis area is dominated by upland grassland communities and agricultural lands (71% combined), the establishment of reclaimed grasslands after mining has been completed would represent similar or somewhat improved habitats, respectively, compared to those in the premining landscape.

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3.10.5.

Raptors

3.10.5.1. Affected Environment
Map 3.10-1 shows the locations and physical status of raptor nests identified the general analysis area and baseline survey area for the Buckskin Mine since annual monitoring began at Buckskin and the adjacent mines; the survey areas for adjacent mines overlap that of Buckskin. Over time, new nests have been built, and natural forces have destroyed many nests; others have been relocated for mitigation or removed by mining activities. In some cases, new nests have been created to mitigate the loss of other sites affected by mining operations. Eight intact raptor nests were present in the baseline survey area for raptors in 2008; only three were present in the general analysis area (map 3.10-1). Numerous intact and former nest sites are present elsewhere in the baseline survey area, beyond the general analysis area. Because these nest sites would not be affected by the Proposed Action or Alternative 2, they are not discussed further in this section. Raptor species that have historically been documented in the general analysis area include the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis), red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsoni), rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus), northern harrier (Circus cyaneus), American kestrel (Falco sparverius), prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus), great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), and short-eared owl (Asio flammeus). These species are year-round residents, seasonal visitors, or migrants, depending on the species. Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) could nest in old badger burrows, but they have not been recorded doing so in the general analysis area to date. Raptor species such as the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), screech owl (Megascops spp.), and peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) are generally precluded due to the lack of appropriate habitats such as dense coniferous forests and riverine cliffs; those species have never been recorded in the general analysis area or at the adjacent Buckskin Mine. Bald eagles and rough-legged hawks both occur in the vicinity of the Buckskin Mine during winter. The bald eagle is a migrant and common winter resident of the PRB, but is not common in general analysis area. Bald eagle sightings in the general analysis area and at the adjacent Buckskin Mine have not been made with any regularity; observations have averaged less than one bird per year over the last 26 years (1984–2009) and have typically been limited to one or two individuals at a time. Both species occasionally perch in the small grove of trees in the southeastern corner of the proposed tract where it overlaps with the existing permit area and, therefore, are likely to be exposed to disturbance under existing conditions. On July 9, 2007, the USFWS published a Federal Register notice (72 FR 37346–37372) announcing that the bald eagle would be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species under the ESA; delisting was effective on August 8, 2007. However, the protections provided to the bald eagle under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act will remain in place. The bald eagle is recognized as a BLM sensitive species due to its former listed status and is further discussed in appendix K of this EIS.

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The red-tailed hawk and great horned owl are the only two raptor species that nest with any regularity in the general analysis area, including in the proposed tract (map 3.10-1). The golden eagle and short-eared owl have infrequently nested in the general analysis area over time. One pair of Swainson’s hawks has periodically built a nest just outside the general analysis area but has never laid eggs. Although nest structures typically associated with ferruginous hawks have been found in the general analysis area, no active nests have been documented during 26 years of annual monitoring. As described previously, habitat is limited or absent for those species that nest exclusively in trees, on cliffs, or in prairie dog colonies. Several pairs of red-tailed hawks and great horned owls have adapted to nesting on mine highwalls and facilities such as coal crushers, silos, and other load-out structures at multiple coal mines in the PRB in recent years. The USFWS does not require mitigation for such nest sites at surface coal mines in northeast Wyoming due to the fact that disturbance activities were ongoing and continuous when raptors arrived to begin nesting.

3.10.5.2. Environmental Consequences
Table 3.10-1 presents the potential impacts on raptor nest sites (intact and former) under each alternative.

Table 3.10-1. Potential Impacts on Raptor Nest Sitesa (Intact and Former) in the General Analysis Area (through 2009) Under the Proposed Action and Alternatives
Species
INTACT NESTS Red-tailed hawk Red-tailed hawk/great horned owl Ferruginous hawk Total Intact Nests FORMER NEST SITES Red-tailed hawk/great horned owl Red-tailed hawk/golden eagle Golden eagle Short-eared owl Total Former Nest Sites
a b c

Alternative 1 (No Action)b

Proposed Action

Alternative 2c

0 1 0 1

0 1 0 1

1 1 1 3

2 1 1 2 6

2 1 1 0 4

2 1 1 2 6

Rows are not summed across. Nests within the overlap between the general analysis area and existing Buckskin Mine permit area only. Nest(s) within the general analysis area only (nest number based on maximum potential area of disturbance associated with leasing action).

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Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have no impact on known raptor nest sites, but would have a minor, short-term impact on foraging and nesting habitat. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have a minor, short-term impact on one intact raptor nest and six former nest sites (table 3.10-1, map 3.10-1); four of the six former sites are in the tree shelterbelt in section 19, T52N R72W. These activities would have a minor, short-term impact on nesting and foraging habitat in the overlap area. The five nest sites in the tree grove have historically been used by red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and golden eagles, but only hawks and owls have nested in that location since 1998. The eagle pair expanded its territory to the south that year and has not returned to the general analysis area. Short-eared owls nested at the two former sites in the northeastern portion of the overlap area; both sites were last used in 2006. Long-term monitoring data have demonstrated that the most consistent raptor pairs in the vicinity of the Buckskin Mine regularly nest within 0.25 mile and in view of regular human disturbance; thus, they are acclimated to having some level of activity occur near their nests. For example, one pair of red-tailed hawks nested within 400 feet of an occupied residence and 600 feet from the McGee Road each year from 2002 through 2008, fledging young in all but one year; the nest was tended in 2009. Great horned owls at Buckskin and other PRB mines regularly nest on active mine facilities such as coal crushers and batch load-outs. Details regarding raptor nesting efforts and success near mine operations are available in the Buckskin Mine annual wildlife reports, as well as those for other regional coal mines, on file with the WDEQ in Sheridan, Wyoming. Despite raptors’ apparent acceptance of regular human disturbance near active nests, mining activity could cause them to abandon nests near disturbance, particularly if operations unintentionally encroach on active nests during a given breeding season. Mining activities could also remove intact nests during the non-breeding season. Although these actions could have an impact on individual birds or pairs, mining associated with the Proposed Action would not have an impact on regional raptor populations due to the low level of use by nesting raptors in the area. Prior to any new disturbance associated with the Proposed Action, the current USFWS-approved avian monitoring and mitigation plan for the Buckskin Mine would be updated to incorporate mitigation measures to minimize impacts on nesting raptors (section 3.10.10). Mining and reclamation activities would occur incrementally throughout the area. Because native habitats in the proposed tract, support area, and overlap area are dominated (71%) by upland grasslands, ground-nesting raptors and those foraging in the area should be able to transition easily to reclaimed grassland parcels. Equipment yards associated with mining provide additional habitat for prey species such as cottontails and rodents. Raptor pairs have voluntarily and repeatedly nested near such areas at Buckskin and other coal mines in the PRB.

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Results from annual monitoring of prey populations at these mines have demonstrated that raptor nesting efforts and productivity at surface coal mines in northeast Wyoming have been influenced primarily by natural factors such as prey abundance, untimely inclement weather, and availability of nesting substrates. Due to the limited presence of trees and lack of tall cliffs, raptor species that nest in those features are not as abundant as those that either nest on the ground or are adaptable to nesting on mine facilities or other human-made structures (e.g., platform nests). During mining, new nesting habitat can be created in reclaimed areas through enhancement efforts like the installation of platform nests, relocation of snags, and tree plantings. Bald eagle sightings in the vicinity of the general analysis area have averaged less than one bird per winter over the last 26 years (1984–2009); no bald eagle nests have ever been documented at the Buckskin Mine. One or two individuals have infrequently been seen perched in the trees in the southeastern corner of the proposed tract during that period, but the tree stand has not officially been classified as a winter roost site. As described previously, those trees are within the overlap area and are already subject to future disturbance and/or appropriate mitigation measures that might be necessary within the existing permit boundary. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have a minor, short-term impact on one intact raptor nest and six former nest sites (table 3.10-1, map 3.10-1); four of the six former sites are in the tree shelterbelt in section 19, T52N R72W. These activities would have a minor, short-term impact on nesting and foraging habitat in the overlap area. The raptor mitigation plan for the mine would continue to be updated according to current permit requirements (every term of permit renewal or major change in the mine plan) to ensure protection of nesting raptors in the vicinity of the mine. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. As described under the Proposed Action, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and golden eagles have historically nested in the tree grove that also falls within the proposed tract, but only hawks and owls have nested there since 1998. Short-eared owls have nested elsewhere in the overlap area, but those ground nests do not normally persist beyond the year they are used and have already been disturbed by previously permitted mine operations within the overlap area. Mining and reclamation activities would occur incrementally throughout the area. Because native habitats in the area dominated (71%) by upland grassland species, ground-nesting raptors and those foraging in the area would be able to transition easily to reclaimed parcels. If new nests are discovered in the overlap area in the future, the USFWS would be contacted to incorporate the site into the approved raptor mitigation plan for the Buckskin Mine. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) would have a minor, short-term impact on one intact raptor nest (map 3.10-1). Mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) also would have a minor, short-term impact on one intact raptor nest. Activities
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in the BLM study area and support area would have a minor, short-term impact on raptor foraging and nesting habitat. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have a minor, short-term impact on one intact raptor nest and six former nest sites (table 3.10-1, map 3.10-1); four of the six sites are in the tree shelterbelt in section 19, T52N R72W. These activities would have a minor, short-term impact on nesting and foraging habitat in the overlap area. Mining and reclamation activities would occur incrementally throughout the area. Because the general analysis area is dominated (71% combined) by upland grassland communities and agricultural lands, the establishment of reclaimed grassland communities after mining has been completed would represent similar or somewhat improved habitats, respectively, compared to premining conditions. These reclaimed areas would provide alternate nesting and/or foraging habitats for local raptors. Two stands of trees, beside the one in the overlap area, are present in the general analysis area; both are located adjacent to currently or recently occupied residences. Red-tailed hawks were first documented nesting near an occupied residence located between the McGee and Collins roads in 2002; the pair fledged two young that year. Hawks nested in that shelterbelt in each of the subsequent six years, despite increased activity at the residence in recent years; young fledged in five of those six years. No raptor nests have been documented in the shelterbelt near the recently vacated residence west of the junction of these roads. The lone intact ferruginous hawk nest in the general analysis area (map 3.10-1) has never been active since it was discovered in 1999. No active nests for this species have ever been recorded near the Buckskin Mine during the last 26 years of annual monitoring, although the presence of ground nests that are characteristic of ferruginous hawks suggests historic nesting activity. These ground nests can persist for many years without use as a result of the dry climate. Three additional intact raptor nests are located beyond, but within 0.5 mile of the general analysis area (map 3.10-1); that is the distance recognized by the BLM as an adequate buffer between disturbance and nests of most raptor species. All three structures have been classified as ferruginous hawk nests due to their physical locations and composition, but none have been active since their respective discoveries. One of those three nests is in the existing mine permit area (beyond the overlap area), and will be affected under any alternative. The remaining two nest sites are approximately 0.5 mile north of the general analysis area. These nests are separated from the general analysis area by multiple ridges and, thus, are buffered from future visual and audio disturbance in that area. As described in chapter 2, Kiewit does not anticipate relocating either county road. Should those areas be leased and scheduled for disturbance, the Buckskin Mine would be required to revise its monitoring and mitigation plan to provide adequate protection from new mine-related disturbances for nesting or roosting raptors (section 3.10.10). Prior to any new disturbance associated with the Proposed Action, the current USFWS-approved avian monitoring and mitigation plan for the Buckskin Mine would be updated to incorporate mitigation measures to minimize impacts on nesting raptors (section 3.10.10).

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3.10.6.

Upland Game Birds

3.10.6.1. Affected Environment
Upland Game Birds Four upland game bird species are known to occur in suitable habitats in the general analysis area: the mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), gray partridge (Perdix perdix), sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus), and greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), hereafter referred to as sage-grouse. Although all four species have been documented in and around the general analysis area over time, sightings typically consisted of fewer than 10 birds at a given location. The mourning dove is the most common upland game bird species in the vicinity of the Buckskin Mine. Doves are especially abundant during spring and fall migrations, with fewer observations during the nesting season. This species is also a relatively common breeding bird in Campbell County and may be found in a variety of habitat types (Cerovksi et al. 2004). Doves are often seen near sites with water sources and trees, though they are occasionally observed in sagebrush and greasewood stands. Mourning doves were recorded in the general analysis area, including in the proposed tract, during baseline surveys conducted in both 2007 and 2008, and in previous and subsequent years. Individuals observed in the proposed tract were most often associated with the small stand of trees in the southeastern corner that overlaps the existing Buckskin permit area. The gray partridge (a.k.a. Hungarian partridge or Hun) is an introduced, non-migratory game bird that forms flocks (or coveys) outside the breeding season. Gray partridge have observed along the reclaimed channel of Rawhide Creek inside the existing Buckskin permit area; that area is approximately 1.5 miles southeast of the general analysis area. However, this species is not encountered with any regularity, with intervals of several years passing between sightings. No gray partridge were observed in the general analysis area during 2007 or 2008. The greater sage-grouse is a species of concern throughout the West and, as such, is given greater consideration in this EIS. Although the sharp-tailed grouse does not have the same status as sage-grouse, it has been documented at the Buckskin Mine over the years. Surveys for both species are conducted using the same timing and protocols. Consequently, portions of the following discussion apply to both species. Individual discussions are provided by species, where appropriate. Grouse Terminology and Survey Methods The WGFD manages and regulates grouse populations in Wyoming, while the WDEQ regulates surface coal mines in the state. Survey protocols for grouse used at Buckskin and other coal mines in northeast Wyoming are based on Appendix B of the WDEQ Coal Rules and Regulations. The wildlife survey and reporting protocols in this document are based on input and guidance provided by the WGFD. Those protocols are used during all baseline and annual

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monitoring efforts conducted at surface coal mines in the Wyoming PRB. For consistency with those efforts, WGFD nomenclature for leks and their management status is used in this EIS. A lek is defined as a traditional courtship display area attended by male grouse (WGFD 2006). For sage-grouse, leks are typically located in sagebrush dominated habitats. Sharp-tailed grouse leks can be found in both grassland and sagebrush habitats. The WGFD designates display sites as leks based on observations of two or more male grouse engaged in courtship displays made on two separate occasions during the appropriate time of day (WGFD 2006). Sub-dominant males may display on temporary strutting areas during population peaks, but those areas usually fail to become established leks. Therefore, the WGFD requires sites where small numbers (less than five) of males are observed strutting to be confirmed as active for two years before adding the site to the lek database. A group of leks in close enough proximity for males to move among them from one day to the next is considered a lek complex. A specific distance criterion to define a complex does not yet exist (WGFD 2006). The WGFD has adopted definitions for lek status to provide consistency in nomenclature when collecting and reporting sage-grouse data (WGFD 2006). The definitions describe the annual status and a long-term management status of sage-grouse leks; those definitions can also be applied to sharp-tailed grouse leks. The status is assessed annually based on the following definitions:  Active—any lek that has been attended by male grouse during the strutting season.  Inactive—any lek where sufficient data suggests that there was no strutting activity throughout a strutting season.  Unknown—leks for which status as active or inactive has not been documented during the course of a strutting season. The WGFD management status is based on a lek’s annual status, and includes three categories:  Occupied—a lek that has been active during at least one strutting season within the prior 10 years. Occupied leks are protected through prescribed management actions during surface-disturbing activities.  Unoccupied (formerly “historical lek”)—This category is further divided into two sub-groups: “destroyed” and “abandoned.” Unoccupied leks are not protected during surface-disturbing activities. 	 Destroyed—A formerly active lek site and surrounding habitat (including sagebrush) that have been destroyed and are no longer suitable for grouse breeding.  Abandoned—A lek in otherwise suitable habitat that has been “inactive” during the most recent 10 consecutive strutting seasons.  Undetermined—Any lek that has not been documented as active in the last 10 years, and for which survey information is insufficient to designate it unoccupied. Undetermined leks are protected through prescribed management actions during surface-disturbing activities until sufficient documentation is obtained to confirm the lek is unoccupied.
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The Buckskin Mine has conducted surveys of known grouse leks and searches for new leks as part of its wildlife baseline inventories and annual wildlife monitoring programs since the late 1970s and mid 1980s, respectively. Baseline inventories, which occurred prior to initial permitting and subsequent permit amendments, encompassed the mine’s permit area and the area within a 2-mile radius. Lek counts have been conducted in the Buckskin Mine permit area and the area within a 1-mile radius as part of the annual monitoring program for the last 26 years (1984–2009). The annual monitoring area was expanded to accommodate each new amendment as it was approved. Due to the proximity of the proposed tract to the existing mine, the entire proposed tract and most of the general analysis area have been included in previous survey efforts since 1984. Annual lek counts were voluntary until 1993, when the WDEQ issued the monitoring guidelines (Appendix B of the WDEQ Coal Rules and Regulations). Counts are conducted at 7- to 10-day intervals over a 3- to 4-week period from early April through early May each year per WGFD (2006) survey protocols. Surveys are conducted from the ground between 0.5 hour before sunrise and one hour after sunrise, and only during appropriate weather conditions (i.e., light wind and no precipitation). Each lek site is checked at least once in spring, with active leks counted at least three times. Repeated counts of males and females are made at each site until a consistent peak count is recorded. Specific surveys for nesting and wintering grouse are not part of the annual monitoring requirements for surface coal mines in the Wyoming PRB. However, seasonal ground surveys for other wildlife species have been conducted in potential grouse nesting habitats annually since 1984, including numerous walking surveys in sagebrush and other habitats targeting other ground-nesting species each spring. Surveys for winter grouse use have been conducted as part of the required baseline inventories for previous and proposed permit amendments over the years. Biologists conducted the surveys by driving and walking through sagebrush habitats watching for grouse and their sign (snow tracks, droppings, feathers) during winter months. Sage-grouse were also recorded during other wildlife surveys described in this section. Targeted surveys for sage-grouse broods were conducted as part of the required annual monitoring program twice each July from 1995 through 1999. Based on the lack of brood sightings at coal mines throughout the region, the WGFD recommended in 1999 that surveys for grouse broods be dropped from annual monitoring requirements under Appendix B of the WDEQ Coal Rules and Regulations. The Buckskin Mine voluntarily continued brood surveys through summer 2001 before amending its WDEQ mining permit to remove that survey requirement. Due to the increasing concern about the sage-grouse throughout its range, the mine voluntarily conducted grouse brood surveys annually from 2004 through 2009. All surveys were conducted by walking along approximately 4 miles of native and reclaimed drainages (2 miles each) within the existing Buckskin Mine permit area and recording any grouse or grouse sign observed. Similar surveys were conducted in drainages within proposed expansion areas over the years as part of baseline inventory requirements. Coincidentally, some survey routes included drainages within the general analysis area. Biologists also watched for and recorded any sage-grouse and broods seen incidental to other wildlife surveys during all monitoring years.

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Sage-Grouse Life History The sage-grouse is considered a “landscape species,” which means that large expanses of unfragmented land are required to provide all the habitat components necessary for their annual life cycle. This species is a sagebrush-obligate, and requires sagebrush habitat year-round for food, cover, and shelter, and for every phase of its life cycle. Sage-grouse often exhibit seasonal movements to use discrete sagebrush habitats, though the distance traveled varies widely among populations. These movements are often in response to devotion to seasonal-use areas (i.e., breeding, nesting/brood rearing, summering, and wintering), with adjustments related to severity of winter weather, topography, and vegetative cover. Sage-grouse breeding occurs on leks during late March and April. Leks are generally established in open areas surrounded by Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata wyomingensis), which is used for escape cover and protection from predators. Generally, lek sites are used year after year and are considered the center of year-round activity for resident sage-grouse populations. On average, approximately two-thirds of sage-grouse hens nest within 3 miles of the lek where they were bred. New spring plant growth, residual cover, and understory are important habitat components for nesting sage-grouse hens. Areas near nests are used for several weeks by hens for brood rearing. The habitats used during the first few weeks after hatching must provide both good cover to conceal the chicks and essential nutritional requirements during this period of rapid development. Brood-rearing habitats that have a healthy and wide diversity of plant species, particularly grasses and forbs, tend to provide the variety and abundance of insects that are an essential protein supply for the young birds. Summer habitat consists of sagebrush mixed with areas of wet meadows, riparian, or irrigated agricultural fields. As summer progresses and forbs mature and dry up, sage-grouse broods must move to more mesic or wet meadow-type habitats where succulent plants and insects are still available. This can be especially important in drier years and during extended periods of drought. As the fall season nears, sage-grouse form flocks as brood groups come together. As fall progresses, sage-grouse move toward their winter ranges. During winter, sage-grouse feed almost exclusively on sagebrush leaves and buds. Suitable winter habitat requires sagebrush to be accessible, especially in areas where snowfall is common. It is crucial that sagebrush be exposed at least 10 to 12 inches above snow level, as this provides food and cover for wintering sage-grouse. Population and habitat analyses suggest that wintering habitat can be as limiting as breeding habitats. Regional and Statewide Sage-Grouse Population Trends Overall, the sage-grouse population has been steadily declining in Wyoming and across the rest of the West. A study prepared by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies estimated that sage-grouse populations in western North America declined at an overall rate of 2% per year from 1965 to 2003 (Connelly et al. 2004). The decline rate was greater from 1965 to 1985, with populations stabilizing and some increasing from 1986 to 2003. For Wyoming,

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this study estimated that sage-grouse populations declined at an average rate of 0.51% per year from 1968 to 1986 (9.66% decline overall), and at an average rate of 0.33% per year from 1987 to 2003. Populations were lowest in the mid 1990s, with a gradual increase in numbers in some regions since that time (Connelly et al. 2004). The general analysis area is within the Northeast Wyoming Local Sage-Grouse Working Group (NWLSWG) area, which includes portions of the WGFD Sheridan and Casper biological regions. Because the nearest USDA Forest Service lands are approximately 50 miles north and south of the general analysis area, this EIS does not include lek trends from the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. Results from that area are discussed in both the South Gillette Coal Lease Application Final EIS and the Wright Area Coal Lease Application Draft EIS, available on the Wyoming BLM website. Sage-grouse monitoring has occurred in the NWLSWG area since 1967. Assuming the number of males per active lek accurately reflects sage-grouse populations, population trends have exhibited a cyclical pattern within this area. Periodic highs and lows in grouse numbers have occurred at approximately 10-year intervals (figure 3.10-1). With the exception of the most recent cycle, each successive peak was lower than the preceding peak; the same was true for successive low counts. This long-term trend suggests a steadily declining sage-grouse population (WGFD 2008b). Comparisons between sage-grouse population trends in the NWLSWG area and statewide (figure 3.10-2) show strong similarities, though the average number of males per lek in the regional area has been lower than that observed statewide in most years. As in the NWLSWG area, the statewide sage-grouse population trend has exhibited a long-term (1960–2008) decline, a mid-term (1999–2008) increase, and a recent short-term (2006–2008) decline (WGFD 2008c). The mid- and short-term trends in statewide populations are believed to be largely weather related. Timely precipitation in some years resulted in improved habitat conditions, allowing greater numbers of sage-grouse to hatch and survive. Conversely, multi-year drought conditions are believed to have caused lower grouse survival in the early 2000s, leading to population declines. The WGFD considers these trends as valid at the statewide scale, but more varied at the local scale (WGFD 2008c). For example, sub-populations in areas more heavily influenced by anthropogenic impacts (e.g., subdivisions, intensive energy development, large-scale conversion of habitat from sagebrush to grassland or agriculture, interstate highways) have experienced declining populations or extirpation despite recent population increases in other parts of the state (WGFD 2008c). The potential for West Nile virus, as well as loss of population connectivity, represent additional threats to this species in many parts of its range (Naugle et al. 2004).

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60 50
# Males/Lek

40 30 20 10 0
88 67 70 91 73 76 79 82 85 94 97 00 03 06 20 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 20 20

Lek Count All Lek Checks

Year

Source: Northeast Wyoming Local Working Group Area, Annual Sage-Grouse Completion Report For 2008

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Figure 3.10-1 Average Male Sage-grouse Lek Attendance within the Northeast Wyoming Local Working Group Area (1967–2008)

20

08

WY Sage-grouse Ave. Males/Lek 1960-2008
70 60

Males/Lek

50 40 30 20 10 0

1960

1965

1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

Year

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Figure 3.10-2 Average Number of Males per Lek Counted in Wyoming (1960–2008) with a Minimum of 100 Leks Checked Each Year

2005

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Agency Responses to Sage-Grouse Population Trends Since 1999, the USFWS has received eight petitions requesting that the sage-grouse be listed under the ESA as threatened or endangered. Three of the petitions requested that sage-grouse be listed as endangered across its entire range. On January 12, 2005, following a 12-month status review on the species, the USFWS concluded that listing was not warranted at that time. On December 4, 2007, U.S. District Court, District of Idaho, ruled that the USFWS 12-month petition finding on sage-grouse was in error and remanded the case back to the agency for further reconsideration. On February 26, 2008, the USFWS announced the initiation of another status review for the sage-grouse. That review process concluded on March 5, 2010, when the agency determined that listing the sage-grouse under the ESA was “warranted, but precluded” by other higher priorities; that determination has since received legal challenges by various groups. In response to these repeated petitions and the most recent determination regarding listing under the ESA, the USFWS has indicated the need for increased and continued efforts to conserve sagegrouse and sagebrush habitat on a long-term basis. That agency has encouraged continued development and implementation of conservation strategies throughout the species’ range. In May 2002, the USFWS office in Cheyenne, Wyoming, released a list entitled “Coal Mine List of 40 Migratory Bird Species of Management Concern in Wyoming,” which replaced the previous “Migratory Birds of High Federal Interest List.” The sage-grouse is included as a Level I species on the updated list, which indicates the need for a monitoring and mitigation plan for this species. Although the sage-grouse continues to be managed by the WGFD, its current status as a candidate species under the ESA gives further impetus to ongoing annual monitoring efforts. The sage-grouse is also a BLM sensitive species (see appendix K) due to its recurring presence in the federal listing process. On September 11, 2003, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission announced that the 2003 hunting season for sage-grouse in Johnson, Sheridan, and Campbell counties would be closed. The closure followed the deaths of 11 sage-grouse in northeastern Wyoming from West Nile virus in August and early September of that year. According to WGFD’s September 11, 2003, press release, the commission took this action because the incidence of infection was much higher in northeastern Wyoming than in the rest of the state, and the area is on the fringe of sage-grouse range with marginal, fragmented habitat. Recent lek count data indicate that Wyoming’s sage-grouse populations increased slightly from 2004 through 2007. Lower incidences of West Nile Virus mortalities were also documented in those years, primarily due to cooler temperatures that reduced mosquito populations. Sage-grouse hunting seasons were reopened in 2004 (Christiansen 2004). In 2007, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal commissioned a Statewide Sage-grouse Implementation Team, which emerged from the Governor’s 2007 Sage-Grouse Summit. On March 17, 2008, the implementation team preliminarily identified and mapped recommended sage-grouse core breeding areas in Wyoming in an effort to better understand the types of habitat grouse prefer and what areas should be protected. No such habitat was defined in the vicinity of the general analysis area.

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On August 1, 2008, the Governor of Wyoming released an executive order regarding sage-grouse core area protection (Office of the Governor of Wyoming 2008) on state trust lands. The sage-grouse core area protection concept came about because of work by the Sage-Grouse Implementation Team. The implementation team developed a core population strategy for the state “to maintain habitats and viable populations of sage-grouse in areas where they are most abundant.” As part of that effort, the team delineated approximately 40 areas of state trust lands around Wyoming with a goal of maintenance and enhancement of grouse habitats and populations within the core areas. The areas were delineated by evaluating habitats within a 4-mile radius of selected sage-grouse leks in high lek-density areas. The Implementation Team is currently working with the local sage-grouse working groups throughout Wyoming to revise those core areas to include lands within 5.3 miles of selected sage-grouse leks to increase protection for nesting hens, and to identify and protect other important habitats that might help maintain connectivity among populations. Revised maps and management recommendations are expected to be released in the latter half of 2010. The BLM Wyoming State Office is in the process of developing a statewide sage-grouse management policy and has incorporated sage-grouse focus areas based on the core area concept in the draft management policy. The BLM has indicated that the sage-grouse management strategy for future surface disturbance, which would include the Proposed Action and alternatives, will likely be based on the sage-grouse focus areas (BLM 2008d). Grouse History at the Buckskin Mine Based on results from annual counts and lek searches conducted for the Buckskin Mine, grouse occur but are not abundant in the general analysis area. In general, sharp-tailed grouse do not appear to be as prevalent as sage-grouse near the surface coal mines in northeast Wyoming. However, sharp-tailed grouse have been seen in greater numbers and with more frequency than sage-grouse in the general analysis area in recent years, though counts for both species have declined over time (table 3.10-2).

Table 3.10-2. Peak Grouse Attendance at Leks in the Vicinity of Buckskin Mine (1984–2009)
Daly SAGR Year
1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991

Hay Creek SAGRa,b M
2 8 12 23 27 15 12 17

McGee SAGRc M
— — — — — — — —

Stickel STGRb M
— — — — — — — —

McGee I STGR M
— — — — — — — —

McGee II STGRb M
— — — — — — — —

McGee III STGRd M
— — — — — — — —

M
20 20 12 10 17 16 9 10

F
1 4 0 0 0 5 1 1

F
U U U U U 1 1 0

F
— — — — — — — —

F
— — — — — — — —

F
— — — — — — — —

F
— — — — — — — —

F
— — — — — — — —

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Table 3.10-2. Continued
Daly SAGR Year
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Mgt.
a b c d e

Hay Creek SAGRa,b M
20 U U 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 U 0 0 Occupied

McGee SAGRc M
— — — — — — — — — 6 0 1 3 0 U U 0 0 Occupied

Stickel STGRb M
— — — — — — — — 13 9 3 0 0 0 0 U U 0 Occupied

McGee I STGR M
— — — — — — — 5 8 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

McGee II STGRb M
— — — — — — — — — — 13 8 2 0 0 0 0 0

McGee III STGRd M
— — — — — — — — — — — — — 4f 0 0 0 0

M
7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0e 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

F
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

F
5 U U 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 U 0 0

F
— — — — — — — — — 2 0 3 0 0 U U 0 0

F
— — — — — — — — 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 U U 0

F
— — — — — — — 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

F
— — — — — — — — — — 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0

F
— — — — — — — — — — — — — 0 0 0 0 0

Statusg

Abandoned

Occupied

Occupied

Occupied

SAGR = sage-grouse; STGR = sharp-tailed grouse; M= Male; F = Female; U = Unknown, lek inaccessible due to mining; — = lek undiscovered The lek was beyond the required annual monitoring area until 2002 but was checked at least once in most years. In the Buckskin Mine permit area. The lek is beyond the required annual monitoring area; data presented is from the 2009 WGFD lek database. In the general analysis area. Two displaying males were seen once approximately 1,000 feet south of the historic lek site. The birds were presumed to have flown in from another lek located 2.0 miles south of the Daly lek site. Birds were not displaying; number of males and females unknown. Management status based on WGFD (2006) classifications.

f g

Four sharp-tailed grouse leks have been identified in the vicinity of the Buckskin Mine (table 3.10-2). All four are considered occupied under the WGFD management status classification system, though they have all been inactive for the last few years. No sharp-tailed grouse have ever been observed on the proposed tract, though flocks of as many as a dozen birds have infrequently been recorded in the winter feeding in fallow agricultural fields and perched in the tree shelterbelt near the junction of the Collins and McGee roads within the general analysis area. No sharp-tailed grouse have been seen in those locations since at least 2003. No nests or young of this species have ever been documented in the vicinity of the Buckskin Mine.
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As indicated, no sharp-tailed grouse leks are present in the proposed tract. Two leks (McGee II and McGee III) are located in the general analysis area. The McGee II lek is in the overlap with the existing Buckskin Mine permit area, and the McGee III lek is immediately north of that boundary (map 3.10-1). The McGee I sharp-tailed grouse lek is approximately 0.25 mile north of the general analysis area, on the far side of a ridge and approximately 50 feet from the McGee Road. The Stickel lek is in the existing permit area, approximately 0.75 mile southeast of the general analysis area; that lek has been or will be affected by previously permitted mine disturbance. The greatest number of male sharp-tailed grouse recorded in the vicinity of the mine in a given year occurred in 2000, when 13 birds were seen at the Stickel lek and 8 were observed at the McGee I lek (table 3.10-2). However, sharp-tailed grouse counts declined steadily after 2000, and none were found during any lek monitoring or search efforts conducted after 2005. Given the proximity of the three McGee lek sites to one another, and the fact that grouse were never seen at two leks within that complex in the same year, it is likely that the birds were merely shifting their display sites periodically based on vegetative conditions or other unknown factors, while remaining in the same general area. Similar occurrences at sharp-tailed grouse leks have been observed elsewhere in the region. The Stickel lek may have been part of the McGee complex as well. Three sage-grouse lek sites have been documented at the Buckskin Mine over the last 26 years of annual monitoring (table 3.10-2); none of these sites is within the general analysis area (map 3.10-1). The Daly sage-grouse lek has been inactive for the last 16 consecutive years and is considered abandoned by the WGFD. The remaining two leks have also been inactive in recent years, but are still classified as occupied. The Hay Creek lek is within the existing Buckskin Mine permit area, approximately 0.5 mile southeast of the general analysis area. This site has been or will be affected by previously permitted disturbance in the permit area. The McGee sage-grouse lek is approximately 1.25 miles north of the general analysis area, and the abandoned Daly lek site is approximately 0.75 mile west of the permit area and on the far side of U.S. Highway 14-16. The Daly sage-grouse lek has been monitored annually since 1984 (table 3.10-2). The greatest number of males recorded there was 20 in both 1984 and 1985. Peak male counts vacillated over the next seven years, but attendance gradually declined through 1992. No grouse were observed at the lek itself from 1993 through 2009. Two males were seen displaying approximately 1,000 feet south of the historic Daly lek site on one occasion in late April 2002, but no grouse were recorded in that area during any subsequent surveys. Those two birds were presumed to have flushed from an active lek site approximately 2 miles south of the Daly lek. The Hay Creek sage-grouse lek is located in the northeastern corner of the existing Buckskin Mine permit area. The lek was active every year from 1984 through 1992, with a peak count of 27 males in 1988. The site was not visited in 1993 or 1994, but no birds were observed during periodic checks from 1995 through 2000. Through 2000, the lek site was beyond the required annual monitoring area (existing permit boundary and 1-mile radius) for the Buckskin Mine; the

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mine surveyed the lek voluntarily during this period. Annual monitoring of the Hay Creek lek resumed from 2001 through 2009. Two displaying males and three hens were seen at the lek on one morning in 2001, but no grouse were present during subsequent checks that year, or in the following seven years. The McGee sage-grouse lek is located beyond the required annual monitoring area for the Buckskin Mine and, therefore, is not included in that monitoring program. A WGFD biologist first recorded the lek in 2001. Biologists with that agency monitored the lek each year through 2005, and again in 2008; biologists with ICF monitored the lek in 2009. The peak male count during that period was the original six birds discovered in 2001. No grouse were seen at the McGee sage-grouse lek during four of the seven survey years, though the landowner reported birds present there in 2008 (the WGFD count was zero during three separate counts that year). No grouse nests have been encountered in the general analysis area. No grouse broods for either species were recorded in the general analysis area during targeted surveys or incidental to surveys for other species. No sage-grouse have been observed during winter, though site visits occur less often at that time of year. No sharp-tailed grouse have ever been observed on the proposed tract during any season, though flocks of as many as a dozen birds have infrequently been recorded in the general analysis area, feeding in fallow agricultural fields and perched in the tree shelterbelt near the junction of the Collins and McGee county roads in winter. No sharp-tailed grouse have been seen in those locations since at least 2003. As described in section 3.10.1, sagebrush habitat is limited to 302 noncontiguous acres in the general analysis area (including 46 noncontiguous acres in the proposed tract) with average patch size of 4.9 acres. These acreages represent less than 11% of the total vegetative cover for each respective area. Water sources in the general analysis area are limited to the diverted channel of the ephemeral drainage of Hay Creek, two small impoundments, and a playa. Of those, only one small impoundment is present in the proposed tract itself. All water bodies are seasonal, with water typically present in spring but dry by mid- to late summer.

3.10.6.2. Environmental Consequences
Given the dominant vegetation types in the general analysis area (upland grasslands and agricultural fields) and the lack of regular sightings over the last 26 years of monitoring, especially outside the breeding season, it is unlikely that either the sharp-tailed grouse or sage-grouse is a yearlong resident of the general analysis area. The WGFD stated in a letter to the BLM, dated May 6, 2010, that it has no concerns about terrestrial wildlife, including sage-grouse, pertaining to the Hay Creek II LBA coal lease application. Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have no physical impact on grouse leks (map 3.10-1). This alternative would have a minor, long-term impact on approximately 46 non-contiguous acres of potential sage-grouse nesting habitat (sagebrush) in these areas. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases
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also would have no impact on sage-grouse leks, but would have a moderate, long-term effect on one sharp-tailed grouse lek (map 3.10-1), and a minor, long-term impact on approximately 80 non-contiguous acres of potential sage-grouse nesting habitat (sagebrush). No grouse leks, nests, broods, or other signs of use (feathers, droppings, and snow tracks) have been documented within the proposed tract during the last 26 years of monitoring. The proposed tract, support area, and overlap area do not provide any unique habitat for either grouse species. This combined area is dominated (71%) by upland grasslands. Sagebrush occurs on approximately 126 non-contiguous acres, with an average patch size of 4.9 acres. Impacts from mine-related noise would be minor and short-term due to the presence of natural buffers between mine activities and lek sites, and the temporary and incremental presence of operations in any given location. The mourning dove is the only species ever recorded in the proposed tract. Mining the proposed tract would affect known habitat for mourning doves, and potential habitat for gray partridge, sharp-tailed grouse, and/or sage-grouse to varying degrees. For example, the prevalence of grasslands and limited presence of surface water in the proposed tract limit its value to sagebrush-obligates such as the sage-grouse. The only group of trees (potential habitat for doves and roosting sharp-tailed grouse) in the proposed tract falls within the overlap area and, thus, would be disturbed by previously permitted activities. The upland grasslands that dominate the proposed tract are better suited for gray partridge, an introduced species, but no partridge have been documented in the proposed tract. Because the proposed tract is dominated by upland grasslands, the establishment of reclaimed grassland communities after mining has been completed would not result in a dramatic change in habitat types from the premining conditions. Some evidence has been documented that sage-grouse do repopulate areas after reclaimed shrublands have become established, but that process may take decades (Braun 1998). Estimates for the time it would take to restore shrubs, including sagebrush, to premine density levels range from 20 to 100 years, which may delay sage-grouse repopulation in the reclaimed areas. Once they do return to an area, sage-grouse populations do not appear to attain their previous levels. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have no physical impact on sage-grouse leks, but would have a moderate, long-term effect on one sharp-tailed grouse lek (map 3.10-1), and a minor, long-term impact on approximately 86 non-contiguous acres of potential sagegrouse nesting habitat (sagebrush). Other factors associated with grouse and grouse habitat would be the same as those described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. No sage-grouse leks are present in the overlap area, but one lek site is located approximately 0.5 mile to the southeast, within the existing mine permit area (map 3.10-1). That lek site has not

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been physically disturbed, but existing mine operations have been ongoing within 700 feet of the lek in recent years. Under this alternative, two occupied sharp-tailed grouse leks would be affected by activities in the overlap area related to mining existing leases. One sharp-tailed grouse lek is located in the overlap area itself (map 3.10-1) and another lek is approximately 500 feet north of that area. A third sharp-tailed grouse lek is within the Buckskin Mine permit area, approximately 0.75 mile southeast of the overlap area and 1,200 feet and in view of ongoing mine operations. As described under the Proposed Action, the overlap area does not provide any unique habitat for these four upland game bird species. The area is dominated by upland grasslands, with sagebrush occurring in small patches scattered across approximately 86 noncontiguous acres. No grouse nests or broods for either species have been documented in the overlap between the general analysis area and permit boundary, nor have grouse been observed in that area during winter. Both lek sites outside the overlap area but within the existing permit area have been or would be affected by previously permitted mine activities on existing leases. The tree windbreak in the overlap area represents potential nesting and/or roosting habitat for mourning doves and sharp-tailed grouse. As described previously, these trees would be affected by mine disturbance under any of the alternatives considered in this EIS. Little sagebrush is present in the overlap area. Therefore, the establishment of reclaimed grassland communities after mining has been completed would not result in a dramatic change in habitat types from the premining landscape. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have no impact on sage-grouse leks, but would have a moderate, long-term effect on two sharp-tailed grouse leks (map 3.10-1), and a minor, long-term impact on approximately 302 non-contiguous acres of potential sage-grouse nesting habitat (sagebrush). Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have no impact on sage-grouse leks or sagebrush. Impacts from mine-related noise on leks beyond the general analysis area would be minor and short-term due to the presence of natural buffers between mine activities and lek sites, and the temporary and incremental presence of operations in any given location. Impacts on known and potential upland game bird habitats from current facilities and mining techniques would be the same as those described above under the Proposed Action. No sage-grouse leks occur within the general analysis area (map 3.10-1). The nearest sagegrouse lek (Hay Creek) is within the existing permit area approximately 0.5 mile to the southeast and, thus, is already subject to disturbance from previously permitted activities. The McGee sage-grouse lek is on private surface approximately 1.25 miles north of the general analysis area. That site is on the far side of multiple ridges that provide a visual and audio buffer, and it is not likely to be affected by mine operations. Sage-grouse were last observed at the Hay Creek lek in 2001 and the McGee lek in 2004; both are considered occupied by the WGFD.

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Two occupied sharp-tailed grouse leks have been documented in the general analysis area over the last 26 years of annual monitoring (map 3.10-1). As described under the No Action Alternative, the McGee II lek is in the overlap area and the McGee III lek is immediately north of the overlap area. Due to their locations, those leks have been or would be disturbed by previously permitted mining of existing leases. The McGee I sharp-tailed grouse lek is approximately 0.25 mile north of the general analysis area. It would not be in view of that area due to the ridgeline that separates the two sites, but it could be affected by noise from within the general analysis area. The Stickel lek is approximately 0.75 mile southeast of the general analysis area and within the existing permit area; this site is within 1,200 feet and in view of previously permitted activities on existing leases. Sharp-tailed grouse were last recorded at the McGee II lek in 2004 and the McGee III lek in 2005. The McGee I lek was last active in 2001, and the Stickel lek in 2002. Disturbance and reclamation activities would be temporary and occur incrementally throughout the general analysis area. If mining activities disturb an occupied lek, grouse would have to use an alternate site or establish a new lek for breeding activities. In addition to lek sites, areas of suitable habitat for nesting are needed to sustain sage-grouse populations. One recent study suggests that availability of winter habitat may also affect sage-grouse populations (Naugle et al. 2006). The general analysis area is dominated (71% of total cover) by upland grasslands and agricultural fields, which do not provide the necessary shrub communities for forage and cover. Sagebrush in that area is limited to 302 noncontiguous acres, with an average patch size of approximately 4.9 acres. No grouse nests or broods have been documented in the general analysis area, nor have grouse been observed there during winter. Additionally, the general analysis area is not included in or within several miles of either a state sage-grouse core area or BLM sage-grouse focus area, though that does not preclude the need for grouse management when they are present. The general analysis area does not provide any unique habitat for these four upland game bird species, and future mine operations would affect existing and potential habitat to varying degrees. As described previously, the prevalence of upland grasslands and agricultural lands, and the limited presence of surface water reduce the area’s value to sagebrush obligates such as the sage-grouse. The only group of trees (potential habitat for doves and roosting sharp-tailed grouse) in the area that is not adjacent to an occupied or recently vacated residence also overlaps the existing permit area and, thus, would be affected by previously permitted activities regardless of the leasing decision. The upland grasslands and agricultural fields that dominate the area are well suited for gray partridge, an introduced species to this country, but no partridge have been documented in the general analysis area. Leasing, mining, and reclaiming a tract within the general analysis area would result in permanent, alterations in the topography and long-term changes in vegetative composition from premine conditions. Because the general analysis area is dominated (71%) by upland grassland communities and agricultural lands, the establishment of reclaimed grassland communities after mining has been completed would represent similar or somewhat improved habitats,

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respectively, compared to those in the premining landscape. Restoration of sagebrush communities that are present could be difficult to accomplish through artificial plantings, and can take decades through natural regeneration. Until sagebrush returns to its premining density, a reduction in potential habitat for wildlife species associated with that habitat would occur in the general analysis area. Some evidence has been documented that sage-grouse do repopulate areas after reclaimed shrublands have become established, but that process may take decades (Braun 1998). Estimates for the time it would take to restore shrubs, including sagebrush, to premine density levels range from 20 to 100 years, which may delay sage-grouse repopulation in the reclaimed areas. Once they do return to an area, sage-grouse populations do not appear to attain their previous levels.

3.10.7.

Other Birds

3.10.7.1. Affected Environment
The USFWS uses a list entitled the Coal Mine List of 40 Migratory Bird Species of Management Concern in Wyoming (table 3.10-3) for reviews related to existing and proposed surface coal mining (USFWS 2002). This list was taken directly from the Wyoming Bird Conservation Plan (Cerovski et al. 2001), and was current through 2009. The USFWS considers Level I species as in need of conservation action, which includes having a monitoring and mitigation plan for those birds. Continued monitoring is recommended, but not required, for Level II species.

Table 3.10-3. Forty Migratory Bird Species of Management Concern for Wyoming Coal Mines: Historical Occurrence and Status in or within 0.5 Mile of the Buckskin Mine Permit Areaa (2007–2009)
Speciesb
LEVEL I Mountain ploverd Charadrius montanus Greater sage-groused Centrocercus urophasianus McCown’s longspurd Calcarius mccownii Baird’s sparrow Ammodramus bairdii Ferruginous hawkd Buteo regalis Brewer’s sparrowd Spizella breweri Sage sparrow Amphispiza belli never recorded occasional breeder rarely observed never recorded historic breeder regular breeder (beyond general analysis area) never recorded — — observed — — presumed breeder — — — — — observed presumed breeder — — — — — — presumed breeder —

Historical Occurrence in the Vicinity of the Buckskin Minec

2007

2008

2009

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Table 3.10-3. Continued
Speciesb
Swainson’s hawkd Buteo swainsoni Long-billed curlew Numenius americanus Short-eared owld Asio flammeus Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus Burrowing owld Athene cunicularia Bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus Upland sandpiperd Bartramia longicauda LEVEL II Cassin’s kingbird Tyrannus vociferans Lark buntingd Calamospiza melanocorys Dickcissel Spiza americana Chestnut-collared longspurd Calcarius ornatus Black-chinned hummingbird Archilochus alexandri Pygmy nuthatch Sitta pygmaea Marsh wren Cistothorus palustris Western bluebird Sialia mexicana Sage thrasherd Oreoscoptes montanus Grasshopper sparrowd Ammodramus savannarum Bobolink Dolichonyx oryzivorus Common loon Gavia immer Black-billed cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus Red-headed woodpecker Melanerpes erthrocephalus never recorded common breeder never recorded rarely recorded never recorded never recorded never recorded never recorded rarely observed occasional breeder never recorded never recorded never recorded never recorded — presumed breeder — — — — — — observed once potential breeder — — — — — presumed breeder — — — — — — — potential breeder — — — — — presumed breeder — — — — — — — presumed breeder — — — —

Historical Occurrence in the Vicinity of the Buckskin Minec
rare breeder infrequent spring migrant infrequently observed never recorded rare breeder occasional in winter infrequently observed

2007
potential breeder — — — — limited winter resident —

2008
— — observed — — limited winter resident —

2009
— observed — — — limited winter resident —

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Table 3.10-3. Continued
Speciesb
Yellow-billed cuckoo 	 Coccyzus americanus Eastern screech-owl 	 Megascops asio Western screech-owl 	 Megascops kennicottii Western scrub-jay	 Aphelocoma coerulescens Loggerhead shriked	 Lanius ludovicianus Vesper sparrowd	 Pooecetes gramineus Lark sparrowd	 Chondestes grammacus Ash-throated flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens Bushtit	 Psaltriparus minimus Merlind	 Falco columbarius Sprague’s pipit Anthus spragueii Barn owl 	 Tyto alba
a	

Historical Occurrence in the Vicinity of the Buckskin Minec
never recorded never recorded never recorded never recorded occasional breeder common breeder occasional breeder never recorded	 never recorded rarely observed never recorded never recorded

2007
— — — — potential breeder presumed breeder potential breeder — — — — —

2008
— — — — — presumed breeder — — — — — —

2009
— — — — potential breeder presumed breeder — — — — — —

The survey area for the Buckskin Mine overlapped the entire proposed tract and much of the general analysis area in most years (from 1984-2009). Both areas were completely covered during baseline studies conducted from 2007 through 2009. Species are arranged in descending priority within each level as assigned in the Wyoming Bird Conservation Plan (Cerovski et al. 2001). Level I indicates a clear need for conservation action. Level II represents a need for continued monitoring. Historical occurrence in the Buckskin Mine survey area is based on records from baseline or monitoring studies conducted at the mine (1984–2009). Species regularly nests in the Powder River Basin.

b	

c d	

The Buckskin Mine has conducted specific surveys for migratory birds of concern annually since at least 1993, incorporating new lists and survey protocols (breeding bird point counts) as they were issued. These surveys have been conducted in both spring and summer to detect both migrating and breeding birds. Beginning in 2006, annual point count surveys for breeding bird (primarily passerines) were conducted per a request by the USFWS Ecological Services Office in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Survey efforts used a fixed-radius circular plot method adapted from Reynolds et al. (1980). Results from these surveys are included in the annual report for the Buckskin Mine each year. Although breeding bird surveys are not required by Appendix B of the WDEQ Coal Rules and Regulations, they have been incorporated into the USFWS-approved Avian Monitoring and Mitigation Plan for the Buckskin Mine.

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As described in section 3.10.2, the annual monitoring survey area for most migratory bird species of concern includes the existing permit area and a 0.5-mile radius. Because they are protected under one or more federal laws, the survey area for bald eagles and other raptor species is expanded to a 1-mile radius. The annual monitoring survey area for sage-grouse is also a 1-mile radius, but leks within 3 miles of the general analysis area were considered for this EIS to meet BLM concerns about this species. Due to the proximity of the general analysis area to the existing Buckskin Mine permit area, the entire tract has been included in annual surveys for avian species of concern since at least 1993, with extensive coverage in the general analysis area during that period. Results from surveys conducted for migratory birds at the Buckskin Mine are available in baseline and annual wildlife reports, on file with the WDEQ in Sheridan, Wyoming. Those reports include a tabulation of the regional status, expected occurrence, historical observations, and breeding records for each species on the current list of avian species of concern for a given report year, as well as two or more preceding years; additional information for each species observed in a given year is also included in each report. Table 3.10-3 provides a tabulation of the regional status and expected occurrence, historical observations, and breeding records for each of the species on the “Coal Mine List of 40 Migratory Bird Species of Management Concern in Wyoming,” based on a compilation of the results of the annual surveys conducted for the Buckskin Mine from 2007 through 2009. Eighteen of the 40 listed species have historically been observed in the annual migratory bird survey area, though they may not have been seen in the EIS general analysis area: 10 Level I species and 8 Level II species. None of the Level I species regularly breed in the general analysis area, though they are often recorded elsewhere in the survey area. Twenty-two of the 40 avian species of concern have never been recorded in the general analysis area or Buckskin Mine permit area: 4 Level I and 18 Level II species. Some raptor species of management concern, including species that nest in the general analysis area, are discussed in section 3.10.5. Sage-grouse are discussed in section 3.10.6. The most frequently recorded nesting species in the migratory bird survey area are the lark bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys), vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus), and grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum). All three of those species are considered Level II. The Brewer’s sparrow (Spizella breweri), a Level I species, often nests in sagebrush stands in unmined portions of the existing permit area, beyond the general analysis area. Five additional species have nested (including failed attempts) less often in the area, including the Swainson’s hawk, sage-grouse, short-eared owl, loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), and lark sparrow (Chondestes grammacus); the grouse and both raptor species are considered Level I. The bald eagle is only observed in the winter or as a migrant. The other eight species have been observed infrequently (table 3.10-3). The mountain plover is included on the “Coal Mine List of 40 Migratory Bird Species of Management Concern in Wyoming.” The USFWS proposed listing the mountain plover as a threatened species in February 1999 but withdrew the proposal in September 2003

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(USFWS 2008), based on the conclusion that information available at that time did not indicate the threats to the mountain plover and its habitat were likely to endanger the species in the foreseeable future. In June 2010, the USFWS reinstated the 2002 proposed rule to list the mountain plover as a threatened species and invited public comments. On May 11, 2011, after a thorough review of all available scientific and commercial information, the USFWS determined that the mountain plover is not threatened or endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range, including the general analysis area and the rest of Campbell County, Wyoming (76 FR 92). Consequently, this species was removed from the listing process under the ESA. The USFWS continues to encourage provisions that would provide protection for this species, as it continues to be protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and as a sensitive species under BLM policy (Bureau Manual 6840.06 E. Sensitive Species). This species has not been documented in within the migratory bird survey area; nor was it documented during other wildlife surveys conducted for the Buckskin Mine. Nevertheless, the current permit document for the mine includes species-specific protection measures for mountain plovers, in the event that they are present in the future. Bald eagles are relatively common winter residents and migrants in northeastern Wyoming’s PRB. No bald eagle winter roosts have ever been documented in the bald eagle survey area, though potential winter roosting habitat for this species is present. That habitat consists of isolated cottonwood shelterbelts in the general analysis area, as described in section 3.9. No known bald eagle nests, or consistent yearly concentrated prey or carrion sources (e.g., sheep, fisheries) for bald eagles have been documented in the bald eagle survey area. The bald eagle was more common and abundant in the area during winters from 2004 through 2007 than in previous or subsequent years. This may have been a result of mild winters and the abundance of lagomorphs (rabbits) to prey upon. Bald eagles also scavenged road-killed rabbits off of adjacent roads. Rabbit numbers appeared to be at or near a peak in their cycle during those years. During those winters, one or two bald eagles occasionally used the shelterbelt is in the overlap area between the general analysis area and existing Buckskin Mine permit area. Bald eagles had never been observed concentrating in this windbreak during the previous two decades of wildlife surveys. No bald eagles have ever been documented in the tree shelterbelt around the recently vacated residence near the junction of the Collins and McGee roads in the general analysis area, or the shelterbelt surrounding the occupied residence between the two roads. A single adult bald eagle was observed once perched in an isolated cottonwood just south of the latter residence. As noted, bald eagle sightings within the Buckskin Mine survey area averaged only 0.5 per year over the last 26 years (1984–2009). The burrowing owl is uncommon at the Buckskin Mine and has never been observed in the general analysis area. This species is an infrequent breeder in the prairie dog colony just beyond the northeastern corner of the general analysis area. The sage-grouse was recently added to the Level I list of avian species of concern at coal mines. This species is becoming less common in the vicinity of the Buckskin Mine, as described in section 3.10.6. No sage-grouse leks are present in the general analysis area, and sage-grouse

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have not been recorded there during the last 26 years of annual monitoring. Both the proposed tract and the general analysis area are dominated by upland grassland habitats, with only 11% (46 and 302 noncontiguous acres, respectively) of their areas comprised of sagebrush habitats. Suitable nesting habitat is scarce if not absent in the general analysis area for the remainder of the “Coal Mine List of 40 Migratory Bird Species of Management Concern in Wyoming”; therefore, the other species have rarely or never been recorded. Under natural conditions, limited seasonal waterfowl and shorebird habitat is present in the general analysis area. Prior to CBNG development, the natural aquatic habitat in the general analysis area was mainly available during spring migration as a single ephemeral stream, two stock impoundments, and a closed-basin playa. All of these water features generally were quite low or dry after spring. The relatively recent development of CBNG resources upstream and within the general analysis area has enhanced surface water availability to some degree resulting in a limited increase in habitat for waterfowl and shorebird species. However, all water bodies within the general analysis area continue to be dry or nearly so by mid-summer in most years; exceptions occur during years with above average precipitation. The adjacent Buckskin Mine has conducted a voluntary program of waterfowl and shorebird monitoring at various native and reclaimed water bodies in the existing permit area. Multiple surveys were conducted in spring and summer each year since 2004. Those surveys did not include the playa located between the Collins and McGee roads, the largest and most persistent water body in the general analysis area, but it did include a similar playa in the mine permit area, approximately 1.25 miles south of the general analysis area. Both playas have been enhanced by CBNG discharge water in recent years. Common species seen at the playa within the permit area include the Canada goose (Branta Canadensis), American wigeon (Anas Americana), blue-winged teal (Anas discors), mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), northern pintail (Anas acuta), northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), gadwall (Anas strepera), and green-winged teal (Anas crecca), along with common shorebirds such as the killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) and spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularia). Similar species have been or would be expected to be recorded at the playa in the general analysis area.

3.10.7.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a minor, short-term impact on nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for migratory bird species of management concern, as well as carrying capacity and habitat diversity on reclaimed lands. This alternative would have a negligible, short-term impact on waterfowl. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts on migratory birds and waterfowl as in the proposed tract and support area. None of the 18 migratory bird species of management concern for Wyoming coal mines that have historically been observed in the migratory bird survey area are regularly seen in the proposed tract. The upland grasslands

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that dominate the tract lack the specific characteristics (shrubs, wetlands, prairie dog colonies, or shorter, less dense grasses) typically associated with most Level I species that have historically been recorded in the area. No sage-grouse leks are present in the proposed tract. The bald eagle is the only avian species of concern that has been recorded in the proposed tract. This species has been documented an average of less than once per year in the vicinity of the Buckskin Mine over the last 26 years of annual monitoring, with even fewer observations in the tree shelterbelt in the overlap area in section 19, T52N R72W. That shelterbelt is already subject to mine related disturbance associated with existing coal leases. Additional potential impacts on the sage-grouse and raptors in general, as well as measures in place to prevent impacts on these species from existing mining operations, were included in the preceding discussions. Additional information regarding species currently or recently involved in the ESA listing process is provided in appendix J. The Proposed Action could have impacts on existing nesting and foraging habitat for these species in the proposed tract and support area. The habitat loss would be short-term for grassland species, but would last longer for shrub-dependent species. However, with less than 11% of the total composition, sagebrush is not a dominant community in those areas. Reclamation practices at the Buckskin Mine are designed to provide a mosaic of upland and bottomland habitats that would potentially host most of these species. All disturbance and reclamation efforts would occur incrementally throughout the area. Because the proposed tract is dominated (71%) by upland grassland communities, the establishment of reclaimed grasslands after mining has been completed would not result in a dramatic change in habitat types from the premining landscape. Periodic breeding bird surveys at other surface mines with similar habitats in the region since the mid 1980s have demonstrated that species richness and abundance in reclaimed habitats are equal to or greater than in their native counterparts, though species composition may not be the same due to differences between premining and postmining vegetation. Additionally, surface coal mines in the PRB of northeastern Wyoming are required to replace each tree lost to mining, though it will take many years for newly planted trees to reach maturity. Research projects on habitat reclamation on mined lands within the PRB for small mammals and birds concluded that the diversity of song birds on reclaimed areas was less than on adjacent undisturbed areas, although their overall numbers were greater (Shelley 1992; Clayton et al. 2006). No impacts on mountain plovers are anticipated because this species has never been documented in its survey area in the last 26 years of monitoring. Additionally, typical suitable habitat (short and sparse vegetation) for this species is not present in the general analysis area. The Proposed Action would have a negligible, short-term effect on migrating and breeding waterfowl and shorebirds due to the extremely limited presence and seasonal nature of open water and wetland habitats in the area. Sedimentation ponds created during mining would provide interim habitat for aquatic fauna. The current reclamation plan for the Buckskin Mine requires that the segment of the Hay Creek channel in the northern portion of the general analysis area affected by currently permitted mining be reclaimed to restore its premining functions and aquatic habitats. The diversion channel and other future diversions would not provide the same

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habitat as the natural channels, although natural stream flow and the presence of CBNG discharge water would not be affected. Mitigation for all impacts on jurisdictional wetlands would be required in accordance with section 404 of the Clean Water Act (section 3.7). If new wetlands do not duplicate the exact function and/or landscape features of the premine wetlands, species associated with those habitats could be beneficially or adversely affected as a result, depending on their premine status. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts on migratory birds and waterfowl as those described under the Proposed Action. No unique habitat features occur in the overlap area. The only trees or primary water body are the tree shelterbelt in section 19, T52N R72W and Hay Creek, respectively; the tree stand is expected to be disturbed and the creek has already been diverted during previously permitted activities. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a moderate, short-term impact on nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for migratory bird species of management concern, as well as carrying capacity and habitat diversity on reclaimed lands. This alternative would have a negligible, short-term impact on waterfowl. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts on migratory birds and waterfowl as in the proposed tract. None of the 18 migratory bird species of management concern for Wyoming coal mines that have historically been observed in the vicinity are regularly seen in the general analysis area. The upland grasslands and agricultural lands that dominate the area lack the specific characteristics (shrubs, wetlands, prairie dog colonies, or shorter, less dense grasses) typically associated with most Level I species that have historically been recorded in the area. No sage-grouse leks are present in the general analysis area; the lone sage-grouse lek in the immediate vicinity is located in the existing permit area and, thus, is already subject to previously permitted disturbances. An average of less than one bald eagle per year has been recorded in the entire Buckskin Mine survey area that overlaps the general analysis area. The tree shelter belt in section 19, T52N R72W where bald eagles have occasionally been observed is in the overlap area, which is already scheduled for eventual disturbance associated with previously permitted activities for existing coal leases. Additional potential impacts on the sage-grouse, bald eagle, and raptors in general, as well as measures in place to prevent impacts on these species from existing mining operations, were included in the preceding discussions. Impacts on existing habitats for these species would be short-term for grassland species, but would last longer for shrub-dependent species. However, with less than 11% of the total
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composition, sagebrush is not a dominant species in the general analysis area. Reclamation practices at Buckskin are designed to provide a mosaic of upland and bottomland habitats that would potentially host most of these species. All disturbance and reclamation activities would occur incrementally throughout the area. Because the proposed tract is dominated (71%) by upland grassland and agricultural lands, the establishment of reclaimed grasslands after mining has been completed would not result in a dramatic change in habitat types from the premining landscape. Periodic breeding bird surveys at other surface mines with similar habitats in the region since the mid 1980s have demonstrated that species richness and abundance in reclaimed habitats are equal to or greater than in their native counterparts, though species composition may not be the same due to differences between premining and postmining vegetation. Additionally, surface coal mines in the PRB of northeastern Wyoming are required to replace each tree lost to mining, though it will take many years for newly planted trees to reach maturity. Research projects on habitat reclamation on mined lands within the PRB for small mammals and birds concluded that the diversity of song birds on reclaimed areas was less than on adjacent undisturbed areas, although their overall numbers were greater (Shelley 1992; Clayton et al. 2006). No impacts on mountain plovers are anticipated because this species has never been documented in its survey area in the last 26 years of monitoring. Additionally, typical suitable habitat (prairie dog colonies and other areas of short, sparse vegetation) for this species is not present in the general analysis area. Alternative 2 would have a negligible effect on migrating and breeding waterfowl and shorebirds due to the extremely limited presence and seasonal nature of this habitat in the area. Sedimentation ponds created during mining would provide interim habitat for aquatic fauna. The current reclamation plan for the Buckskin Mine requires that the segment of the Hay Creek channel in the northern portion of the general analysis area affected by currently permitted mining be reclaimed to restore its premining functions and aquatic habitats. The diversion channel and other future diversions would not provide the same habitat as the natural channels, although natural streamflow and the presence of CBNG discharge water would not be affected. Mitigation for all impacts on jurisdictional wetlands would be required in accordance with section 404 of the Clean Water Act (section 3.7). If the mitigated wetlands do not duplicate the exact function and/or landscape features of the premine wetlands, species associated with those habitats could be beneficially or adversely affected as a result, depending on their premine status. Only three shelterbelts are present in the general analysis area. One stand is in the overlap with the existing Buckskin Mine permit area and the other two surround currently or recently occupied residences.

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3.10.8.

Amphibians, Reptiles, and Aquatic Species

3.10.8.1. Affected Environment
Wildlife surveys completed specifically for the Buckskin Mine and adjacent mines, as well as biological research projects in the eastern PRB, have documented numerous other wildlife species that inhabit the region, including various amphibians, reptiles, and aquatic species. Some of these species are common inhabitants of the wildlife survey area for the Buckskin Mine, but they have not necessarily been regularly observed in the general analysis area. Reptile and amphibian species have been recorded during the various surveys at the Buckskin Mine and on adjacent lands, including the general analysis area. These species include the tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum), great plains toad (Bufo cognatus), boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata maculata), eastern short-horned lizard (Phrynosoma douglassi brevirostre), prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis), and bullsnake (Pituophis melanoleucas sayi). The abundance of these reptiles and amphibians is difficult to determine but these species appear to be common to the area. Under natural conditions, aquatic habitat is limited by the temporary nature of most surface waters in the general analysis area. The lack of deep-water habitat and extensive and persistent water sources within that region precludes the presence and diversity of fish and other aquatic species. Consequently, monitoring of aquatic species is not regularly conducted at the Buckskin Mine, and fish surveys were not required or conducted specifically for the proposed tract. The scarcity of mesic habitats throughout the majority of the wildlife survey area for the Buckskin Mine also reduces the potential of the area to attract aquatic species. Recent influxes of CBNG discharge water into Hay Creek has provided extended periods of surface water in some, but not all, of the last few years.

3.10.8.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a negligible, short-term impact on aquatic species. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the proposed tract and support area. Mining the proposed tract would remove habitat for amphibians and reptiles in some areas. Disturbance and reclamation activities would occur incrementally throughout the area. Due to the limited presence of water in the area, no fisheries and few, if any, other aquatic species would be affected. Because the proposed tract is dominated (71%) by upland grassland communities, the establishment of reclaimed grasslands after mining would not result in a dramatic change in habitat types from the premining landscape.

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Under jurisdiction of the Buckskin Mine’s current WDEQ mine permit, Hay Creek has already been diverted to recover coal from the existing coal leases (section 3.5.2.1). This diversion does not impact the proposed tract. The aquatic resources of Hay Creek would be restored after mining to approximate premining conditions. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Water resources in the overlap area are not sufficient to support fisheries and few, if any, other aquatic species would be affected. Under jurisdiction of the Buckskin Mine’s current WDEQ mine permit, Hay Creek has already been diverted to recover coal from the existing coal leases (section 3.5.2.1). This diversion affects the northern part of the overlap between the general analysis area and existing permit area. The aquatic resources of Hay Creek would be restored after mining to approximate premining conditions. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a negligible, short-term impact on aquatic species. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the proposed tract and support area. Mining in the general analysis area would remove habitat for amphibians and reptiles in some areas. Disturbance and reclamation activities would occur incrementally throughout the area. Due to the limited presence of water in the area, no fisheries and few, if any, other aquatic species would be affected. Because the general analysis area is dominated (71% combined) by upland grassland communities and agricultural lands, the establishment of reclaimed grassland communities after mining has been completed would represent similar or somewhat improved habitats, respectively, compared to those in the premining landscape. Under jurisdiction of the Buckskin Mine’s current WDEQ mine permit, Hay Creek has already been diverted to recover coal from the existing coal leases (section 3.5.2.1). This diversion does not impact the proposed tract, but it does span the northern part of the general analysis area. The aquatic resources of Hay Creek would be restored after mining to approximate premining conditions.

3.10.9.	 Threatened, Endangered, Proposed, and Candidate Animal Species, and BLM Sensitive Species
The current list of federal endangered, threatened, and candidate species for Campbell County, Wyoming, includes one vertebrate species. As of March 2010, the greater sage-grouse was classified as a candidate species based on the recent listing decision of “warranted, but

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precluded” under the ESA (USFWS 2010). The species list is available at the USFWS website: http://www.fws.gov/wyominges/PDFs/CountySpeciesLists/Campbell-sp.pdf. Appendix J of this document contains the biological assessment for federally listed species and appendix K contains a discussion of the BLM sensitive species evaluation. No threatened or endangered vertebrate species would be affected under any alternative analyzed in this EIS. In February 2004, the USFWS issued a block clearance for black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) in black-tailed prairie dog colonies throughout Wyoming (USFWS 2004). As of March 2010, the ferret was no longer included on the list of threatened and endangered species for Campbell County (USFWS 2010).

3.10.10. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation and Monitoring
The current USFWS-approved monitoring and mitigation plan for Migratory Bird Species of Management Concern for Coal Mines in Wyoming must be updated prior to both the WDEQ permitting phase and the occurrence of new disturbance associated with new coal leases to include any new species, nests, or important habitats that could be affected under the action alternatives. The development and implementation of such mitigation plans has proven to be effective in providing mitigation options that minimize or preclude negative impacts on nesting raptors and other migratory bird species of concern. The current monitoring and mitigation plan and the associated USFWS approval letter are included in the existing Buckskin Mine permit document, on file with the WDEQ in Sheridan, Wyoming. The plan includes the following provisions:  creating raptor nests and nesting habitat through enhancement efforts (nest platforms, tree plantings) to mitigate other nest sites affected by mining operations;  relocating raptor nests that would be affected by mining in accordance with the approved raptor monitoring and mitigation plan;  obtaining federal and/or state permits for removal and mitigation of golden eagle nests and those of other raptor species;  restricting mine-related disturbances from encroaching within stipulated buffers of active raptor nests from egg-laying until fledging to prevent nest abandonment and injury to eggs or young;  reestablishing ground cover necessary for the return of a suitable raptor prey base after mining; and  requiring use of current raptor-safe construction for overhead power lines (APLIC 2006). In addition to a USFWS-approved avian monitoring and mitigation plan, regulatory guidelines and requirements designed to prevent or reduce surface coal mining impacts on wildlife include:  fencing designed to permit passage of pronghorn and other big game species to the extent possible;

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 restoring sage-grouse habitat after mining including reestablishing sagebrush and other shrubs on reclaimed lands and grading reclaimed lands to create swales and depressions suitable for sagebrush obligates and their young;  restoring diverse landforms, replacing topsoil, and constructing brush piles, snags, and rock piles to enhance habitat for wildlife;  restoring short-grass habitat for species that nest and forage in those habitat types;  restoring habitat provided by jurisdictional wetlands;  reclaiming the stream channels and restoring surface water flow quantity and quality after mining to approximate premining conditions;  and the implementation of species-specific protective measures for listed species, as needed. The current permit for the Buckskin Mine requires reconstruction of bed form features in major stream channels, such as pools and runs, that should help restore the channels’ natural function, as well as provide habitat. Restoration will be or may be achieved by salvaging sufficient material from channel terrace alluvium or material having the same physical characteristics to reconstruct pool features. Current reclamation, as well as future reclamation of Hay Creek would incorporate any alluvium salvaged from the original channel. These measures are included in the existing mining and reclamation permit and would be included in the amended mining and reclamation plans, if either of the action alternatives is implemented. Baseline wildlife surveys were conducted for the adjacent Buckskin Mine before mining operations began. Annual wildlife monitoring surveys have been conducted since the mid 1980s. These surveys are required by state and federal regulations, and will continue for the life of the mine; the annual survey area would be expanded to accommodate new coal leases, as needed. The mine has also voluntarily conducted annual and/or periodic surveys for additional species that are not included in the monitoring required by state or federal regulations. The wildlife monitoring surveys cover the areas included in the mine permit areas and a surrounding perimeter that varies in size according to the species being surveyed. As a result, the entire proposed tract and most of the surrounding general analysis area have been surveyed as part of the required monitoring surveys for the Buckskin Mine for many years. The current annual monitoring program at the Buckskin Mine includes:  spring surveys for new and/or occupied raptor nests, upland game bird lek locations, threatened and endangered species, and migratory birds;  late spring surveys of raptor production for occupied nests, opportunistic observations of all wildlife species, threatened and endangered species, and migratory birds;  raptor territorial occupancy and nest productivity surveyed within a 1-mile (annual monitoring) or 2-mile (baseline inventories) radius of the existing permit areas;  summer surveys for raptors, migratory birds, and lagomorph density;  breeding bird surveys;

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 winter surveys for bald eagle winter roosts in and within 1 mile of the permit area (conducted as needed based on proximity of disturbance to potential roosting habitat);  voluntary winter surveys for big game in and surrounding the permit area (currently conducted during alternate years); and  voluntary annual surveys for migrating and nesting waterfowl, shorebirds, and other water obligate avian species. Similar annual monitoring programs have been in effect at most other PRB coal mines since the mid-1990s. Monitoring data were collected by all of the surface coal mines in the PRB for big game species from at least 1995 until 1999, with most mines conducting annual surveys since the mid to late 1980s until the early 2000s. In 1999, the WGFD reviewed monitoring data and requirements for big game species on those mine sites. They concluded that monitoring had demonstrated a lack of impacts on big game on existing mine sites. No severe mine-caused mortalities had occurred, and no long-lasting impacts on big game had been noted on existing mine sites. The WGFD recommended at that time that big game monitoring be discontinued on all existing mine sites. New mines will be required to conduct big game monitoring if located in crucial winter range or in important migration corridors, neither of which are present within the proposed tract or general analysis area. Although big game surveys are no longer required as part of the annual wildlife monitoring program at the Buckskin Mine, Kiewit has voluntarily continued these surveys on a reduced but regular schedule. The Buckskin Mine currently operates under a raptor monitoring and mitigation plan approved by the USFWS. This plan would be amended to include the final tract configuration if additional federal coal reserves are leased and proposed for mining. The amended raptor mitigation plan would be subject to review and approval by USFWS before the amended mining plan is approved. A monitoring and mitigation plan for migratory bird species of management concern has also been developed in cooperation with USFWS for the existing Buckskin mining operation, and that plan would be amended to include the final tract configuration. If additional species are documented nesting or using the area regularly, a mitigation plan would be developed to protect those birds and their habitat.

3.10.11. Residual Impacts
Although the lands disturbed by future mining would be reclaimed in accordance with the requirements of SMCRA and Wyoming statutes, some residual wildlife impacts would occur. The reduction in topographic variety would result in a permanent loss of habitat diversity and a potential decrease in slope-dependent shrub communities. This would reduce the carrying capacity of the land for shrub-dependent species. Limited riparian and aquatic habitats are present in the general analysis area. Areas that currently support sagebrush would be altered to a grassland community, perhaps for decades, during the interim between sage plantings and

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maturity in reclamation. Until premining habitats have been fully reestablished, such habitat transformations would likely result in a change in wildlife species composition. Those species may repopulate reclaimed areas, but populations may not attain premining levels. The limited presence of sagebrush communities in the general analysis area would help minimize such residual impacts. Minimal residual impacts on threatened and endangered, candidate, or proposed plant and animal species would occur, because few such species have ever been recorded in the general analysis area, and state and federal regulations require reclamation of specific habitats important for these species.

3.11. Land Use and Recreation
This section discusses the affected environment and environmental consequences in the general analysis area as they relate to surface and mineral ownership, and land use (private and industrial), including impacts resulting from the Proposed Action and alternatives. Those impacts are considered in and within 3 miles of the general analysis area for recreation resources.

3.11.1.

Affected Environment

Campbell County does not have a countywide land use plan, but has been working on a comprehensive land use plan jointly with the City of Gillette. The City of Gillette’s land use plan, City of Gillette/Campbell County Comprehensive Planning Program, provides general goals and policies for land use in the county, including state and federal coal leases, and is an integral part of the overall plan for Campbell County (City of Gillette 1978). The proposed lease area does not have a designated zoning classification. The entire surface of the existing Buckskin Mine permit area and general analysis area is privately owned by individuals or companies (map 3.11-1). All of the federal coal reserves in the proposed tract and BLM study area are federally owned, whereas the remaining subsurface minerals (i.e., oil and gas reserves) are under a mixture of private and federal ownership (map 3.11-2). All oil and gas production infrastructure located in the proposed tract is privately owned; facilities in the rest of the general analysis area are under a mix of federal and private ownership. Section 3.11.1.1 provides additional information about mineral ownership. Wildlife habitat and livestock grazing are the primary present and historical land uses in the general analysis area. Secondary land uses include pastureland (ranching), dryland cropland, transportation, and CBNG development. Coal mining at the Buckskin Mine is and has been the dominant land use to the east and south of the general analysis area since the mid 1980s. In addition to existing surface disturbance associated with the Buckskin Mine, the general analysis area includes small crop areas, two Campbell County roads (the Collins and McGee roads), several overhead electric transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines, and three residences. Only one of the three residences is currently occupied.

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0

2,500 feet


5,000


No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.11-1 Surface Ownership in the General Analysis Area

Producing Coal Bed Natural Gas Wells Plugged and Abandoned Coal Bed Natural Gas Wells

0

2,500 feet

5,000

Shut- in Coal Bed Natural Gas Wells

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.11-2 Oil and Gas Ownership, Leases, and Facilities in the General Analysis Area

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

U.S. Highway 14-16 lies approximately 1 mile southwest of the general analysis area; it is accessed from the general analysis area via the Collins Road. The Collins Road forms the western boundary of the proposed tract, crossing vertically through the western part of the general analysis area. At its intersection with the McGee Road, it continues to the north while the McGee Road angles to the northeast. Wyoming Highway 59 is approximately 2 miles east of the general analysis area; no public access connects that highway with the general analysis area. Section 3.15 provides additional details about transportation facilities in the general analysis area.

3.11.1.1. Oil and Gas Production
Oil and gas estates in the general analysis area fall under a mix of federal and private ownership (map 3.11-2). Table 3.11-1 shows the breakdown of ownership in the proposed tract and BLM study area.

Table 3.11-1.	 Distribution of Oil and Gas Ownership in the Proposed Tract and BLM Study Area
Federal Ownership
Proposed tract BLM study area 251.1 acres 806.5 acres 60% 43%

Private Ownership
167.9 acres 1,076.5 acres 40% 57%

Table 3.11-2 lists the current (May 2008) federal oil and gas lease numbers and lessees in the general analysis area.

Table 3.11-2. Current Federal Oil and Gas Leases in the General Analysis Area
Lease Number
T52N R72W WYW 134209 WYW 138419 Section 17; Lots 1,9 Section 17; Lots 6,7,10,11,14 Section 19; Lots 11,13–15, 19, 20 Section 20; Lots 3,6,10,11 Section 9; Lots 9,10 And other lands outside of BLM study area Expired 10/31/06, closed 3/19/2007 Relinquished 2/6/2008, closed 2/12/2008

Location

Lessees of Record

WYW 146781

Majestic Petroleum Operations LLC Preston Reynolds & Co., Inc. Redstone Resources Inc. Storm Cat Energy (Powder River) LLC Woodward Enterprises LLC Majestic Petroleum Operations LLC Preston Reynolds & Co., Inc. Redstone Resources Inc. Storm Cat Energy (Powder River) LLC Woodward Enterprises LLC

WYW 146782

Section 7; Lots 13,20 Section 8; Lots 10-16

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Table 3.11-2. Continued
Lease Number
WYW 154928 WYW 144486 T52N R73W WYW 130063 Section 2; Lots 7,10,12,18 Devon Energy Production Co. L.P. Majestic Petroleum Operations LLC Redstone Resources Inc. Woodward Enterprises LLC

Location
Section 17; Lots 2–4 Section 19; Lot 10

Lessees of Record
Van K. Bullock Terminated 8/8/2008

According to WOGCC records (May 2008), no permitted, operating conventional oil wells are located in the general analysis area. The Supreme Court has ruled (98-830) that CBNG, previously referred to as coal bed methane or CBM, belongs to the owner of the oil and gas estate. As of May 2008, 30 permits had been issued for drilled or proposed well sites on lands in the BLM study area itself. Of those, 12 have expired without drilling, 3 are reported as plugged and abandoned, and 15 are currently producing. Another 12 wells are producing CBNG in the support area for the BLM study area. Additional information relative to conventional oil and gas and CBNG development in the general analysis area is included in section 3.3.2. When surface rights are in private ownership and the rights to develop the mineral resources (e.g., underlying oil and gas estates) are publicly held and managed by the federal government, it is referred to as a split estate. In split estates, mineral rights are considered dominant, taking precedence over other rights associated with the property, including surface ownership. The mineral owner must show due regard for the interests of the surface owner and occupy only those portions of the surface that are reasonably necessary to develop the mineral estate (BLM 2009b). Under FLPMA, the BLM is mandated to manage public lands under a multiple-use approach, including the federal mineral estate, to enhance the quality of life for all present and future generations. The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 guides the land use planning, leasing, bonding, operations, and reclamation associated with all development of federal oil and natural gas resources. Various laws granted land patents to private individuals but reserved the mineral rights for the federal government. The BLM must comply with the provisions of the laws under which the surface was patented; however, many of those laws do not identify the rights of the surface owner in split estate mineral development situations (BLM 2009b). Numerous ancillary facilities exist in support of current oil, gas, and CBNG development in the general analysis area. This supporting infrastructure may include well access roads; well pads; surface or underground production equipment at the wellheads; well production casing that extends from the surface to the production zone; underground gas-gathering lines and high-pressure transmission pipelines; facilities for the treatment, discharge, disposal, containment, or injection of produced water; metering and compressor stations; and electrical overhead or underground power lines to energize pumps and compressors. Because CBNG development and production have been occurring near the Buckskin Mine for many years, some of these facilities, particularly pipelines, lie within the general analysis area (section 3.15).
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Section 3.3.2 and section 3.11.1 address producing, abandoned, and shut-in oil and gas (conventional and CBNG) wells in the general analysis area; appendix F (table of permitted oil/gas wells) discusses these features within 3 miles of the general analysis area. Well location information, oil and gas ownership and oil and gas lease information are presented on map 3.11-2 and in table 3.11-2. The BLM manages federal lands on a multiple-use basis, in accordance with federal regulations. In response to conflicts between oil and gas and coal lease holders, BLM policy advocates optimizing the recovery of all minerals to ensure that the public receives a reasonable return for these publicly owned resources. Optimal recovery of coal and oil and gas resources requires negotiation and cooperation between the oil and gas lessees and the coal lessees. In the past, negotiations between some applicant mines and existing oil and gas lessees have resulted in agreements that allowed development of both resources on portions of recently issued LBA tracts. In the PRB, royalties have been and would be lost to both the state and federal governments if federally owned CBNG is not recovered prior to mining, or if federal coal is not recovered due to conflicts between lessees. State and federal governments can lose bonus money when the costs of the agreements between the lessees are factored into the fair market value determinations.

3.11.1.2. Coal Mining
South and east of the general analysis area, coal mining is the dominant land use. The mines in this area—Buckskin, Rawhide, Eagle Butte, Dry Fork, and Wyodak—form a contiguous development area from the northernmost mine (Buckskin) to the Wyodak mine located just outside and immediately east of the City of Gillette. This cluster of mines represents the northernmost group of developed coal mines in Campbell County. The permitted coal production rate at the Buckskin Mine is currently 42 million tons; actual production in 2007 was 25.3 million tons, representing an increase of approximately 11% over the 22.8 million tons produced in 2006. The other four coal mines are permitted for a combined total annual production of 86 million tons, and reported a total actual production in 2007 of 52.4 million tons. The Hay Creek II lease application is the only LBA currently pending in this group of mines. Eagle Butte’s West LBA (WYW-155132) was the last lease granted to a mine in the group.

3.11.1.3. Recreation
Big game hunting (pronghorn, mule deer, and white-tailed deer) is the principal recreational land use within approximately 3 miles of the general analysis area (recreation analysis area) (section 3.10). Surface land ownership in the PRB is approximately 80% private, and hunting is allowed only with the landowner's permission. The WGFD reports that limited hunter access to private lands has become a primary issue in providing hunting opportunities and controlling optimal harvest levels and distribution (WGFD 2008a). During the past two or three decades, landowners have been increasingly reluctant to allow sportsmen to freely cross and hunt on their lands, thus reducing the amount of private lands that are open and reasonably available for hunting. Access fees are commonly levied and continue to rise. Most of the private land in the recreation analysis area is leased to professional outfitters catering to nonresident hunters.

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In general, USDA-FS- or BLM-managed public lands in Wyoming, as well as state-owned school sections, are open to hunting if legal access is available. Due to safety concerns, however, publicly owned surface lands contained in active mining areas are closed to the public. No public lands are included in the recreation analysis area. In addition to access, WGFD (2008) cites that drought, severe winters, and increased incidents of poaching have diminished the hunting opportunities for deer and pronghorn in the recreation analysis area during the past decade. The WGFD classifies most of the recreation analysis area as yearlong habitat for pronghorn. None of the area is classified as severe winter range, crucial, or critical habitat, and no migration corridors have been identified. The recreation analysis area is in pronghorn hunt area 17, which is within the Gillette pronghorn herd unit. During the 2007 season, harvest from this herd unit (including all animals harvested in hunt areas 17, 18, and 19) included 958 bucks, 533 does, and 0 fawns (a total of 1,481 pronghorn). Post-season population estimated for the same pronghorn herd unit in 2007 numbered 16,823, which is well above the objective (11,000) for the herd (WGFD 2008a). The WGFD has classified the lands in the recreation analysis area as a mix of yearlong and winter/yearlong range for mule deer. No winter, crucial, or critical mule deer habitat or migration corridors have been identified in this area. The recreation analysis area is located in mule deer hunt area 18, part of the Powder River mule deer herd unit, which also includes hunt areas 17, 23, and 26. During the 2007 season, harvest from this herd unit (in hunt area 18) included 657 bucks, 255 does, and 0 fawns (a total of 912 mule deer out of 1,553 active licenses issued). Total harvest for the Powder River mule deer herd unit included 2,590 bucks, 1,076 does, and 44 fawns (a total of 3,710). The 2007 post-season population estimate was 49,560 with a herd management objective of 52,000. The WGFD believes that, because outfitters lease much of the private land in this herd unit and hunting antlered bucks is encouraged, the buck/doe ratios are skewed, and additional pressure is placed on any accessible public lands. The WGFD manages white-tailed deer separately from mule deer. This species is rarely seen in the recreation analysis area because white-tailed deer prefer riparian areas and irrigated agricultural lands (WGFD 2008a). The entire area is outside of any white-tailed hunting area authorized by WGFD; therefore, no licenses may be issued or filled. Rare sightings of elk have been confirmed in the recreation analysis area. No elk hunt areas have been assigned in Campbell County. The closest is the Fortification area herd approximately 18 miles southwest of the general analysis area, and another in the Rochelle Hills near the Thunder Basin National Grasslands, approximately 70 miles southeast of the general analysis area. Upland game birds (e.g., turkeys, grouse) inhabit some parts of the recreation analysis area. Hunting opportunities are limited because of lack of habitat and restricted access to private lands. The turkey hunting seasons are spring and fall, while other upland game birds are hunted only in fall.
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No sport fisheries exist in the recreation analysis area.

3.11.2.

Environmental Consequences

3.11.2.1. Proposed Action
Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a moderate, short-term impact on livestock grazing opportunities during mining and CBNG facilities. This alternative would have a minor to moderate, short-term impact on access for sub-coal oil and gas development. The Proposed Action would have a negligible to moderate, short- to long-term impact on wildlife habitat, depending on the species, and no impact on removal of conventional oil and gas facilities and loss of access to public land in the proposed tract and support area. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts as those in the proposed tract and support area. All existing CBNG surface and downhole production and transportation equipment and facilities would be removed under this alternative, and all oil and gas development in these areas would be stopped during mining and reclamation activities. No surface facilities for conventional oil and gas would be affected. Oil and gas development could resume after reclamation is complete and the bond is released (approximately 10 years). Deeper conventional oil and gas could be reestablished, and coal seams deeper than those intended for mining would also be available for CBNG development in the postmine environment. Existing coal and transportation activities, infrastructure, and facilities would continue to operate in the area. Coal production would be expected to remain at its current average rate of 25 million tons per year. No major public roadways would be affected; Kiewit does not anticipate relocating the Collins Road to access new federal coal reserves. Livestock and wildlife would be incrementally displaced during mining as activities progress; all disturbance areas would be reclaimed to provide suitable grazing habitat for both groups. Section 3.10 provides a detailed description of impacts on livestock and wildlife. General access to and across the disturbance areas for recreation, ranching, and oil and gas development would be restricted or eliminated during mining and reclamation. Following reclamation bond release, management of the privately owned surface would revert to the private surface owner.

3.11.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action)
Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impacts as those described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal

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lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future.

3.11.2.3. Alternative 2
Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have the same impacts as those described under the Proposed Action. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have the same impacts. This alternative could have impacts on public use of the Collins and McGee roads, if one or both were closed or relocated; however, Kiewit does not anticipate pursuing either option. Section 3.15 contains additional information regarding impacts on transportation.

3.11.3.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

If one of the action alternatives is implemented, mined areas will be reclaimed as specified in the approved mine permit reclamation plan to support the primary postmining land uses of wildlife habitat and livestock grazing. Reclamation of agricultural pastures and croplands may occur, but is highly dependent on the postmine topography and landowner agreements. Mining and reclamation procedures would include stockpiling and replacing topsoil, using reclamation seed mixtures approved by the WDEQ, and replacing stock reservoirs to assure full use of all grazing and wildlife habitat restored under reclamation. Steps to control invasive nonnative plant species using chemical and mechanical methods would be included in the amended mine plan. Revegetation growth and diversity would be monitored until the final reclamation bond is released (a minimum of 10 years following seeding with the final seed mixture). Erosion would be monitored to determine if corrective action is needed during vegetation establishment. Controlled grazing would be used during revegetation to determine the suitability of the reclaimed land for anticipated postmining land uses. See section 3.3.3.3 for discussion of regulatory requirements, mitigation, and monitoring related to oil and gas development. The reclamation standards required by SMCRA and Wyoming state law meet the standards and guidelines for healthy rangelands for public lands administered by the BLM in Wyoming.

3.11.4.

Residual Impacts

No residual impacts on land use and recreation are expected.

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3.12. Cultural Resources and Native American Consultation
This section describes cultural resources, including Native American resources, in the general analysis area, and identifies impacts on these resources that could result from the Proposed Action and alternatives.

3.12.1.

Cultural Resources

3.12.1.1. Affected Environment
Cultural resources represent the nonrenewable remains of past human activity. The PRB, including the general analysis area, has been inhabited by hunting and gathering populations for at least 13,000 years. Throughout prehistory, groups of mobile hunters and gatherers depended on the wide variety of plant and animal resources for their survival. Chronology Frison’s (1978, 1991) chronology for the Northwestern Plains divides the occupation of the area into the Paleoindian, Early Plains Archaic, Middle Plains Archaic, Late Plains Archaic, Late Prehistoric, Protohistoric, and Historic periods.  Paleoindian period (13,000 to 7,000 years before present [B.P.])  Early Plains Archaic period (7,000 to 5,000–4,500 years B.P.)  Middle Plains Archaic period (5,000 to 4,500–3,000 years B.P.)  Late Plains Archaic period (3,000 to 1,850 years B.P.)  Late Prehistoric period (1,850 to 400 years B.P.)  Protohistoric period (400 to 250 years B.P.)  Historic period (250 to 120 years B.P.) The Paleoindian period includes a number of cultural complexes that are associated with distinctive styles of lanceolate or stemmed projectile points (Frison 1978). On the Northwestern Plains, the Paleoindian period is synonymous with the “big game hunting tradition,” in which large mammals such as bison and mammoth were hunted. Evidence for the use of vegetal resources is present among Paleoindian populations occupying the Black Hills and Big Horn Mountains. Projectile point styles from the Early Plains Archaic period reflect a change from the large lanceolate and stemmed projectile points characteristic of the Paleoindian Period to large side- or corner-notched types. The subsistence pattern reflects use of a broad spectrum of resources and a much-diminished use of large mammals. The onset of the Middle Plains Archaic is defined by the appearance of the McKean Techno Complex around 4,900 years B.P. (Frison 1978, 1991, 2001). McKean Complex projectile points include the Duncan and Hanna stemmed variants as well as the McKean lanceolate type.

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These point types were used until 3,100 years B.P. when they were replaced by a variety of corner-notched points (Pelican Lake and Besant) (Martin 1999). Sites dating from this period exhibit a continued emphasis on plant procurement and processing. The Late Plains Archaic is generally defined by the appearance of corner-notched dart points. These projectile points dominate most assemblages until the introduction of the bow and arrow around 1,500 years B.P. (Frison 1991). The period witnessed the continued expansion of groups into the interior basin grasslands as well as the foothills and mountains. The Late Prehistoric period (1,850–400 years B.P.) is marked by a transition in projectile point technology around 1,500 years B.P. The corner-notched and side-notched dart points characteristic of the Late Plains Archaic are replaced by smaller corner- and side-notched points for use with the bow and arrow. Ceramic technology also appears. Around 1,000 years B.P., the entire Northwestern Plains appears to have suffered an abrupt collapse or shift in population (Frison 1991). This population shift may reflect a narrower subsistence base focused on the communal hunting of pronghorn and bison. The Protohistoric period (400 to 250 years B.P.) marks the beginning of Euro American influence on the aboriginal cultures of the Northwestern Plains. Additions to the material culture include the horse and European trade goods such as glass beads, metal, and firearms. Projectile points of this period include side-notched, tri-notched, and un-notched points, with the addition of metal points. Groups occupying the basin at this time appear to have practiced a highly mobile settlement strategy. The Historic period (250 to 120 years B.P.) is summarized from Schneider et al. (2000). The Oregon Trail brought numerous pioneers through Wyoming, but few stayed. It was not until the cattle industry developed in the late 1860s that what is now Wyoming became attractive for settlement. The region offered abundant grazing lands for raising livestock that could be shipped across the country via the recently completed (1867–1868) transcontinental railroad. Settlement of the region surrounding Gillette, Wyoming, began in the late 1800s, after the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1876 placed the Sioux on reservations outside the territory. Cattlemen were the first settlers to establish themselves in the area, with dryland farmers entering the area after 1900. The town of Gillette was established by the railroad in 1891 to promote the settlement of undeveloped areas along the rail lines. The presence of the railroad allowed the cattle industry to further develop because it facilitated shipping cattle from the area. Several early ranches established in the region include the 4J Ranch (1875), Half Circle L Ranch (1880s), I Bar U Ranch (1888), and the T7 Ranch (1881). The dryland farming movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had a profound effect on the settlement of the PRB during the years around World War I. Although the principles of dryland farming were sound, success still required a certain amount of precipitation each year. Wyoming encouraged dryland settlement of its semi-arid lands through a Board of Immigration created in 1911. Newspapers extolled the virtues of dryland farming,

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and railroads conducted well-organized advertising campaigns on a nationwide basis to settle the regions through which they passed. The most intensive period of homesteading activity in the eastern PRB occurred in the late 1910s and early 1920s. Promotional efforts by the state and the railroads, the prosperous war years for agriculture in 1917 and 1918, and the Stock Raising Act of 1916 with its increased acreage (but lack of mineral rights) all contributed to this boom period. A large number of land filings consisted of existing farms and ranches expanding their holdings in an optimistic economic climate. However, an equally large number of homesteaders had been misled by promotional advertising and were not adequately prepared for the experiences that awaited them in the PRB. It soon became apparent to the would-be dryland farmer that he could not make a living by raising only crops. Some were initially successful in growing wheat, oats, barley, and other small grains, along with hay, alfalfa, sweet clover, and other grasses for the increased number of cattle. A drought in 1919 was followed by a severe winter, and market prices fell in the spring of 1920. Those homesteaders who were not ruined by the turn of events often became small livestock ranchers and limited their farming to growing forage crops for their livestock and family garden plots. Some were able to obtain cheap land as it was foreclosed or sold for taxes. During the 1920s, the size of homesteads in Wyoming nearly doubled and the number of homesteads decreased, indicating the shift to livestock raising (LeCompte and Anderson 1982). With serious drought beginning in 1932, Weston, Campbell, and Converse counties were eligible for a drought relief program. The Northeast Wyoming Land Utilization Project began repurchasing the low value homestead lands and making the additional acres of government land available for lease. This helped the small operator expand his grazing land. Cropland taken out of production could be reclaimed and added to the grazing lease program. Grazing associations were formed to regulate grazing permits. In 1934, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration began studying portions of Converse, Campbell, Weston, Niobrara, and Crook counties. In all, 2 million acres were included in the Thunder Basin Project (LA-WY-1). Nationally, the program hoped to shift land use from farms to forest, parks, wildlife refuges, or grazing districts. In marginal agricultural areas, cash crops were replaced by forage crops, the kind and intensity of grazing was changed, and the size of operating units was expanded (USDA Forest Service n.d.). During the development program to rehabilitate the range, impounding dams were erected, wells were repaired, springs developed, and homestead fences were obliterated while division fences were constructed for the new community pastures. Farmsteads were destroyed and the range reseeded. Remaining homesteaders and ranchers often purchased or scavenged materials from the repurchased farmsteads. Pits were dug on some homesteads and machinery and demolished buildings buried (many of these were dug up during the World War II scrap drives). Ironically, the rehabilitation project used a labor pool of former farmers who had spent years building what the government paid them to destroy. Their efforts were so successful that almost no trace remains of many homesteads.

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While counties lost much of their population base as a result of the Resettlement Administration relocation program, they were strengthened financially through school closings, limiting road maintenance to main arterioles, and receipt of delinquent taxes payments. The remaining subsidized ranches were considerably larger and provided a stabilizing effect on the local economies. Three grazing associations were formed: the Thunder Basin Grazing Association, the Spring Creek Association, and the Inyan Kara Grazing Association. These associations provided more responsible management of the common rangeland than in earlier years. Early fur trappers noted the presence of coal in Wyoming in the mid 1800s and in northeastern Wyoming as early as the 1830s. The oldest coal mines in Wyoming were established along the Union Pacific Railroad; however, transportation systems were not developed in northeastern Wyoming until after the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1876. In the vicinity of Gillette, local ranchers and settlers mined coal in the area for their own use. Similar to the history described for the cattle industry and ranching, once the railroad arrived commercial development of coal mining began. Steam locomotives were the major consumer of coal in northeastern Wyoming, and coal production accelerated during World War II. Annual coal production declined after the war when the railroads transitioned from steam- to diesel-powered locomotives. In 1965, the demand for low-sulfur coal increased for use in power plants, and coal leasing began at an intensive level (Rosenberg 1990). Files Search and Class III Cultural Resources Surveys A files search is conducted through the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) prior to beginning field surveys for all new projects. The files search determines if the area has been previously surveyed and identifies any known cultural resources in the area. The files are accessible only by qualified archaeologists with appropriate clearance from the agency. A Class III cultural resources survey is an intensive and comprehensive pedestrian inventory of a proposed project area conducted by professional archaeologists and consultants. The survey is designed to locate, identify, and record all prehistoric and historic cultural properties 50 years and older that have exposed surface manifestations. These cultural properties are then evaluated for eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Properties must be recorded at a sufficient level to allow for this evaluation. Determinations of eligibility are made by the managing federal agency in consultation with the SHPO. If a property is determined to be not eligible for inclusion in the NRHP, no further work is required and the property can be disturbed without any further analysis or mitigation. Consultation with the SHPO must be completed before the mining plan can be approved. Eighteen cultural resource surveys have been conducted in the vicinity of the general analysis area. Eleven of the surveys are associated with expansion of the Buckskin Mine and seven were conducted for other activities as follows: one pipeline project, one power line project, one seismic line project, two CBNG developments, and two conventional oil well developments. In November 2007, a Class III cultural resource survey was conducted in the portion of the general analysis area that had not been previously surveyed: sections 7, 9, 18, and 19 of T52N R72W and

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sections 12, 13, and 24 of T52N R73W. The 2007 survey was conducted over an area of approximately 920 acres (Newberry 2008). A total of 19 cultural sites have been documented in the vicinity of the Buckskin Mine. Of these, 14 are located in the general analysis area (table 3.12-1). One isolated find was recorded and one previously recorded site, 48CA1832, could not be located during the 2007 survey.

Table 3.12-1. Cultural Sites Previously Identified in the General Analysis Area
Site Number
48CA862 48CA865 48CA868 48CA1828 48CA1830 48CA1832 48CA1834 48CA2223 48CA3376 48CA3898 48CA6360 48CA6361 48CA6362 48CA6797

NRHP Status
NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE

Author(s)/Organization
University of Wyoming University of Wyoming University of Wyoming High Plains Consultants High Plains Consultants High Plains Consultants High Plains Consultants LTA Incorporated TRC/Mariah Associates TRC/Mariah Associates Ecosystems Management Ecosystems Management Ecosystem Management Antiquus Cultural Resource Consulting

Report/Study Name
Buckskin Mine Buckskin Mine Buckskin Mine Spring Draw Survey Spring Draw Survey Spring Draw Survey Spring Draw Survey Exxon Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Project Segment 2 Class III Inventory of the Hay Creek Tract Buckskin Mine Triton Coal Company LLC Buckskin Mine Lease Expansion Buckskin Mining Company Hay Creek II Buckskin Mining Company Hay Creek II Buckskin Mining Company Hay Creek II Hay Creek II LBA

Year
1980 1980 1980 1982 1982 1982 1982 1985 2000 2001 2006 2006 2006 2007

Site Type
P P P P H H H P H P H H H H

NRHP = National Register of Historic Places; NE = Not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places Site types: P = prehistoric; H = historic Source: Newberry 2008.

The entire general analysis area has been inventoried for cultural resources at a Class III level. Of the 14 sites identified in that area, 6 are prehistoric and 8 are historic (Newberry 2008). All of the prehistoric sites are determined not eligible for the NRHP. No further protection is afforded these sites and no further work is required. Historic site categories documented in the general analysis area fall under the context of rural settlement. Specifically, the historic sites in the general analysis area are associated with homesteading and stock-raising circa the 1910s to the 1940s. All of the historic sites are determined not eligible for listing on the NRHP. No further protection is afforded these sites and no further work is required.

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3.12.1.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have no impact on known cultural resources or known unevaluated sites. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have no impact on known cultural resources. Up to 6 known prehistoric sites and 8 known historic sites would be destroyed as a result of mining and support activities under this alternative. All of these sites were determined to be not eligible for inclusion in the NHRP. Additional ineligible sites discovered during operations may be destroyed without protection or further work. Impacts on eligible sites discovered during operations would be avoided or mitigated through data recovery prior to mining. Impacts on unevaluated sites are not permitted; unevaluated sites would be evaluated prior to mining. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have no impact on known cultural resources or known unevaluated sites. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. No eligible or ineligible sites are known to exist in the overlap area. Ineligible sites discovered during operations may be destroyed without protection or further work. Impacts on eligible sites discovered during operations would be avoided or mitigated through data recovery prior to mining. Impacts on unevaluated sites are not permitted; unevaluated sites would be evaluated prior to mining. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have no impact on known cultural resources. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have no impact on known cultural resources or known unevaluated sites. Up to 6 known prehistoric sites and 8 known historic sites would be destroyed as a result of mining and support activities under this alternative. All of these sites were determined to be not eligible for inclusion in the NHRP. Additional ineligible sites discovered during operations may be destroyed without protection or further work. Impacts on eligible sites discovered during operations would be avoided or mitigated through data recovery prior to mining. Impacts on unevaluated sites are not permitted; unevaluated sites would be evaluated prior to mining.

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3.12.1.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring
Class I and Class III surveys are conducted prior to disturbance to identify cultural resources on all lands affected by federal undertakings, including leasing of federal minerals. All cultural sites documented in the general analysis area during surveys associated with this EIS were determined to be not eligible for listing on the NRHP. Therefore, these sites are afforded no further protection and no further work is required before mining can begin. Mining activities are monitored during topsoil stripping and other surface-disturbing activities. If previously unknown cultural resources are discovered during these operations, Buckskin will stop all activity in that vicinity until a qualified archaeologist can evaluate the find. If the archeologist determines it is warranted, SHPO is consulted to further evaluate the eligibility of the discovery for inclusion on the NRHP. Cultural resources that are determined to be eligible for the NRHP would be avoided or, if avoidance is not possible, a recovery plan would be implemented prior to disturbance and data would be collected (recorded or excavated) from the site(s) prior to removal. If a lease is issued under either of the action alternatives, the BLM would attach a stipulation requiring the lessee to notify appropriate state and federal personnel if cultural materials are uncovered during mining operations. This stipulation is included in appendix E. Full consultation with SHPO must be completed prior to approval of a mining plan.

3.12.1.4. Residual Impacts
No cultural resources eligible for listing on the NRHP have been formally identified and recorded in the general analysis area to date. If either of the action alternatives is implemented, sites determined to be ineligible for the NRHP would be permanently removed as a result mining. If cultural resources are discovered in the future that are determined to be eligible for the NRHP and cannot be avoided, they would be permanently removed as a result of mining. Although cultural resources that are not removed or that remain undiscovered prior to disturbance would be permanently destroyed by surface coal mining operations, the analyses (e.g., intensive pedestrian inventories, site evaluations and excavation, and analysis of prehistoric cultural resources) required prior to implementation of these activities provide substantial information and a better understanding regarding existing resources and local prehistory in the region.

3.12.2.

Native American Consultation

3.12.2.1. Affected Environment
Native American heritage sites can be classified as prehistoric or historic. Some may be presently in use as offering, fasting, or vision quest sites. Other sites of cultural interest and importance may include rock art, stone circles, various rock features, fortifications or battle sites, burials, and locations that are sacred or part of the oral history and heritage but possessing no human-made features.

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No Native American heritage, special interest, or sacred sites have been formally identified and recorded in the general analysis area to date. However, the geographic position of the general analysis area between mountains considered sacred by various Native American cultures (the Big Horn Mountains to the west, the Black Hills to the east, and Devil’s Tower to the north) creates the possibility that existing locations may have special religious or sacred significance to Native American groups.

3.12.2.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have no impact on known Native American heritage sites. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have no impact on such sites. No Native American heritage, special interest, or sacred sites have been formally identified and recorded in the proposed tract, support area, or overlap area to date. Alternative 1 (No Action) Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have no impact on known Native American heritage sites because none are known to be present in the area. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have no impact on known Native American heritage sites. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have no impact on such sites. No Native American heritage, special interest, or sacred sites have been formally identified and recorded in the general analysis area to date.

3.12.2.3. Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring
The following tribes have been identified as groups with potential concerns about actions in the PRB: Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Shoshone, Arapaho, Oglala Sioux, Rosebud Sioux, Crow Creek Sioux, Lower Brule Sioux, Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, Comanche Tribe of Oklahoma, and Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. Copies of the EIS have been sent to these tribal governments and representatives. They are also being provided with more specific information about the known cultural sites in the general analysis area. Their help is being requested in identifying potentially significant Native American heritage, special

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interest, or sacred religious or cultural sites in the general analysis area before a leasing decision is made on the Hay Creek II application. Native American tribes were consulted at a general level in 1995–1996 as part of an update to the BLM Buffalo Resource Area RMP. Some of the Sioux tribes were consulted by the BLM on coal leasing and mining activity in the PRB at briefings held in Rapid City, South Dakota, in March 2002. If Native American heritage, special interest, or sacred sites are discovered in the future in the general analysis area, Buckskin will stop all activity in that vicinity until all appropriate entities have been notified and all steps have been taken to address concerns related to those sites.

3.12.2.4. Residual Impacts
Although cultural resources that are not removed or have remain undiscovered prior to disturbance would be permanently destroyed by surface coal mining operations, the analyses (e.g., intensive pedestrian inventories, site evaluations and excavation, and analysis of prehistoric cultural resources) required prior to implementation of these activities provide substantial information and a better understanding regarding existing resources and the local prehistory in the region.

3.13. Visual Resources
This section describes existing visual resources in the general analysis area and identifies impacts that would result from the Proposed Action and alternatives.

3.13.1.

Affected Environment

Visual sensitivity levels are determined by the concern of viewers for what they see and the frequency of travel through an area. Natural views within and into the general analysis area consist mainly of vegetated open landscapes, including rolling mixed-grass prairie, scattered stands of sagebrush, and a small region of rough breaks. Natural views from the general analysis area to the north and west are similar to those within the area. Views to the south and east consist mostly of surface mining activities and facilities. Signs of human use in and near the area include active farming and ranching activities (fences, homesteads, hayfields, croplands, farm equipment, and livestock), tree shelterbelts around residences, CBNG development (pipeline rights-of-way, well shelters, and compressor stations), transportation facilities (roads and railroads), and overhead electric power lines and substations. U.S. Highway 14-16 lies approximately 1 mile to the southwest of the general analysis area. The southern portion of the general analysis area can be viewed from this roadway with the Buckskin Mine storage silos beyond it. The Collins and McGee roads pass through the western half of the general analysis area, and active mining at Buckskin is visible from both roads.

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For management purposes, the BLM evaluated the visual resources on lands under its jurisdiction in the 1985 Buffalo RMP (BLM 1985). The inventoried lands were classified into visual resource management (VRM) classes used to describe increasing levels of change within the characteristic landscape. They are defined as follows (BLM 2001a):  Class I—Natural ecologic changes and very limited management activity is allowed. Any contrast (activity) within this class must not attract attention.  Class II—Changes in any of the basic elements (form, line, color, texture) caused by an activity should not be evident in the landscape.  Class III—Contrasts to the basic elements caused by an activity are evident but should remain subordinate to the existing landscape.  Class IV—Activity attracts attention and is a dominant feature of the landscape in terms of scale.  Class V—The natural character of the landscape has been disturbed up to a point where rehabilitation is needed to bring it up to the level of one of the other four classifications. The 2001 RMP Update (BLM 2001a) covers Campbell County and the general analysis. The general analysis area is classified as VRM class IV because of the industrial nature of the energy development and active farming and residential use in the area. The overall natural scenic quality of class IV area is considered relatively low. Surface coal mines are not considered to be major emitting facilities in accordance with the WDEQ Rules and Regulations (chapter 6, section 4). Therefore, State of Wyoming does not require mines to evaluate their impacts on class I areas, though the BLM does consider such issues during leasing.

3.13.2.

Environmental Consequences

3.13.2.1. Proposed Action
Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a moderate, short-term impact on visual resources during mining. Following reclamation, this alternative would have a minor to moderate, permanent impact on terrain and a minor, long-term impact on approximately 46 non-contiguous acres of sagebrush in these areas. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact on most resources as the Proposed Action, with a minor, long-term impact on approximately 80 non-contiguous acres of sagebrush. No visual resources that are unique to this area have been identified in or near the proposed tract. Coal extraction operations would be within 1 mile of and visible from U.S. Highway 14-16; mine support activities such as topsoil stripping and stockpiling could be 0.25 mile closer to the highway. Mining activities would encroach to within 100 feet of the eastern right-of-way of the

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Collins Road (section 3.15). The road would remain in its existing alignment, but mined areas immediately east of the right-of-way would be lowered during and after mining operations. The areas disturbed under the Proposed Action would be considered VRM class V prior to reclamation. Reclamation would restore these areas to at least the premining VRM class IV conditions. Reclaimed land would resemble the surrounding undisturbed terrain, although slopes might appear smoother (less intricately dissected) and the vegetation would be more homogenous for several years. Sagebrush comprises approximately 126 non-contiguous acres of the area associated with the Proposed Action, with an average patch size of 4.9 acres.

3.13.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action)
Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact on most resources as the Proposed Action, with a minor, long-term impact on approximately 86 non-contiguous acres of sagebrush. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. No visual resources that are unique to this area have been identified in or near the overlap area. The current VRM class designations for the mine would not change. Impacts on the terrain and sagebrush habitats in the overlap area would be the same as those described under the Proposed Action, but would affect approximately 86 non-contiguous acres of shrubs.

3.13.2.3. Alternative 2
Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a moderate, short-term impact on visual resources during mining. Following reclamation, this alternative would have a minor to moderate, permanent impact on terrain and a minor, long-term impact on approximately 302 non-contiguous acres of sagebrush in these areas. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact on most resources as the Proposed Action, with no impacts on sagebrush. No visual resources that are unique to this area have been identified in or near the general analysis area. Coal extraction would be within 0.5 mile of and visible from U.S. Highway 14-16; mine support activities such as topsoil stripping and stockpiling could be 0.25 mile closer to the highway. Mining activities would encroach to within 100 feet of the eastern rights-of-way for both the Collins and McGee roads (section 3.15). The roads would remain in their existing alignments, but adjacent mined areas would be lowered during and after mining operations. Mining could only occur between and west of these two roads if they were closed or relocated, as described in section 2.2.1.1 and section 2.2.3.1. Kiewit does not anticipate pursuing either of those options, and neither road is expected to be disturbed under this alternative. During mining and prior to reclamation, areas disturbed under Alternative 2 would be considered VRM class V;

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after reclamation they would be restored to at least their premining VRM class IV condition. Impacts on the terrain and sagebrush habitats in the general analysis area would be the same as those described under the Proposed Action, but would affect approximately 302 non-contiguous acres of shrubs.

3.13.3.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

Landscape character would be restored during reclamation to resemble the original contours. Disturbed areas would be reseeded with an approved seed mixture that includes native species. Section 3.2 and section 3.9 provide more detailed discussions of the regulatory requirements, mitigation, and monitoring for topography and vegetation, respectively.

3.13.4.

Residual Impacts

No residual impacts on visual resources are expected.

3.14. Noise
This section describes existing conditions in the general analysis area associated with noise, and identifies impacts that would occur under the Proposed Action and alternatives.

3.14.1.

Affected Environment

The affected environment is described for noise in the general analysis area and vicinity.

3.14.1.1. Noise Terminology
A decibel (dB) is the unit of measure used to represent sound pressure levels. The A-weighted decibel (dBA) is a measure designed to simulate human hearing by placing less emphasis on lower frequency noise, because the human ear does not perceive lower frequencies in the same manner as higher frequencies. Figure 3.14-1 presents noise levels associated with some commonly heard sounds. Short-term noise, lasting from several seconds to several hours, is quantified by the equivalent noise level (Leq). The 24-hour average noise levels are quantified as “day-night” noise levels.

3.14.1.2. Noise-Sensitive Areas
For the purposes of this noise analysis, noise-sensitive areas have been categorized into the following groups. Map 3.4-4A and shows the occupied residences in and near the general analysis area discussed in this section; map 3.4-4B zooms in on the residence to the west and southwest of the general analysis area.

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HOW I T FE E LS

EQUIVALENT S OUNDS
50 hp siren (100 ft) Jet engine (75 ft) Turbo-fan jet at takeoff power (100ft) Scraper-loader Jet fly over (1000 ft)

DECIBELS


E Q UIVALE NT
 S OUNDS

Jackhammer


HOW IT S OUNDS

Near permanent damage level from short exposures Pain to ears Danger to hearing

130 120 110 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20

Chainsaw
 Fire cracker
 (15 ft.)
 Rock and roll
 band Unmuffled motor bike (2-3 ft.) Car horn Unmuffled cycle (25 ft.) Garbage trucks and city buses Diesel truck (25 ft.) Garbage disposal
 Food blender
 Muffled jet ski
 (50 ft.)
 Passenger car 65 mph (25 ft) Busy downtown area

135 dB(A) Approx. 64 times as loud as 75dB(A) 125 dB(A) Approx. 32 times as loud as 75dB(A) 115 dB(A) Approx. 16 times as loud as 75dB(A) 105 dB(A) Approx. 8 times as loud as 75dB(A) 95 dB(A) Approx. 4 times as loud as 75dB(A) 85 dB(A) Approx. 2 times as loud as 75dB(A) 75dB(A)

Uncomfortably loud

Discomfort threshold Very loud Conversation stops

Noisy newspaper press Air compressor (20 ft) Power lawnmower Steady flow of freeway trafic 10-HP outboard motor Automatic dishwasher Vacuum cleaner Window air conditioner outside at 2 ft. Window air conditioner in room Occasional private auto at 100 ft. Quiet home during evening Bird calls Library

Intolerable for phone use Extra auditory physiological effects

Quiet Sleep interference

Normal conversation

55 dB(A) Approx. 1/4 as loud as 75dB(A) 45 dB(A) Approx. 1/8 as loud as 75dB(A) 35 dB(A) Approx. 1/16 as loud as 75dB(A)

Very quiet

Soft whisper 5 ft. In a quiet house at midnight

Leaves rustling

10

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Figure 3.14-1 Adapted From ABC's of Our Noise Codes A-Weighted Decibel Readings and Sounds of Daily Life Relationship Between published by
Citizens Against Noise, Honolulu, Hawaii

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

Occupied Residences within the General Analysis Area One occupied residence is located within the general analysis area, less than 0.25 mile north of the existing mine permit area (map 3.4-4A). This residence is in direct line-of-sight of the current mine pit and associated support activities (e.g., topsoil stripping, soil stockpiling). The lack of obstacles between the residence and mine operations results in no buffering of noise generated at the mine. Occupied Residences North of the General Analysis Area These four residences range from 1.5 to 2.5 miles north of the general analysis area, and at least 2 miles north of the existing mine permit boundary (map 3.4-4A). The high rolling terrain between these residences and the general analysis area blocks their line-of-sight and creates a buffer from noise generated by current mine operations. Occupied Residences along U.S. Highway 14-16 and West of the General Analysis Area The nearest of these residences is approximately 0.5 mile west of the general analysis area (map 3.4-4B) and approximately 1.5 miles from overlap between the general analysis area and the Buckskin Mine permit area (map 3.4-4A). The small Green Valley Estates subdivision is immediately west of Highway 14-16, approximately 0.75 mile from the general analysis area and 1.75 miles from the majority of its overlap with the permit boundary. The high rolling terrain between these residences and the general analysis area provides a visual and audio buffer from current and future mine operations. Occupied Residences along U.S. Highway 14-16 and Southwest of the General Analysis Area The nearest of these residences is within the existing permit area, approximately 0.25 mile west of the general analysis area (map 3.4-4B); this residence is immediately north of an existing coal lease (map 3.0-1). The Pineview Ranchettes and Bredthauer subdivisions lie mostly to the west of U.S. Highway 14-16, less than 0.25 mile from the Collins Road and the western limit of the existing Buckskin Mine permit area (map 3.4-4B). One house in the Pineview Ranchettes subdivision lies between the highway and the permit boundary, approximately 0.5 mile west of the general analysis area. The residence within the permit area is on the far side of a hill that separates it from all but the extreme southwestern corner of the general analysis area. Most of the residences in the two subdivisions are on a hillside above the rolling terrain to the northeast. Their line-of-sight to both the general analysis area and the existing permit area is generally unobstructed, so few potential buffers from mine-related noise are present. However, nearly all of the residences in this area are adjacent to and west of Highway 14-16, a well-traveled major highway and, thus, are currently exposed to regular traffic noise.

3.14.1.3. Existing Noise Sources and Existing Noise Levels
Existing noise sources in the general analysis area include coal mining activities, traffic on Highway 14-16 and the Collins and McGee roads, mine-related rail traffic along the rail spur serving the mines, wind, and CBNG activities and facilities.

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Noise originating from CBNG development equipment (e.g., drilling rigs and construction vehicles) and production facilities (e.g., well sites and compressor stations) is apparent locally over the short term (i.e., 30 to 60 days) where well drilling and associated construction activities occur. The amount of noise overlap between well sites is variable and depends on the timing of drilling activities on adjacent sites and the distance between the site locations. No baseline noise studies have been conducted for existing noise levels at the northern and western residences nearest the general analysis area, and no site-specific noise level data are available for the general analysis area. Studies of background noise levels at other PRB mines indicate that ambient sound levels generally are low, owing to the isolated nature of the area. Because the general analysis area is immediately adjacent to an operating mine, the current median noise level is estimated to be between 40 and 60 dBA, with the noise level increasing with proximity to active mining operations. Mining activities are characterized by noise levels of between 85 and 95 dBA at 50 feet from actual mining operations and activities. The residences in the general analysis area and the one in the permit area are both close to ongoing mine operations and county or federal road systems. Noise at these two residences is likely dominated by sources from the Buckskin Mine and public roads. The three subdivisions are close to other neighboring residences and Highway 14-16. Therefore, existing noise levels at those residences are likely dominated by traffic and ranching or suburban noise sources.

3.14.2.

Environmental Consequences

The assessment of noise impacts from the Proposed Action and alternatives focuses on the following related noise issues:  increased noise levels at residences with a direct line-of-sight to and within 0.25 to 0.5 mile of new mining activity;  noise impacts on wildlife;  increased railroad noise along the rail spur serving the mine; and  hearing protection for mine workers. The Noise Control Act of 1972 indicates that a 24-hour equivalent noise level (Leq[24]) of less than 70 dBA prevents hearing loss, and that an outdoor day-night level (Ldn) below 55 dBA, in general does not constitute an adverse impact (EPA 1974).

3.14.2.1. Proposed Action
Increased Noise Levels at Occupied Residences Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a minor to substantial, short-term impact on noise levels, depending on the location of occupied residences relative to operations. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact on noise as the Proposed Action.
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Within the General Analysis Area The nearest occupied residence is less than 0.25 mile from the overlap area (map 3.4-4A). As coal extraction moves incrementally away from existing leases south toward the proposed tract, noise associated with mining would also move away from that residence. North of the General Analysis Area Mining and related activities would remain at least 2 miles from the nearest residence under the Proposed Action (map 3.4-4A). High terrain between these residences and the proposed tract would provide a visual and audio barrier from mine operations. West of the General Analysis Area Under the Proposed Action, mining and mine support activities associated with the proposed tract and support activities in the remainder of the overlap area would remain at least 0.75 mile from the nearest residence and 1.25 miles from the nearest subdivision (map 3.4-4A and map 3.4-4B). High terrain and an active highway located between the residences and the proposed tract provide visual and audio buffers from current and future mine-related noise. Southwest of the General Analysis Area Under the Proposed Action, mining and mine support activities associated with the proposed tract and support activities in the remainder of the overlap area would be at least 0.75 mile from the majority of occupied residences, One residence would be approximately 0.5 mile west of the overlap area but within the existing permit area (map 3.4-4B) and immediately adjacent to an existing lease. Few natural buffers from mine-related noise are present between the majority of residences in this area and current or future mine operations. However, nearly all of the residences in this area are adjacent to and west of a well-traveled major highway and, thus, are currently exposed to regular traffic noise. Noise Impacts on Wildlife Under the Proposed Action, wildlife in the immediate vicinity of the proposed tract would continue to be exposed to noise from mine-related activities, but noise levels are not expected to increase. Anecdotal observations at surface coal mines in the area indicate that wildlife may adapt to increased noise associated with coal mining activity. After mining and reclamation are completed, noise levels would return to premining levels. Increase in Noise Levels near the Rail Spur No new railroads or rail loading facilities would be constructed under the Proposed Action; rail car loading would continue at the loadout facility in the existing permit area approximately 1.5 miles southeast of the proposed tract. The nearest occupied residence is approximately 2.25 miles to the northwest, with numerous hills and existing noise sources between the rail spur and the residence. The mines located north of Interstate 90 (including Buckskin) share a common rail spur connecting to the main east-west rail line along the interstate to ship coal to users throughout the United States. No residences are located near the common rail spur north of the railroad junction. Under the Proposed Action, average coal car loading would remain at the

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same level as under existing conditions for Buckskin Mine (five trains per day). Railroad noise impacts are usually evaluated by considering the 24-hour average noise increase compared to existing conditions, rather than evaluating short-term Leq noise impacts from each individual train (Federal Transit Administration 2006). Because the average number of coal trains would not increase, the Proposed Action would not cause an increase in the 24-hour average noise levels along the rail spur.

3.14.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action)
Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have a minor to substantial, short-term impact on noise levels, depending on the location of occupied residences relative to operations. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. The nearest occupied residence is less than 0.25 mile from the overlap area (map 3.4-4A). As coal extraction moves incrementally away from existing leases south toward the proposed tract, noise associated with mining would also move away from that residence.

3.14.2.3. Alternative 2
Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a minor to substantial, short-term impact on noise levels, depending on the location of occupied residences relative to operations. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same noise impacts as described under the Proposed Action. Increased Noise Levels at Occupied Residences Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a minor to substantial, short-term impact on noise levels, depending on the location of occupied residences relative to operations. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same noise impacts as described under the Proposed Action. Within the General Analysis Area Mining activities could eclipse the single occupied residence within the general analysis area (map 3.4-4A) if the McGee road is closed or relocated, as described in section 2.2.3.1. However, Kiewit does not anticipate pursuing road closure or relocation. North of the General Analysis Area Mining and related activities would remain at least 1.5 miles from the nearest occupied residence (map 3.4-4A). High terrain between these residences and the general analysis area would provide a visual and audio barrier from mine operations.

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West of the General Analysis Area The majority of mining and mine support activities in the general analysis area would remain at least 0.5 mile from the nearest residence and approximately 1 mile away from the nearest subdivision (map 3.4-4A and map 3.4-4B). High terrain and an active highway located between the residences and the general analysis area provide visual and audio buffers from current and future mine-related noise. Southwest of the General Analysis Area Mining and mine support activities within the general analysis area would remain at least 0.25 mile from the nearest residence (map 3.4-4B); that residence is within the permit area and immediately adjacent to an existing lease. Mining activities in the general analysis area would remain at least 0.5 mile from the nearest subdivision. Few potential buffers from mine-related noise are present between most of the residences in this area and current or future mine operations. However, nearly all of the residences in this area are adjacent to and west of a well-traveled major highway and, thus, are currently exposed to regular traffic noise. Noise Impacts on Wildlife Under Alternative 2, wildlife in the immediate vicinity of the general analysis area would continue to be exposed to noise from mine-related activities, but noise levels are not expected to increase. Anecdotal observations at surface coal mines in the area indicate that wildlife may adapt to increased noise associated with coal mining activity. After mining and reclamation are completed, noise levels would return to premining levels. Increase in Noise Levels near the Rail Spur No new railroads or rail loading facilities would be constructed under Alternative 2; rail car loading would continue at the loadout facility in the existing permit area approximately 1.5 miles southeast of the general analysis area. The nearest occupied residence is approximately 2.25 miles to the northwest of the rail spur, with numerous hills and existing noise sources between it and the residence. The mines located north of Interstate 90 (including Buckskin) share a common rail spur connecting to the main east-west rail line along the interstate to ship coal to users throughout the United States. No residences are located near the common rail spur north of the railroad junction. Under Alternative 2, average coal car loading would remain at the same level as under existing conditions for Buckskin Mine (five trains per day). Railroad noise impacts are usually evaluated by considering the 24-hour average noise increase compared to existing conditions, rather than evaluating short-term Leq noise impacts from each individual train (Federal Transit Administration 2006). Because the average number of coal trains would not increase, this alternative would not cause an increase in the 24-hour average noise levels along the rail spur.

3.14.3.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

Mine operators are required to comply with Mine Safety and Health Administration regulations concerning noise, which include protecting employees from hearing loss associated with noise

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levels at the mines. This agency periodically conducts mine inspections to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

3.14.4.

Residual Impacts

No residual noise impacts are expected.

3.15. Transportation
This section describes the affected environment as it relates to transportation in the general analysis area, and identifies impacts that would result from the Proposed Action and alternatives.

3.15.1.

Affected Environment

Transportation facilities near the general analysis area include Highway 14-16; Wyoming State Highway 59 (Wyoming 59); the Collins and McGee roads; unimproved local and access roads; the improved Buckskin Mine access road; the Buckskin Mine rail spur; oil and gas pipelines; electric corridors; and associated rights-of-way (map 3.15-1 and map 3.4-4A). Oil and gas pipelines are shown on map 3.15-2.

3.15.1.1. Roadways
Highway 14-16 and Wyoming 59 are the major north-south public transportation corridors in this area. Highway 14-16 is approximately 0.5 mile west of the southwestern corner of the general analysis area and approximately 2 miles west of its northwestern corner. It is accessed from the general analysis area via the Collins Road. The Collins Road forms the western boundary of the proposed tract, crossing vertically through the center of the general analysis area. At its intersection with the McGee Road, it continues to the north while the McGee Road angles to the northeast. Wyoming Highway 59 is approximately 2 miles east of the general analysis area; no public access connects that highway with the general analysis area. Both highways are paved, two-lane roads. The county roads are improved, two-lane, dirt roads that also run roughly north-south.

3.15.1.2. Railways
Coal extracted from the existing surface coal mines in the PRB is transported in rail cars along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Union Pacific (UP) rail lines. The coal mines north of Gillette, including the Buckskin Mine, ship most of their coal via the east-west BNSF Railroad that runs through Gillette for destinations in the Midwest. The coal mines south of Gillette and in the Wright area ship most of their coal via the Gillette-to-Douglas BNSF/UP joint rail lines that travel south through Campbell and Converse counties, then east over separate BNSF and UP rail lines headed for destinations in the Midwest. Individual spur lines connect each PRB mine to the BNSF or UP mainlines.

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0

2,500 feet


5,000


No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.15-1 Transportation Facilities in the Vicinity of the General Analysis Area

0

2,500 feet


5,000


No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 3.15-2 Oil and Gas Pipelines in the General Analysis Area

3.0 Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

The Buckskin Mine rail spur provides access to the mine and is located approximately 1.5 miles southeast of the general analysis area. This rail spur is the northern terminus of a series of spur lines that serve the surface coal mines north of Gillette and extends south for more than 13 miles.

3.15.1.3. Oil and Gas Pipelines and Electric Corridors
Several power lines and active oil and gas pipelines are present in the general analysis area. The overhead, electric transmission and distribution lines traverse the entire area (map 3.15-1) and are primarily associated with mine operations, but they also serve the nearby subdivisions and surrounding homes described in section 3.14. The pipelines are predominately associated with CBNG production, though some oil is transported as well. Two pipelines cross the length of the general analysis area from south to north, but most are concentrated in the southwestern corner (map 3.15-2).

3.15.2.

Environmental Consequences

3.15.2.1. Proposed Action
Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a minor to moderate, short-term impact on mine-related use of public highways and relocation of pipeline and utility infrastructure. This alternative would have a minor to substantial, short-term impact on mining operations near the Collins and McGee county roads, depending on their proximity to the road(s), but no impact on rail lines. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have a moderate, short-term impact on mine related use of public highways. These activities would have no impact on pipelines and a negligible to minor, short-term impact on power lines and mining operations near the county roads. No public roadways are located within the proposed tract, but the Collins Road is adjacent to its western boundary. As described in section 2.2.1.1, lands within 100 feet of the outside line of the right-of-way of a public road are considered unsuitable for surface coal mining. Consequently, the federal coal reserves underlying the Collins Road, its right-of-way, and an associated 100-foot buffer zone cannot be accessed under current conditions. Mining could only occur under the Collins Road or its right-of-way and buffer if the road were closed or relocated, as described in section 2.2.1.1. Kiewit does not anticipate pursuing either of those options, and the road and its right-of-way and buffer are not expected to be disturbed under this alternative. Unless an exception is granted to the BLM’s prohibition against mining under or immediately adjacent to a public road (coal screening unsuitability criterion 3, section 2.2.1.1), a stipulation would be attached to the lease stating that mining activity would not be conducted within the Collins Road right-of-way or its 100-foot buffer zone. Vehicular traffic to and from the Buckskin Mine would remain at existing levels. Coal mined in the proposed tract would be transported by rail. Mining would be an extension of existing Buckskin operations, and would rely on existing rail facilities and infrastructure. Annual coal production would not increase under the Proposed Action, nor would the volume of
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rail shipments. Portions of four active oil and gas pipelines and one potential new easement cross the proposed tract, support area and/or remainder of the overlap area. Surface disturbance such as overland travel, topsoil stripping, and trenching associated with removal of existing lines and construction of new corridors would result if one or more pipelines are relocated. Minor surface disturbance would also result from relocating and rebuilding the three overhead power lines in the area. Such disturbance is typically limited to overland travel by small- to medium-sized vehicles and augering holes approximately 3 feet in diameter to accommodate the new power poles.

3.15.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action)
Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have a moderate, short-term impact on mine related use of public highways. These activities would have no impact on pipelines and a negligible to minor, short-term impact on power lines and mining operations near the county roads. The No Action Alternative would have no impact on rail lines. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Mining and related activities in the overlap area could have minor impacts along 0.25 mile of one public roadway. No new roads or rail lines would be physically affected under this alternative. Because the overlap area is within the existing permit area, all power line and pipeline issues have already been addressed.

3.15.2.3. Alternative 2
Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have the same impacts as described under the Proposed Action. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases also would have the same impacts. Approximately 3 miles of two public roadways pass through the western half of the general analysis area (map 3.15-1). As described under the Proposed Action, and in sections 2.2.1.1 and 2.2.3.1, the federal coal reserves underlying the Collins and McGee roads, their rights-of-way, and the associated 100-foot buffer zones are considered unsuitable for mining and cannot be accessed unless one or both roads are closed or relocated. Kiewit does not anticipate pursuing either of those options, and neither road is expected to be disturbed under this alternative. Unless an exception is granted to the BLM’s unsuitability criterion 3, a stipulation would be attached to the lease stating that mining activity would not be conducted within the rights-of-way or 100-foot buffer zones for these county roads. Vehicular traffic to and from the Buckskin Mine would remain at existing levels.

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Coal mined in the final tract configuration would be transported by rail. Mining would be an extension of existing operations and would rely on existing rail facilities and infrastructure. Annual coal production and volume of rail shipments would not increase. Six existing oil and gas pipelines, one potential new pipeline easement, and eight overhead power lines are present in the general analysis area. Surface disturbance such as overland travel, topsoil stripping, trenching, and augering associated with removal and relocation of infrastructure and facilities would result in varying levels of surface disturbance in current and new locations. If relocation of pipelines or corridors is necessary, it would be handled according to specific agreements between the coal lessee and the pipeline or utility owners. Due to their location within the existing permit area, most, if not all, pipeline and power line issues have already been addressed.

3.15.3.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

Regulatory requirements regarding transportation facilities preclude any public road from being relocated or closed unless the appropriate authority has allowed it. Existing pipelines and oil and gas lines can be relocated, if necessary, in accordance with specific agreements between the coal lessee and the pipeline and utility owners. After mining, the land will be reclaimed to support the premining uses described in section 1.1.3.1. Oil and gas wells, pipelines, and utility easements will be reestablished as required.

3.15.4.

Residual Impacts

With the opening of the PRB in Wyoming in the late 1970s, U.S. coal shipments have grown dramatically from 4.8 million carloads to 8.4 million carloads in 2006 as the railroads deliver low-sulfur coal to help electric utilities achieve clean air standards. The largest coal trains are from the PRB to power plants in Illinois, Missouri, and Texas (Federal Railroad Administration 2008). Shifting and blowing coal dust and coal chunks coming off freshly loaded moving railroad cars can accumulate along railroad tracks, railroad rights-of-way, and on adjacent lands. Coal dust can wash into drainages where large deposits of lost coal can accumulate. Accumulated coal dust has been linked to train derailments and can spontaneously combust and cause wildfires. Coal can be lost from rail cars through leakage from the rail car discharge doors, spillage over the rail car sides, or it can be blown from rail car tops during transit. In testing conducted by Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF, and the National Coal Transportation Association, the average loss of coal from an individual rail car’s rapid discharge doors was about 19 pounds per 216 miles, or 0.09 pound per mile. The same testing indicated that an average of 225 pounds of coal was lost from the top of a coal car through either top spillage or being blown off during a 567-mile test trip, which equated to about 0.4 pound per mile (National Coal Transportation Association 2007).

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The derailment of two trains in the PRB in 2005 resulted from track instability problems caused by a buildup of coal dust and other particles on the rail bed in combination with high concentrations of moisture (Union Pacific Railroad 2005). BNSF railway officials toured the PRB rail infrastructure in June 2007. According to a BNSF official, when coal dust is blown off rail cars, it becomes lodged in the rail bed, allowing moisture to intrude. The moisture then degrades the structural stability of the rail bed and leaves the rail more vulnerable to buckling under stress (Gartrell 2007a). The National Coal Transportation Association (2007) testing results suggested that rail car bottom spillage may have more of a negative impact on rail bed stability than loss from the top of rail cars since the leakage is directly above and near the ballast. The testing also indicated a 32% decrease in bottom spillage of coal after adjustment of the rapid discharge doors. Accumulating coal dust deposits have become a concern in Converse County. While the coal mines north of Gillette, including the Buckskin Mine, ship most of their coal via the east-west BNSF Railroad to destinations in the Midwest, the majority of coal mined in the PRB travels through Converse County on railroads. Coal dust blows off the freshly loaded coal cars on their way from the mine load-outs to Bill, Wyoming, and through Converse County (Delbridge 2007). The Converse County Board of Commissioners is concerned with the coal dust piles that have accumulated in the county from rail transport of coal. Spontaneous combustion of accumulated coal dust can cause rangeland fires. Smoldering coal dust in a railroad right-of-way can ignite a wildfire and quickly spread to surrounding private lands if the fire is not immediately controlled. The Douglas Volunteer Fire Department Chief, Rick Andrews, estimates that coal fires account for at least 50% of the department’s average summer call volume and are an ongoing problem for them. Often water only temporarily puts down the flames; some fires repeatedly ignite over the course of several hours or days. While the county’s rural fire district is compensated for some of the costs involved in putting out fires caused by transported coal, the compensation does not come close to the actual costs, according to the Douglas Volunteer Fire Department Chief (Delbridge 2007). A Converse County private landowner invited the BLM to examine and survey the coal that had fallen from coal trains traveling through his land. On July 7, 2008, BLM personnel met with the landowner and toured his rangeland, which was adjacent to the railroad right-of-way, about 26 miles north of Douglas, Wyoming. The BLM surveyed various coal accumulations in Box Creek. One area had a coal accumulation 1.8 feet thick. Water runoff washed lost coal from the trains into drainages; the amount of coal deposited varied along the tracks (BLM 2008d). BNSF is working with the utility companies and the mines to encourage delivery of larger chunks of crushed coal (3-inch versus 2-inch diameter) to reduce the amount of small particles that are created in the crushing process. Another possibility that may help lessen blowing coal dust from trains is the application of surfactant to the tops of loaded coal cars. When applied to coal, the surfactant can stabilize and adhere coal dust to larger coal chunks. Tests have shown that coal dust on railroad tracks can be reduced as much as 95% with surfactant use. The specific surfactant used must meet utility companies’ burning specifications (Gartrell 2007a).
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A collaborative effort between the National Coal Transportation Association, PRB mines, and BNSF and UP railroads has resulted in an improved design for a coal loading chute that distributes coal more evenly and produces a lower profile load. Preliminary results have demonstrated that this new design may result in a 30% to 60% reduction in coal dust blowing off the top of cars during the early portion of the route (Union Pacific Railroad 2006). Converse County Commissioners have formally expressed concerns to the BLM regarding fire, health, and safety issues associated with blowing coal dust from trains. They have stated that the health and wellbeing of Converse County citizens downwind of the railroad tracks continue to be jeopardized by the lack of coal dust mitigation in the coal mining permit process. The commissioners have recommended that coal dust mitigation be applied as a standard condition of approval before mining permits are issued (BLM 2008e). As discussed in section 1.3, the BLM does not authorize mining permits nor does it regulate mining operations with the issuance of a BLM coal lease. WDEQ is the agency that permits mining operations and has authority to enforce mining regulations. In Wyoming, WDEQ has entered into a cooperative agreement with the Secretary of the Interior to regulate surface coal mining operations. Mitigation and other requirements are developed as part of the mining and reclamation permit. These permits and the provisions they contain must be approved by WDEQ before mining of federal coal leases can occur. Other agencies that may be stakeholders in this issue include the Federal Railroad Administration, which implements U.S. Department of Transportation environmental policies related to railroads in the United States, and the National Coal Transportation Association, whose mission includes facilitating the resolution of coal transportation issues to serve the needs of the general public and industry (National Coal Transportation Association 2008).

3.16. Hazardous and Solid Waste
3.16.1. Affected Environment
Potential sources of hazardous or solid waste could include spilled, leaked, or dumped substances, petroleum products, and solid waste associated with coal and oil and gas exploration, oil and gas development, utility line installation and maintenance, or agricultural activities. No such hazardous or solid wastes are known to be present in the general analysis area. Wastes produced by current mining activities at the Buckskin Mine are handled according to the procedures described in chapter 1, section 1.1.3.5.

3.16.2.

Environmental Consequences

3.16.2.1. Proposed Action
Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a negligible, short-term impact

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on hazardous and solid wastes generated by mining operations. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the proposed tract and support area. Wastes generated under this alternative would be similar to those currently being created by existing mining operations. Such wastes would be handled in accordance with the existing regulations using the procedures currently in use, and in accordance with WDEQ-approved waste disposal plans at the Buckskin Mine (section 1.1.3.5).

3.16.2.2. Alternative 1 (No Action)
Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have a negligible, short-term impact on hazardous and solid wastes generated by mining operations. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future.

3.16.2.3. Alternative 2
Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a negligible, short-term impact on hazardous and solid wastes generated by mining operations. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the BLM study area and support area. Hazardous and solid wastes generated in the course of mining an alternative tract configuration would be similar to those currently being created by existing mining operations. Waste handling and disposal procedures would be the same as those described for existing mining operations (section 1.1.3.5), and would be in accordance with WDEQ-approved waste disposal plans at the Buckskin Mine.

3.16.3.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

Kiewit will adhere to the regulatory requirements for production, use, storage, transport, and disposal of solid waste and hazardous or extremely hazardous materials that result from mining activities, described in section 1.1.3.5. All mining activities involving hazardous materials are and would continue to be conducted so as to minimize potential environmental impacts.

3.16.4.

Residual Impacts

No residual impacts associated with hazardous and solid waste are expected.

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3.17. Socioeconomics
This section describes existing socioeconomic conditions in Campbell County, the City of Gillette, and nearby unincorporated areas and identifies impacts on those conditions that would result from the Proposed Action and alternatives.

3.17.1.

Local Economy

3.17.1.1. Affected Environment
Wyoming’s coal mines set a new annual production record of 466.3 million tons in 2008, an increase of about 14.2 million tons (3.1%) over the record 452.1 million tons produced in 2007. Coal produced from 14 active mines in Campbell and Converse counties accounted for approximately 96% of total statewide coal production in 2008 and virtually all of the gain in statewide production from 2007 to 2008 (Wyoming Department of Employment 2009a). Energy resource development has been the primary stimulus behind a marked economic expansion across the state in recent years. Recent estimates of the state’s gross state product (GSP)5 highlight the significance of the minerals industry to the statewide economy. Estimates of the 2007 GSP indicate the mining industry, including oil and gas and support activities, accounted for more than 30% of the state’s total GSP of $31.5 billion. Statewide GSP climbed by nearly 45% (in nominal dollars) between 2003 and 2007 largely due to the increases in natural gas development and production. The contribution of mining production to the 2007 statewide GSP was more than twice that of the government sector, the next largest sector, and more than three-and-one-half times the contribution of the real estate industry, the next largest private industrial sector (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis 2009). Wyoming, Campbell County, Campbell County School District 1, the City of Gillette, and many other governmental entities across the state receive revenues derived directly and indirectly from taxes and royalties on the production of federal coal, including that at the Buckskin Mine. Such revenues include lease bonus bids, ad valorem taxes, severance taxes, royalty payments, sales and use taxes on equipment and other taxable purchases, and portions of required contributions to the federal AML program and Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. Companies pay lease bonus bids for the right to enter into lease agreements for federal coal. Current statutorily established allocation formulas presently cap the total annual distributions to local governments from the state’s share at levels substantially below the revenues generated by mineral development in the state. Consequently, the bulk of such revenues accrue to the state general fund, budget reserve fund, Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund, and school foundation and construction budgets. The combined statutory distributions to cities and counties during fiscal year 2007 was $53.5 million, about 2.9% of the total $1.79 billion in federal mineral royalties and severance taxes received by the state. Moreover, distributions to local
5	

GSP is a measure of the total market value of goods and services produced by the labor, capital, and property in the state, after netting out the value of intermediate outputs imported to the state.

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government are not earmarked for those local entities where the activities are located or the social and economic effects are felt. Instead, the distributions are made to all cities and counties in the state. In 1994, a study conducted at the University of Wyoming estimated the total fiscal benefit to the State of Wyoming for coal produced in the PRB at $1.10 per ton (Borden et al. 1994). Calculating the estimated total fiscal benefit to the state in 2005 by including half of the bonus bid payments, half of the federal mineral royalties based on current prices, half of the AML fees, and all of the ad valorem taxes, severance taxes, and sales and use taxes for coal produced in Campbell County in 2005 results in an estimated $661 million, or $1.62 per ton (BLM 2006b). Revenues to the federal government from leasing and production of federal coal include retention of one-half of the lease bonus bids and federal mineral royalties. Bonus bids are paid in five annual installments, with half returned to the state. In 2004 and 2005, BLM held competitive sealed-bid lease sales for six coal tracts (NARO South, Hay Creek, West Hay Creek, Little Thunder, West Roundup, and NARO North). The successful bonus bids for these six sales ranged from 30 cents per ton to 97 cents per ton and totaled $1.69 billion, including $146.3 million for the Hay Creek tract (BLM 2006b). The bonus bid payments associated with these sales topped $200 million in fiscal year 2006. The remaining bonus bid payments from those past sales, estimated at about $170 million per year to the State of Wyoming, will occur this year and the next fiscal year. Three sales involving coal in the Wyoming PRB were held in the first four months of 2008. Two of those sales were successful. The Eagle Butte and South Maysdorf tracts yielded bonus bids within the range of the 2004/2005 sales (BLM 2008f). As additional sales are planned, successful sales will generate additional coal lease bonus bid disbursements. Such disbursements to the state are then allocated to fund capital construction projects for cities, towns, and counties; the state’s highway fund; community colleges, and schools (Wyoming Consensus Revenue Estimating Group 2007). Federal mineral royalties (FMR) are collected by the federal government when the produced coal is sold, with a royalty rate equal to 12.5% of the sale price. The federal government retains 51% of the receipts and 49% of the FMR is disbursed to the State of Wyoming. Total FMR disbursements, including coal bonus bid payments to the state in fiscal year 2007 derived from all mineral production (not solely coal), was $927 million (Wyoming Consensus Revenue Estimating Group 2008). In 2006, the Buckskin Mine paid $17.8 million in FMR. In addition to the FMR, coal mines pay as much as 31.5 cents per ton of surface coal produced to fund AML reclamation programs. The Buckskin Mine payments to the federal mining reclamation program exceeded $6 million in 2006. Historically about 83% of the funds were to be returned to states and tribes with AML problems, subject to adjustments to reflect the actual appropriations authorized by Congress and overall AML program priorities. Future AML payments associated with the proposed coal sales are assumed to be 28.0 cents per ton.

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Wyoming historically received about 50% of the AML funds generated by production in the state. Amendments to Title IV of the SMCRA enacted in 2006 altered the structure of the AML program. Under the revised program, Wyoming will receive payments over the next seven years to replace past underpayments stemming from Congressional budget authorizations that were insufficient to fully fund the program. However, the state will not be entitled to receive future distributions from the AML program. Wyoming will receive an equivalent in-lieu amount, of 50%, in the form of grants from general treasury funds. The new funds will be subject to fewer restrictions regarding their use (OSM 2007a, b). Additional sources of revenue from coal mining include federal corporate and personal income taxes and annual lease rentals paid to the government. Sales and use taxes are levied by the state and by local governments. Approximately 70% of the revenues generated from the statewide 4.0% levy are retained by the state; the remaining revenues are distributed to the counties, cities, and towns according to statutory formula. In addition, Campbell County levies a 1% general purpose local option tax and a 0.25% specific county option tax. Sales and tax revenues are vital for local governments. Statewide total sales and use tax revenues totaled $922.1 million in fiscal year 2007. Fully $1 of every $6 in statewide sales and use tax receipts was derived directly from economic activity in Campbell County (Wyoming Department of Revenue 2007). A direct accounting of sales and use taxes paid by coal mining firms is not available; however, it is likely substantial given the operating budgets of the mines. In 2006, the Buckskin Mine had a total payroll, including benefits and incentives, of $19.3 million. In addition, the mine made outlays of nearly $91 million for non-labor operating expenses, capital investments, permits, licenses, fees, royalties, and taxes. Approximately 60% of the latter sum was spent with vendors and suppliers in Wyoming or paid directly to state and local governments. An internal analysis of the Buckskin Mine’s outlays yielded an estimated $1.8 million paid in sales and use taxes in 2006. The total payroll includes $31.7 million in federal mineral royalties, mined land reclamation, and black lung taxes, a considerable portion of which return to Wyoming (Ackermann pers. comm.). The County, Campbell County School District 1, and several special service districts also rely on ad valorem/property taxes levied on the real property and value of production and benefit from operations of the Buckskin Mine. Rising production and market values for oil, natural gas, and coal, coupled with increases in production have given rise to dramatic increases in the ad valorem tax bases of producing counties, particularly Campbell County. In 2008, Campbell County had an ad valorem tax base of $4.72 billion, an increase of more than $1.0 billion, or 29% increase in the past three years. Campbell County’s total ad valorem tax base accounted for more than 21% of the aggregate statewide assessed value on all real property and mineral production. The coal mining industry accounted for nearly 66% of Campbell County’s total assessed value (table 3.17-1). The Buckskin Mine, along with other coal mines and the natural gas industry, are the largest taxpayers in Campbell County.
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Table 3.17-1. Contribution of Coal Mining to 2008 Assessed Valuation of Campbell County
Total Assessed Value
$ 4,772,822,444
a

Coal Mining (Real Property)
$ 258,857,305

State-Assessed Minerals—Coal
$ 2,852,086,593

Coal-Related Share of Totala
65.8%

(coal mining real property + state-assessed minerals) / total assessed value = coal-related share of total

Sources: Wyoming Department of Revenue 2008 and Wyoming State Board of Equalization 2008.

3.17.1.2. Environmental Consequences
Federal and state royalties, severance tax, and other revenues generated by leasing and mining coal depend on the eventual sale date and price of coal. This analysis assumes a conservative price estimate of $7.85 per ton of coal. It is approximately 25% below the statewide average price of $10.56 per ton for 2010 thru 2012 (reflecting both contracted and spot sales prices) used by Wyoming’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group to estimate the state’s revenues from mineral severance and federal mineral royalty revenues over the next five years (Wyoming Consensus Revenue Estimating Group 2007, 2008). Royalty and severance tax revenues would increase above the amounts projected in this analysis should actual values be higher, and vice versa. Coal prices increased in 2005, generally in response to concerns over transporting and maintaining adequate stockpiles, but then declined in 2006. Prices trended upward in 2007 and the first half of 2008, topping $14.00 per ton for 8,800-Btu coal in April and again in November (U.S. Department of Energy 2008a). Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a moderate to substantial, beneficial, short-term impact on economic development and revenues to federal, state, and local coffers resulting from various royalty and tax payments, respectively. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the proposed tract and support area. This alternative is projected to generate $69.2–$87.3 million in federal revenues, $90.6–$108.8 million in state and local revenues (table 3.17-2), and potential bonus bids on the leased recoverable coal ranging from $0.30 to $0.97 cents per ton. The projected revenues are based on the total tons of recoverable coal, and, therefore, are not affected by future production rates.

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Table 3.17-2. Projected Major Revenue Increases under the Proposed Action and Alternativesa
Additional Under Item
State and Local Revenues Federal Revenues Mine Life Additional Employees
a

Existing Buckskin Mine
$563.6 million $417.0 million 14 years 0

Alternative 1 (No Action)
0 0 0 0

Proposed Action
$90.6–$108.8 million $69.2–$87.3 million 2 years 0

Alternative 2
$250.2–$300.4 million $191.0–$241.1 million 6 years 0

Includes severance taxes, federal mineral royalties, and payments to the AML and Black Lung Disability funds. Revenues assume an average sale price of $7.85 per ton for coal. State and local revenues include allowances for “in-lieu” amounts for AML, for sales and use taxes on direct purchases by the mine, and ad valorem/property taxes on real property and production, but not the sales and use taxes associated with the indirect and induced activity supported by the mine. The state revenues do not include any allowances for “recapture” revenues from Campbell County School District 1.

The overwhelming majority of the state and local revenues reported above would accrue to the state general fund, budget reserve, and Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund. Substantial revenue would also go to the Wyoming School Foundation Program and school construction programs. Due to statutorily established “caps” on distributions of federal royalty and severance tax revenues to local government, only a relatively small share of these revenues would go to Campbell County and the City of Gillette. The Wyoming School Foundation Program is also likely to benefit from revenues generated by the “recapture” provisions of local ad valorem taxation. These provisions are triggered when local school districts collect revenue based on state-mandated property tax levies for education that exceed authorized expenditure levels under the state’s funding equalization program. These provisions require such excess tax revenue to be forwarded to the state for use in funding operations in districts with relatively smaller property tax bases. Campbell County School District 1 is among the few districts in the state that is consistently subject to the “recapture” provisions. No Action Alternative Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as those described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a moderate to substantial, beneficial, shortterm impact on economic development and revenues to federal, state, and local coffers resulting from various royalty and tax payments, respectively. Activities in the remainder of the overlap

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area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the BLM study area and support area. Alternative 2 would generate $191.0-$241.1 million in projected federal revenues, $250.2– $300.4 million in state and local revenues (table 3.17-2), and potential bonus bids on the leased recoverable coal ranging from $0.30 to $0.97 cents per ton. The projected revenues are based on the total tons of recoverable coal and hence are insensitive to future production rates. Allocation of revenue would be the same as described for the Proposed Action.

3.17.2.

Population

3.17.2.1. Affected Environment
Future residency patterns of the Buckskin Mine’s employees would be expected to mirror that of the mine’s current workforce. More than 80% of the current workforce resides in or near Gillette, with 12% living elsewhere in Wyoming, and 8% commuting from locations in South Dakota. Because of the proximity of the mine to Gillette, the company does not sponsor bus service for employees to and from the mine as do some of the other mines in the region. Rather, employees drive personal or company vehicles or participate in informal carpools. The community of Gillette, the county seat, would most likely attract the majority of any new residents due to its current population levels and the availability of services, shopping amenities, and educational institutions. Campbell County’s population climbed from 33,698 in 2000 to an estimated 41,473 in July 2008, ranking it the third most populous of Wyoming’s 23 counties (table 3.17-3). The increase represents 23% net growth since 2000, trailing only Sublette County (43%) in terms of population growth rates among Wyoming counties. However, Campbell County ranked first in terms of net absolute population growth with a net gain of 7,775 residents. Natrona County, where Casper, the state’s largest city is located, registered the second-largest absolute change, gaining 6,596 residents between 2000 and 2008 (U.S. Census Bureau 2009).

Table 3.17-3. Population Change, 2000 to 2008
Population Change from 2000 through 2008 2000
Campbell County City of Gillette
N/A = Not yet available Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2008a, 2009).

2006
38,480 23,264

2007
40,433 25,031

2008
41,473 N/A

Absolute
7,775 5,385*

Percent
23.1 27.4

33,698 19,646

Gillette’s July 2007 population of 25,031, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, ranks it the fourth-largest city in the state, behind Cheyenne, Casper, and Laramie. Gillette’s net population gain of 5,385 residents led all municipalities in the state by a considerable margin; Casper’s net

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gain of 3,359 residents was the second-largest increase among Wyoming cities and towns (U.S. Census Bureau 2008a). The City of Gillette has long maintained that the Census Bureau population estimates are low. The city’s population estimates were 27,533 and 30,636, respectively for December 2006 and 2007: the latter is more than 5,600 residents higher than the census estimates. The city cites updated housing inventories, household demographics, and the extremely low housing vacancy rates for its higher estimates (City of Gillette 2008a). Beyond the direct implications for population, the latter also suggests that the Census estimates overlook households that would qualify as residents but are unable to find housing and consequently are living in local hotels and motels on a longer-term basis (Langston pers. comm.). The city also believes the Census estimates overlook the many single-status workers who reside in the community on a long-term basis, but who maintain a permanent legal place of residence elsewhere.6 Though they technically are not residents, these individuals place demands on the city and other local public service providers. In comparison to the statewide population, the median age of Campbell County residents was substantially lower and it had relatively fewer minority residents, a higher percentage of residents under 18, and a larger average household size as shown in table 3.17-4.

Table 3.17-4. Demographic Characteristics, 2000
Characteristic
Median Age Percent Residents < 18 Years Old Average Household Size Percent Minority Residents
Source: Task1C Report (BLM 2005b)

Wyoming
36.2 26.1 2.5 7.9

Campbell County
32.2 31.0 2.7 3.9

The majority of the current population directly and indirectly associated with the Buckskin Mine’s current workforce resides in and is already integrated into the Gillette community.

3.17.2.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have no impact on the population in Campbell County, the City of Gillette, or nearby unincorporated areas. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the proposed tract and support area.
6	

Single-status workers are married with spouses or families, or are unmarried but living in household settings, who relocate temporarily for employment purposes but who are not accompanied by other family or household members.

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The proposed tract would allow the Buckskin Mine to maintain operations at the current level; the mine would not expand as a result of a lease sale. Consequently, no new employment opportunities would result directly from this action, and local and regional populations would not change to accommodate that need. No Action Alternative Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as those described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have no impact on the population in Campbell County, the City of Gillette, or nearby unincorporated areas. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the BLM study area and support area. An alternative tract configuration would allow the Buckskin Mine to maintain operations at the current level; the mine would not expand as a result of a lease sale. Consequently, no new employment opportunities would result directly from this action and therefore local and regional populations would not change to accommodate that need.

3.17.3.

Employment

3.17.3.1. Affected Environment
Coal mining processes and productivity have changed substantially in recent times. New technologies and higher-capacity equipment are major contributors to these changes. Local coal mining employment grew rapidly during the 1970s as more mines opened and production climbed. Between 1980 and 1998, overall production rose while the number of mining employees decreased or remained constant. The employment declines followed major capital investments in facilities and production equipment aimed at increasing productivity (BLM 2005d). Since 1998 direct employment in Powder River coal mines has climbed, but relatively slower than production, which has risen by more than 50% (Wyoming Department of Employment 2009a). At the beginning of 2008, the mining sector, including oil and gas workers, accounted for more than 26% of all wage and salary jobs in Campbell and neighboring Converse counties, more than two-and-one-half times the statewide percentage. Surface coal mines or coal contractors in those two counties directly employed approximately 7,400 people, representing about 23% of the total

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employment labor force (Wyoming Department of Employment 2009a, 2009b; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2009). Total statewide covered employment7 stood at 276,195 in the first quarter of 2008, nearly 20% higher than the corresponding 230,554 jobs in 2003. Approximately one-out-of-four new jobs added in the state during the five-year period was related to the energy industry, with most of that increase concentrated in support industries for oil and gas development. During that same period, statewide coal mining employment increased by 1,809 jobs (27%) to 6,614, while total employment in Campbell County grew by 8,010 jobs (29%) (Wyoming Department of Employment 2009b). The recent increases in the numbers of local jobs has affected all industries, but was concentrated in mining, construction, transportation, and local government (Wyoming Department of Employment 2009b, 2009c). The mining sector, which includes the oil and gas industry, accounts for about 28% of all employment and 39% of the total labor wages paid in Campbell County. Coal mining is the major constituent of the mining industry in Campbell County, unlike most other areas of Wyoming where oil and gas development is the primary constituent. Local labor market conditions reflect the strong economic expansion in recent years, driven principally by energy resource development. Unemployment has been near historic lows with average unemployment dipping below 2.0% in Campbell County in 2008, even as the local labor force has grown due to immigration and the attraction of additional residents into the labor force (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2009). The Buckskin Mine provides work for 338 (October 2008) employees. The current employment level resulted from an increase of about 130 employees following the 2004 acquisition of additional reserves in the West Hay Creek coal lease and subsequent increase in production. The mine also purchased additional mining equipment to boost production as it worked to address increased stripping ratios (overburden to coal ratio) in its active production seams. The Buckskin Mine is contemplating hiring a few additional employees to reach its currently desired staffing levels. Filling these positions, a part of the No Action Alternative, would raise the workforce to 345 or 350 workers (Ackermann pers. comm.). Little or no further change in direct employment is anticipated at the mine in conjunction with either the Proposed Action or Alternative 2, assuming a sustained average annual production of 25 million tons.

7

Covered employment refers to those full- and part-time, private and government wage and salary workers covered under the state’s unemployment insurance program. About 97% of non-agricultural workers are included. Exclusions include insurance and real estate agents on commission; most railroad workers; the self-employed; unpaid volunteers or family workers; members of the military; and many agricultural workers.

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3.17.3.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a negligible, beneficial, short-term impact by extending current employment levels by two years; no new jobs would be added. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the proposed tract and support area. No Action Alternative Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have a negligible, beneficial, short-term impact on local employment due to Buckskin’s intention to hire a few additional employees to meet current staffing needs. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a minor, beneficial, short-term impact by extending current employment levels by up to six years; no new jobs would be added. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the BLM study area and support area.

3.17.4.

Housing

3.17.4.1. Affected Environment
The 2000 census tallied 13,288 housing units in Campbell County (U.S. Census Bureau 2008b). Population growth since 2000 has prompted new housing construction in the region. According to the Census Bureau estimates, net additions to the number of housing units in Campbell County from 2000 through 2007 total 1,240 units (table 3.17-5). However, for many years construction did not keep pace with demand. Consequently, vacancy rates have fallen to record lows and housing prices have climbed. In the second half of 2007, a survey of rental housing estimated a vacancy rate of just 0.3% (4 units) in Campbell County (Wyoming Housing Database Partnership 2008). Another recent housing survey in Gillette yielded a vacancy rate of 0.1% for rental properties with many complexes reporting lengthy waiting lists. That survey also estimated a year-end vacancy rate of 2.0% among 11 mobile home parks (City of Gillette 2008a).

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Table 3.17-5. Campbell County Housing Inventory, 2000 and 2007
2000
13,288
Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2008b

2007
14,528

Change
+1,240

In 2007, a major surge in new residential construction occurred in Campbell County, triggered by pent-up housing demand and anticipated future demands associated with the pending construction of the Dry Fork Station power plant (2008–2010), rising coal production, and continuing natural gas development. The City of Gillette alone issued 986 building permits for new housing units in 2007. That total, consisting of 244 single-family units, 140 duplex units, and 602 multi-family units, nearly equaled the combined total of the previous six years. In addition, the city issued 126 permits for new manufactured homes. At year’s end 624 multifamily units were under construction with another 72 units expected to be permitted in early 2008 (City of Gillette 2008a). In the fourth quarter of 2007, average rental housing costs in Campbell County were $708 for a two-bedroom, unfurnished apartment; $308 for a single-wide mobile home lot; and $1,185 for a two- or three-bedroom single-family home. As compared to the same period in 2006, those averages represent increases of 1.5%, 9.1%, and 21.6% for apartments, mobile home lots, and single family homes, respectively. Within the state, only Teton and Sublette counties have higher costs (Wyoming Department of Administration and Information 2008). The average selling price of homes in Campbell County in 2006, based on 436 sales, was $199,945. That average was the fifth highest among Wyoming counties, a 7.6% increase over 2005, and an overall increase of 52% in five years (Wyoming Housing Database Partnership 2008). In addition to permanent housing, a substantial number of temporary or transient housing exists in Campbell County, the City of Gillette, and nearby unincorporated areas. Such housing includes hotels or motels, campgrounds, and some spaces within recreational vehicle (RV)/mobile home parks. Given the tight housing market conditions in Gillette, workers and families waiting for traditional housing to become available are reportedly using some units for longer-term occupancy. Gillette currently supports 18 motels and inns offering a total of about 1,370 guest rooms; Wright recently opened a 27-room motel (Wyoming Travel and Tourism 2007). Commercial construction permits for a new 80-room motel and a new dormitory to house railroad employees were also issued in 2007 (City of Gillette 2008a). Gillette has two year-round, commercial campgrounds with approximately 135 hookups for RVs plus tent areas (Wyoming Travel and Tourism 2007). In an effort to address current and anticipated housing needs (particularly those associated with temporary workforces for power plant construction and oil and gas development) Campbell County amended its zoning regulations in 2007 to include a new district for recreational vehicle parks. Such parks can

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accommodate travel trailers, campers, motor homes, and other recreational vehicles that are commonly used as housing, in a setting that offers centralized laundries, showers, and recreational support activities, as well as utility service and hookups (Campbell County 2008b).

3.17.4.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have no impact on housing demands in Campbell County, the City of Gillette, or nearby unincorporated areas. The proposed Hay Creek II tract would allow the Buckskin Mine to maintain operations at the current level; the mine would not expand as a result of a lease sale. Consequently, no new employment opportunities or influxes of new residents would result directly from this action and, therefore, demands on local and regional housing resources would not change to accommodate that need. No Action Alternative Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact on housing demands as those described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have no impact on housing demands in Campbell County, the City of Gillette, or nearby unincorporated areas. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the BLM study area and support area. An alternative tract configuration would allow the Buckskin Mine to maintain operations at the current level; the mine would not expand as a result of a lease sale. Consequently, no new employment opportunities or influxes of new residents would result directly from this action and, therefore, demands on local and regional housing resources would not change to accommodate that need.

3.17.5.

Local Government Facilities and Services

3.17.5.1. Affected Environment
The availability of revenues generated by mineral production has helped local government facilities and services address growing demands for public services. Current facilities and

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services are generally adequate for the current population, although several service providers are engaged in expansion plans to accommodate future growth and improve service delivery. Campbell County School District 1, the third-largest district in Wyoming in total enrollment, is the public school district most directly affected by operations at the Buckskin Mine. Total enrollment in Campbell County School District 1 declined by more than 500 students between 1998 and 2004, and climbed by 390 students through the fall of 2007 in response to economic and population growth in the county (Wyoming Department of Education 2008). The enrollment increase is marked by a disproportionate increase in the number of very young children, i.e., the total number of students enrolled in kindergarten through third grade accounting for more than 70% of the net increase. This pattern is indicative of the recent migration by younger households into the area. Campbell County School District 1 facilities include 15 elementary schools, 2 junior high schools, and 2 high schools (one with two campuses in Gillette). The school district is in the midst of a five-year plan to replace several schools, modernize others, and complete other major systems maintenance and upgrades. The overall plan is budgeted at more than $57 million. Future plans include completion of a new elementary school and additions to a high school (Wyoming School Facilities Commission 2007). The Campbell County Sheriff’s Department and Gillette Police Department are the two primary local law enforcement agencies in the county. In addition to general law enforcement throughout the county, the Sheriff’s staff provides court security, conducts criminal investigations, operates the detention center, and provides animal control and dispatch for multiple entities. The Sheriff’s office is budgeted for 60 sworn deputies and other employees. Campbell County is proceeding with a major expansion and remodel of the Campbell County detention center. The existing facility has 128 beds, with separate modules for women and juveniles (BLM 2005d). The expansion will add 144 beds for adult inmates along with a separate 16-bed facility for juvenile offenders. Additional space for detention center support functions and departmental administrative, dispatch, and records storage are also included in the expansion (Campbell County 2008a). The Gillette Police Department has primary responsibility for law enforcement within the municipal boundaries. The department had 70 full-time positions in 2007, an increase of 10 positions as compared to 2005. In part, the increase reflects heightened demands for services associated with a rapid influx of energy-related workers and the corresponding population growth (City of Gillette 2008b). Fire suppression, fire safety, first responder medical emergency, and hazardous material response throughout Campbell County is provided by the Campbell County Fire Department, which is governed by a city-county joint powers board. The department maintains four stations in Gillette and six rural stations dispersed throughout the county. Construction of a new departmental headquarters facility commenced in 2007. The facility includes administrative office space, training facilities, parking bays for apparatus, and maintenance and storage facilities

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(City of Gillette 2008a). The Buckskin Mine maintains equipment and trained staff to fight fires on mine property. The primary medical care facility serving the region is the Campbell County Memorial Hospital, a 90-bed acute care hospital, located in Gillette. The hospital is planning for a major expansion and renovation project that will add 73 new rooms, as well as other diagnostic, treatment, patient-care, and support facilities. Local health care capabilities include a nursing program at Gillette College, housed in a newly completed facility, built by the city. The new Health Science Center provides opportunities for expanded cooperative teaching and training between the college and the hospital. Ambulance service for Campbell County is provided by the hospital, which has a 24-hour emergency service capability. The Campbell County Fire Department provides first responder service to emergency calls, but transport is the responsibility of the hospital-affiliated ambulance service. Emergency air transport service for severe injuries or critically ill patients is available through Wyoming Life Flight, based in Casper, Wyoming. Wyoming Life Flight provides transport to Wyoming Medical Center, a level 2 trauma facility, and other appropriate regional health care facilities in Billings, Montana, Denver, Colorado, or elsewhere. The principal water and wastewater utilities are operated by the City of Gillette. The city’s water system has ample capacity for its service area for most of the year. However, the system operates near capacity during the peak demand months of June, July, and August. The city recently completed a level II water study to identify longer-term solutions to its water supply problems and is now proceeding to implement its recommendations. High-priority actions include drilling a new well, promoting additional conservation through education and new rate structures, and adopting outside watering/irrigation schedules during the summer (Petersen pers. comm.; City of Gillette 2008a). Gillette’s sewer treatment system was originally designed for a service population of approximately 35,000. Recently completed improvements increased treatment capacity to accommodate a population of 50,000. The city is also proceeding with plans to expand/extend major sewer lines to provide capacity to accommodate new development. Currently, the system serves in excess of 30,000 residents and visitors in the city and surrounding areas (City of Gillette 2008a).

3.17.5.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a negligible, short-term impact on local government facilities and services by extending current demands by two years; no new impacts would occur. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the proposed tract and support area.

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Although no further changes in direct employment or populations are expected to occur in association with the proposed tract, the timeline of existing and previously planned new positions and the resulting demands on local government facilities and services would be extended under the Proposed Action. No Action Alternative Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have no impact on local government facilities and services because the No Action Alternative would not extend the timeline of current demands. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a negligible, short-term impact on local government facilities and services by extending current demands by up to six years; no new impacts would occur. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the BLM study area and support area. Although no further changes in direct employment or populations are expected to occur in association with an alternative tract configuration, the timeline of existing and previously planned new positions and the resulting demands on local government facilities and services would be extended under Alternative 2.

3.17.6.

Social Setting

3.17.6.1. Affected Environment
The social setting for coal development in the PRB is described in the Task 1C Report for the PRB coal review (BLM 2005d)8. That report emphasizes Campbell County and its communities as the nucleus for coal development in the PRB. The Buckskin Mine has been in production since 1981, and the mine and its employees contribute to the social and economic stability of Campbell County and the City of Gillette.

3.17.6.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (241 acres) would have a negligible, beneficial, short-term impact by extending the current social setting of Campbell County and local communities by two years. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to
8

This report is available online at http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/programs/energy/Coal_Resources/PRB_Coal/prbdocs.html.

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mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the proposed tract and support area. No Action Alternative Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have no impact on the local social setting. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have a minor, beneficial, short-term impact by extending the current social setting of Campbell County and local communities by up to six years. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the BLM study area and support area.

3.17.7.

Environmental Justice

Environmental justice is concerned with actions that have disproportionate impacts on a given segment of society as a result of physical location, perception, design, noise, or other factors. On February 11, 1994, Executive Order 12898, “Federal Action to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations,” was published at 59 FR 7629. That executive order requires federal agencies to identify and address unreasonably high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority and low-income populations (defined as those living below the poverty level). The executive order makes it clear that its provisions apply fully to Native American populations and Native American tribes. Communities within Campbell County, entities with interests in the area, and individuals with ties to the area may have concerns about the presence of surface coal mines in the area. Environmental justice concerns are usually directly associated with impacts on the natural and physical environment, but these impacts are likely to be interrelated with social and economic impacts as well. Native American access to cultural and religious sites may fall under the umbrella of environmental justice concerns if the sites are on tribal lands or access to a specific location has been granted by treaty right. Compliance with Executive Order 12898 concerning environmental justice was accomplished through opportunities for the public to receive information on this EIS in conjunction with consultation and coordination described in section 1.6. This EIS and contributing socioeconomic analysis provide a consideration of the impacts with regard to disproportionately high and adverse impacts on minority and/or low-income groups, including Native Americans.

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3.17.7.1. Affected Environment
Economic and demographic data (U.S. Census Bureau 2000, 2006a) indicate that neither minority populations nor people living at or below the poverty level make up a “meaningfully greater increment” of the total population in Gillette or Campbell County than they do in the state as a whole. Also, the Native American population is smaller than in the state as a whole, and no known Native American sacred sites are located on or near the general analysis area (section 3.12.2.1).

3.17.7.2. Environmental Consequences
Proposed Action Under the Proposed Action, surface coal mining in the proposed tract (419 acres) and minerelated activities in the support area (241 acres) would have no impact on environmental justice. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (474 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the proposed tract and support area. Because neither minority populations nor people living at or below the poverty level make up a “meaningfully greater increment” of the total population in Gillette or Campbell County than they do in the state as a whole, the Proposed Action would not result in adverse effects associated with environmental justice. No Action Alternative Under the No Action Alternative, the coal lease application would be rejected and no new federal coal reserves would be mined in the general analysis area. Activities in the overlap area (656 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as those described under the Proposed Action. As discussed in section 2.2.2, a decision to reject the coal lease application would not preclude an application to lease a tract in the general analysis area in the future. Alternative 2 Under Alternative 2, mining in the BLM study area (up to 1,883 acres) and mine-related activities in the support area (926 acres) would have no impact on environmental justice. Activities in the remainder of the overlap area (38 acres) related to mining existing coal leases would have the same impact as in the BLM study area and support area. Because neither minority populations nor people living at or below the poverty level make up a “meaningfully greater increment” of the total population in Gillette or Campbell County than they do in the state as a whole, Alternative 2 would not result in adverse effects associated with environmental justice.

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3.17.8.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

Surface coal mines are required to pay royalty and other taxes and fees as required by federal, state, and local regulations. The BLM compares the amount of coal reported as produced with the estimated amount of coal in the ground to verify that royalties are paid on all of the coal that is mined.

3.17.9.

Residual Effects

3.17.9.1. Human Health Impact Assessment
In 2008, public concerns were brought to the BLM’s attention in regard to conducting human health impact assessments in the PRB where coal mining activities occur. These public concerns included emissions from coal mining activities, such as particulate matter and NOx exposure, and their potential impact on the health of people living in the local area. Health impact assessments examine and assess the potential effects of proposed projects on human health on a broad scale, including social, emotional, and cultural, and physical impacts. These assessments rely on available scientific data, public testimony, and modeling to predict potential health impacts. The BLM does not have jurisdiction in regard to conducting human health assessments. However, the BLM invited the Wyoming Department of Health/Environmental Health Section and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention to review and provide comment on the draft EIS for the Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application. In reference to the stated public concerns, air pollution is controlled by state and federal air quality regulations and standards established under the federal CAA Amendments. State implementation plans are in place to ensure proposed actions such as coal mining comply with all associated air quality regulations and criteria. The WAAQS are stricter than the NAAQS and are enforced by the WDEQ. As described in section 3.4.2.3, the WDEQ in a joint effort with PRB mining stakeholders developed a detailed NEAP for the coal mines of Campbell and Converse counties, Wyoming, based on EPA natural event policy guidance. It identifies potential control measures for protecting public health and minimizing exceedances of the PM10 NAAQS. All mines are required to conduct long-term air quality modeling to show that their proposed operations will comply with the NAAQS and WAAQS. They are also required to conduct regular monitoring to demonstrate that their actual air emissions do not exceed these standards. The WDEQ permit process for coal mines requires air quality modeling of the primary air pollutants PM10 and NO2. Section 3.4.2.3 contains air quality mitigation measures that WDEQ implemented to prevent exceedances of NAAQS and WAAQS by surface coal mines.

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3.18. The Relationship Between Local Short-Term Uses of the Human Environment and the Maintenance and Enhancement of Long-Term Productivity
Under NEPA, an EIS must include a discussion of the “relationship between short-term uses of man’s environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity” (40 CFR 1502.16). This requirement is duplicated in the BLM NEPA Handbook chapter V, sections B.2.a.(3) and C.3.h.(2) (BLM 2008b). This section provides a summary of the residual impacts of surface coal mining (short-term use) on those resources that have some long-term production capability. Resources such as geology, paleontology, surface water, wildlife use, and others considered “non-producing” are not included in this section.

3.18.1.

Local Area

3.18.1.1. Topography
If either action alternative is implemented, coal mining activities would modify almost all components of the present ecological system in the mined tract, which have developed over a long period. In the long term, the land surface would be topographically lower following reclamation. Although the reclaimed surface would resemble original contours, it would have a more homogenous appearance and lack some of its original diversity in shape, structure, and outline.

3.18.1.2. Coal Bed Natural Gas
CBNG is currently being recovered from within the general analysis area, and the BLM’s overall assessment of this resource suggests that a large portion of the CBNG resource in the area has been recovered or would be recovered prior to mining under either of the action alternatives. CBNG resources that have not been recovered from the Canyon and Anderson seams prior to mining would be lost when the coal is removed. Luca Technologies Inc. has developed a method of using methanogenisis to enhance biogenetic methane production from indigenous bacterial communities residing in the PRB coals. This technique is currently capable of producing up to 30 million cubic feet per day through nutrient enhancement of microbacterial communities; the bacteria metabolize the complex organic molecules in hydrocarbon deposits and produce the gas as a waste product. Selection of the No Action Alternative (Alternative 1) would not be likely to decrease the total methane emissions attributable to coal mining in the United States in the long term, because numerous other sources of coal exist that could meet the demand even after the Buckskin Mine recovered all of the coal in its existing leases. Likewise, it would not be likely that total U.S. methane emissions would increase measurably in the long term if one of the action alternatives is implemented, because the annual production rate would not increase under either alternative.

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3.18.1.3. Air Quality and Visual Resources
Because annual coal production rates and supporting mining activities would continue at current levels under either action alternative, they would not increase existing impacts on the air quality and visual resources in the area on a short-term basis. However, existing effects would continue for two to six years beyond the current life-of-mine estimate. No residual impacts on air quality or visibility are expected following coal extraction, removal of surface facilities, and completion of reclamation.

3.18.1.4. Water Resources
If either of the action alternatives is implemented, groundwater quality after reclamation may differ from premining conditions, but would be similar to the quality in previously reclaimed areas. Water quality would remain adequate for current uses such as livestock and wildlife. Mining would permanently remove any aquifers in the final tract configuration. Groundwater depth would increase in an area extending northwest (upstream) of mining operations due to drawdown from dewatering prior to mining, but should eventually return to premining levels because recharge areas would not be disturbed during coal recovery.

3.18.1.5. Vegetation
The forage and associated livestock grazing present in the general analysis area would be temporarily and incrementally disturbed during mining and reclamation. Croplands and pasture in the area would also be affected. Impacts on native vegetation and producing agricultural lands could occur on up to 2,847 acres due to mining and support activities (e.g., topsoil stripping, soil stockpiling), if the largest possible tract configuration is mined. However, because the county roads in the area are not likely to be closed or relocated, actual new disturbance is expected to be limited to a maximum of 618 additional acres (table 2-4). Any disturbance would occur incrementally over a period of years. Soils would be replaced and vegetation would be restored, as required by the mining plan (section 3.8 and section 3.9). Because the general analysis area is dominated (71% combined) by upland grassland communities and agricultural lands, the establishment of reclaimed grassland communities after mining has been completed would represent similar or somewhat improved habitats, respectively, compared to premining conditions. In the long term, reclaimed lands would provide equivalent or better forage production capacity for domestic livestock. This outcome would be required before the performance bond is released. Long-term productivity would depend primarily on postmining range management practices largely controlled by private landowners.

3.18.1.6. Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat
If either of the action alternatives is implemented, mining would disturb foraging habitat for a variety of wildlife species, particularly those associated with upland grasslands (the combined dominant habitat in the area). Sagebrush obligates such as the sage-grouse would not experience the same level of impacts due to the limited presence (approximately 11%) and broken distribution of shrubs in the general analysis area. Although some wildlife would be displaced or

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lost in the short term, monitoring of previously reclaimed lands indicates that reclamation can support levels of wildlife abundance and species richness similar to those present prior to mining disturbance over the long term. The timeline for the return to premine wildlife use varies widely by species, with the shortest period for grassland species and longest for species that depend on mature sagebrush, such as the sage-grouse and pronghorn.

3.18.1.7. Recreational Resources
If either of the action alternatives is implemented, short-term impacts on recreational resources could occur from a reduction in big game populations resulting from habitat disturbance and reduction in access to some hunting areas. However, hunting opportunities are already limited due to the dominance of private lands in and around the general analysis area, so these impacts would be minimal. Reclamation efforts would eventually restore wildlife habitats similar to premining conditions, and access to hunting areas affected by mining would presumably be restored as well. Consequently, no long-term adverse impacts on recreation would be expected.

3.18.1.8. Socioeconomic Resources
If either of the action alternatives is implemented, the short- and long-term economy of the region would be enhanced. The Proposed Action would extend the current life-of-mine estimate by two years; Alternative 2 would extend it up to six years (table 2-4).

3.18.2.

Human Health Impact Assessment

In 2008, public concerns were brought to the BLM’s attention in regard to conducting human health impact assessments in the PRB where coal mining activities occur to assess the potential impacts of proposed projects on human health. These assessments examine health on a broad scale, including social, emotional, and cultural impacts as well as physical impacts. The impact assessments rely on available scientific data, public testimony, and modeling. The BLM does not have jurisdiction in regard to conducting specific human health assessments. However, that agency invited the Wyoming Department of Health/Environmental Health Section and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention to review and provide comment on the Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application EIS. Neither agency was able to provide detailed information due to time and staffing constraints. Information regarding general aspects of human health impact assessments are included in sections 3.4 (Air Quality), 3.5 (Water Resources), 3.14 (Noise), 3.16 (Hazardous and Solid Waste), and 3.17 (Socioeconomics). While this information may not provide a thorough discussion of all aspects of these assessments, it is a summary of credible scientific data and evidence that is relevant to evaluating reasonably foreseeable t impacts on human health. Public concerns were largely focused on the potential for exposure to particulate matter and NOx emissions from coal mining, and the potential impacts of such exposures on the health of people living in the vicinity of surface coal mines located in the eastern PRB.

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Air pollution is controlled by state and federal air quality regulations and standards established under the federal CAA Amendments. State implementation plans are in place to ensure proposed actions like coal mining comply with all associated air quality regulations and criteria. Wyoming standards, WAAQS are stricter than their national counterparts, NAAQS, and are enforced by the WDEQ. As described in section 3.4.2.3, the WDEQ developed a NEAP for the coal mines of the PRB. The plan, based on the EPA Natural Event Policy guidance, identifies potential control measures for protecting public health and minimizing exceedances of the PM10 NAAQS, which is the only particulate emission required to be monitored at this time. All mines are required to conduct air quality modeling to show that their proposed operations will comply with the WAAQS and NAAQS, and they are required to demonstrate through monitoring that their actual air emissions do not exceed the standards. The WDEQ coal mining permit process requires air quality modeling of the primary air pollutants PM10 and NO2. Section 3.4.2.3 addresses air quality mitigation measures that the WDEQ has implemented to prevent exceedances of the WAAQS and NAAQS at other PRB surface coal mines. As stated above and as discussed in section 3.4, maintenance of current annual coal production rates and supporting mining activities under either action alternative would mean that ongoing, short-term impacts on air quality would not increase. No residual impacts on air quality are expected following coal extraction, removal of surface facilities, and completion of reclamation. According to section 3.5.1, postmining groundwater quality may differ from premining quality, but is expected to be quite similar to the premining overburden aquifer and meet Wyoming Class III standards for use as stock water. While mining is in progress, surface water quality (section 3.5.2) would continue to be protected by directing surface runoff from affected areas to various sediment-control structures including sediment ponds, traps, ditches, sumps, and mine pits. Under normal conditions, exceedances of effluent limitations are not expected in the future as mining extends into new drainages and additional sediment-control facilities are added. After mining and reclamation are complete, surface water flow and quality would approximate premining conditions. Noise levels in the general analysis area would not increase near most occupied residences in the vicinity; however, existing activities such as blasting, loading, and hauling would continue for two years beyond the current life-of-mine estimate under the Proposed Action, and up to six years under Alternative 2. Projected noise in the general analysis area would be farther from some homes than currently allowed within the existing permit area. The distance and terrain between occupied homes and disturbance area provide visual and audio barriers to the north and west of the general analysis area. Due to the general remoteness of the area, and because mining is already occurring there, noise would have few off-site impacts. No residual noise impacts are expected. As discussed in section 3.16, wastes generated by mining in the general analysis area would be handled in accordance with the existing regulations using the procedures currently in use and in

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accordance with the WDEQ-approved waste disposal plan at the Buckskin Mine. No residual hazardous and solid waste impacts are expected. As discussed in section 3.17.6, no change in the social setting of Campbell County or the community of Gillette would be anticipated under either action alternative. The Buckskin Mine has been operating for more than 27 years, and the mine and its employees contribute to the social and economic stability of Campbell County and the City of Gillette. No socioeconomic residual impacts are expected. Coal mines, including the Buckskin Mine, are under the jurisdiction of the Mine Safety and Health Administration. That agency’s mission is to “administer the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act), as amended by the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act), and to enforce compliance with mandatory safety and health standards as a means to eliminate fatal accidents; to reduce the frequency and severity of nonfatal accidents; to minimize health hazards; and to promote improved safety and health conditions in the Nation's mines” (U.S. Department of Labor 2009). While an official health impact assessment is not within the agency’s authorization, it does monitor and enforce some of the health and safety standards for mining that are related to these impact assessment issues.

3.18.3.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Considerable scientific investigations and discussions are ongoing regarding the causes of the recent rise in global mean temperatures and whether a warming trend will continue. This section addresses GHG emissions as specifically related to the Buckskin Mine and the Hay Creek II LBA tract. GHGs have been raised as a concern due to the greenhouse effect. Ongoing scientific research has identified the potential impacts of anthropogenic (from human activities) GHG emissions and changes in biologic carbon sequestration on the global climate. Through complex interactions on a regional and global scale, these changes cause a net warming effect of the atmosphere, primarily by decreasing the amount of heat radiated by the earth back into space, much as glass traps heat over a greenhouse. Many GHGs occur naturally in the atmosphere, such as CO2, methane (including CBNG), water vapor, ozone, and N2O. Other GHGs are synthetic, such as chlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons, as well as sulfur hexafluoride. Although natural GHG levels have varied for millennia, recent industrialization and burning of fossil carbon sources have caused equivalent CO2 concentrations to increase dramatically, and are likely to contribute to overall global climatic changes. GHGs are not regulated, but a consensus has become established in the international community that global climate change is occurring and that GHGs may play a role. As with any field of scientific study, uncertainties are associated with the science of climate change. This does not imply that scientists do not have confidence in many aspects of climate change science. Some aspects of the science are known

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with virtual certainty, because they are based on well-known physical laws and documented trends (EPA 2008b). Climatic change analyses are comprised of several factors, including GHG emissions, land use management practices, and the albedo effect (i.e., the cycle of increased temperature of the environment resulting from increased absorption of normally reflected light). It is assumed that existing land and resource conditions in the general analysis area have been and will continue to be affected by climate change under all alternatives. National and regional data that are available have been referenced, including a recent comprehensive report, The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources and Biodiversity in the United States (U.S. Climate Change Science Program 2008a). Because the tools necessary to quantify incremental climatic changes associated with these GHG emissions are presently unavailable, the analysis cannot reach conclusions as to the magnitude or significance of the emissions on climate change, or to associate specific actions with the specific climate impacts. The impacts of climate change represent the cumulative impacts of, among other factors, all worldwide GHG and emissions and land use management practices. As discussed in section 1.3, the BLM does not authorize mining just by issuing a federal coal lease. The WDEQ, with oversight from the OSM, has regulatory authority in issuing permits to mine coal in Wyoming. However, the BLM considers the impacts of mining coal in this EIS because it is a logical consequence of issuing a maintenance lease to an existing coal mine. The use of the coal after it is mined is not determined at the time of leasing. However, almost all coal that is being mined in the Wyoming PRB is used to generate electricity by coal-fired power plants in many states. A discussion of emissions and byproducts generated by burning coal to produce electricity is included in section 4.2.14, with a more complete discussion of the status of global climate change and cumulative considerations in section 4.2.14.1. Chapter 4 also includes an assessment of cumulative impacts related to GHG emissions under all analyzed alternatives. As discussed in section 2.2.2, under the currently approved mining plan, which represents the No Action Alternative, Kiewit anticipates that Buckskin Mine would mine its remaining estimated 370.4 million tons of recoverable federal coal reserves in 14 years at an average annual production rate of approximately 25 million tons. Kiewit estimates that the average annual coal production rate of approximately 25 million tons would continue under either action alternative. To the extent that emission data were available or could be inferred from representative data, potential GHG emissions have been identified that could result from implementation of either of the action alternatives, as well as emissions that would result from the No Action Alternative. The analysis provides a qualitative measure of the incremental change in GHG emissions resulting from the action and no action alternatives. The analysis also provides a measure of the incremental change resulting from these alternatives in relation to GHG emissions from all current coal mining. This study projects emissions for a typical year of operations at the Buckskin Mine, if additional federal coal reserves are leased and mined in the general analysis area. Emissions are measured
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as metric tons of equivalent CO2 (CO2e), a unit of measure that takes into account the global warming potential of each of the emitted GHGs in terms of CO2e emissions9. Table 3.18-1 summarizes the equivalent conversion factors used by the IPCC for those GHGs commonly associated with surface coal mining. The completed inventory includes emissions from carbon fuels used in mining operations and locomotive fuel used in on-site rail transport, electricity used on site (e.g., facility lighting and operation, lighting to illuminate roads, power for electrically operated equipment, and conveyors), and mining processes (e.g., blasting, methane released from mined coal, and spontaneous combustion). Net carbon sink effects from disturbed and reclaimed lands are considered negligible, as the projected annual stripping and reclamation acreages are roughly equal at 200 acres a year. Not included in this CO2e emissions estimate is rail transport to the buyers.

Table 3.18-1. Carbon Dioxide Equivalent Conversion Factors
Greenhouse Gas
Carbon dioxide (CO2) Methane (CH4) Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
Source: EPA 2005c.

Conversion Factor
1 21 310

The annual CO2e emissions from the Buckskin Mine are not expected to increase under either action alternative for the Hay Creek II LBA; average annual production would not increase and average strip ratios and haul distances would remain substantially the same as under existing operations. Table 3.18-2 summarizes the annual Buckskin Mine CO2e emissions inventory for nominal and maximum permitted production rates.

Table 3.18-2. Estimated Annual Equivalent Carbon Dioxide Emissions at the Buckskin Mine
Source
Fuel Electricity Mining Process Total of three sources

2008 Actual (25 million tons)
94,136 43,212 85,188 222,536

At 30 million metric tons per year
107,379 49,291 97,173 253,843

At 42 million metric tons per year
150,331 69,007 136,042 355,380

Source: IML Air Quality Data Report 2010, available for viewing at the BLM Wyoming High Plains District Office in Casper, Wyoming.

Conversely, projected CO2e emissions over the life of the mine would increase under either action alternative. Although annual average production rates and associated annual emission levels are not expected to increase.
9

The EPA states, “Emissions of greenhouse gases are typically expressed in a common metric, so that their impacts can be directly compared, as some gases are more potent (have a higher global warming potential or GWP) than others. The international standard practice is to express greenhouse gases in carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents, or CO2e. Emissions of gases other than CO2 are translated into CO2e using global warming potentials. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends using 100 year potentials” (EPA 2005c).

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The Center for Climate Strategies estimates that activities in Wyoming will account for approximately 60.3 million metric tons of gross CO2e emissions in 2010 and 69.4 million metric tons in 2020 (Center for Climate Strategies 2007). Using those projections, the 2008 Buckskin Mine emissions total (table 3.18-2) represents 0.37% of the 2010 statewide emissions. As mentioned above, the CO2e emission estimates in table 3.18-2 include projected methane emissions vented from exposed unmined coal. The estimated annual amount of CO2e emissions from vented methane is approximately 79,156 metric tons, or about 36% of the total Buckskin Mine CO2e emissions for 2008. Methane emissions from Wyoming’s coal mines in 2010 are projected to be 2.3 million metric tons of CO2e (Center for Climate Strategies 2007), of which the Buckskin Mine’s 2008 methane emissions represent 3.4%. Methane emissions from U.S. anthropogenic sources in 2007 totaled 699.9 million metric tons CO2e (U.S. Department of Energy 2008b). Therefore, the estimated 2008 methane emissions vented from recovered coal at the Buckskin Mine constitutes about 0.0113% of the total 2007 U.S. methane emissions from anthropogenic sources. For computation of methane release from the coal seams at the Buckskin Mine, an emission factor of 7.44 standard cubic feet of methane per ton of coal mined (scf/ton) was used. The EPA guidance for surface mines in the northern plains recommends a regional average of 7.44 scf/ton for mining and processing coal in that region (EPA 2004). Methane adsorption10 levels in PRB coal seams vary widely within and between seams. They depend on bed depth, geology, and CBNG extraction history and proximity to surface coal mines. Data obtained by the USGS and BLM Resource Management Group (U.S. Geological Survey 2006) from coal cores that the agencies collected near PRB mines show gas contents ranging from 0.48 scf/ton to 17.2 scf/ton. Since considerable CBNG production has occurred in the immediate vicinity of the Buckskin Mine, methane contents in the coal seams are expected to be at the lower end of this range. Related to this same study, an internal report gives an average gas content of 6.8 scf/ton, a median of 4.8 scf/ton, and a mode of 2.0 scf/ton (WSO-RMG 2006) for cores taken near the eastern margin of the PRB near the coal mines. Since the EPA factor of 7.44 scf/ton is slightly higher than the highest of these three measures, it was chosen to estimate the maximum rate of methane release from coal seams at the Buckskin Mine. Under the No Action Alternative, the remaining life of the Buckskin Mine would be approximately 10 to 16 years, depending on production levels. Under the Proposed Action the mine life would be extended by approximately two years; Alternative 2 could extend the mine life by up to six additional years. The Buckskin Mine estimates that average annual production rates of 25 million tons would not be affected by any leasing alternative. Section 4.2.14 presents an assessment of cumulative impacts related to GHGs, including potential contributions under the Proposed Action and alternatives.

10

Adsorption is the adhesion of a thin layer of molecules of some substance to the surface of a solid or liquid.

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3.18.4.

Carbon Sequestration

Information relative to the carbon sequestration legislation was collected from news coverage posted on the internet and websites for the Wyoming Legislative Services Office, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and EPA. Carbon sequestration, the process of carbon capture, separation, and storage or reuse, is being researched as a means to stabilize and reduce concentrations of CO2 (a GHG). Direct options for carbon sequestration would involve means to capture CO2 at the source (e.g., power plant) before it enters the atmosphere coupled with “value-added” sequestration (e.g., use of captured CO2 in enhanced oil recovery operations). Indirect sequestration would involve means of integrating fossil fuel production and use with terrestrial sequestration and enhanced ocean storage of carbon (U.S. Department of Energy 2007a). The PRB has geologic formations and producing oil and gas reservoirs that are potential target candidates for both enhanced oil recovery and/or deep geologic sequestration. The current limiting factor is the lack of pipeline infrastructure and economic feasibility for CO2 transmission and use. Although one enhanced oil recovery project involving CO2 injection is underway in the PRB (Salt Creek Field) and another is possibly planned (Highlight Field), no geologic carbon sequestration projects currently exist or are currently planned in the PRB at this time. This may change with the advent of new federal legislation, regulations, and economic incentives, particularly those that may combine enhanced oil recovery and sequestration projects or operations. Additionally, the EPA, from the perspective of considering CO2 as a waste, is proposing new federal requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act for the underground injection of CO2 for the purpose of long-term underground storage, or geologic sequestration. The regulation is being proposed to ensure protection of underground sources of drinking water from injection-related activities. It is currently expected that the final rulemaking will be completed by 2010. This new rulemaking may result in increased interest in using existing, depleted, deep, oil and gas reservoirs, deep saline formations and/or deep coal seams such as found in the PRB.

3.18.5.

Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation, and Monitoring

In 2009, the EPA issued the Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule (74 FR 209), which requires reporting of GHG emissions from large sources and suppliers in the U.S. Under the rule, suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial GHGs, manufacturers of vehicles and engines, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of GHG emissions are required to submit annual reports to the EPA. The rule was signed by the Administrator on September 22, 2009, and it became effective on December 29, 2009. The EPA believes that the new reporting system will provide a better understanding of where GHGs are coming from and will guide development of the best possible policies and programs to reduce emissions.

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The PRB mines supply fossil fuel, but fall into the category of “Suppliers of Coal.” The EPA did not finalize reporting requirements for coal suppliers in the Final Rule, Subpart KK (74 FR 209); however the agency anticipates making these requirements known by January 1, 2011, so that record keeping can begin and the first annual GHG emission reports can be submitted in 2012 (EPA 2010). Each of the PRB mines also generates more than 25,000 metric tons of GHG emissions, potentially qualifying for GHG reporting under this new criterion. The EPA has currently limited the applicability of the 25,000-metric ton threshold to stationary combustion sources (EPA 2010). The Buckskin Mine, with or without the Hay Creek II LBA, does not approach this stationary source threshold. Therefore, it is anticipated that formal GHG reporting for Buckskin will commence in January 2011. Control of GHG emissions also is not currently required as part of the permitting process for the PRB coal mines. However, the mitigation and management of GHG emissions at the Buckskin Mine are being achieved through the following measures:  minimizing blast size to the extent possible to reduce CO2 and NO2 emissions;  using different blends of ammonium nitrate fuel oil and slurries and gels used in coal and overburden blasts to reduce CO2 and NO2 emissions;  reducing fuel consumption by restricting equipment idling times, maintaining equipment (e.g., vehicles, compressors, generators) to improve fuel efficiency, and focusing on high-efficiency engines for replacement, thereby reducing CO2, NO2, and N2O emissions; and  suppressing in-pit coal fires promptly, thereby reducing CO2 and NO2 emissions from coal combustion.

3.19. Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitments of Resources
Under the Proposed Action and Alternative 2, the major commitment of resources would be mining and consumption of approximately 54.1 million tons and up to 149.7 million tons of coal, respectively; nearly all of that coal will be used for electrical power generation. CBNG that is not recovered prior to mining would be irreversibly and irretrievably lost (see additional discussion of the impacts of venting CBNG to the atmosphere in section 3.18 and in chapter 4). An estimated 1 to 2% of the energy produced would be required to mine the coal; this energy would also be irretrievably lost. Under the Proposed Action and Alternative 2, the quality and characteristics of topsoil would be irreversibly changed on 419 acres (plus a buffer area to the north of the tract) and up to 1,883 acres (plus a 0.25-mile-wide buffer), respectively, as a result of mining and mine support activities (e.g., topsoil stripping, soil stockpiling). Actual impacts would likely be limited to 618 acres, under Alternative 2, because Kiewit does not anticipate pursuing closure or relocation of county roads necessary to mine additional reserves. Soil formation processes would continue

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but would be irreversibly altered during mining and related activities. Newly formed soil material would be unlike that in the natural landscape. Wildlife deaths resulting directly or indirectly from mining operations or associated activity would constitute irreversible and irretrievable losses, though future recruitment into the population would mitigate those losses to some degree. Loss of human life could occur as a result of mining operations and vehicular and train traffic. On the basis of surface coal mine accident rates in Wyoming, as determined by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (1997) for the 10-year period from 1987 through 1996, fatal accidents of personnel directly employed at surface coal mines excluding contractors) occur at the rate of 0.003 per 200,000 human-hours worked. Disabling (lost-time) injuries occur at the rate of 1.46 per 200,000 human-hours worked. Any injury or loss of life resulting from mining and related activities would constitute irreversible and irretrievable losses. Disturbance of all known historic and prehistoric sites in the mined area would be mitigated to the maximum extent possible. However, accidental destruction of presently unknown archeological or paleontological resources, including Native American resources, would constitute irreversible and irretrievable losses.

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences

4.0 CUMULATIVE ANALYSES
Chapter 4 summarizes existing conditions and cumulative impacts in the PRB1, as well as projected changes to those cumulative impacts that could result from adding future developments in the area. Cumulative impacts result from the incremental impacts of an action added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, regardless of who is responsible for such actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor, but collectively significant, actions occurring over time. The table (table 4-41) presented at the end of this chapter provides a summary of the magnitude and duration of cumulative impacts in the PRB based on upper and lower estimates for future coal production in the region, as described in the following discussion. The Proposed Action and alternatives for the Hay Creek II EIS fall within those projections. The BLM completed three regional EISs evaluating the potential cumulative impacts of surface coal development in the 1970s and early 1980s (BLM 1974, 1979, and 1981). A draft document for a fourth regional EIS was prepared and released in 1984 (BLM 1984). Since those regional EISs were prepared, BLM has prepared a number of NEPA analyses evaluating coal leasing actions and oil and gas development in the PRB. Each of these NEPA analyses includes an analysis of cumulative impacts in the Wyoming PRB. The BLM is currently completing the final phases of a regional technical study, called the PRB Coal Review, to help evaluate the cumulative impacts of coal and other mineral development in the PRB. The PRB Coal Review consists of three tasks:  Task 1 identifies existing resource conditions in the PRB for the baseline year (2003) and, for applicable resources, updates the BLM’s 1996 status check for coal development in the PRB.  Task 2 defines the past and present development activities in the PRB and their associated development levels as of 2003 and develops a forecast of reasonably foreseeable development in the PRB through 2020. The reasonably foreseeable activities fall into three broad categories: coal development (coal mine and coal-related), oil and gas development (conventional oil and gas, CBNG, and major transportation pipelines), and other development, which includes development that is not energy-related as well as other energy-related development.  Task 3 predicts the cumulative impacts that could be expected to occur to air, water, socioeconomic, and other resources if the development occurs as projected in the forecast developed under Task 2. A series of reports have been prepared to present the results of the PRB Coal Review task studies. The Task 1, 2, and 3 reports represent components of a technical study of cumulative development in the PRB; they do not evaluate specific proposed projects, but they provide information that BLM is using to evaluate the cumulative impacts that would be expected to occur if specific projects or applications, such as the Proposed Action, are approved. The contents and completion dates of the various task reports include:  Task 1A Report (BLM 2005a): existing air quality conditions;
1

Refer to page xx for a list of abbreviations and acronyms used in this document.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4-1

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences  Task 1B Report (BLM 2006c) and update to the Task 1B Report (BLM 2009e): existing water resources conditions;  Task 1C Report (BLM 2005b): existing social/economic conditions;  Task 1D Report (BLM 2005c): existing other environmental resource conditions;  Task 2 Report (BLM 2005d) and update to the Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c): past and present coal, oil and gas, and other development;  Task 3A Report (BLM 2006d) and updates to the Task 3A Report (BLM 2008a, BLM 2009d): predicted air quality conditions;  Task 3B Report (BLM 2006e) and update to the Task 3B Report (BLM 2009f): predicted water resources conditions;  Task 3B Phase 2 evaluation (BLM, in progress): predicted water resource conditions;  Task 3C Report (BLM 2005e): predicted social/economic conditions; and  Task 3D Report (BLM 2005f) and update to the Task 3D Report (BLM 2009g): predicted other resource conditions. The Task 1 and Task 2 reports have been completed. The update to the Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c) is reflected in this document. The Task 3 reports for air quality conditions, water resources conditions, social/economic conditions, and other resource conditions have also been completed. Information from the 2008 update to the Task 3A Report (BLM 2008a) was included in the Hay Creek II LBA draft EIS to project air quality effects for 2015. After the draft EIS was issued, modeling of cumulative air quality effects for 2020 was completed (BLM 2009c); data and analyses for both model years are reflected in this final EIS. The groundwater impacts modeling portion of the Cumulative Water Resources Effects (BLM 2009e) was recently completed and is also reflected in this document, along with the cumulative surface water effects. The Task 3B Phase 2 evaluation of water resource conditions is in progress. The information in these reports is summarized later in this chapter, and the completed reports are available for viewing at the BLM offices in Casper and Cheyenne and on the Wyoming BLM at: http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/programs/energy/Coal_Resources/PRB_Coal/prbdocs.html. The PRB includes portions of northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana. The Wyoming portion of the PRB is the primary focus of the PRB Coal Review reports. The Montana portion of the PRB is included in the Task 2 Report and in the Task 1 and 3 air resources studies. For the majority of resources in the Task 1 reports and for the Task 2 Report, the Wyoming portion of the PRB Coal Review study area encompasses all of Campbell County, all of Sheridan and Johnson counties outside of the Bighorn National Forest, and the northern portion of Converse County (map 4-1).

4-2

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

PSO Ash Creek Mine Big Horn Mine

SHERIDAN COUNTY
.F. RR

SHERIDAN

CAMPBELL COUNTY

Arvada

Hartzog

WRIGHT

B.N.S.F. & U.P. RR

N B.

.S

Dry Fork Station Wygen I
 Wygen II
 Wyodak Neil Simpson 1
 Neil Simpson 2

N B. .S .F. RR

BUFFALO

1

GILLETTE

Barber Creek

2

JOHNSON
 COUNTY


Two Elk Unit 1

3
SCALE: 1"= 20 MILES

LEGEND
Federal Coal Lease Areas Railroads Existing and Proposed Power Plants Former Surface Coal Mine Sites Task 1 and 2 Study Boundary COAL MINE SUBREGIONS

CONVERSE COUNTY
Dave Johnston Mine

1 Subregion 1 ­ 2 Subregion 2 ­ 3 Subregion 3 -

Buckskin, Dry Fork, Eagle Butte, Rawhide, and Wyodak Mines Belle Ayr, Caballo, Coal Creek, and Cordero-Rojo Mines Jacobs Ranch, Black Thunder, North Antelope Rochelle, and Antelope Mines
Dave Johnston

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 4-1 Wyoming Study Area for PRB Coal Review Studies Evaluating Current and Projected Levels of Development

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences For some components of the Task 2 Report and for the Task 1 and 3 air resource studies, the Montana PRB Coal Review study area includes portions of Big Horn, Custer, Powder River, Rosebud, and Treasure counties. For several resources, the Task 1 and Task 3 study areas include only potentially affected portions of the Wyoming PRB Coal Review study area; for other resources, the study area extends outside of Wyoming and Montana because the impacts would extend beyond the PRB. For example, the groundwater drawdown is evaluated in the area surrounding and extending west of the mines within the PRB, because that is the area where surface coal mining operations and CBNG production operations would affect groundwater resources; but air quality impacts are evaluated over a multi-state area, because they would be expected to extend beyond the PRB. Section 4.1 summarizes analyses of past, present, and future levels of development presented in the Task 1 and Task 2 reports. Section 4.2 summarizes the predicted cumulative impacts on air, water, socioeconomic, and other resources presented in the Task 3 reports.

4.1 Past, Present, and Reasonably Foreseeable Development
Past, present, and reasonably foreseeable development in the Wyoming PRB are considered in the Task 1 and Task 2 reports. The Task 1 reports describe the existing situation as of the end of 2003, which reflects the past and present levels of development. The Task 2 Report defines the past and present development activities in the PRB as of the end of 2003 and projects reasonably foreseeable development in the Wyoming PRB through 2020. Task 2 was updated based on actual levels of development through 2007, and current development estimates available through 2009 (BLM 2009c).

4.1.1 4.1.1.1

Coal Development Coal Mine Development

The Powder River Federal Coal Region was decertified as a federal coal production region by the PRRCT in 1990. Decertification of the region allows leasing to take place on an application basis, as discussed in the regulations at 43 CFR 3425.1-5. Between 1990 and July 2010, the BLM’s Wyoming State Office held 28 competitive coal lease sales and issued 20 new federal coal leases containing almost 5.7 billion tons of coal using the LBA process. The lease sales are listed in chapter 1, table 1-1, and the leased tracts are shown on map 1-1. This leasing process has undergone the scrutiny of two appeals to the Interior Board of Land Appeals and one audit by the General Accounting Office. As can be seen on figure 4-1, leasing activity has generally paralleled production since decertification. This is consistent with the PRRCT’s objective at the time of decertification, which was to use the LBA process to lease tracts of federal coal to maintain production at existing mines. The pending applications in the Wyoming PRB are listed in table 1-2.

4-4

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Figure 4-1 Recoverable Tons of Federal Coal Leased Versus Tons of Federal Coal Mined Since 1990 in Campbell and Converse Counties, Wyoming

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences The BLM has also completed three exchanges involving federal coal resources in the Wyoming PRB since decertification.  Belco Exchange—an exchange of lease rights for a portion of the former Hay Creek federal coal tract for lease rights to coal near Buffalo, Wyoming, which became unmineable when Interstate 90 (I-90) was constructed. This exchange was authorized by Public Law 95-554 and completed in 2000.  Pittsburg and Midway Coal Mining Company (P&M) Exchange—an exchange of federal coal in Sheridan County, Wyoming, for land and mineral rights in Lincoln, Carbon, and Sheridan counties, Wyoming, completed in 2004.  Powder River Coal Company Alluvial Valley Floor Exchange—an exchange of lease rights underlying an AVF at the Caballo Mine, which cannot be mined, for lease rights of equal value adjacent to existing federal leases at Powder River Coal Company’s North Antelope Rochelle Mine, completed in 2006. Table 4-1 provides information about the status, ownership and production levels for the existing surface coal mines in the Wyoming PRB in 2003 and their status as of 2007. In 2003, the baseline year for the Task 1 and Task 2 studies, there were 12 active surface coal mines and one inactive mine. Since 2003, the inactive mine (Coal Creek) has resumed operations and the North Rochelle Mine has been incorporated into the Black Thunder Mine following its purchase by the operator of the Black Thunder Mine. The North Rochelle Mine leases were divided between Black Thunder and North Antelope Rochelle mines in 2006. Peabody has deferred startup of their new mine, the School Creek Mine which is located between the Black Thunder and North Antelope Rochelle Mine, until at least late 2010, or later. These mines are all located in Campbell and Converse counties, just west of the outcrop of the Wyodak coal, where the coal is at the shallowest depth (map 1-1). As indicated in table 4-1, there have been numerous changes in mine ownership since decertification, which have resulted in mine consolidations and mine closings within the PRB. Two recently active surface coal mines (the Big Horn Coal Mine in northern Sheridan County and the Dave Johnston Mine in southern Converse County) in the PRB have ended mining operations, relinquished their federal coal leases, and reclaimed areas of disturbance. The lands within the Dave Johnston Mine permit boundary are owned by PacifiCorp. PacifiCorp requested a change in postmining land use from livestock/wildlife grazing to industrial for the areas that would be affected by a wind energy project right-of-way. Some of the area was on full reclamation bond release and some area included was on pre-law lands. The WDEQ approved this change of land use in three stages between September 2007 and May 2008. The Glenrock Wind Energy Project is sited at the reclaimed surface coal mine and; it began operations in late 2008 and early 2009. Other operations related to surface coal mining have existing permits in the PRB. These include the Ash Creek and Welch Mine permits in Sheridan County and the Izita Mine permit in Campbell County. Operations at these sites are completed and the disturbed areas have been reclaimed. Nevertheless, the WDEQ continues to monitor all three mines with field inspections; groundwater monitoring is also conducted at the Ash Creek Mine. The KFx Mine, located north of Gillette on privately owned coal, has stopped mining coal for processing at the KFx coal enhancement plant, which is discussed later in this chapter.
4-6 Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences

Table 4-1.

Status and Ownership of Wyoming PRB Coal Mines for 2003, the PRB Coal Review Baseline Year, and for 2007
2007 Coal Production (million tons)a
25.3 5.3 25.0 17.1 5.0 77.7 26.6 31.2 40.5 10.2 108.5 34.5 65.3 38.1 91.5 20.9 250.3 436.5

2003 Mine

1994 Mine Owner

2007 Mine Owner
Kiewit Mining Properties, Inc. WFA Foundation Coal West, Inc.c Peabody Holding Co. Wyodak Resources

Permitted Production Level (million tons)b
42.0 15.0 35.0 24.0 12.0 128.0 45.0 50.0 65.0 25.0 185.0 36.0 100.0 55.0 99.0 35.0	 325.0 638.0

Status and Additional Comments
Active Active (includes former Fort Union Mine) Active Active Active (includes former Clovis Point Mine)

Subregion 1 (North Gillette) Buckskin	 SMC (Zeigler) Dry Fork 	 Phillips/WFA & Fort Union Ltd Eagle Butte	 Cyprus-Amax Rawhide	 Carter (Exxon) Wyodak	 Wyodak Resources Total	 Subregion 2 (South Gillette) Belle Ayr Cyprus-Amax Caballo Carter (Exxon) & Western Energy Cordero Rojo Kennecott & Drummond Coal Creek ARCO Total	 Subregion 3 (Wright) Antelope	 Kennecott Black Thunder	 ARCO Jacobs Ranch 	 Kerr-McGee North Antelope 	 Peabody Rochelle	 North Rochelle SMC (Zeigler) Total	 Total for 3 Subregions	
a b c d

Foundation Coal West, Inc. Peabody Holding Co. Rio Tinto Energy Americad Arch Coal Inc.

Active
 Active (includes Rocky Butte and West Rocky Butte leases) 
 Active (consolidation of former Cordero and Caballo Rojo Mines) Inactive 2000, operations resumed in May 2006

Rio Tinto Energy Americad Arch Coal Inc. Rio Tinto Energy Americad Peabody Holding Co. Arch Coal Inc.

Active Active Active Active (consolidation of former North Antelope and Rochelle Mines) Inactive since 2005, leases split between Black Thunder and North Antelope Rochelle Mines

Wyoming State Inspector of Mines (2007) and Shamley pers. comm. WDEQ 2007 permitting levels (Shamley pers. comm.) Ownership of the Eagle Butte Mine and Belle Ayr Mine changed from Foundation Coal West, Inc., to Alpha Coal West, Inc. as of July 31, 2009. Notification of new ownership was submitted to the BLM in August 2009. Kennecott Energy Company changed its name to Rio Tinto Energy America in 2006 and to Cloud Peak Energy Resources LLC in 2009.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4-7

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences In March 2008, the Fort Union plant was idled down. In August 2010, Evergreen Energy Inc. agreed to sell the Fort Union site to Synthetic Fuels LLC of Colorado, which has plans to develop a coal-to-liquids facility on the site (MarketWatch, Inc. 2010). The active mines in the Wyoming PRB are geographically grouped into three subregions (map 4-1) for purposes of this cumulative impact discussion: 1) North Gillette; 2) South Gillette; and 3) Wright. Table 4-1 lists the mines included in each subregion. A fourth subregion includes former and proposed mines in Sheridan County, and existing mines just north of Sheridan County, in Montana. There are currently no active mines in the Wyoming portion of the fourth subregion. However, the 2005 Task 2 Report (BLM 2005b) projected that a new mine would be developed near Sheridan by 2010. In April 2007, P&M and CONSOL Energy Inc. announced that they had formed a new company, Youngs Creek Mining Company, LLC, and entered into a joint agreement to develop a new mine in Wyoming north of Sheridan (Reuters 2007). According to the announcement, engineering, environmental, and permitting work are in progress, but actual mine construction will not start until the joint venture has enough coal sales under contract to justify the investment. The coal reserves included in this project are all privately owned (Shewski 2007). The surface coal mines listed in table 4-1 currently produce over 96% of the coal produced in Wyoming each year. Since 1989, coal production in the PRB has increased by an average of 6% per year. The increasing production is primarily because of increasing sales of low-sulfur, lowcost PRB coal to electric utilities who must comply with the phase I requirements of Title III of the 1990 CAA Amendments. Electric utilities account for 97% of Wyoming’s coal sales. In 2009, production from the Wyoming PRB coal mines dropped by about 7% from the 2008 levels, the first drop since the early 1900s. This drop coincided with a national coal production decline resulting from reduced industrial electric demand in 2009. In 2003, the baseline year for the PRB Coal Review, more than 35% of the coal mined in the United States came from the Wyoming PRB. According to the DOE, that amount had increased to about 38% by 2007 and to over 38% by 2009 (U.S. Energy Information Administration 2009a and 2009b). The BLM estimates that the surface coal mines listed in table 4-1 currently have about 125,180 acres of federal coal leased in Campbell and Converse counties. This represents approximately 4.1% of Campbell County, where the majority of the leases are located. Both the 2005 and updated 2009 Task 2 reports projected coal development into the future for the years 2010, 2015, and 2020. Due to the variables associated with future coal production, two projected coal production scenarios (representing an upper and a lower production level) were developed to bracket the most likely foreseeable regional coal production level. The basis for the projected production levels included:  analysis of historic PRB production levels in comparison to the gross domestic product and national coal demand;  analysis of PRB coal market forecasts that model the impact of gross domestic product growth, potential regulatory changes affecting coal-fired power plants, and mining and transportation costs on PRB coal demand;

4-8

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences  availability, projected production cost, and quality of future mine-specific coal reserves within the PRB region; and  availability of adequate infrastructure for coal transportation. The projected upper and lower production levels subsequently were allocated to the Wyoming PRB subregions, discussed above, and to individual mines based on past market shares. Individual mine production levels were reviewed relative to potential future production constraints (e.g., loadout capacities), permitted production levels, mining costs, and coal quality. Then the projected future production was aggregated on a subregion basis. The actual 2003 and 2005 production levels and the two projected coal production scenarios for those years are shown in figure 4-2 and tables 4-2 and 4-3. The actual 2007 and 2008 production levels are also shown on figure 4-2 for reference. Tables 4-2 and 4-3 show the cumulative coal mining disturbance as of the baseline year and the cumulative coal mine disturbance projected for the future years for the upper and lower coal production scenarios. In these tables, the baseline year (2003), actual values as of 2007, and cumulative projected disturbance areas for 2010, 2015, and 2020 are broken down into three categories:  areas that are or that are projected to be permanently reclaimed;  areas that are or that are projected to be undergoing active mining or that have been mined but are not yet reclaimed; and  areas that are or that are projected to be occupied by mine facilities, haul roads, stockpiles, and other long-term structures, and that are, therefore, unavailable for reclamation until mining operations are completed. Tables 4-2 and 4-3 also include estimates of baseline year and projected future coal mining employment, water consumption, and water production. The Hay Creek II LBA is associated with the Buckskin Mine in the North Gillette subregion of mines. The analysis assumes that if the proposed tract or an alternative tract configuration is offered and if the applicant becomes the lessee, the mine will increase current production to a level where the five mines collectively will produce at an aggregate production level midway between the low and high projected coal production scenarios for 2015 and 2020 shown in figure 4-2 and tables 4-2 and 4-3; Kiewit does not anticipate an actual increase in average annual production as a result of acquiring a new maintenance tract. The existing and projected coal development levels and associated disturbance shown in tables 4-2 and 4-3 include production at the five North Gillette area mines during the baseline year (2003) and projected production at the mines for 2010, 2015, and 2020. As discussed above, the projected development levels shown in tables 4-2 and 4-3 are based on projected demand and coal market forecasts, which are not affected by a decision to lease or not to lease the proposed tract or alternative tract configuration. If the Proposed Action or Alternative 2 is implemented, mining of the federal coal reserves would extend the current Buckskin Mine life-of-mine estimate by two years or up to six years, respectively.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4-9

600,000,000

Lower Production Scenerio Upper Production Scenario Actual Production
500,000,000

400,000,000

Tons/Year

300,000,000

200,000,000

100,000,000

0

2003

2005

2007

2008

2010

2015

2020

Year
No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Figure 4-2 Projected and Actual Total Coal Production from Campbell and Converse Counties under the Lower and Upper Production Scenarios

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences

Table 4-2.

Actual and Projected Wyoming PRB Coal Mine Development, Lower Coal Production Scenario
Annual Production (million tons)
55 77 232 364 78 100 250 428 62 95 254 411 74 112 281 467 78 126 291 495

Subregion
Original Baseline Year (2003) North Gillette Subregion South Gillette Subregion Wright Subregion Total for 2003 Actual 2007 North Gillette Subregion South Gillette Subregion Wright Subregion Total for 2007 North Gillette Subregion South Gillette Subregion Wright Subregion Total for 2010 North Gillette Subregion South Gillette Subregion Wright Subregion Total for 2015 North Gillette Subregion South Gillette Subregion Wright Subregion Total for 2020
a

Cumulative Disturbed Area (acres)
12,047 21,249 35,498 68,794 14,421 23,630 45,542 83,593 15,231 28,021 55,410 98,662 17,457 32,356 67,423 117,236 19,729 36,994 80,720 137,443

Cumulative Permanently Reclaimed Area (acres)
3,054 6,783 11,401 21,238 3,658 6,441 15,785 25,884 5,004 12,183 27,751 44,938 6,654 15,683 38,851 61,188 8,429 19,683 51,351 79,463

Cumulative Active Mining Area and Unreclaimed Mined Area (acres)
3,360 6,107 13,992 23,459 8,342 12,353 31,577 52,272 3,968 6,830 16,588 27,386 4,202 7,314 16,983 28,499 4,350 7,589 17,243 29,182

Cumulative Area Annual Water Disturbed and Total Mine Consumption Unavailable for Reclamationa (acres) Employment (mmgpy)
5,633 8,359 10,105 24,097 5,781 9,273 11,941 24,338 6,260 9,008 11,070 26,338 6,601 9,359 11,589 27,549 6,950 9,723 12,124 28,797 746 861 3,090 4,697 1,032 1,424 3,077 5,533 787 1,323 3,153 5,263 830 1,369 3,186 5,405 840 1,476 3,215 5,531 387 544 1,709 2,640 351 544 1,709 2,604 628 50 1,115 1,793 724 458 1,277 2,059 456 72 1,334 2,162

Annual Water Production (acre-feet)
191 447 748 1,386 191 447 748 1,386 165 675 1,419 2,258 165 675 1,419 2,258 165 675 1,419 2,258

Reasonably Foreseeable Development for 2010

Reasonably Foreseeable Development for 2015

Reasonably Foreseeable Development for 2020

Area unavailable for reclamation includes disturbed areas occupied by permanent or long-term facilities such as buildings, roads, and topsoil stockpiles. Source: Updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c).

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences

Table 4-3.

Actual and Projected Wyoming PRB Coal Mine Development, Upper Coal Production Scenario
Annual Cumulative Production Disturbed Area (million tons) (acres)
55 77 232 12,047 21,249 35,498 68,794 14,421 23,630 45,542 83,593 15,911 29,279 57,258 102,448 18,490 35,624 70,431 124,545 21,311 42,981 84,797 149,089

Subregion
North Gillette Subregion South Gillette Subregion Wright Subregion Actual 2007 North Gillette Subregion South Gillette Subregion Wright Subregion

Cumulative Permanently Reclaimed Area (acres)
3,054 6,783 11,401 21,238 3,658 6,441 15,785 25,884 5,404 13,416 27,951 46,771 7,329 18,616 39,451 65,396 9,529 25,016 51,651 86,196

Cumulative Active Mining Area and Unreclaimed Mined Area (acres)
3,360 6,107 13,992 23,459 8,342 12,353 31,577 52,272 4,217 7,536 18,236 29,989 4,500 8,248 19,391 32,139 4,766 8,758 21,021 34,545

Cumulative Area Annual Water Disturbed and Total Mine Consumption Unavailable for Reclamationa (acres) Employment (mmgpy)
5,633 8,359 10,105 24,097 5,781 9,273 11,941 24,338 6,290 8,328 11,070 25,688 6,660 8,760 11,589 27,009 7,013 9,206 12,124 28,345 746 861 3,090 4,697 1,032 1,424 3,077 5,533 811 1,375 3,153 5,339 905 1,431 3,186 5,522 1,019 1,444 3,215 5,678 387 544 1,709 2,640 351 544 1,709 2,604 788 58 1,184 2,030 492 75 1,333 1,897 880 86 1,437 2,403

Annual Water Production (acre-feet)
191 447 748 1,386 191 447 748 1,386 165 675 1,419 2,258 165 675 1,419 2,258 165 675 1,419 2,258

Original Baseline Year (2003)

Total for 2003 364 78 100 250

Total for 2007 428 Reasonably Foreseeable Development for 2010 North Gillette Subregion South Gillette Subregion Wright Subregion 78 117 284

Total for 2010 479 North Gillette Subregion South Gillette Subregion Wright Subregion 104 138 301

Reasonably Foreseeable Development for 2015

Total for 2015 543 North Gillette Subregion South Gillette Subregion Wright Subregion
a

Reasonably Foreseeable Development for 2020 121 148 307

Total for 2020 576

Area unavailable for reclamation includes disturbed areas occupied by permanent or long-term facilities such as buildings, roads, and topsoil stockpiles. Source: Updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c).

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences As discussed in sections 1.1.3.1, Kiewit estimates that the existing Buckskin Mine had approximately 344.3 million tons of recoverable coal reserves at the end of 2008. Overall, the mine had produced a total of 339.8 million tons of coal as of December 2008, with annual production averaging 20.6 million tons over the previous six years. The mine’s current air quality permit as approved by the WDEQ allows mining of up to 42 million tons of coal per year. If the mine produces coal at the projected average annual estimate of 25 million tons, the remaining recoverable reserves would be depleted in less than 14 years (2022). If the mine increases production to the permitted level, the remaining recoverable reserves at the Buckskin Mine would be depleted in about 8.8 years (2016). Kiewit estimates that the proposed tract includes approximately 54.1 million tons of recoverable coal. Based on that estimate, acquisition of the proposed tract would increase the recoverable reserves at the Buckskin Mine by almost 14.6%. At the estimated future average annual production level (25 million tons), mine life would be extended by over two years. However, if production levels increase to the currently permitted level (42 million tons per year) or if the WDEQ approves a higher annual rate of production, the coal would be recovered more quickly.

4.1.1.2

Coal-Related Development

Coal-related development as defined for this analysis includes railroads, coal-fired power plants, major (230-kilovolt [kV]) transmission lines, and coal technology projects. Table 4-4 summarizes the estimated disturbance associated with coal-related development activities for the baseline year and the projected disturbance through 2020. The subsequent paragraphs summarize the existing coal-related development in the Wyoming PRB and the reasonably foreseeable development considered in the PRB Coal Review.

Table 4-4.
2003 4,892

Actual and Projected Wyoming PRB Coal-Related Development (acres)
Actual
2007 5,802 2010 5,963 2015 6,915

Projected
2020 6,914

Source: Updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c).

Coal Transportation As discussed above, electric utilities account for about 97% of Wyoming’s coal sales. Most of the coal sold to electric utilities is transported to power plants by rail. A small part, about 2% in 2007, of national coal production is exported abroad, but data are not published as to where this export coal is produced. A joint BNSF and UP rail line serves the coal mines in the Wright and South Gillette subregions. For the baseline year of 2003, the existing capacity of the line was estimated at approximately 350 million tons per year. For that same year, the existing capacity of the BNSF line, which services the North Gillette subregion, was estimated at 250 million tons per year.

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences The PRB Coal Review projected that two coal transportation projects would be developed prior to 2020 in Wyoming: expansion of the BNSF and UP rail facilities south of Gillette and the construction of the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad Corporation (DM&E) rail line in Wyoming and South Dakota. A third project proposed by the Tongue River Rail Company would be built between Decker and Miles City, Montana. BNSF and UP completed work to improve sections of the existing joint rail line and had increased capacity from 350 million tons per year to 450 million tons per year by 2008 with plans to improve additional sections of the existing joint rail line and to further increase capacity to 500 million tons per year by 2012. This work includes construction of third and fourth main line track segments where needed. The increased capacity would accommodate the projected upper and lower production rates at the southern mines, which are projected to produce 439 million tons per year and 455 million tons per year by 2020. The remaining planned expansion projects are considered highly likely to occur. The proposed DM&E rail line would include new rail construction in South Dakota and Wyoming (approximately 15 and 265 miles, respectively) and 600 miles of rail line rehabilitation in South Dakota and Minnesota. Approximately 78 miles of the new rail line construction would provide new rail services to the coal mines in the South Gillette and Wright subregions. The Surface Transportation Board released a final supplemental EIS for the DM&E project on December 30, 2005, and granted final approval to construct the rail line on February 15, 2006. The supplemental EIS, which addressed issues that were successfully appealed after an EIS was completed in 2001, was also appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the appeal of the supplemental EIS in December 2006. In 2007, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP) acquired DM&E and the Surface Transportation Board approved CP’s acquisition of DM&E on September 30, 2008 (All Business 2008). The railroad’s expansion into the PRB would require a substantial financial commitment, and CP is concentrating on the integration of DM&E’s operation before making a decision on the expansion project. No decision has been made on whether or not CP will build the PRB extension. This decision is contingent on several conditions: 1) acquire the necessary right-of-way to build the line; 2) execute agreements with PRB mines on terms for operations by DM&E over their loading tracks and facilities; 3) secure sufficient contractual commitments from prospective coal shippers to route their traffic over the PRB line to justify the investment required to build the line; 4) arrange financing for the project; and 5) an economic and regulatory environment that would support a long-term investment of this magnitude must be present (Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad 2009). The Surface Transportation Board announced approval of the final stretch of the rail line proposed by the Tongue River Railroad Company in October 2007. The company must acquire necessary federal and state permits and rights-of-way through private and public property before constructing the line. If it is constructed, it would provide a shorter route for some of the mines in the North Gillette subregion, which ship coal on the existing BNSF rail line (Brown 2007). For the purposes of the PRB Coal Review, it was projected that the DM&E line would be constructed when the total rail haulage requirement from the eastern Wyoming PRB reaches 450 to 500 million tons per year and would potentially be operational by 2015. The construction of this rail line is considered moderately likely to occur. The PRB Coal Review assigned a low likelihood of development by 2010 under the upper coal production scenario, and projected the construction of the Tongue River Railroad Company line would not occur unless the Otter Creek
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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences Mine is developed. Development of the Otter Creek tracts—more than a billion tons of state and private coal—could initiate expansion of the region’s coal industry and facilitate construction of the Tongue River Railroad. Appraisals of the Otter Creek lease tracts were completed in April 2009 (Brown 2009) and the Montana Land Board voted to lease the 572 million tons of stateowned coal in December 2009 (Dennison 2009). The Montana Board of Land Commissioners voted to approve the lease of the Otter Creek tracts to Ark Land Company on March 18, 2010 (Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation 2010). Electric Power Generation Five coal-fired power plants are in the Wyoming PRB study area analyzed in Tasks 1 and 2 (map 4-1). Black Hills Power Corporation owns and operates the Neal Simpson Units 1 and 2 (21.7 megawatts [MW] and 80 MW, respectively), Wygen I and II (80 MW and 95 MW, respectively), and Wyodak (330 MW) power plants, all of which are located approximately 5 miles east of Gillette, Wyoming. Pacific Power and Light’s Dave Johnston Power Plant is located near Glenrock, Wyoming, outside of, but adjacent to, the study area. Three separate interconnected gas-fired power plants (Hartzog, Arvada, and Barber Creek) are also located near Gillette, Wyoming (map 4-1). Each contains three separate 5-MW-rated turbines that provide electric power to Basin Electric and its customers. In winter, the maximum capacity can reach 22.6 MW from each site. All units are in operating condition, although they do not operate at maximum capacity. Several additional power plants are projected to be built prior to 2020. The PRB Coal Review assumed that proposed coal-fired power plants that plan to initiate operation by 2010 would have to have been undergoing air quality permit review by 2003 in order to obtain the required construction permits and complete construction by 2010. The study identified the following four projects as likely for development by 2015.  Black Hills Power and Light has received an air permit for the start of construction of WYGEN III; issues related to that permit currently are being resolved. WYGEN III would be a 100-MW facility located adjacent to WYGEN II. The plant is in construction and nearing completion. Operation of this facility by 2015 is considered highly likely.  Basin Electric Power Cooperative has obtained an air construction permit for a 385-MW coal-fired power plant (Dry Fork Station) near Gillette, Wyoming. The estimated startup date is 2011. It is estimated that 1.2 million tons of coal per year would be required to fuel the facility. The cooling technology includes a dry scrubber, since that type of operation commonly is installed for PRB coal-fired units. Operation of this facility by 2015 is considered highly likely.  North American Power Group has permitted a 280-MW coal-fired power plant (Two Elk Unit #1) at a 40-acre site located approximately 15 miles southeast of Wright, Wyoming. As originally permitted, the project also would include installation of a 45-MW gas-fired turbine. The air permit originally was issued in August 2002; construction has been initiated, with actual startup expected in 2011. This unit would be dry-cooled, requiring very little water. Campbell County approved more than $123 million in industrial revenue bonds for application to the Two-Elk financing. Operation of this facility by 2015 is considered moderately likely.

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences  Wyoming Power Company (a subsidiary of NAPG) submitted a permit application for TwoElk Unit #2. This unit would be a 750-MW supercritical pulverized coal-fired electric generating unit that would burn coal from the nearby mines. The unit would be located on an approximately 60-acre site adjacent to Two-Elk Unit #1. The permit was expected to be issued in 2008, and operation of this unit was considered moderately likely in 2015. Currently, the Wyoming Power Company (a subsidiary of NAPG) has a proposal for Two Elk Unit #2. Some paperwork for this project was filed with WDEQ. The paperwork was returned in March 2010. The PRB Coal Review assumes that all existing power plants in the PRB region would remain operational through 2020. Transmission Lines Major transmission lines in the Wyoming PRB study area that support the regional distribution system are associated with the Dave Johnston Power Plant located near Glenrock, Wyoming, and the power plants operated by Black Hills Power Corporation, which are located east of Gillette. These 230-kV transmission lines have been in place for several years, and their associated permanent disturbance is minimal. Distribution power lines associated with conventional oil and gas and CBNG development also occur within the study area. For the PRB Coal Review, these lines were included by factoring them in proportionally on a per-well basis. The PRB Coal Review estimated that by 2020 four major transmission lines would be constructed. Markets would dictate the size and location of such facilities, and these are not known as of this time. Because transmission lines are a necessary supporting infrastructure for power generating facilities to provide connection to the grid, the PRB Coal Review assumes they would be required as part of the overall system development for the proposed power plants discussed in the previous section. Six specific proposals for these transmission lines have been identified by the PRB Coal Review analysis update. Information is insufficient to analyze or assign likelihood of development by 2020. The governors of California, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming entered into a memorandum of understanding to encourage development of a high voltage power transmission line, the Frontier Line, connecting those states in April 2005. Since that time, no specific plans have been announced as to the location or timing of the Frontier Line. The 345-kV Wyoming-Colorado Intertie as well as the Trans West and Gateway West and South projects have been proposed in Wyoming to move power from Wyoming to growing load demands in Idaho, Nevada, and other areas in the western United States (Hodges 2007). The TransWestern Express proposes to move electric power from Wyoming to Arizona through Colorado or Utah. The High Plains Express is proposed to move power from Wyoming to New Mexico and Arizona. An estimated 1,380 MW of new power plant production capacity and 250 MW of new wind energy production capacity are anticipated in the Task 2 study area by 2015.One new 300-MW wind energy project and potentially up to 700 MW of additional power generation provided by coal-fired power plants is projected for 2020. This level of production would require construction of additional transmission line capacity. It is assumed that new transmission lines would be constructed to connect new power plants to the grid. It is projected that these transmission lines would be constructed by 2015 to connect to outside markets. However,

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences specific location(s), capacities, and effects on the existing system cannot be determined at this time. Coal Conversion Technology With rising energy prices, there has been considerable interest in either enhancing the quality of PRB coal and/or converting the coal to other fuels. Test facilities were previously constructed by AMAX (predecessor to Foundation Coal West, Inc. and Alpha Coal West, Inc.) at the Belle Ayr Mine, and by ENCOAL at the Buckskin Mine, but no commercial production occurred, and these facilities have either been dismantled or are no longer in use. Evergreen Energy (formerly operating as KFx) previously built a prototype commercial-scale coal upgrading plant near the old Fort Union Mine (now part of the Dry Fork Mine). The facility did achieve commercial production levels of K-Fuel® (the company’s enhanced coal product) for a short period (2006 through early 2008); it was used for testing and demonstration purposes. Approximately 60 people were employed at the plant. Evergreen Energy decided to idle the plant in May 2008, laying off all but caretaker staff. The following coal conversion projects have been proposed, and are described in some detail in the PRB Coal Review. These projects were not included in the PRB Coal Review analysis because the likelihood of their occurrence was not known when the analysis was conducted:  Evergreen Energy Coal Beneficiation Project. Long-term plans for Evergreen Energy’s coal upgrading plant near the Dry Fork Mine have not been announced, although reopening and dismantling the currently idle plant and redeploying some of the equipment to another location have surfaced as possibilities.  Rentech Inc. Coal Liquefaction Project. In 2004, Rentech completed a feasibility study for a coal liquefaction facility, based on the historic Fischer-Tropsch process, to produce lowsulfur diesel fuel from sub-bituminous coal. Thereafter, Rentech continued to consider the potential of developing a commercial-scale facility in the PRB, while simultaneously investing in a product demonstration facility near Denver, Colorado.  White Energy Company, NRG Energy, and Buckskin Mining Company. In March 2008, the three companies entered into a joint development agreement to complete a feasibility study of building and operating a plant having a capacity to produce at least 1 million tons of binderless coal briquettes annually at the Buckskin Mine. Although the plant would be located on surface owned by the Buckskin Mine, and would purchase coal from the mine, it would be permitted and operated independently from the mine by White Energy Company and NRG Energy.  GreatPoint Energy and Peabody Coal. These two companies entered into an agreement in January 2008, under which Peabody Coal would become the preferred provider of coal to GreatPoint Energy for use in a commercial-scale coal-to-gas conversion plant in the PRB.  Wyoming Infrastructure Authority. The Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA) was created in 2004 by the Wyoming State Legislature. It was tasked with promoting the state’s economic development by assisting in the development of interstate electric transmission infrastructure. In 2006, WIA’s role was expanded to also promote advanced coal technologies related to electric generation (Wyoming Infrastructure Authority 2008a). In

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences 2007, WIA selected PacifiCorp from a list of 17 candidate firms and entered into a publicprivate partnership to assess the feasibility of developing an integrated gasification combined cycle power plant. The initial study focused on a site in southwestern Wyoming, but may open the way for similar projects elsewhere in the state (Wyoming Infrastructure Authority 2008a), including the PRB.  Additionally, there is a developing technology that would use existing oil and gas wells to generate biologically formed methane by enhancing the methane production from naturally occurring microbes in the coal. This process is proposed for commercial testing. It is a hybrid between conventional in-situ coal gasification and conventional CBNG development. A policy to authorize and regulate this activity is currently being developed by the Department of the Interior. Carbon Sequestration Carbon sequestration, the process of carbon capture, separation, and storage or reuse, is being researched as a means to stabilize and reduce concentrations of CO2 (a GHG). Direct options for carbon sequestration would involve means to capture CO2 at the source (e.g., power plant) before it enters the atmosphere coupled with “value-added” sequestration (e.g., use of captured CO2 in enhanced oil recovery [EOR] operations). Indirect sequestration would involve means of integrating fossil fuel production and use with terrestrial sequestration and enhanced ocean storage of carbon. No carbon sequestration projects currently exist in the Wyoming PRB study area. However, CO2 is being injected underground for the purpose of EOR near that study area in the Salt Creek area. The 59th Session of the Wyoming State Legislature passed, and Governor Freudenthal signed into law, legislation that could affect long-term energy-related development in the PRB (House Bills 0089 and 0090) (Wyoming Legislative Services 2008). The former (now part of Wyoming Statute 34-1) specified the ownership of subsurface “pore” space, established the rights to use such space for the purpose of carbon sequestration, and maintained the primacy of the mineral estate and the owners of such estate to reasonable use of the surface for the purpose of mineral exploration and production. Legal provisions enacted as a result of House Bill 0090 vested regulatory control over carbon sequestration with WDEQ and directed the department to promulgate rules, regulations (including permitting processes), and standards for such use. The legislation also specifies that applications for a carbon sequestration project must describe the geology of the area, aquifers above and below the intended injection zone, drill holes and operating wells in the area, potential impacts on other fluid resources, and identify a program for detecting migration or excursion of the CO2. Finally, the enacted legislation (Wyoming Statute 35-11-103) specifically states that the act is not intended to impede or impair the rights of oil and gas operators to inject CO2 through an approved EOR project and establish, verify, register, and sell emissions reduction credits. Based on the coal-related and oil- and gas-related development in the PRB study area, the potential exists for future development of carbon sequestration in the area. However, no commercial projects specifically targeted at capturing and sequestering carbon have been

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences identified at this time. Sequestration was not included in the PRB Coal Review analysis because the likelihood of projects occurring was not known when the analysis was conducted. Table 4-5 is a summary of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable coal mines, coal-related facilities, coal production, coal mine employment, and coal and coal-related disturbance in the Wyoming PRB.

Table 4-5. 	

Past, Present, and Projected Wyoming PRB Coal Mine and Coal-Related Development Scenario
Number of Active Coal Minesa Number of Active Power Plants Number of Active Coal Conversion Facilitiesb Direct Coal Mine Employment Total Coal Disturbance (acres)c

Year

Coal Production (million tons per year)

Past and Present 1990 1995 2000 2003 2007 163 247 323 364 428 18 19 12 12 13 3 4 4 4 5 1 1 2 0 0 2,862 3,177 3,335 4,697 5,533 N/A N/A N/A 68,794 83,593

Projected Development—Lower Coal Production Scenario 2010 2015 2020 411 467 495 131 131 131 7 7 7 12 12 12 5,433 5,705 5,731 98,662 117,236 137,443

Projected Development—Upper Coal Production Scenario 2010 2015 2020
N/A = Not Available
a

479 543 576

131 131 131

7 7 8

12 12 12

5,509 5,722 5,998

102,448 124,545 149,089

Mines have consolidated and may continue to do so in the future. Also, new mines may be permitted to better access the coal reserves projected for mining by 2020. Several coal conversion facilities currently are being evaluated; however, there is only one for which the likelihood of future development currently can be assessed. Disturbance area includes coal mine and coal-related disturbance areas.

b	

c

Source: Annual Report of the Wyoming State Mine Inspector (Wyoming Department of Employment 1990, 1995, 2000, 2003, and 2007a) and Updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c).

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences

4.1.2

Oil and Gas Development

The following information on existing conventional and CBNG development is summarized from the updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c). The information reported is for 2003, which was the baseline year for the coal review.

4.1.2.1

Conventional Oil and Gas

Conventional oil and gas development includes all non-CBNG development activity. Approximately 1,500 conventional oil and gas wells, including producing, non-producing, and injection wells, were drilled between 1990 and 2003 (IHS Energy Services 2004) in the Task 2 study area. Of those, 60% were development wells drilled in established producing areas. The remaining 40% were classified as wildcat wells, which are wells that are drilled in non-producing areas or drilled to evaluate untested prospective zones in producing areas. Approximately 75% of the wildcat wells were plugged and abandoned. By 2003, the successful new field wildcat wells had resulted in the discovery of 61 new fields that produced 719,000 barrels of oil and 1.45 billion cubic feet of non-CBNG (Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission 2004). As of the end of 2003, approximately 3,500 producing conventional oil and gas wells were in the Wyoming PRB study area plus 1,386 seasonally active wells (IHS Energy Services 2004). The WOGCC reported that these wells produced approximately 13 million barrels of oil and 41 billion cubic feet of conventional gas in 2003 (Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission 2004). The USGS (2002a) estimated that the mean undiscovered noncoal bed hydrocarbon resource in the PRB (including Montana) is 1.8 billion barrels of oil equivalent. By the end of 2007, there were approximately 3,857 producing conventional oil and gas wells in the Wyoming PRB study area plus an estimated 1,500 seasonally active wells (IHS Energy Services 2008). WOGCC reported that these wells produced approximately 11.4 million barrels of oil and 22 billion cubic feet of conventional gas in 2007 (Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission 2008c). Most of Wyoming’s current oil production is from old oil fields with declining production, and the level of exploration drilling to discover new fields has been low (Wyoming State Geological Survey 2002). This situation is reflected in the PRB where, over the 10-year period from 1992 through 2002, oil production from conventional oil and gas wells in Campbell and Converse counties decreased approximately 60.4% (from 32.8 million barrels in 1992 to 13.0 million barrels in 2002). Oil prices have been increasing, which is reversing projections of a continuing decline in oil and gas production. Thus, production is now expected to increase in the PRB, with a peak around 2010 of approximately 15.7 million barrels (WSO-RMG 2005). Oil production in the short term may also be bolstered by some planned CO2 flood projects in the PRB (Wyoming State Geological Survey 2003). This projected temporary upward trend in conventional oil and gas development is reflected in the PRB Coal Review projections (table 4-6).

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences

Table 4-6.

Actual Wyoming PRB Conventional Oil and Gas Development Scenario
Actual 2003
39.9 12.9 5,067a 1,994

Production and Wells
Annual Gas Production (billion cubic feet) Annual Oil Production (million barrels) Active Wells Inactive Wells
a b	

2007
22.0 11.4 3,857b 0c

Total includes approximately 1,500 seasonally active wells. Total includes approximately 1,500 seasonally active wells and an unknown number of inactive wells. c Unknown. Source: Updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c).

The active wells identified in table 4-6 include wells that produce year-round, seasonally producing wells, and service wells (mainly injection wells). It is estimated that there are approximately 2,000 idle conventional oil and gas wells in the PRB Coal Review study area (Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission 2008). However, the number of idle wells would gradually be reduced in the future through plugging programs, and the idle well locations (once the wells are abandoned) would be reclaimed, and would no longer represent a disturbance.

4.1.2.2

CBNG Development

Natural gas production has been increasing in Wyoming. In the PRB, this is because of the development of shallow CBNG resources. Commercial development of these resources began in limited areas west of and adjacent to the northernmost surface coal mines in the late 1980s. Since that time, CBNG development has spread south and west into other parts of the Task 1 and Task 2 study areas. On private and state oil and gas leases, the WOGCC and the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office (SEO) authorize CBNG drilling. On federal oil and gas leases, the BLM must analyze the individual and cumulative environmental impacts of all drilling (federal, state, and private), as required by NEPA, before CBNG drilling can be authorized. The BLM does not authorize drilling on state or private leases but must consider the impacts from those wells in their NEPA analyses. In many areas of the PRB, the coal estate is federally owned, but the oil and gas estate is privately owned. A June 7, 1999, Supreme Court decision (98-830) assigned the rights to develop CBNG on a piece of land to the owner of the oil and gas estate. Annual CBNG production increased rapidly in the PRB between 1999 and 2003 but has leveled off somewhat since then. At the end of 2003, 14,758 producing CBNG wells were in the study area (IHS Energy Services 2004), and total production for 2003 was 346 billion cubic feet, or 88% of the total gas production from the PRB (Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission 2004). Total CBNG production in the PRB was 377 billion cubic feet for 2006, 432 billion cubic feet for 2007, and 536 billion cubic feet for 2008 (Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission 2009). Average daily CBNG production was about 947 million cubic feet per day in 2003 (Holcomb 2003), 1,033 in 2006, 1,177 in 2007, and 1,469 in 2008 (Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission 2009). From 1987 to 2003, the total cumulative gas production from PRB coals was over 1.2 trillion cubic feet. The total water production for the same period

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences was approximately 2.3 billion barrels (96,600 million gallons). According to the WOGCC website, water production in the PRB associated with CBNG production has ranged between just over 567 million barrels (23,814 million gallons), or about 1.6 million barrels per day, in 2003, and 679 million barrels, about 1.9 million barrels per day, since December 2003. Since the early 1990s, the Wyoming BLM has completed numerous environmental assessments and two EISs analyzing CBNG projects. The most recent of these is the Final EIS and Proposed Plan Amendment for the PRB Oil and Gas Project, completed in January 2003 (BLM 2003). The level of CBNG development since 2003 appears to be lower than was forecast in that document. New CBNG well numbers fell from a high of slightly more than 4,600 in 2001 to approximately 2,000 in 2004. The updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c) discusses the uncertain trends for future CBNG activity in recent years. The methodology used to project future activity is detailed in appendix E of that report. Table 4-7 shows the baseline 2003, actual 2007, and projected 2010, 2015, and 2020 levels of CBNG development used to evaluate projected cumulative environmental impacts in the PRB Coal Review.

Table 4-7.

Actual Wyoming PRB CBNG Development Scenario
2003
338 14,758

Production and Wells
Annual Production (billion cubic feet) Active Wells
Source: Updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c).

2007
432 20,408

The amount of CBNG activity appears to be at a lower rate than was forecast by earlier projections in the Final EIS and Proposed Plan Amendment for the PRB Oil and Gas Project (BLM 2003), as well as in the 2005 Task 2 Report (BLM 2005b). New CBNG well numbers fell from a high of slightly more than 4,600 in 2001 to approximately 2,000 in 2004. It is anticipated that the number of new wells would increase so that between 2010 and 2020 the number of new wells drilled per year, basinwide, would range from 2,892 to 3,943. As shown in table 4-7, there would be 31,943 CBNG wells basinwide by 2010, considerably lower than the over 40,000 wells predicted for the same time period in the Final EIS and Proposed Plan Amendment for the PRB Oil and Gas Project (BLM 2003). It is anticipated that production in the cumulative effects study area would increase from the 432 billion cubic feet per year observed in 2007 to approximately 1,026 billion cubic feet per year in 2020. These estimates are relatively aggressive related to actual activity from 2003 to 2007 (BLM 2009c), and it is likely that the Buffalo RMP revision, currently underway, will further refine these estimates.

4.1.2.3

Oil- and Gas-Related Development

Oil- and gas-related development activities considered in the PRB Coal Review include major transportation pipelines and refineries. Table 4-8 summarizes the net disturbance, reclamation, and water production associated with oil and gas activity (conventional oil and gas, CBNG, and major transportation pipelines) for 2003 (baseline year) and projects disturbance, reclamation, and water production for future years.

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences

Table 4-8.

Wyoming PRB Conventional Oil and Gas, CBNG, and Related Development Disturbance and Water Production
Actual Category 2003
177,140 114,777 62,363 26,405

Projected 2007 2010
248,086 157,803 90,283 50,865

2015
344,713 226,775 117,959 71,166

2020
427,557 310,959 116,598 72,047

Cumulative Disturbed Area (acres)a Cumulative Permanently Reclaimed Area (acres) Cumulative Unreclaimed Area (acres) Annual Water Production (million gallons per year)
a

178,023 111,926 66,097 31,738

Inclusive of conventional oil and gas and CBNG activities and major transportation pipelines. Disturbance associated with ancillary facilities (including gathering lines and distribution power lines) has been factored in a per-well basis.

Source: Updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c).

Pipelines Major transportation pipelines for the transport of oil and gas to outside markets are a key factor in the development of CBNG and conventional oil and gas resources in the Task 2 study area for the Wyoming portion of the PRB. Major transportation pipelines also provide for transport of CO2 to crude oil well fields, which depend somewhat on the availability of CO2 for EOR. Currently, there are more than 13 major transportation pipeline systems in the PRB that transport gas resources to markets outside of the PRB (Flores et al. 2001; Wyoming Pipeline Authority 2008). The current capacity of these pipeline systems is approximately 2.1 billion cubic feet per day. Currently, the combined natural gas production (CBNG and conventional gas) in the Wyoming PRB study area is approximately 1.22 billion cubic feet per day. Gathering lines and power lines associated with conventional oil and gas and CBNG development also occur within the study area; disturbance from these ancillary facilities were factored into the PRB Coal Review analysis on a per-well basis. Currently, there are two proposed natural gas transportation pipeline projects and one proposed EOR pipeline that would cross the PRB study area:  Bison Pipeline LLC (Bison), wholly owned by a subsidiary of TransCanada Corporation, is proposing to construct the Bison Pipeline Project, an interstate natural gas pipeline designed to transport gas from the PRB to the Midwest market. The Bison project will consist of approximately 302 miles of 30-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline and related facilities that will extend from near Gillette through southeastern Montana and southwestern North Dakota where it will interconnect with the Northern Border Pipeline system in North Dakota. Approximately 53 miles of the proposed route is within the Wyoming PRB Coal Review study area. If constructed, the Bison project would have a capacity of 470 million cubic feet per day with potential to expand to approximately 1,000 million cubic feet per day. Bison filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct, own and operate the pipeline in April 2009 with an in-service estimate of 2010 (Bison Pipeline 2009).  The proposed Pathfinder Pipeline Project was a 42-inch-diameter, 500-mile-long natural gas pipeline that would cross the Wyoming PRB study area; however, its main supply of gas

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences would come from the Green River Basin, where it would originate. It is possible that an interconnect at Dead Horse Creek might provide an outlet for PRB-produced gas into Pathfinder. If constructed, the Pathfinder project would have had a 1.2 to 2.0 billion cubic feet per day capacity. TransCanada received a notice of pre-filing on the Pathfinder Project from FERC on June 4, 2008. TransCanada sent a letter to FERC asking that pre-filing activities be suspended on March 23, 2009. TransCanada has no record to indicate termination the Pathfinder docket (Dodson pers. comm.).  Encore’s proposed 231 mile CO2 pipeline would extend from near Lysite, Wyoming, to the Belle Creek oil production field in Powder River County near Ridge, Montana. The Greencore pipeline would go through the PRB and transport CO2 used for EOR and carbon sequestration. The pipeline construction is planned to start in the summer of 2011pending issuance of a federal right of way and surface owner consents. This project is considered to have a high likelihood of completion. Information on this project can be found by contacting the Wyoming Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute. Beyond the Task 2 study area for the Wyoming PRB, the oil and gas pipeline projects essentially would parallel one another to interconnect with Northern Border’s main pipeline in North Dakota. Since these projects would be interstate gas transportation pipelines, they would be regulated by the FERC. Although FERC lists these projects as “on the horizon” (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 2008), no formal applications have been filed with the regulatory agencies (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 2008; WDEQ 2008). Both of these projects are dependent upon acquisition of sufficient support in the open season process. Based on the lack of formal applications, their likelihood currently is considered low (BLM 2009c). Currently proposed and construction-in-progress natural gas transportation pipeline projects would not cross the Wyoming PRB study area; however, they would influence the ability of PRB gas producers to access outside markets. These projects are the Alliance Pipeline (a 42-inch­ diameter natural gas pipeline proposed from Wamsutter, Wyoming, to Emerson, Manitoba) and the Rockies Express (from Rio Blanco County, Colorado, to Monroe County, Ohio) (Rockies Express Pipeline LLC 2008; Wyoming Pipeline Authority 2008). The Alliance Pipeline is expected to commence construction in 2012, with a proposed in-service date sometime in 2013. Rockies Express Pipeline (western segment from western Colorado to Missouri) was in-service in January 2008. The expected in-service date for the eastern segment (Missouri to Ohio) is October 2011. Although important to PRB gas producers, because these projects would not cross the Wyoming PRB study area, they are not considered further in this analysis. The amount of available pipeline capacity could limit the amount of future CBNG development. In the 2005 Task 2 Report (BLM 2005b), it was estimated that growth of Wyoming PRB CBNG production could rise from the 2003 level of 947 million cubic feet per day up to 3 to 4 billion cubic feet per day around 2007 and remain at or above those levels until 2015 (Holcomb 2003). However, production rates of 3 to 4 billion cubic feet per day were not realized by 2007, and the average daily production for all gas (conventional and CBNG) was approximately 1.22 billion cubic feet per day (Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission 2008). Average CBNG production in 2007 was approximately 1.24 billion cubic feet per day. The addition of the Bison Pipeline Project would increase the take-away capacity of the PRB by approximately 0.5 billion cubic feet per day, resulting in total take-away capacity for the PRB of approximately 2.55 billion cubic feet per day. The addition of the Pathfinder Pipeline Project would increase the

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences take-away capacity by approximately an additional 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, for a total of approximately 4.15 billion cubic feet per day. Based on the assumptions in the updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c), the projected total gas production (conventional and CBNG) would increase to 2.06 billion cubic feet per day in 2010, 2.86 billion cubic feet per day in 2015, and 2.91 billion cubic feet per day in 2020. Therefore, likelihood for additional new pipeline construction for 2010 is low, with a higher likelihood in subsequent years (BLM 2009c). In the 2005 Task 2 Report (BLM 2005b), it was indicated that Anadarko Petroleum Corporation was planning to extend its CO2 pipeline that runs between Bairoil, Wyoming, and Salt Creek, Wyoming, to the Sussex Field located in the southern Johnson County portion of the Wyoming PRB study area. However, more recent information indicates that this has not occurred (Anadarko Petroleum Corporation 2008). According to the Wyoming Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute, fields in the Wyoming PRB study area that would be good candidates for EOR using CO2 include Hartzog Draw, Hilight, and House Creek (Boyles and vant Veld 2006). Laterals from the Greencore Pipeline could be constructed in the future to carry CO2 to potential oil recovery projects in the Wyoming portion of the PRB; however, no projects are currently planned. The 2005 Task 2 Report (BLM 2005b) projected that basinwide production of CBNG could double by 2020, which would suggest that additional pipelines could be built. The recent update of the that report (BLM 2009c) revised the projections. As noted in Section 4.1, trends in CBNG development since 2007 indicate that this estimate may be lowered as new forecasting is done. Current gas pipeline capacity out of the PRB is approximately 2.05 billion cubic feet per day; average conventional natural gas and CBNG production in 2007 was approximately 1.24 billion cubic feet per day. Based on the information in the updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c), potential total gas production (conventional natural gas and CBNG) has been projected at 2.06 billion cubic feet per day by 2010. This potential is pipeline capacity limited, suggesting additional pipelines could be built. Refineries Construction of a new refinery was completed in the Wyoming PRB study area in 2008. The NorthCut Refinery, owned and operated by Interline Resources, is located in Converse County, approximately 20 miles north of the town of Douglas, Wyoming. Construction of the refinery, which was a conversion of the previously existing Well Draw Gas Plant, included installation of a crude oil pipeline between the company’s existing crude gathering system and the refinery. The NorthCut Refinery is a crude oil topping plant, specifically engineered to process 4,000 barrels per day of sweet crude produced in the PRB. Output from the refinery will include naptha, off-road diesel, and reduced crude oil. The markets for the products include ethanol manufacturers, mines, and other refineries. The company-owned crude oil pipeline and third-party tanker trucks will be used for delivery of crude stocks. Tanker trucks also will be used to transport finished products from the facility (Interline Resources 2008). The refinery is adjacent to and east of Wyoming 59, with the joint BNSF and UP rail line located just to the west of the highway. The site previously had been the location of the Well Draw Gas Plant (approximately 20 acres), which shut down in 2002 following a fire. Interline has acquired an additional 12 acres bordering the original site for administrative, maintenance, and transportation-related uses (Interline Resources 2008).

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences The level and composition of outputs from the existing NorthCut Refinery would respond to various markets, potentially resulting in the construction of additional infrastructure and/or facilities in the future. Any future changes and associated disturbances would occur within the property currently owned by Interline Resources at the NorthCut site (Williams pers. comm.). Currently, no specific plans for expansion have been identified. As a result, the likelihood for project expansion currently is considered speculative. Therefore, it has been eliminated from further analysis in this study. No other reasonably foreseeable plans for construction and operation of new petroleum refineries in the Wyoming portion of the PRB have been identified.

4.1.3 4.1.3.1

Other Development Activity Other Mining

Uranium, sand, gravel, bentonite, and clinker (or scoria) have been and are being mined in the Wyoming PRB study area. Wyoming has been the nation’s leading producer of uranium ore since 1995, and also hosts the nation’s largest uranium reserves (Wyoming State Geological Survey 2009). There are three primary uranium mining districts in the PRB: Pumpkin Buttes, Southern Powder River, and Kaycee (BLM 2003). Numerous uranium mining sites, both potential and existing, are present in these districts. Wyoming’s only currently producing uranium mines are the Smith RanchHighland operation and the Christensen Ranch operation. The Smith Ranch-Highland operation is located in Converse County in the Southern Powder River District, and the Christensen Ranch operation is located in Johnson and Campbell counties in the Pumpkin Buttes area. The Smith Ranch-Highland operation is owned by Power Resources, Inc. (dba Cameco) and uses the in-situ recovery (or in-situ leach) method of mining. Aside from the Smith Ranch-Highland operation, the only other uranium mining operation in the PRB that is currently licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is the Christensen Ranch/Irigaray operation (owned by COGEMA Mining, Inc.) located in Johnson and Campbell counties (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 2009). In the 2005 Task 2 Report (BLM 2005b), reasonably foreseeable uranium development was eliminated from further consideration because: 1) there were no specific projects with pending applications and 2) no development was anticipated, based on market conditions. Based on commodity forecasts and uranium activity as of June 2004, the likelihood and potential timing of new uranium mining operations in the PRB was not known, and additional development was not projected in the PRB Coal Review analysis. Because of increased overall demand for energy in recent years, uranium prices have increased from a low of $7 a pound in 2001 to over $138 a pound in 2007 (Barry 2008). The price fell to $62 in 2008 and is currently in a range of $40 to $50 per pound, which is expected to hold through 2010 because of stable demand and a growing supply. The recent upsurge in yellowcake spot prices has increased exploration and claimstaking activity in the PRB and is generating considerable interest in new development (Wyoming State Geological Survey 2009). In response to the increased price of uranium, a number of uranium mine developments currently are proposed in the Wyoming PRB study area. The NRC is currently reviewing applications for

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences two new uranium recover facilities in the PRB: the Moore Ranch and the Nichols Ranch-Hank Unit (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 2009). The Moore Ranch, owned by Energy Minerals Corporation (dba Uranium One), is located in Converse County, and the Nichols Ranch-Hank Unit, owned by Uranerz Energy Corporation, is located in Campbell and Johnson counties. Both of these projects submitted license applications in 2007, they are located in the Pumpkin Buttes District, and would use the in-situ recovery method of mining. Over the next three years, the NRC expects to receive additional applications for new uranium recovery facilities, as well as requests for restarts and expansions of existing facilities. Table 4-9 provides information on the three new projects and four expansion projects currently proposed in the PRB, all of which would use in-situ recovery. With the exception of the Ross Project, which is located in western Crook County, the proposed developments are all in the Pumpkin Buttes District in southwestern Campbell and northwestern Converse counties. The actual number of the proposed developments that would become operational would depend on several factors including uranium prices and approval of permits.

Table 4-9. 	

In-Situ Recovery Uranium Projects Currently Proposed in the Task 2 Study Area for the Wyoming portion of the PRB
County
Converse

Project/Company
Ludeman Satellite Project/Energy Metals Corp (dba Uranium One) Allemand-Ross Satellite Project/Energy Metals Corp (dba Uranium One) Ross Project/Peninsula Minerals, Ltd. Collins Draw Project/Uranerz Energy Corporation North Butte-Ruth Project/Power Resources, Inc. (dba Cameco) Reno Creek Project/Bayswater Uranium Corporation Ruby Ranch Project/Power Resources, Inc. (dba Cameco)

Application Type
Expansion/Amend ment to Moore Ranch Expansion/Amend ment to Moore Ranch New

Watershed/Mining District
Antelope Creek/Pumpkin Buttes District Antelope Creek/Pumpkin Buttes District Little Missouri River/not in one of the three districts Powder River/Pumpkin Buttes District Powder River/Pumpkin Buttes District

Likelihood/Rationale
Moderate for 2012/Letter of intent to NRC February 2009, application expected 2009. Moderate for 2012/Letter of intent to NRC February 2009, application expected 2009. Moderate for 2012/Letter of intent to NRC October 2009, application expected 2010. Moderate for 2012/Letter of intent to NRC March 2008, application expected 2009. High probability for 2012/Application for commercial operation filed March 2006. Moderate for 2015/Letter of intent to NRC March 2009, application expected 2010. Moderate for 2015/Letter of intent to NRC March 2008, application expected 2009.

Converse

Crook

Campbell

New

Campbell and Johnson Campbell

Expansion/Satellit e to Smith Ranch

New

Belle Fourche River and Antelope Creek/Pumpkin Buttes District Powder River and Belle Fourche River/Pumpkin Buttes District

Campbell

Expansion/Satellit e to Smith Ranch

NRC = U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
 Sources: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2009), World Information Service on Energy (2009).


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4-27

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences Bentonite is weathered volcanic ash that is used in a variety of products, including drilling mud and cat litter, because of its absorbent properties. There are three major bentonite producing districts in and around the PRB: the Colony District in the Northern Black Hills, the Clay Spur District in the Southern Black Hills, and the Kaycee District west of Kaycee, Wyoming. Within the PRB Coal Review study area, bentonite is mined at Kaycee (Wyoming Mining Association 2006). The PRB Coal Review assumed that bentonite mining would continue throughout the study period and that production would continue at existing active mines, with no new mines developed through 2020. Aggregate (i.e., sand, gravel, and stone) is used for construction purposes. In the PRB, the more important aggregate mining localities are in Johnson and Sheridan counties (Wyoming State Geological Survey 2004). The largest identified aggregate operation is located in northern Converse County. It has an associated total disturbance area of approximately 67 acres, of which 4 acres have been reclaimed. Clinker (known locally as scoria or red dog), which is formed when coal beds burn and the adjacent rocks become baked, is used as aggregate where alluvial terrace gravel or in-place granite/igneous rock is not available. Clinker generally is mined in Converse and Campbell counties in the Wyoming PRB study area. Increased sand, gravel, and clinker production and associated surface disturbance are anticipated in the Wyoming PRB study area in the future because aggregate would be required for road maintenance and new construction activities as other primary resources, such as coal and oil and gas, continue to be developed. New operations and increased production from existing operations can be expected. These operations would vary in size based on the immediate need from the primary industries, but there is no specific information about these projected operations. As a result, new sand, gravel, or clinker operations were not analyzed in detail in the PRB Coal Review.

4.1.3.2

Industrial Manufacturing

A number of existing industrial manufacturing establishments are located in the Wyoming PRB Coal Review study area. Most are relatively small with fewer than 25 employees; they predominately serve regional and local markets, and most are directly or indirectly related to energy resource development and production. Over the years, some of these firms have expanded such that they now support activities and serve markets outside of the region, but those operations remain dependent upon the local and regional markets to sustain their existing operations. The PRB Coal Review anticipates that increased coal production would result in an increased demand for fuels and explosives. This increased demand could result in the need for the development of new off-site chemical feedstock plants in the study area. Project-specific information is not available; however, and the potential development of new chemical feedstock plants was not considered in the PRB Coal Review. Local economic development organizations, including Campbell County Economic Development Corporation and Converse Area New Development Organization, are continually engaged in efforts to recruit or assist new business formation in the PRB study area. For example, the latter has pursued development of long-term potential projects; however, the
4-28 Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences outcomes of those projects are uncertain and little information and detail are available. As a result, they were not considered in the PRB Coal Review.

4.1.3.3

Wind Power

Because of increasing concerns over global climate change, there is strong interest from consumers, investor-owned utilities, and environmental and economic sustainability interests in wind energy generating projects and other forms of renewable energy projects. The current development interest in wind energy generation is driven in part by mandates for many utilities to increase the use of renewables in their overall energy portfolio, decisions by environmentally conscious firms to use renewable energy sources, and also because of the development of wind energy manufacturing infrastructure in the region. Wind power facilities have been proposed, are being constructed, and are providing energy at various sites in Wyoming, including the PRB. There is good potential for wind power, and these facilities can contribute to meeting forecasted electric power demands; however, they are dependent on available transmission capacity to send power to users. Among the lower 48 states, Wyoming currently ranks in eleventh place in terms of existing wind power capacity with 986 MW currently in operation and 299 MW under construction. Texas ranks in first place with 8,797 MW in operation and 660 MW under construction. In terms of annual wind energy potential, Wyoming ranks seventh with 747 billion kilowatt-hours per year. North Dakota ranks first with 1,210 billion kilowatt-hours per year (American Wind Energy Association 2010). Although many Wyoming locations having the highest potential are in the southern portion of the state, areas in both Converse and Campbell counties offer sufficient potential to support commercial-scale wind generation projects.  One such project, the Glenrock Wind Farm, is currently providing power in the Wyoming PRB study area. PacifiCorp completed construction of this three-phase project in Converse County in 2009. The Glenrock Wind Farm is located approximately 15 miles north of the existing Dave Johnston Power Plant, on and near the site of the former Dave Johnston Coal Mine. This is the first wind energy project in the nation to be located at a reclaimed coal mine. The first phase, known as the Glenrock Wind Energy Project, went online in 2008. The second and third phases, the Rolling Hills Wind Energy Project and the Glenrock III Wind Energy Project, respectively, went online in 2009. The Glenrock and Rolling Hills phases each consist of 66 wind turbine generators (each rated at 1.5 MW [99 MW total]). The Glenrock III phase consists of 26, 1.5-MW wind turbines (39 MW total) (PacifiCorp 2009).  Duke Energy (dba Three Buttes Windpower, LLC) completed the Campbell Hill Windpower Project and began commercial operations in December 2009. The Campbell Hill Windpower Project is located approximately 15 miles northeast of Casper in Converse County and consists of 66 wind turbines generating 99 MW. PacifiCorp will buy all of the output generated by the project.  Duke Energy plans to build the Top of the World Wind Energy Project, a 200-MW wind farm located northeast of Glenrock in Converse County. Construction was expected to begin in early 2010 upon receipt of all necessary permits from the state. PacifiCorp will buy the power generated by the project (Duke Energy 2009).

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences  Third Planet Windpower is in the initial development phase of a wind energy project (Reno Junction Windfarm) in the Pumpkin Buttes area of southwestern Campbell County. Third Planet Windpower has acquired approximately 13,000 acres of land leases for the project, installed meteorological monitoring sites, and is currently doing environmental and feasibility studies. The company plans to install up to 133, 1.5-MW towers, yielding a total capacity of 200-MW, if fully constructed. The site for the Reno Junction Wind Farm is close to the Black Hills Power Pumpkin Buttes substation and the companies are seeking an agreement for interconnection. Construction was expected to begin in mid-2010, with an online date anticipated for the end of 2010 (Rogers 2008). This project is considered moderately likely to occur (BLM 2009c). Land use disturbance for wind energy projects is associated with development of access roads, a turbine assembly pad, and foundation pad for each wind turbine tower. Additional land disturbance results from installation of transformers and substations, underground electric and fiber optic communications cables, one or more operations and maintenance facilities, meteorological towers, and a transmission line connecting the project to the regional grid. Much of the disturbance area is reclaimed immediately following construction, with long-term disturbance associated with permanent facilities (i.e., access roads, support facilities, and tower foundations). Wind generating projects have an expected life of approximately 25 years, which could be extended based on market conditions and the overall condition of the infrastructure. Some redisturbance would occur at the time of decommissioning, followed by final reclamation. According to the American Wind Energy Association (2010), transmission will be a key issue for the wind industry’s future development over the next two decades.

4.1.3.4

Solar Power

Although Wyoming has been given a rating of 5,000 to 5,500 watt hours per square meter per day solar resource for flat plate collectors, currently, no utility-scale solar power collection facilities are located on federal, state, or private lands in Wyoming. Furthermore, no applications for the development of utility-scale solar energy projects had been filed as of June1, 2011. The BLM, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the DOE are jointly preparing a solar energy programmatic EIS which could facilitate future solar energy development application processes. Wyoming is not covered in the programmatic EIS but still may be affected by it. Information on the programmatic EIS can be found at: http://solareis.anl.gov. The BLM currently evaluates solar energy project proposals on a caseby-case basis. Solar energy use in Wyoming is, as of January 1, 2010, limited to private residences and private commercial establishments. Current Wyoming solar energy incentives include a sales tax rebate on industrial or commercial solar energy generation equipment, a one-time grant of up to $3,000 offered through lottery from the Wyoming Business Council, and the utility buy back of unused electricity at the wholesale price. Solar energy production equipment and installation at residential, commercial, and utility sites is expensive. Currently, the electric utility costs in Wyoming are such that the cost of installation does not favor solar energy development over existing forms of energy development.
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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences

4.1.3.5

Reservoirs

Currently, five key water storage reservoirs are present in the Wyoming PRB Coal Review study area: Healy, Lake DeSmet, Muddy Guard No. 2, Gillette, and Betty No. 1 (HKM Engineering et al. 2002a and 2002b). The total surface disturbance associated with these water storage areas is 3,263 acres. Based on the applicable water plans prepared for the Wyoming Water Development Commission for its Basin Planning Program (HKM Engineering et al. 2002a and 2002b), there are long-range projections for development of additional reservoirs in the Wyoming PRB study area. However, none of these reservoirs have reached the planning stage; therefore, there was not enough information to analyze them in the PRB Coal Review.

4.1.3.6

Other Non-Energy Development

In addition to the specific projects and developments described above, a network of public and private physical infrastructure, private enterprises, and public activities has been developed in the PRB over time. Examples of infrastructure include the highway and road networks, airports, government offices, hospitals, public schools, municipal water systems, and extensive residential and commercial real estate development. Private enterprises include local retail and service establishments, newspaper publishing, and transportation and distribution firms. There are a number of existing industrial manufacturing and service establishments located in the Wyoming PRB study area. Most are relatively small with fewer than 50 employees, and most serve local and regional markets, the majority of which are directly or indirectly related to energy resource development and production. Hettinger Welding and L&H Welding and Machine, both based in Gillette, are the largest industrial manufacturing firms in the region specializing in repairs, rebuilding, and manufacturing for the mining industry. Though classified as wholesalers and repair establishments, rather than as manufactures, firms such as Wyoming Machinery and P&H Mining Equipment also serve the mining and oil and gas industries. Other industrial manufacturing and service establishments in the region provide metal fabrication, metal plating, custom and precast concrete products, and specialized chemical products and services. Over the years, some of these firms have expanded such that they now support activities and serve markets outside the PRB region. However, they remain dependent upon the local and regional markets to sustain their existing operations (BLM 2009c). Local economic development organizations, including Campbell County Economic Development Corporation and Converse Area New Development Organization are continually engaged in efforts to recruit or assist new business formation in the PRB study area. For example, the Converse Area New Development Organization is pursuing development of an ammonium nitrate plant (using methane as a feedstock) in the Bill, Wyoming, area, as well as location of an aluminum mill in the same general location. These and similar prospects are longterm potential whose outcomes are uncertain and for which little information and detail are available. As a result, they were eliminated from analysis in the PRB Coal Review (BLM 2009c). Local governments, school districts, and other special service districts and public entities continually engage in long-term planning. Examples of some of the recently completed projects and developments, as well as anticipated plans or proposals for development in public, private,
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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences and commercial infrastructure in the City of Gillette and Campbell County, are included in the current City of Gillette development summary (City of Gillette 2009) and are summarized below.  The City of Gillette’s Wastewater Treatment Plant was upgraded in 2007.  An expansion and renovation of the county courthouse were completed in 2006, and a new public health building was completed in 2007.  The Wyoming Center, a conference and multi-event facility expansion of the Gillette CAM­ PLEX, was completed in 2008 annual. The expansion includes more exhibit space, conference and indoor athletic facilities with seating for up to 9,000, an indoor ice rink, and various concession and support spaces.  A new $10 million headquarters for the Campbell County Fire Department providing administrative, training, storage space, and additional parking bays for firefighting equipment and vehicles was completed in 2008.  A new Hospice Center, the Cummins Diesel Service Center, and the Hillcrest School were completed in 2008.  Construction of the new Health Sciences Center at Gillette College was competed in 2008. The facility houses the school’s nursing program, providing classrooms, labs, faculty offices, and other spaces. The nursing program functions in conjunction with the Campbell County Memorial Hospital  Major infrastructure projects within and adjacent to the city limits in 2008 and 2009 included highway and roadway improvements, drainage system improvements, library renovations, subdivision developments, and expansion of the county landfill.  Expansion of the Campbell County Detention Center and remodeling of the Sheriff’s Office were completed in 2009.  Construction of various commercial and residential housing developments is ongoing.  The new $55 million Campbell County Recreation Center was completed and opened in April 2010.  The county, city, and Gillette College are partnering on a Campus Housing Complex and the Industrial Technical Education Center. Construction of these facilities is ongoing and part of a long-range master plan for the college that is designed to provide a broad college-level curriculum and provide more focused education and training to support local business and industry. The 100-bed Gillette College Student Housing project was completed and opened for use in September 2009. The $55 million, 97,700-square foot Technical Education Center opened in January 2010.  Campbell County Memorial Hospital is undergoing a major expansion and renovation project that began in 2009 and is expected to be completed in 2011.  The new Hillcrest Elementary School in Gillette has been completed and opened in September 2009.  The Burma Road extension is under construction. It will provide a north-south route across I-90 connecting the hospital area with Lakeway Road. This will improve traffic flow, and

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences open up more land for future development. The section across I-90 opened in August 2010 with full completion of the project projected for spring 2011.  The City of Gillette is seeking state and local funding to construct an additional municipal water supply. Construction of a second Madison Formation well field in Crook County near the Keyhole Reservoir and a second water supply line from the well field to Gillette is expected to begin in 2011 or 2012.  The Wyoming School Facilities Commission oversees all aspects of construction and maintenance of school facilities and physical plant. School districts submit five-year plans for facilities spending, which are subject to approval and funding by the commission. Currently approved master plans for the seven school districts serving some portion of the Wyoming PRB study area include defined needs for more than $115 million in capital construction, some of which have already been funded; the total includes approximately $51 million for the Campbell County School District, the bulk of which would fund three new elementary schools and one new high school (Wyoming School Facilities Commission 2008). Additional private sector industrial and commercial development is expected to occur within the context of normal community and economic development. The strong economic base provided by the coal mines, oil and gas companies, and relatively high income of residents draws regional and national retailers (e.g., The Home Depot) to the area. Gillette’s location on I-90 and the strong demand for lodging by energy workers, travelers, and visitors associated with events at the CAM-PLEX also have spurred construction of several new motels (Campbell County Economic Development Corporation 2008; City of Gillette 2008a).  The 2010 Wyoming Department of Transportation State Transportation Improvement Program includes planned construction for the 2010 fiscal year and preliminary engineering estimates for projects with anticipated construction dates through 2015. In general, Wyoming transportation projects scheduled over the next six years include maintenance, reconstruction, and improvement projects. Airport improvement plans consist primarily of pavement rehabilitation and overlays, with some minor expansion of taxiways, aprons, and parking. Costs anticipated for 2010 through 2015 for highway and airport maintenance, reconstruction, and improvement projects in the PRB Coal Review study area (Sheridan, Johnson and Campbell counties) are approximately $190 million. No construction of new highways is scheduled, and no new airports are proposed.  In addition to highway projects included in Wyoming Department of Transportation’s 2008– 2013 plan, the Eagle Butte Mine received approval from WYDOT to relocate a portion of U.S. Highway 14-16 in the vicinity of the Gillette–Campbell County Airport, north of the city of Gillette. The relocation will facilitate the recovery of approximately 40 million tons of additional coal recently acquired by the mine through the West Eagle Butte West LBA tract coal sale. Three alternative alignments, involving the construction of up to 6.8 centerline miles of new roadway, were identified and a preferred alternative was subsequently chosen and approved by the department. Construction of the new highway segment is anticipated in 2011/2012 (Wyoming Department of Transportation and Foundation Coal Company 2008).

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences There are numerous current and anticipated plans for future investment in public and private infrastructure in the PRB. Such investments would include state and local investment in transportation, administrative, and educational facilities. Given the timing, scale, year-to-year variability, relatively short construction timetables associated with such investments, the existence of a relatively large and diversified construction industry in the region and nearby areas, and the limited potential for these projects to alter long-term conditions in the PRB, they are not included in the PRB Coal Review analysis. However, one or more of these and similar projects could warrant consideration in a cumulative analysis for a site-specific project because of proximity or coincidental project schedules and timetables (BLM 2009c).

4.2	 Affected Environment and Cumulative Environmental Consequences
This section summarizes the existing conditions based on the results of the Task 1 Report and the cumulative environmental consequences of projected development for 2010, 2015, and 2020, based on the Task 3 report. As discussed in section 4.0, the Wyoming portion of the PRB is the primary focus of the PRB Coal Review analyses. For the majority of resources in the Task 1 analysis, the Wyoming PRB Coal Review study area encompasses all of Campbell County, all of Sheridan and Johnson counties outside of the Bighorn National Forest, and the northern portion of Converse County (map 4-1). The study areas for the Task 3 analyses are different. For the majority of the resources considered in the PRB Coal Review, the Task 3 study area is based on watershed boundaries in the PRB and includes the portions of the Upper Powder River, Little Powder River, Upper Belle Fourche River, Upper Cheyenne River, Antelope Creek, and Dry Fork Cheyenne River subwatersheds that lie within Sheridan, Johnson, Campbell and northern Converse counties (map 4-2). This analysis region includes over 4 million acres and is referred to below as the Task 3 study area. Table 4-10 summarizes the total disturbance and reclamation acreages for the 2003 baseline, 2007 actual, and the total projected disturbance and reclamation acreages for 2010, 2015, and 2020 in the Task 3 study area. A total of approximately 210,096 acres (5%) within the Task 3 study area had been disturbed by cumulative development activities as of 2003. Based on the information presented in Appendices A and D of the updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c), approximately 222,568 acres (5%) had been disturbed by development activities by the end of 2007. Of those 222,568 acres of cumulative disturbance, approximately 83,593 acres (38%) were associated with coal mine development. Of the 222,568 total acres of actual cumulative disturbance documented through 2007, approximately 113,382 acres (51%) have been reclaimed. The remaining 109,186 acres of disturbance would be reclaimed incrementally or following a project’s completion, depending on the type of development activity and permit requirements.

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Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences

Table 4-10.

Actual and Projected Wyoming PRB Total Development Scenario, Task 3 Study Area
Total Acres Reclaimed Acres Unreclaimed Acres Unavailable for Reclamationa Acres Affected by Coal Developmenta

Year
Actual 2003 2007

Total Acres Disturbed

210,096 222,568

111,879 113,382

98,217 109,186

24,097 24,338

68,794 83,593

Projected Development—Lower Coal Production Scenario 2010 2015 2020 278,209 354,148 422,727 159,291 219,816 289,937 118,918 134,332 132,790 26,338 27,549 28,797 98,662 117,236 137,443

Projected Development—Upper Coal Production Scenario 2010 2015 2020
a

281,996 361,456 576,646

161,124 224,024 397,155

120,872 137,432 179,491

25,688 27,099 28,345

102,448 124,545 149,089

Includes coal mine and coal-related disturbance; those acres will be reclaimed when mine operations end.

Source: Updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c).

Of the 83,593 total cumulative acres of disturbance directly associated with coal mine development through 2007, approximately 25,884 acres (31%) have been reclaimed. Of the remaining 57,709 acres of coal-related disturbance, approximately 24,338 acres (42%) currently are not available for reclamation, as they are occupied by long-term facilities necessary to conduct mining operations. These areas would be reclaimed near the end of each mine’s life. Reclamation of the remaining 33,371 acres (58%), which represent areas of active mining and areas where coal has been recovered but reclamation has not been completed, would proceed concurrently with coal mining. The total cumulative disturbance is projected to increase to as much as 576,6462 acres in 2020 under the upper coal production scenario (table 4-10), which would represent approximately 12.9% of the study area. This projected disturbance includes coal mining, coal-related development, and oil and gas and related development disturbance in the study area. Of those 576,646 acres, it is projected that 149,0893 acres (26%) would be associated with coal mining activities. Oil and gas related disturbance represents over 70% of the remaining cumulative disturbance.

2

Data for 2020 total cumulative disturbance and reclamation projections obtained from Appendix C, Table C-3 in the updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c). Data for 2020 cumulative coal-related disturbance and reclamation projections obtained from Appendix A, Table A-2 in the updated Task 2 Report (BLM 2009c). Math errors in that update have been corrected in table 4-10 and the above text for the Hay Creek II final EIS.

3

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4-35

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Upper
P or cup ine

r Rive

River
Cr ee k

rk P ow

Middle F ork Po

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L ittle Thunder Creek

3


Salt

a lo Buff k Cre e

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SCALE: 1"= 20 MILES

Fo

South

Antelope
 Creek

Antelope

ek

LEGEND
Federal Coal Lease Areas Subwatersheds in the Environmental Consequence Study Area Coal Mine Groundwater Model (CMGM) Domain Railroads Former Surface Coal Mine Sites COAL MINE SUBREGIONS Buckskin, Dry Fork, Eagle Butte, Subregion 1 ­ Rawhide, and Wyodak Mines Belle Ayr, Caballo, Coal Creek, and Cordero-Rojo Mines Jacobs Ranch, Black Thunder, North Antelope Rochelle, and Antelope Mines

Creek

N orth

e Cheyenn

Dry

F ork

Ri ve r

CONVERSE COUNTY

k ee Cr

For

k

ar Be

Dry Creek

Dry Fork
 Cheyenne River


1

DAVE JOHNSTON MINE

Sa ge

ee Cr k

2 Subregion 2 ­ 3 Subregion 3 -

No warranty is made by the Bureau of Land Management for the use of the data for purposes not intended by BLM.

Map 4-2 Wyoming Task 3 Study Area for PRB Coal Review Studies Evaluating Projected Environmental Consequences

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences Areas reclaimed during each future time period shown in table 4-10 reflect the amount of disturbed acreage projected to be permanently reclaimed by that respective point in time. For example, under the upper coal production scenario for 2020, of the 576,646 acres of total cumulative disturbance, approximately 397,155 (69%) would be reclaimed by 2020. The remaining 179,491 acres (31%) of disturbance would be reclaimed incrementally or following a project’s completion, depending on the type of development activity and permit requirements. Of the 149,089 acres of cumulative disturbance projected to be associated with coal mining through 2020, approximately 86,196 (58%) would be reclaimed by 2020. Of the remaining 62,893 acres of coal mining-related disturbance, it is estimated that approximately 28,345 acres (45%) would be unavailable for concurrent reclamation due to the presence of long-term facilities, which would be reclaimed near the end of each mine’s life. Reclamation of the remaining 34,548 acres (55%) of projected disturbance through 2020 would proceed concurrently with mining operations. The acres of unreclaimed disturbance would be reclaimed incrementally or following a project’s completion, depending on the type of development activity and permit requirements. The acres currently not available for reclamation are occupied by long-term facilities that are needed to conduct mining operations or coal-related activities. These areas would be reclaimed near the end of each mine or facility’s life. The PRB Coal review study areas are defined by discipline for projected environmental consequences, with some changes to the watershed map (map 4-2) as defined below.  The potential air quality impacts were evaluated over a multi-state area (including most of Wyoming, southeastern Montana, southwestern North Dakota, western South Dakota, and northwestern Nebraska) because they would be expected to extend beyond the Wyoming and Montana PRB air quality study area that was used to identify emissions sources for the air quality analysis.  The socioeconomic impact analysis focused on Campbell County, but also considered Converse, Crook, Johnson, Sheridan, and Weston counties as directly affected and Niobrara and Natrona counties as indirectly affected.  The groundwater drawdown was evaluated in the area surrounding and extending west of the surface coal mines shown on map 4-2 (groundwater study area), because that is the area where groundwater drawdown related to surface coal mining operations and CBNG production operations would overlap.

4.2.1

Topography and Physiography

The PRB is located within the Upper Missouri Basin Broken Lands physiographic subprovince that includes northeastern Wyoming and eastern Montana to the Canadian border. The topography generally is of low to moderate relief with occasional buttes and mesas. The general topographic gradient slopes down gently from southwest to northeast with elevations ranging from 5,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level on the southern and western portions of the PRB to less than 4,000 feet above sea level on the north and northeast along the Montana state line. The major drainages in the PRB are the Tongue, Powder, Belle Fourche, and Cheyenne rivers. Most of the drainages in the area are intermittent and have flows during high precipitation events or

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences during periods of snowmelt. The drainages are part of the upper Missouri River Valley drainage basin. The disturbance associated with the majority of the past, present, and projected activities have resulted in or would result in the alteration of the surface topography. Surface coal mining, which is projected to continue in the area of the existing coal mines shown on map 4-2, permanently alters the topography by removing the overburden and coal and then replacing the overburden. Recontouring during reclamation to match approximate original contours, as required by regulation, reduces the long-term impact on topography. After mined-out areas are reclaimed, the restored land surfaces are typically gentler, with more uniform slopes and restored basic drainage networks. Oil and gas exploration and development has occurred and is projected to continue throughout most of the Task 3 study area. It also results in the alteration of topography to accommodate facilities (e.g., well pads, power plants) and roads, but the disturbance tends to occur in smaller, more discrete areas than coal mining and the development is spread out over a larger area. The disturbance and reclamation acreages associated with all existing and projected development in the Task 3 study area for the years 2003, 2007, 2010, 2015, and 2020 are given in table 4-10.

4.2.2

Geology, Mineral Resources, and Paleontology

The study area for geology, mineral resources, and paleontology is the Task 3 study area (map 4-2).

4.2.2.1

Geology

The PRB is one of a number of structural basins in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain area that were formed during the Laramide Orogeny events. The basin is asymmetric with a structural axis that generally trends northwest to southeast along the western side of the basin (Flores et al. 1999). Natural earthquakes, landsides, and subsidence do not present a hazard in the PRB based on the lack of active faults in the study area (U.S. Geological Survey 2004); the low risk of ground shaking in the PRB if a maximum credible earthquake were to occur (Frankel et al. 1997); and the absence of evidence of subsidence, landslides, or other geologic hazards in association with CBNG production. USGS monitors the magnitude of blasting activity in the PRB under the Routine Mining Seismicity Earthquake Hazards Program (U.S. Geological Survey 2008). Seismic activity induced by coal mine blasting operations occurs throughout the PRB and has reached a USGS local magnitude rating of 3.6 in some instances (U.S. Geological Survey 2004).

4.2.2.2

Mineral Resources

Coal Most of the coal resources in the PRB are found in the Fort Union and Wasatch formations; however, coal layers in the Wasatch formation are thinner and less continuous than those in the Fort Union formation. Therefore, Wasatch coal is not as economically important as Fort Union

4-38

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences coal for either coal mining or CBNG development. Projected levels of coal production and disturbance under the lower and upper coal production scenarios are listed in tables 4-2 and 4-3. In the coal mine areas, the overburden and coal would be removed and the overburden replaced, resulting in a permanent change in the geology of the area and a permanent reduction of coal resources. Oil and Gas Drilling for conventional oil and gas in the Wyoming PRB has declined considerably in the last 15 years. However, as discussed above, increasing prices have led to increased interest in drilling, and there remains potential for finding and developing these resources in the deeper formations of the basin. Conversely, CBNG production increased rapidly from 1999 through 2002 but began to level off in 2003. Actual production rates for conventional oil and gas and CBNG in 2007 and projected rates for 2010, 2015, and 2020 are shown in tables 4-6 and 4-7. Oil and gas and related development accounts for most of the projected mineral disturbance outside of the coal mining areas. It generally would result in only shallow, discrete areas of surface disturbance, as discussed above. The acreages over which these impacts were occurring (as of 2003 and 2007) and are projected to occur in the years 2010, 2015, and 2020 are included in the totals in table 4-10. Other Mineral Resources As discussed in section 4.1.3.1, other mineral resources that are being mined in the Wyoming PRB include uranium, bentonite, clinker, and aggregate. Production of uranium and bentonite is not likely to be affected by development of coal or CBNG in the PRB. Aggregate and clinker production levels are more likely to be affected by other mineral development levels because these resources would be used in construction projects related to other mineral development.

4.2.2.3

Paleontology

Paleontological Resources are any fossilized remains, traces, or imprints of organisms, preserved in or on the earth’s crust, that are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth. Scientifically significant paleontological resources (including vertebrate, invertebrate, plant, and trace fossils) are known to occur in many of the geologic formations within the Wyoming PRB. These paleontological resources are documented in the scientific literature, in museum records, and are known by paleontologists and land managers familiar with the area. It has been determined that paleontological resources on federal land shall be managed and protected using scientific principles and expertise. Appropriate plans for the inventory, monitoring, and the scientific and educational use of these resources shall be developed, in accordance with applicable agency laws, regulations, and policies, These plans shall emphasize interagency coordination and collaborative efforts where possible with nonfederal partners, the scientific community, and the general public. Significant paleontological localities have been recorded on federal lands in some areas of the PRB. However, the absence of localities in the PRB does not always mean that scientifically significant fossils are not present, as much of the area within and surrounding the PRB has not been adequately explored for paleontological resources. As a result, development activities in

Final EIS, Hay Creek II Coal Lease Application

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4.0 Cumulative Environmental Consequences the Task 3 study area have the potential to adversely affect scientifically significant fossils, if they are present in or adjacent to disturbance areas. The potential for impacts to scientifically significant paleontological resources are predicted to be greatest in areas where PFYC Class 4 or 5 (High or Very High) formations are present (see section 3.3.3.1). In addition, in most cases those rock units with a PFYC of 3 (Moderate or Unknown) will require some management decision and action. Class 3 formations are fossiliferous units where fossil content varies in significance, abundance, and predictable occurrence; or of unknown fossil potential. Surface-disturbing activities will require sufficient assessment to determine whether significant paleontological resources occur in the area of a proposed action, and whether that action could affect the paleontological resources. The Wasatch Formation is the most geographically widespread unit exposed on the surface over most of the Task 3 study area. It is underlain by the Fort Union Formation. The fossiliferous (PFYC 5) Sundance, Morrison, Cloverly, and Lance formations crop out along the margins of the basin and occur at depth in the vicinity of the coal mines and CBNG activity in the eastern portion of the basin. Within the Task 3 study area, the highly fossiliferous (PFYC 5) White River Formation occurs only on Pumpkin Buttes in southwestern Campbell County. In recent years, the Wasatch Formation has been downgraded to a Class 3a formation (geologic units wi