Coal Diver Everything you wanted to know about coal, but were afraid to ask.

This is a text-only version of the document "Red Cliff Mine - Draft Environmental Impact Statement - Main Body - January 2009". To see the original version of the document click here.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary............................................................................................................................... ES-1 Chapter 1 Purpose and Need .......................................................................................................... 1-1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Chapter 2 Introduction.............................................................................................. 1-1 Background .............................................................................................. 1-2 Need for the Proposed Action.................................................................. 1-9 Decisions to Be Made ............................................................................ 1-10 Conformance With BLM Land Use Plan............................................... 1-10 Relationship to Statutes, Regulations, or Other Plans ........................... 1-11 Summary ................................................................................................ 1-14

Alternatives..................................................................................................................... 2-1 2.1 Alternatives Development Process .......................................................... 2-1 2.1.1 Agency Coordination ................................................................ 2-1 2.1.2 Project Component Alternatives ............................................... 2-1 Means of Transporting the Coal .............................................................. 2-2 2.2.1 Rail............................................................................................ 2-2 2.2.2 Truck ......................................................................................... 2-2 2.2.3 Slurry Pipeline .......................................................................... 2-4 2.2.4 Conveyor System ...................................................................... 2-5 2.2.5 No Transport of Coal – Use of the Coal at the Mine Site......... 2-5 Coal Transportation Routes and Delivery Locations............................... 2-5 2.3.1 Roads......................................................................................... 2-5 2.3.2 Railroad Alignments ................................................................. 2-5 2.3.3 Railroad/Highway Crossings .................................................... 2-6 2.3.4 Loadout Facility Location....................................................... 2-21 Means and Routes for Delivering the Required Electrical Power to the Mine Facilities.................................................................................. 2-22 2.4.1 Overhead Transmission Line .................................................. 2-22 2.4.2 Underground Transmission Line ............................................ 2-22 Water Delivery Routes........................................................................... 2-22 Waste Rock Disposal ............................................................................. 2-22 Future Coal Leasing Area ...................................................................... 2-23 Location of the Mine Portal ................................................................... 2-29 2.8.1 Alternative Mine Portal Location ........................................... 2-29 Methane Venting.................................................................................... 2-29 Secondary Screening.............................................................................. 2-35 2.10.1 Alternatives Considered Summary Tables.............................. 2-36 Alternatives Carried Forward for Consideration ................................... 2-36 2.11.1 Proponent Proposed Action .................................................... 2-36 2.11.2 Expand Coal Mining Production ............................................ 2-36 2.11.3 Railroad Spur .......................................................................... 2-38 2.11.4 Auxiliary Facilities.................................................................. 2-49 i

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2.3

2.4

2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 2.10 2.11

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2.11.5 New Mine Portals and Benches .............................................. 2-56 2.11.6 Associated Surface Facilities .................................................. 2-67 2.11.7 Grade-Separated Crossing of County Road M.8 .................... 2-76 2.11.8 Noiseless Crossings ................................................................ 2-76 2.11.9 Transmission Line Alternatives .............................................. 2-77 2.11.10 Summary of Alternatives ........................................................ 2-78 No Action Alternative............................................................................ 2-81

2.12 Chapter 3

Affected Environment .................................................................................................... 3-1 3.1 Human Environment and Resource Use .................................................. 3-1 3.1.1 Land Ownership and Use.......................................................... 3-1 3.1.2 Grazing...................................................................................... 3-5 3.1.3 Wilderness and Special Designations ....................................... 3-6 3.1.4 Recreation ................................................................................. 3-7 3.1.5 Socioeconomics ........................................................................ 3-8 3.1.6 Transportation ......................................................................... 3-21 3.1.7 Utilities.................................................................................... 3-21 3.1.8 Visual ...................................................................................... 3-22 3.1.9 Noise ....................................................................................... 3-24 3.1.10 Hazardous Materials ............................................................... 3-28 3.1.11 Health and Safety.................................................................... 3-33 Physical Resources................................................................................. 3-33 3.2.1 Air Quality .............................................................................. 3-33 3.2.2 Cultural Resources/Native American Religious Concerns ..... 3-43 3.2.3 Geology and Minerals............................................................. 3-47 3.2.4 Paleontology ........................................................................... 3-52 3.2.5 Soils......................................................................................... 3-59 3.2.6 Groundwater ........................................................................... 3-64 3.2.6.1 Conceptual Hydrogeologic Model ........................... 3-82 3.2.7 Surface Water.......................................................................... 3-94 3.2.8 Water Quality........................................................................ 3-100 3.2.8.1 Surface Water Classifications ................................ 3-110 3.2.8.2 Stormwater Quality Regulations Affecting the Project..................................................................... 3-112 3.2.9 Floodplains............................................................................ 3-113 3.2.10 Vegetation ............................................................................. 3-115 3.2.11 Wetlands and Riparian.......................................................... 3-120 3.2.12 Fish and Wildlife................................................................... 3-121 3.2.13 Threatened and Endangered Species .................................... 3-136

3.2

Chapter 4

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation ............................................................. 4-1 4.1 Human Environment and Resource Use .................................................. 4-5 4.1.1 Land Ownership and Use.......................................................... 4-5 4.1.2 Grazing.................................................................................... 4-12 4.1.3 Wilderness and Special Designations ..................................... 4-14 ii

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4.1.4 Recreation ............................................................................... 4-15 4.1.5 Socioeconomics ...................................................................... 4-18 4.1.6 Transportation ......................................................................... 4-29 4.1.7 Utilities.................................................................................... 4-32 4.1.8 Visual ...................................................................................... 4-34 4.1.9 Noise ....................................................................................... 4-46 4.1.10 Hazardous Materials ............................................................... 4-59 4.1.11 Health and Safety.................................................................... 4-61 Physical Resources................................................................................. 4-66 4.2.1 Air Quality .............................................................................. 4-66 4.2.2 Cultural Resources/Native American Religious Concerns ..... 4-78 4.2.3 Geology................................................................................... 4-80 4.2.4 Paleontology ........................................................................... 4-92 4.2.5 Soils......................................................................................... 4-93 4.2.6 Groundwater ......................................................................... 4-101 4.2.7 Surface Water........................................................................ 4-113 4.2.8 Floodplains............................................................................ 4-124 4.2.9 Vegetation ............................................................................. 4-126 4.2.10 Wetlands and Riparian.......................................................... 4-131 4.2.11 Fish and Wildlife................................................................... 4-132 4.2.12 Threatened and Endangered Species .................................... 4-138 Short Term Use vs. Long-Term Productivity ...................................... 4-147 Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitment of Resources.................... 4-149 4.4.1 Resources Not Requiring Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitment of Resources.................................................... 4-149 4.4.2 Irreversible and Irretrievable Resource Commitments ......... 4-149 Cumulative Impacts ............................................................................. 4-152 4.5.1 Methodology ......................................................................... 4-152 4.5.2 Actions Considered for the Cumulative Impact Analyses.... 4-152 4.5.2.1 Cumulative Impacts by Resource........................... 4-159 4.5.2.2 Summary of Impacts and Mitigation Measures ..... 4-173

4.2

4.3 4.4

4.5

Chapter 5

Public Involvement Summary........................................................................................ 5-1 5.1 Consultation and Coordination ................................................................ 5-1 5.1.1 Cooperating Agencies............................................................... 5-1 5.1.2 Agency Scoping Meeting.......................................................... 5-2 5.1.3 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Consultation ............................ 5-2 5.1.4 Section 106 Consultation .......................................................... 5-2 5.1.5 Section 404 Consultation .......................................................... 5-3 5.1.6 Native American Interests......................................................... 5-3 Public Involvement .................................................................................. 5-3 5.2.1 Scoping Period .......................................................................... 5-4 5.2.2 Scoping Notice.......................................................................... 5-4 5.2.3 Scoping Meeting ....................................................................... 5-5 5.2.4 Opportunities to Comment........................................................ 5-5 5.2.5 Future Public Involvement........................................................ 5-5 iii

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5.3 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Distribution List ....................................................................................... 5-6

List of Preparers ............................................................................................................. 6-1 References and Index .................................................................................................... 7-1

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List of Tables Table 1-1 Table 2-1 Table 2-2 Table 2-3 Table 2-4 Table 2-5 Table 2-6 Table 2-7 Table 2-8 Table 2-9 Table 2-10 Table 2-11 Table 2-12 Table 2-13 Table 2-14 Table 3-1 Table 3-2 Table 3-3 Table 3-4 Table 3-5 Table 3-6 Table 3-7 Table 3-8 Table 3-9 Table 3-10 Table 3-11 Table 3-12 Table 3-13 Table 3-14 List of Permits and Approvals Alternatives – Secondary Screening Alternatives Considered Summary Earth Moving Compliance Bridge Construction Culvert Installation Track Material Delivery Track Construction Portal Road and Benches Mine Access Road Material Mine Access Road Surfacing Mine Structures Transmission Line Lengths and Land Status Crossed Alternatives Examined in Detail Total and Per Capita Income in Mesa County Population of Mesa County and Incorporated Communities, 1980-2005 Selected Public Revenue Categories, Mesa and Garfield Counties, 1999-2003 Mesa County, Race/Ethnicity and Poverty Level Land Use Categories and Metrics for Transit Noise Impact Criteria Noise Levels Defining Impact for Transit Projects Average Annual Temperature and Precipitation Assumed Background Concentrations Natural and Existing Visibility 2006 Deposition at Gothic, Colorado Authorized Oil and Gas Leases Within the Existing Coal Lease Application Groundwater Data Near the Red Cliff Mine Groundwater Level Data Baseline Bedrock Groundwater Quality for Red Cliff Mine

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Table 3-15 Table 3-16 Table 3-17 Table 3-18 Table 3-19 Table 3-20 Table 3-21 Table 3-22 Table 3-23 Table 3-24 Table 3-25 Table 3-26 Table 3-27 Table 3-28 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 Table 4-11 Table 4-12 Table 4-13 Table 4-14 Summary of Overburden and Cameo Coal Zone Groundwater Quality from Dorchester Mine Monitoring Wells (1981 to 1983) Water Quality for McClane Canyon Mine Discharge Water (Underground Samples) Estimated Depth of Groundwater Table at Spring Locations Hydraulic Parameter Values Specified in MODFLOW Model Streams, Ditches, and Reservoirs Located within the Red Cliff Mine Project Area Summary BLM and USGS Water Quality Data from Gaging Stations Vegetation Associations Found within the Study Area Mesa and Garfield Counties Noxious Weeds List Raptor Species that May Be Present in the Project Area Raptor Nest-Site Locations Birds of Conservation Concern Likely to Occur in the Project Area Threatened and Endangered Species with the Potential to Occur within the Project Area White-Tailed Prairie Dog Colonies Federal and State Sensitive Species Railroad Spur, Water Pipeline, and Transmission Line Alternatives Temporary and Long Term Impacts to BLM-Managed Land and Private Land Transmission Line Impacts to Private Land Parcels Red Cliff Mine, Estimated Construction Employment Red Cliff Mine, Employment and Income Impacts Projected Criteria Pollutant Emission Increases for the Proposed Red Cliff Mine, (tpy) Colorado Coal Mine Production and Methane Emissions Projected Uncontrolled GHG Emissions for the Proposed Red Cliff Mine Estimated Controlled and Uncontrolled CO2e Emissions from Red Cliff Mine (tpy CO2e) Vegetation Associations Impacted by Proposed Action Historical Mine Permits – Mesa and Garfield Counties, Colorado 2007 Coal Production in Colorado Active Mine Permits – Mesa and Garfield Counties, Colorado Annual Applications for Permit to Drill (APDs) Summary of Impacts of Each Alternative Compared to the Proposed Action vi

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List of Figures Figure 1-1 Figure 1-2 Figure 1-3 Figure 2-1 Figure 2-2 Figure 2-3 Figure 2-4 Figure 2-5 Figure 2-6 Figure 2-7 Figure 2-8 Figure 2-9 Figure 2-10 Figure 2-11 Figure 2-12 Figure 2-13 Figure 2-14 Figure 2-15 Figure 2-16 Figure 2-17 Figure 2-18 Figure 3-1 Figure 3-2 Figure 3-3 Figure 3-4 Figure 3-5 Figure 3-6 Figure 3-7 Figure 3-8 Figure 3-9 Proposed Action Coal Lease Area Red Cliff Mine Project Location Rail Alignment Revisions and County Road 10 Realignment Proposed Rail Alignments County Road 10 Realignment County Road M.8 Realignment Proposed Loadout Facility Waste Rock Pile Overburden and Lease Alternatives Initial Mine Plan Grade Crossing Safety Devices Typical Cut & Fill Sections Typical Transmission Pole Configuration Proposed Mine Facilities, Map 1 of 5 Proposed Mine Facilities, Map 2 of 5 Proposed Mine Facilities, Map 3 of 5 Proposed Mine Facilities, Map 4 of 5 Proposed Mine Facilities, Map 5 of 5 Coal Operations Sequence Transmission Lines Alternatives Recreational Trails within the North Fruita Desert SRMA Socioeconomic Affected Community Mesa County Employment, 1980-2005 Population of Mesa County and Incorporated Communities, 1990-2005 County Road M.8/Railroad Grade Crossing Noise Sensitive Areas County Road 10/Railroad Grade Crossing Noise Sensitive Areas Air Quality Monitoring Station Locations Typical Geologic Cross Section Authorized Oil and Gas Leases within the Project Area vii

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Figure 3-10 Figure 3-11 Figure 3-12 Figure 3-13 Figure 3-14 Figure 3-15 Figure 3-16 Figure 3-17 Figure 3-18 Figure 3-19 Figure 3-20 Figure 3-21 Figure 3-22 Figure 3-23 Figure 3-24 Figure 3-25 Figure 4-1 Figure 4-2 Figure 4-3 Figure 4-4 Figure 4-5 Figure 4-6 Figure 4-7 Figure 4-8 Figure 4-9 Figure 4-10 Figure 4-11 Figure 4-12 Figure 4-13 Remnant Alluvial Fans at Red Cliff Mine Site Water Wells within the Project Area Spring Locations Groundwater Levels and Land Surface Topography Conceptual Hydrogeologic Model Satellite Image of the Study Area Potentiometric Surface Numerical Model Boundaries MODFLOW Simulation A Groundwater Levels and Flow Into McClane Canyon Mine Red Cliff Mine Jurisdictional Determination Drainage Crossings – South Red Cliff Mine Jurisdictional Determination Drainage Crossings – North USGS Stations USACE Wetlands Wildlife Observations Winter & Severe Winter Range Grand Buckwheat Habitat and Occurrences Photo Simulation Location Map Photo Simulation – Looking South at Railroad Alignment Crossing Under SH 139 Photo Simulation – Looking at Mine Site Photo Simulation – Looking North at Jeep Trail Alignment Crossing Over SH 139 County Road M.8/Railroad Grade Crossing Railroad Horn Noise Impact Areas County Road 10/Railroad Grade Crossing Railroad Horn Noise Impact Areas County Road M.8 Grade Crossing with Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control, Railroad Noise Impacts County Road 10 Grade Crossing with Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control, Railroad Noise Impacts Surficial Geology and Geologic Hazards, Red Cliff Mine Surficial Geology and Geologic Hazards, Red Cliff Mine Railroad Spur MODFLOW Simulation B Groundwater Levels and Flow into McClane Canyon Mine with Red Cliff Mine Extended to Existing Coal Lease Limit MODFLOW Simulation C Groundwater Levels and Flow into McClane Canyon Mine with Red Cliff Mine Extended into Eastern Part of Proposed Coal Lease Mine Plan and Overburden viii

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Figure 4-14 Counties with Active Coal Production in Colorado

List of Appendices Appendix A Appendix B Appendix C Appendix D Appendix E Appendix F Appendix G Appendix H Permit Applications Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures Mining Operations and Subsidence Subsidence Coordination and Consultations Soils Data Water Data and Information Air Quality Analysis Modeling Report

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Acronyms and Abbreviations
# H:# V °C °F µg µmhos µS AASHTO ACEC ACIA ADT AERMOD AFT AIRFA AMD APCD APD APE AQRV AQTSD ARPA AUM AVF BACT BLM BMP BOCC BOR Btu CAA CAAQS slope: horizontal to vertical degrees Celsius degrees Fahrenheit microgram micromhos microSiemen American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Areas of Critical Environmental Concern Arctic Climate Impact Assessment average daily traffic American Meteorological Society/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (AMS/EPA) Regulatory Model (atmospheric dispersion modeling system) Agricultural, Forestry, Transitional District American Indian Religious Freedom Act acid mine drainage Air Pollution Control Division Application for Permit to Drill Area of Potential Effects air quality-related values Air Quality Technical Support Document Archaeological Resources Protection Act animal unit month alluvial valley floor Best Available Control Technology U.S. Bureau of Land Management Best Management Practice birds of conservation concern U.S. Bureau of Reclamation British thermal unit Clean Air Act Colorado Ambient Air Quality Standards xi

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CAM CASTNET CCW CDMG CDOT CDOW CDPHE CDPS CDRMS CEQ CFC cfd CFR cfs cm CNHP CO CO2e COGCC COSTIS CR CRP CRS CSP CVCP DAT DAU dB dBA DEIS Dinosaur Diamond DNR CAM–Colorado, LLC Clean Air Status and Trends Network coal combustion waste Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Division of Minerals and Geology Colorado Department of Transportation Colorado Division of Wildlife Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Colorado Discharge Permitting System Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety Council on Environmental Quality chlorofluorocarbon cubic feet per day Code of Federal Regulations cubic feet per second centimeter Colorado Natural Heritage Program carbon monoxide carbon dioxide equivalent Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Colorado Storage Tank Information System County Road Conservation Reserve Program Colorado Revised Statutes Colorado State Parks Colorado Vegetation Classification Project deposition analysis threshold Data Analysis Unit decibel “A” weighted decibel scale Draft Environmental Impact Statement Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway Department of Natural Resources (Colorado) xii

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DOI DPM DRMS dv E. Coli ECSQG EDR EIS EO EPA EPCRA ESA FEMA FIRM FLAG FLPMA FRA ft ft
2

U.S. Department of the Interior diesel particulate matter Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety (Colorado) deciviews Escherichia coli Erosion Control and Stormwater Quality Guide Environmental Data Resources Environmental Impact Statement Executive Order U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986 Endangered Species Act Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Insurance Rate Maps Federal Land Managers’ AQRV Work Group Federal Land Policy Management Act Federal Railroad Administration foot or feet square feet Federal Transit Authority greenhouse gas geographic information system Game Management Unit gallons per minute global positioning system Grand Valley Power hectare Hydrologic Engineering Centers River Analysis System U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Interstate # Interior Board of Land Appeals identification xiii

FTA GHG GIS GMU gpm GPS GVP ha HEC-RAS HUD I-# IBLA ID

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IMPLAN IMPROVE in IPCC IRMA JD K kg km KOP kV L lb LBA LEDPA LOS m3 MBTA MCM MER mg mg/L MINER MLA MMcfd MOU mph MS4 MSDS MSHA msl N/A Input-Output Model for Planning Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments inch(es) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Intensive Recreation Management Area (Grand Valley) Jurisdictional Determination hydraulic conductivity kilogram kilometer Key Observation Point kilovolt liter pound Lease by Application Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative level of service cubic meter Migratory Bird Treaty Act McClane Canyon Mine Maximum Economic Recovery milligram milligrams per liter Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Mineral Leasing Act million cubic feet per day Memorandum of Understanding miles per hour Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System material safety data sheet Mine Safety and Health Administration mean sea level not applicable xiv

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N2O NAAQS NAGPRA NAID NCA NCB NDIS NEPA NESC NFDMP NFIP NHPA NIOSH NMA NO2 NOI NOx NPDES NRCS NRHP NSO NTU NWP OHV OS OSE OSHA OSM P.M. PFYC PM2.5 PM10 nitrous oxide National Ambient Air Quality Standards Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act not analyzed in detail National Conservation Area National Coal Board Natural Diversity Information Source National Environmental Policy Act National Electrical Safety Code North Fruita Desert Management Plan National Flood Insurance Program National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health National Mining Association nitrogen dioxide Notice of Intent nitrogen National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Natural Resources Conservation Service National Register of Historic Places no surface occupancy nephelometric turbidity unit Nationwide Permit off-highway vehicle open space Office of the State Engineer Occupational Safety and Health Administration Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement Principle Meridian Potential Fossil Yield Classification particulate matter less than 2.5 microns particulate matter less than 10 microns xv

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PPE PSD PUC PUD PUS PVC R2P2 RAMP RL RMF RMP ROD ROM ROW RPW RR RSF SH SHPO SIL SMCRA SO2 SPCC SRMA SSM su SWMP T#, R# TCP TDS TESS TMDL personal protective equipment Prevention of Significant Deterioration Public Utilities Commission Planned Unit Development potentially unstable slope polyvinyl chloride Resource Recovery Protection Permit Recreation Area Management Plan resource lands residential-multi-family Resource Management Plan Record of Decision run-of-mine right-of-way Relatively Permanent Waters Railroad residential-single-family State Highway State Historic Preservation Officer Significant Impact Level Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 sulfur dioxide Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Special Recreation Management Area supplemental safety measures standard unit Stormwater Management Plan Township #, Range # traditional cultural property total dissolved solids threatened, endangered, and sensitive species total maximum daily loading xvi

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TNW tpy TWA U.S. U.S.C. UPRR US # USACE USBEA USDA USDOI USDOT USFS USFWS USGS UST UTM VAM VOC vpd VRM WA WOUS WQCC WQCD WRCC WSA WSS yr Traditionally Navigable Waters tons per year time-weighted average United States United States Code Union Pacific Railroad U.S. Highway U.S. Army Corps of Engineers U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis U.S. Department of Agriculture U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Forest Service U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Geologic Survey underground storage tank Universal Transverse Mercator ventilation air methane volatile organic compound vehicles per day Visual Resource Management Wilderness Area Waters of the U.S. Water Quality Control Commission Water Quality Control Division Western Regional Climate Center Wilderness Study Area Web Soil Survey year

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Executive Summary
This Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) has been prepared to analyze the environmental consequences of the development of the Red Cliff Mine project as proposed by CAM–Colorado, LLC (CAM). The Red Cliff Mine would be a new underground coal mine located in northwestern Colorado. The right-of-way (ROW) and use of public lands are necessary to support expansion of the CAM mining operation. This DEIS is a site-specific analysis of potential impacts that could result from the implementation of a Proposed Action or alternatives to the Proposed Action. Impacts on private as well as federal lands are disclosed and analyzed. The need to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was triggered when CAM submitted an Application for Transmission and Utility Systems and Facilities on Federal Lands on September 27, 2005 for railroad facilities. Two additional connected actions will also be analyzed in the EIS. CAM submitted a Lease by Application (LBA) to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to lease federal coal on approximately 11,660 acres adjacent to CAM’s existing leases. The LBA (COC 70538) is for underground mining. Through a tract delineation process BLM proposes to modify the LBA to include approximately 14,466 acres. BLM determined that, if this coal were to be leased, it would be via a competitive bid process. Grand Valley Power (GVP) submitted a separate Application for Transmission and Utility Systems and Facilities on Federal Lands to BLM, dated June 8, 2007, to construct an electric transmission line for the Red Cliff Mine power requirements. BLM is required to respond to these applications in accordance with 43 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 2802.4. BLM must approve, approve with conditions, or deny the ROW grant for the mine and aboveground facilities on federal lands and the ROW grant for the transmission line on federal lands. Other agencies and government entities have been invited to participate in the NEPA process as cooperating agencies. These include: • • • • • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement (OSM) Colorado Department of Natural Resources - Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety (DRMS), and Division of Wildlife (CDOW) Mesa County Garfield County

This EIS analyzes the proposed 30 year life of the Red Cliff Mine; however, of necessity, it does so using currently available information. Several additional mine permit applications would be required during the life of the mine, and each would be subjected to the environmental review and approval process, as required by law. This EIS only contains detailed information from the mine permit application for CAM’s existing coal lease. Therefore, the environmental impacts of mining within the existing lease area are addressed with more certainty than is possible for the proposed LBA and future lease areas, for which mine permit applications have not yet been prepared. If CAM is successful in acquiring the LBA, they would need to submit a mine permit application to DRMS and OSM. ES-1

Executive Summary

OSM would determine if they would prepare a supplemental NEPA document (either an environmental assessment or an EIS) to accompany their recommendation to the Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals for approval or disapproval of the mine permit. Concurrently with OSM’s mine permit application review, the DRMS would also conduct their review and approval process.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The proposed Red Cliff Mine project area is located approximately 11 miles north of the towns of Mack and Loma, Colorado, and 1.5 miles east of Colorado State Highway (SH) 139. CAM currently mines approximately 280,000 tons of coal per year from the underground McClane Canyon Mine (MCM), located 3 miles north of the proposed Red Cliff Mine. The MCM coal provides resources for Xcel Energy’s Cameo Power plant east of Grand Junction. CAM plans to continue to deliver coal to the power plant by truck as long as the plant continues operation and CAM has the supply contract, averaging 230 truckloads per week. CAM plans to operate MCM as long as the Cameo Power plant is operational and/or until the economic recovery of coal is no longer feasible. If the Cameo Power plant is shut down while economically recoverable coal is still available at the MCM, CAM may truck coal from MCM to the Red Cliff Mine loadout. When the MCM is shut down, trucks would originate from the Red Cliff Mine. With increased production and the railroad connection, coal produced from the Red Cliff Mine could be transported (sold) to power plants in the eastern and western portions of the country. The clean (washed) coal is high-quality, low-sulfur coal with a heating value of 11,000 to 11,500 British thermal units (Btu). For the Red Cliff Mine, CAM is proposing to construct new mine entries (portals) and associated facilities to extract low-sulfur coal from existing Federal Coal Leases C 0125515, C 0125516, and C 0125439 (defined collectively as logical mining unit COC-57198); potential new federal coal leases; and a small amount of private coal. In addition to locating facilities on the existing and potential new coal leases, CAM would locate surface facilities on BLM lands within the boundaries of the proposed ROW and Land Use Application area (approximately 1,140 acres). These facilities would include a waste rock disposal area, railroad loop, unit train loadout, and a conveyor system to move the coal and waste rock. County Road (CR) X (Mitchell Road or Power Line Road) would be upgraded to serve as the mine access road from SH 139. Other facility components are listed in the following text. The railroad would be located on BLM and private lands, with the railroad connecting to the existing Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) near Mack, Colorado. The proposed railroad would traverse approximately 9.5 miles of BLM land, including one crossing of SH 139 and approximately 5 miles of private land. The proposed railroad would also cross CR M.8, CR T, and CR 10. Electric power is needed at the mine to run the underground mining machinery, the conveyor system, and the other mine support facilities. CAM would contract with GVP, the local utility, to supply the necessary electric power. GVP would need to construct a new 69 kilovolt (kV) transmission line from the Uintah Substation near Fruita to the mine to supply this power. The transmission line would be approximately 14 miles long, with approximately 7 miles on federally managed lands and 7 miles on private land.

ES-2

Executive Summary
Underground mining would be conducted 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and 365 days per year by room and pillar and longwall mining techniques. The production from the Red Cliff Mine would be up to 8,000,000 tons per year (tpy) of clean coal, with an estimated life of mine of 30 years. CAM is proposing to load the coal onto rail cars at the mine site and ship it to coal consumers via the railroad. The production rate at the mine would be controlled by market conditions. Construction of the facilities associated with the Red Cliff Mine would take approximately two years to construct and would cost approximately $160 million (2006 dollars). Proposed facilities associated with the mine include: • • • • • • • • • • • Portal conveyor transfer buildings Fuel oil storage/fueling stations Bathhouse/office building Equipment shop Warehouse Washbay Covered storage Sewage treatment plant Water tank Water treatment building Mine vent fan • • • • • • • • • • • Transmission line Non-coal waste storage Rock dust storage Pump house Railroad Maintenance road Water pipeline and diversion Coal storage piles Unit train loadout Coal preparation plant Mine access roads

PURPOSE AND NEED
The basic purpose of this project is to mine, transport, and offer coal for sale at competitive prices to help supply the energy needs of the U.S. The purpose of the proposed Red Cliff Mine project is to provide better access to CAM’s existing coal leases and provide access to the adjacent potential federal coal leases. CAM proposes to utilize public and private lands to effectively and efficiently mine the coal and transport it to market. Current facilities at the MCM are not adequate for this purpose. The BLM recognizes the development of coal reserves as important to both the local economy and the nation. This project would be consistent with the goals of the Grand Junction Resource Area (now Field Office) Resource Management Plan (RMP) (BLM 1987) as well as the 2001 National Energy Policy and the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The project would encourage and facilitate meeting the country’s energy needs from a domestic source; and it would help meet the current and future domestic market demand for low-sulfur coal, thereby supporting clean coal initiatives. Integral to the development of the coal reserves is the need to transport the coal to market. Currently in the western U.S., the vast majority of coal is transported by rail.

ALTERNATIVES
Alternatives are developed based on the applicant’s Proposed Action. The objective is to determine if there are reasonable alternatives that meet the purpose and need for the project and that could implement the Proposed Action in a less environmentally damaging manner. Alternatives are also developed in response to input received from public and agency scoping. ES-3

Executive Summary

Alternatives that have no obvious advantages, are not practicable, or are unreasonable from a development or cost basis are not carried through the EIS for detailed study. The Proposed Action includes a number of components/facilities (Section 1.2, Background) required to meet the purpose of mining and selling coal. Alternatives to individual project components were developed to determine if they could be used to meet the purpose and need, were practical and feasible, and reduced environmental impacts and/or addressed public and agency concerns. Some of the component alternatives examined were suggested during public scoping for the project (BLM 2006). A wide range and variety of alternatives were examined, with a focus on the following issues: • • • • • • • Means of transporting the coal Coal transportation routes and delivery locations Means and routes for delivering the required electrical power to the mine facilities Sources and routes for delivering the water to the mine facilities Means or locations for disposing of waste rock Methods of venting methane gas Future coal lease area

Numerous alternatives for each of these issues were initially examined. Most were rejected as they did not meet purpose and need, had no obvious advantages, had greater environmental impacts, or were not practicable from a developmental or cost basis. All alternatives initially considered are included in Table 2-2, Alternatives Considered Summary. Some alternatives were considered in greater detail and are included in Table 2-1, Alternatives – Secondary Screening. Additionally, the Proposed Action as originally submitted to the BLM was modified during the data collection and analysis, in response to public and agency comments and to reduce environmental impacts. These changes are included in the Proposed Action; the original alternatives are not being considered further. NEPA also requires examination of the No Action Alternative, even though it would not meet the project’s purpose and need. The following alternatives are considered in this DEIS. The DEIS does not identify a preferred alternative at this time. ALTERNATIVES EXAMINED IN DETAIL
Project Components Means of transporting coal Coal transportation routes and delivery locations • Alternatives Examined in Detail Proposed Action Proposed Action with modifications • • Electrical power transmission • • • • Sources and routes of water supply Means/locations of waste rock (gob) disposal CR M.8 grade separation* Noiseless crossings* Alternative A Alternative B Alternative C

Proposed Action

Proposed Action Proposed Action with modifications

ES-4

Executive Summary
ALTERNATIVES EXAMINED IN DETAIL
Project Components Methane venting Coal lease area
Note: * = Alternatives that do not affect BLM-managed lands.

Alternatives Examined in Detail Proposed Action (including adaptive management strategy) Proposed BLM Action (modification of lease area from 11,660 acres to 14,466 acres)

Means of Transporting Coal Rail
Moving the coal by rail is the most efficient means of transporting coal due to the extensive volume and capacity of rail cars. Approximately 8,000,000 tons would be moved from the Red Cliff Mine annually. Significant mining of the coal reserves in the area has not occurred because of the remote location and difficulties in getting the coal to market. A railroad spur would be able to carry the 8,000,000 tpy. There would be an average of four trains per day, two full and two empty. Each rail car would carry approximately 100 to 110 tons of coal, and each train would consist of between 100 and 120 rail cars with three, four, or five locomotives.

Coal Transportation Routes and Delivery Locations Proposed Action with Modifications
A railroad spur is proposed to connect the Red Cliff Mine to the railroad main line near Mack, Colorado, to cost-effectively transport coal into the market. The proposed railroad spur would traverse approximately 9.5 miles of BLM land and approximately 5 miles of private land. The railroad would cross the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation- (BOR) and BLM-administered lands, which are outside of the proposed coal lease area and therefore require ROW approval on these federal lands. It is proposed to load the coal onto rail cars at the mine site and transport the coal via the railroad spur to the main rail line connection. The loadout would be comprised of a coal stockpile, reclaim tunnel, conveyor belt(s), and loadout tower. Ethylene glycol would be applied to the coal and coal cars to minimize freezing during winter months. These products are stored in tanks located near the loadout structure. There would be an average of four trains per day (two full and two empty) at a maximum production rate of 8,000,000 tpy, traveling at a speed of approximately 20 miles per hour (mph) full and 25 mph empty. Trains would typically be 6,500 to 7,700 feet in length. The trains would cross public roads in four locations. Proposed crossings include a gradeseparated crossing for SH 139 and at-grade crossings for CR 10, CR T, and CR M.8. The train would cross through these intersections a maximum of four times per day and would not stop on the track as they cross the county roads. The amount of time that the trains would block the county roads would vary according to speed, number of cars in the train, and whether the southbound loaded trains would need to stop between CR 10 and CR M.8 for mainline access. Estimates are that the trains would block CR M.8 for 5.5 to 6.5 minutes and would block CR 10 for 6.5 to 7.0 minutes.

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Executive Summary

The at-grade crossings have been designed to provide the maximum sight distance possible. The average vehicle volume on these highways is low, and sight distance is generally good. Proposed installation of crossing warning devices and two-quadrant gate systems with pavement markings at the CR 10 and CR M.8 crossings would provide additional safety measures. Figure 2-9, Grade Crossing Safety Devices, depicts typical grade crossing safety devices to be installed. Active warning devices that would give advanced warning of “train on track” would be installed along the county roads before the crossings. A “wye” would be constructed to link the railroad spur with the main line at Mack to allow uninterrupted train flow in all directions. To improve the sight distance at the CR 10 crossing, CAM has worked with Mesa County to realign CR 10 (Figure 2-3, County Road 10 Realignment). This realignment would provide a longer time for vehicular traffic to see the crossing and allow CR 10 to cross the tracks at an angle closer to 90 degrees. This alternative is the most practical from several standpoints. Topographically, it does not have more than a 2-percent grade and minimizes the necessity for cut and fill. This alternative has purposefully reduced impacts on wetlands by avoiding 3 acres of wetlands. Further description of this alignment and the revisions made to the originally proposed alignment are included in the Proposed Action (Section 2.11.1, Proponent Proposed Action) and shown on Figure 1-1, Proposed Action.

County Road M.8 Grade Separation
In response to concerns raised by the public and Mesa County, an alternative crossing of the rail alignment at CR M.8 will be examined. This alternative would include construction of a bridge over the rail route and a new bridge over Mack Wash (Figure 2-4, County Road M.8 Realignment). Crossing the rail line would require raising the grade of CR M.8 a maximum of 35 feet above the existing grade. Due to the short distance between the rail line crossing and Mack Wash (400 feet), the grade at the wash crossing would also have to be raised, requiring a new bridge or concrete box in this location as well. Approximately 175,000 cubic yards of fill would be required for this alternative, as well as a wider footprint to accommodate the raised grade.

Noiseless Grade Crossing Option
This alternative would consist of constructing special at-grade railroad crossings of CR M.8 and CR 10. Construction of these noiseless crossings means that the train would not be required to sound a horn in normal operating conditions. A noiseless crossing is actually a quiet zone established per 49 CFR Part 222, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Train Horn Rule. There are two ways to establish a quiet zone with Supplemental Safety Measures (SSMs). FRA needs to be notified of these quiet zones; FRA will not re-visit the quiet zone to monitor compliance. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) must grant the change to the crossings in a quiet zone. The quiet zone may have only one crossing (as in this case), but the crossing must be at least 0.5 mile in length. The crossing equipment must also include constant warning time (detects train speed and lowers the gate arms so that 20 seconds of gate down time exists before the train enters the crossing), power out indicator, and a lighted “X” sign to indicate to the train that the crossing is a quiet zone crossing. The noiseless crossing could include both CR 10 and CR M.8, or just CR 10 if the CR M.8 grade-separated crossing alternative is selected. ES-6

Executive Summary
The two methods for SSMs are: • • Standard crossing gate system with a median barrier (at least 6-inch-high curbs) extending at least 100 feet on each side of the crossing. Four-quadrant gates with standard railroad gate system but with four gate arms. Two of the gate arms operate in the standard manner. The two additional gate arms are lowered a few seconds after the usual gate arm to prevent trapping a car between the gates.

The first method is preferred, as it has proved to be a safer alternative. With the four-quadrant gate configuration, motorists are still able to drive around the first gates in an attempt to beat the delayed second arm before it gets all the way down. The regulations also allow the train crew to sound the horn in a quiet zone in an emergency. The train crew is responsible for determining what constitutes an emergency. Problem drivers, trespassers, and animals are examples of emergency situations during which the horn may be sounded.

Electrical Power Transmission Proposed Action
GVP is the local provider of electricity and electrical transmission services, and CAM asked GVP to provide electrical services. GVP determined that existing transmission lines in the area of the Red Cliff Mine are not adequate to meet the needs of the proposed Red Cliff Mine. With input from CAM, GVP evaluated electrical needs, substation capacities, and transmission line alignments for the proposed project and determined that the power could best be supplied from the Xcel Energy Uintah Substation at Fruita. A 69kV transmission line would be required to supply the required power. Figure 2-11, Typical Transmission Pole Configuration, depicts typical pole and conductor facilities for a 69kV transmission line. To reach the Red Cliff Mine, a portion of the transmission line would cross BLM-managed lands. A ROW application for the transmission line has been submitted to BLM. The GVP-preferred alignment is shown in Figure 1-1, Proposed Action. The transmission line would be dedicated to supplying power to the Red Cliff Mine; there would be no additional users along the line. The proposed line would be designed for an underbuild distribution circuit (12kV) from the Uintah substation to a point just south of the Highline Canal. This circuit would distribute electrical power to local businesses and residents. Figure 2-11 depicts a typical pole and conductor facility for the underbuild section. There would be no underbuild circuit north of the Highline Canal on BLM-managed lands. The primary substation would be constructed at the end of the alignment shown in Figure 1-1. A substation contains electrical transformers to reduce the line power to a suitable voltage. Highvoltage overhead transmission lines would be extended from the primary substation to pad or pole mounted transformers located around the site as necessary to provide electrical power to the mine facilities.

Transmission Line Alternatives
Three alternatives have been developed in response to potential environmental, access, and land ownership issues. These alternatives are shown on Figure 2-18, Transmission Line Alternatives. All alternatives share the same termini; beginning at the Xcel Uintah substation and ending at the ES-7

Executive Summary

proposed substation. Alternatives A and B share a common route from the Uintah substation along CR 15, CR M, and CR 16 to just north of the Highline Canal; and along the existing pipeline/transmission line in Sections 15, 16, 22, 23, and 26, Township 8 South, Range 102 West. Alternative C shares a route with the Proposed Action from the substation along CR 15, CR M, and CR 14 to just north of the Highline Canal. All land south of the Highline Canal is private, but the transmission line would be constructed in existing utilities easements. North of the Highline Canal, land status is mixed BLM and private; the only easements are along the existing transmission line and pipeline referenced previously. Alternative A follows CR 16 from north of the Highline Canal to the existing transmission line/pipeline easement in Section 26. This provides easy access but requires additional angle (turning) structures. Mesa County does not have access easements through the private land along CR 16 north of the Highline Canal. Alternative B follows section and property lines to minimize private land crossings and the need to obtain access easements. Access would be more overland but would follow some existing disturbance and access roads. The line would be harder to access in inclement weather. The alternative crosses three BLM isolated parcels of land; that is, BLM-managed lands surrounded by private land. Alternative C from the Highline Canal crosses BLM lands to connect with the proposed rail corridor approximately 1,500 feet east of SH 139. This alternative avoids private lands and consolidates railroad, water pipeline, and transmission line disturbance and access for approximately 3.4 miles. Access between the Highline Canal and the rail corridor would be a mix of existing roads/two-tracks and overland travel.

Sources and Routes of Water Supply Proposed Action
Adequate water resources are not available at the Red Cliff Mine site, so water must be piped to the mining operation. CAM has a 3.0 cubic foot per second absolute water right on Mack Wash, near Mack (Case No. 03CW228). A portion of those waters, totaling approximately 700 acre– feet per year (1.0 cubic feet per second [cfs]), would be piped to the Red Cliff Mine site for use during mining operations. A water-diversion structure would be constructed in-channel on the west bank of Mack Wash, just north of the CR M.8 bridge. The pump and waterline system would have a capacity of approximately 750 gallons per minute (gpm). The diversion/pump would be connected to a meter and water pipeline. The pipeline would be constructed of steel and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and would be buried along the railroad spur alignment. It would extend to a water tank above the mine portals. This pipeline would supply all of the water needs for the mine operation and would be pumping water more or less continuously throughout the year. The system would remain in operation for the life of the mine. Best Management Practices (BMPs) would be utilized during construction to minimize impacts to in-channel and riparian habitat and to prevent bank degradation. CAM would obtain a permit from the USACE prior to constructing the diversion structure in Mack Wash. A water tank would be located at the Red Cliff Mine site above the portal level. The water tank would be a fabricated steel tank constructed on a concrete or oiled-sand base. The tank would be approximately 52 feet in diameter and 32 feet high, providing a capacity of approximately 500,000 gallons. A smaller water tank would also be constructed near the coal preparation plant. ES-8

Executive Summary
Means/Locations of Waste Rock (Gob) Disposal Proposed Action with Modifications
A waste rock disposal area encompassing approximately 190 acres was originally proposed. During agency scoping, the CDOW expressed concern regarding impact to the sage-covered terraces at the south end of the disposal area. To lessen the impact to this important wildlife habitat, this feature was redesigned to impact fewer acres of this habitat. Figure 2-6, Waste Rock Pile, shows both the original area and the redesigned waste rock pile.

Methane Venting Proposed Action
Ventilation air systems are used in underground mines to maintain low concentration levels of methane during mining operations, as methane is combustible at concentrations between 5 percent and 15 percent. As a safety precaution, ventilation systems are required in mines that have any detectable levels of methane. Coal mine methane (CMM) degasification systems are used to supplement mine ventilation air systems to ensure that methane in underground mines remains within safe concentration levels. While degasification systems are primarily used for safety reasons, they can also be used to recover methane to be utilized as an energy resource. The Proposed Action is to vent methane using a ventilation fan and 2 to 3 methane degasification wells per longwall panel. Methods of reducing methane emissions will be examined and implemented using an adaptive management strategy to determine the technical, economical, and legal feasibility. A mine ventilation fan and steel duct work would be located at the return entry on the portal level. The ventilation fan is approximately 8-feet in diameter. It will likely be necessary to install two or three methane degasification wells in each longwall panel. Methane degasification wells are drilled from the surface in advance of longwall mining. As the longwall panel advances, the methane wells begin to function. After the longwall panel is complete and sealed the methane wells are turned off and sealed. The location of the methane wells and the timing of drilling are unknown at this time. Methane well placement would be based on need as established by the conditions in the mine as well as surface conditions and will be designed site-specifically as the project progresses. On their existing leases, CAM has agreed to pursue an adaptive management strategy with BLM. BLM would propose a similar strategy with any future lessee. 43 CFR 46 contains the U.S. Department of Interior’s regulations for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act. These regulations were amended effective November 14, 2008 to allow for the incorporation of adaptive management strategies into alternatives, including the Proposed Action. An adaptive management process will be utilized to evaluate the feasibility of mitigating methane from the ventilation air fans and any methane degasification wells for the Red Cliff Mine. Upon approval of the mine plan, the mine operator will have one (1) year to identify existing methane recovery projects and pilot ventilation air methane (VAM) projects that may be applicable to this project. At the end of the one (1) year time period, the mine operator will ES-9

Executive Summary

submit a report outlining the technical and economic feasibility of mitigating and/or capturing and using the methane gas being vented at these projects. Annually thereafter, the mine operator shall provide BLM with summaries on the status of these projects and any mitigation and/or capture methods implemented, including the effectiveness of methane capture, the percent of methane captured, any operational difficulties, and findings regarding suitability of the projects’ costs and adaptability. The annual reports must also outline any legal obstacles precluding implementation of any methane mitigation and/or capture. If methane mitigation and/or capture is deemed technically, economically, and legally feasible, the mine operator and BLM will develop a schedule for implementation.

Coal Lease Area
In selecting a lease area, BLM must consider the feasibility of mining the coal using modern mining techniques and maximizing the recovery of public resources. Currently, it is feasible to mine this coal using only underground mining methods. Surface mining is not an option due to the ratio of the amount of recoverable coal to the depth of the overburden. Using modern underground mining techniques, it is generally not feasible to recover coal with overburdens in excess of 2,000 feet.

Lease Area BLM Proposed Action
The future lease area is approximately 23,000 acres in size and includes the LBA area proposed by CAM. The overburden cutoff depth is 2,000 feet, and the coal could feasibly be mined from the proposed Red Cliff Mine entrance (portals).

IMPACTS AND MITIGATION
In compliance with NEPA, the existing conditions of the human and natural environment that could be impacted, beneficially or adversely, by the Proposed Action and alternatives were identified and analyzed. In addition, cumulative impacts from other projects or activities in the past, present, or reasonably foreseeable future projects were considered. Energy development has recently experienced rapid growth in the west due to market conditions and national energy policy. Due to the abundance of natural gas and mineral resources in northwest Colorado, this area has experienced unprecedented growth in resource extraction. Actions considered for the cumulative impact analysis are those actions related to mining and energy development in northwest Colorado, and effects of projected population growth on residential and commercial development and traffic increases. Certain resources, such as socioeconomics, further define the analysis area as Mesa and Garfield counties, where the mine and facilities will be located. Impacts from the alternatives have been compared to the Proposed Action in Table 2-2, Alternatives Considered Summary. This table can be used to compare impacts and determine which resources should be examined as a preferred alternative is selected. For the following resources, there is no substantive difference between the alternative and the Proposed Action: grazing, utilities, hazardous materials, health and safety, air quality, cultural resources, paleontology, geology, and groundwater. For the remaining resources, the following table shows which resources are discriminators for each alternative, as compared with the Proposed Action. An “X” in the box indicates that impacts for this resource are different from those of the Proposed Action; a blank box means that ES-10

Executive Summary
the impact is not substantively different from the Proposed Action. The “greater than” (>) symbol (shown in blue) indicates that the impacts from the alternative to the resource are greater than the Proposed Action. The “less than” (<) symbol (shown in orange) indicates that the impacts from the alternative to the resource are less than the Proposed Action. Generally, the impacts assessed in the table do not include temporary impacts associated with construction. SUMMARY OF DISCRIMINATOR RESOURCES
Resource Land Ownership and Use Recreation Socioeconomics Transportation* Visual Noise Soils Surface Water Floodplains Vegetation Wetlands and Riparian Fish and Wildlife Threatened, Endangered, and Special Status Species Grade Separated Crossing at CR M.8 X>   Alternative Noiseless Crossings T-line Alt. A X>     X>   X>  X> X>

Ambient +15 >58 >58 >58 >59 >59 >59 >59 >59 >60 >60 >60 >61 No Impact Ambient +20 >63 >63 >63 >64 >64 >64 >64 >64 >65 >65 >65 >66

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3.1.9 – Noise

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

Table 3-6 NOISE LEVELS DEFINING IMPACT FOR TRANSIT PROJECTS
Existing Noise Exposure* Leq(h) or Ldn (dBA) 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 >77 Project Noise Impact Exposure, * Category 1 or 2 Sites No Impact <56 <56 <57 <57 <58 <58 <59 <59 <60 <61 <61 <62 <63 <63 <64 <65 <66 <66 <66 <66 <66 <66 <66 <66 Moderate Impact 56-61 56-62 57-62 57-62 58-63 58-63 59-64 59-64 60-65 61-65 61-66 62-67 63-67 63-68 64-69 65-69 66-70 66-71 66-71 66-72 66-73 66-74 66-74 66-75 Severe Impact >61 >62 >62 >62 >63 >63 >64 >64 >65 >65 >66 >67 >67 >68 >69 >69 >70 >71 >71 >72 >73 >74 >74 >75 No Impact <61 <61 <62 <62 <63 <63 <64 <64 <65 <66 <66 <67 <68 <68 <69 <70 <71 <71 <71 <71 <71 <71 <71 <71 Leq(h) or Ldn(dBA) Category 3 Sites Moderate Impact 61-66 61-67 62-67 62-67 63-68 63-68 64-69 64-69 65-70 66-70 66-71 67-72 68-72 68-73 69-74 70-74 71-75 71-76 71-76 71-77 71-78 71-79 71-79 71-80 Severe Impact >66 >67 >67 >67 >68 >68 >69 >69 >70 >70 >71 >72 >72 >73 >74 >74 >75 >76 >76 >77 >78 >79 >79 >80

Source: FTA 2006. Notes: *Ldn is used for land use where nighttime sensitivity is a factor; Leq during the hour of maximum transit noise exposure is used for land use involving only daytime activities. > = greater than < = less than dBA = “A” weighted decibel scale

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3.1.10 – Hazardous Materials

CHAPTERTHREE
3.1.10 Hazardous Materials

Affected Environment

Potential sources of hazardous or solid waste materials in the project area would include spilling, leaking, or dumping of hazardous substances, petroleum products, and/or solid waste associated with coal exploration and development or agricultural or livestock activities. No such hazardous materials are known to be present on the proposed Red Cliff Mine site at this time. Once the coal mine is in production, petroleum products and solvents would be used as part of general operations. Use of these products would comply with all applicable state and federal regulations, as described in this section. Hazardous wastes produced by current mining activities at the MCM farther north of the Red Cliff Mine site are handled in compliance 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, Department of Transportation, and the federal Clean Air Act (CAA). Mining operations must also comply with all state rules and regulations relating to hazardous material reporting, transportation, management, and disposal. In Colorado, the Colorado DNR, Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) has dual jurisdiction with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for the disposal of coal combustion waste (CCW) in mines. In addition, CCW is defined as industrial solid waste, and its disposal in a mine requires a solid waste permit issued by local government entity under the authority of the CDPHE. Disposal requirements for waste rock/ore derived for coal mining operations are based on whether the waste material is determined to be acid-forming and/or toxic-forming. If the material is determined to be non-acid-forming or non-toxic-forming, there are generally no restrictions on disposal. The material may be stockpiled within the permit area or disposed of per the Disposal of Excess Spoil, Coal Mine Waste Bank, or Coal Mine Waste Regulations (2 CCR 407-2.2.04.09 – 407-2.2.04.11). Acid-forming and toxic-forming waste material must be disposed of in accordance with 2 CCR 407-2.4.05.8 (Acid-forming and Toxic-forming Spoil), 2 CCR 407-2.4.10.1 (Coal Mine Waste Banks General Requirements), and 2 CCR 407-2.4.14.3 (Covering Coal and Acid- and Toxic-Forming Materials). A search of available environmental records was conducted by Environmental Data Resources, Inc. (EDR) for the project area on September 5, 2007. The EDR report presents the results of a search of federal and state databases that includes addresses of sites with known underground storage tanks (USTs); landfills; hazardous waste generation; and subsurface contamination in the surrounding area up to within one mile of the center of the MCM site. No hazardous material findings were identified in this report (EDR 2007). There is a gas station with two gas tanks and one diesel storage tank currently in use near the proposed railroad spur in the town of Mack (COSTIS 2007). Due to poor or inadequate address information, EDR is not always able to map all sites that have environmental concerns. These listed but unmapped properties are referred to as orphan sites. All orphan sites identified in the EDR report were located around the town of DeBeque, outside the project area.

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3.1.11 – Health and Safety

CHAPTERTHREE
3.1.11 Health and Safety

Affected Environment

Existing health and safety concerns in and near the Red Cliff Mine project include hazards associated with coal mine exploration and operations. Workers are generally exposed to occupational hazards associated with underground coal mine operations. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) administers the federal Mine Safety and Health Act. The act requires all mines to be registered with MSHA and for MSHA inspectors to inspect each surface mine at least twice a year and each underground mine at least four times a year (seasonal or intermittent operations are inspected less frequently). Inspections determine whether there is compliance with health and safety standards or with any citation, order, or decision issued under the Mine Act, and whether an imminent danger exists. If violations of safety or health standards are found, inspectors will issue citations to the mine operators (MSHA 2007). MSHA’s Coal Mine Safety and Health Division enforces the law and the regulations at underground and surface coal mines. Health and safety regulations developed and enforced by MSHA cover numerous hazards, including those associated with: • • • • • • • • Exposure to respirable dust, airborne contaminants, and noise Design, operation, and maintenance requirements for mechanical equipment, including mobile equipment Roof falls, and rib and face rolls Flammable, explosive, and noxious gases and dust and smoke Electrical circuits and equipment Fires Hoisting Access and egress

Existing risks within the project area also include those associated with vehicle travel on improved and unimproved county roads, BLM and mine access roads, firearm accidents, natural events such as flash floods, landslides, earthquakes, and range fires. Biological hazards in the area are associated with ticks; spiders; mosquitoes; snakes; and small biting animals, including domestic animals.

3.2

PHYSICAL RESOURCES

3.2.1 Air Quality Affected Environment
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. In the mountainous western U.S., topography is particularly important in channeling pollutants along valleys, creating upslope and downslope circulation that entrain airborne pollutants and blocking the flow of pollutants toward certain 3-33

3.2.1 – Air Quality

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

areas. In general, local effects are superimposed on the general synoptic weather regime and are most important when the large-scale wind flow is weak.

Topography
The project area is located along the Book Cliffs, which form the northern boundary of the Grand Valley in western Colorado. Typical elevations in the region range from approximately 4,400 feet along the valley floor to 7,300 feet on the plateau, with rapid relief along the Book Cliffs. The mine entries would be located at an elevation of approximately 6,400 feet, while the coal preparation plant, train loadout, and other facilities would be located at an elevation of approximately 5,400 feet. The mining operations would be bracketed by two significant drainages: East Salt Creek to the west and Big Salt Wash to the east. These complex terrain features would significantly influence local-scale air flow and pollutant transport.

Climate and Meteorology
The project area is characterized by dry, desert-like, mountainous terrain vegetated by sagebrush or piñon-juniper woodland at lower elevations, and sparse forests vegetated by aspen, mahogany, oak brush, and service berry at higher elevations. The area is generally subject to frontal, convectional, and monsoonal storm patterns. Weather comes predominantly from the west and southwest. Surface winds typically move up valley slopes during the day and down the slopes at night. Representative temperature and precipitation data were obtained for the region from the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC 2007). However, because elevation, slope, and aspect affect precipitation and temperatures, the complex terrain results in considerable climatic variability. In the lower elevations of the Grand Valley, precipitation is typically distributed throughout the year at between 0.5 and 1.0 inch per month, with mid-winter receiving the lowest average amounts and spring and fall the highest levels. Total annual rainfall in the valley is usually less than 10 inches. Annual average temperatures typically range from the mid-30s to mid-60s. In the higher elevations, temperatures tend to be lower and more precipitation falls as snowfall rather than rain. Average temperature and annual precipitation measurements for several nearby monitor locations are provided in Table 3-7, Average Annual Temperature and Precipitation.

Table 3-7 AVERAGE ANNUAL TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION
Station ID 051772 053146 053488 056266 59265 051507 Annual Temperature Minimum Maximum (°F) (°F) 40.0 64.4 34.3 66.9 40.2 65.4 41.7 67.4 30.5 63.0 24.74 71.95
in = NA = inches not available

Station Name Colorado National Monument Fruita Grand Junction Walker Palisade Altenbern Demaree
Source: WRCC 2007. Notes: °F = degrees Fahrenheit ID = identification number

Annual Precipitation Total Snow (in) (in) 11.13 31.8 8.81 13.2 8.71 21.5 10.00 11.7 16.42 61.9 12.37 NA

County Mesa Mesa Mesa Mesa Garfield Garfield

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3.2.1 – Air Quality

CHAPTERTHREE
Existing Air Quality
Criteria Pollutants

Affected Environment

Although specific air quality monitoring is not conducted throughout most of the project area (see Figure 3-7, Air Quality Monitoring Station Locations), air quality is good due to relatively few air pollutant emission sources. Sources within the vicinity of the project area include limited industrial facilities and small urban areas. Emissions due to energy development in the area are increasing and for some pollutants may become the dominant source of emissions on the Western Slope. Based on the data shown in Table 3-8, Assumed Background Concentrations, the air quality within the vicinity of the project area appears to comply with both the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and Colorado Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS). These standards have been set for six criteria pollutants: carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in effective diameter (PM2.5), particulate matter less than 10 microns in effective diameter (PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and ozone. The group of pollutants referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is not a criteria pollutant, but is one of the precursors to ozone formation. VOCs are included in the emissions inventory, but are not included in the air dispersion modeling analysis.

Table 3-8 ASSUMED BACKGROUND CONCENTRATIONS
Averaging Time(1) 1-hour 8-hour Annual 1-hour (5) 8-hour (6) 24-hour Annual 24-hour Annual 3-hour 24-hour Annual Background Concentration (μg/m3) 1,145 1,145 17 173 145 18 8 41 11 24 13 5 NAAQS(2) (μg/m3) 40,000 10,000 100 235 147 35 15.0 150 50 N/A 365 80 CAAQS(3) (μg/m3) 40,000 10,000 100 235 N/A N/A N/A 150 50 700 N/A N/A PSD Class I Increments (μg/m3) N/A N/A 2.5 N/A N/A N/A N/A 8 4 25 5 2 PSD Class II Increments (μg/m3) N/A N/A 25 N/A N/A N/A N/A 30 17 512 91 20

Pollutant CO(4) NO2(5) Ozone PM2.5(7) PM10(4)

SO2(8)

Source: Chick 2007. Notes: (1) Annual standards are not to be exceeded; short-term standards are not to be exceeded more than once per year. (2) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (3) Colorado Ambient Air Quality Standards (4) Data collected by American Soda, Piceance Basin, 2003-2004 (5) Data collected by the National Park Service at Mesa Verde, 2003 (6) Based on data collected by the CASTNET Network at Gothic and Mesa Verde, CO, and Canyonlands, UT (7) Data collected in Grand Junction, CO (515 Patterson) (8) Data collected by Unocal, Piceance Basin, 1983-1984 micrograms per cubic meter µg/m3 = N/A = not applicable PSD = Prevention of Significant Deterioration

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3.2.1 – Air Quality

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

In addition to the air quality monitoring data provided in this section, in May of 2005 a two-year study was initiated by the Garfield County Department of Public Health Service (documented in a presentation entitled “Garfield County Air Quality Monitoring Study Report June 2005 – May 2007”) to collect ambient air quality data for PM10 and VOCs. Results from this effort to date generally confirm that PM10 and VOC concentrations in the region are low, and no exceedances of the NAAQS were recorded (Garfield County Department of Public Health 2007). The greatest PM10 ambient concentrations were found in the Rifle and Parachute urban centers. Comparisons of the Garfield County PM10 and VOC concentrations to other areas of Colorado indicate that Garfield County concentrations are similar to or are lower than concentrations in other areas of the state. To obtain additional data, the Garfield County Department of Public Health Service is partnering with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) on a regional ozone monitoring project. Known contributors to existing air pollutant concentrations include the following: • • Exhaust emissions from gasoline and diesel engines, including CO, oxides of nitrogen (NOx), PM2.5, PM10, SO2, and VOCs. Dust (particulate matter) generated by vehicle travel on unpaved roads, construction activities, windblown dust from disturbed lands, and heavy road sanding during the winter months. Transport of air pollutants from emission sources located outside the project area.

•

Visibility
Visibility impairment due to regional haze is a complex phenomenon with long-range impacts. Pollutants responsible for regional haze include aerosols that may be emitted directly into the atmosphere or may be formed by chemical reactions taking place within the atmosphere. Examples of pollutants that directly contribute to regional haze include soot from diesel combustion, smoke from fires, fly ash from coal combustion, and wind-blown dust. Gaseous emissions that reduce visibility through the formation of secondary aerosols via chemical reactions in the atmosphere include emissions of SO2, NOx, and VOCs, resulting primarily from fuel combustion. Visibility is measured in units of deciviews (dv). One dv is defined as a change in visibility that is just perceptible to the average person; this is approximately a 10-percent change in light extinction. In the western U.S., the natural visual range is estimated to average about 8 dv, which is equivalent to a visual range of approximately 110 to 115 miles (Malm 1999). Visibility is an air quality-related value (AQRV) which is protected at national parks and wilderness areas designated as Class I areas under the CAA or at otherwise sensitive Class II areas. Visibility within the project area is not directly measured under the IMPROVE (Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments) program. A visibility monitor was operated at the nearby Douglas Pass from September 2003 to April 2006 but has since been removed. Therefore, visibility measurements for the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area (WA), where the closest IMPROVE monitor is located, may act as a surrogate. The Maroon Bells-Snowmass WA IMPROVE monitor is located approximately 100 miles east from the project area. Table 3-9, Natural and Existing Visibility, provides U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates of expected natural visibility if no human-caused impairment occurred. 3-36

111°0'0"W

110°0'0"W

109°0'0"W

108°0'0"W

107°0'0"W

106°0'0"W

Uinta NF Routt NF
40°0'0"N

Fort Collins Fort Collins

105°0'0"W

Rocky Mountain NP

Roosevelt NF Boulder Boulder
36

Ashley NF

American Soda

76

40°0'0"N

Proposed Red Cliff Mine Location

Unocal

Arapaho NF

Denver Metro Area
470

470

White River NF
70
39°0'0"N

Grand Mesa NF
Grand Junction
Arches NP

Pike NF
Gothic
39°0'0"N

Canyon Lands

San Isabel NF Gunnison NF Uncompahgre NF

Colorado Springs Colorado Springs

Canyonlands NP

Pueblo Pueblo
25

38°0'0"N

Capitol Reef NP

Manti-Lasal NF Rio Grande NF San Juan NF
Mesa Verde NP

38°0'0"N

37°0'0"N

Legend
Urban Area Pollutant Monitor Location
0 12.5 25
110°0'0"W

Utah Arizona

Colorado New Mexico

Mesa Verde
37°0'0"N

Red Cliff Mine EIS
75 100 Miles
109°0'0"W 108°0'0"W

50

Santa Fe NF
107°0'0"W

Carson NF
106°0'0"W

Figure 3-7 Air Quality Monitoring 105°0'0"W Station Locations

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Values are also given for the 20 percent best days of visibility and for the 20 percent worst days of visibility. EPA’s estimated values for the 20 percent best visibility days are slightly worse than actual monitored values for visibility conditions existing during the years 2001 through 2004. However, when the 20 percent worst days are considered, monitored visibility is less than EPA’s estimate of natural visibility.

Table 3-9 NATURAL AND EXISTING VISIBILITY
20% Best Days Natural Visibility (dv) Visual Range (miles) Visual Range (km)
Source: CDPHE 2006. Notes: % = percent dv = deciview km = kilometer

20% Worst Days Natural 7.1 120 193 Existing 9.6 93 150

Existing 0.7 227 365

1.95 200 322

Atmospheric Deposition
Air pollutants can affect land and water when they are deposited in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. These pollutants can be deposited by rain (wet deposition) or by gravitational settling on surfaces (dry deposition). Substances deposited include: • • • • Nitrogen and sulfur compounds (nitrates, nitrites, sulfates, and sulfites) Acids (sulfuric acid and nitric acid), which are commonly known as acid rain Air toxics (such as pesticides, herbicides, and certain VOCs) Nutrients (such as nitrates and ammonium)

Deposition can occur via rain, snow, cloud water, particle settling, and gaseous adherence to vegetation. Because deposition varies with precipitation, it also varies with elevation and time. Due to the many deposition mechanisms, the quantity of pollutants deposited on soil, plants, and water is difficult to measure. Deposition is often measured in terms of kilograms of pollutant deposited per hectare per year (kg/ha-yr). Emissions to the atmosphere of nitrogen and sulfur compounds are regulated by the EPA through existing emission standards. In particular, EPA’s Highway Diesel and Nonroad Diesel Rules will decrease the allowable levels of sulfur in fuel used in motor vehicles and locomotives by 99 percent. To the extent that these emissions would be emitted by stationary sources, they would be addressed by the CDPHE–Air Pollution Control Division (CDPHE-APCD) during issuance of any air pollution permit. Atmospheric deposition and its related effects are also an AQRV which is protected at national parks and wilderness areas designated as Class I areas under the CAA or at otherwise sensitive Class II areas. The closest deposition monitoring station to the project area is part of the Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET) and is located in Gothic, Colorado, approximately 3-39

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95 miles southeast of the project area. Total nitrogen and sulfur deposition measured at this monitoring site during 2006 are presented in Table 3-10, 2006 Deposition at Gothic, Colorado.

Table 3-10 2006 DEPOSITION AT GOTHIC, COLORADO
Pollutant Total Nitrogen Total Sulfur
Note: kg/ha-yr =

Deposition (kg/ha-yr) 0.89 1.88

kilograms of pollutant deposited per hectare per year

Climate Change
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), maintain ambient temperatures to sustain life on earth. Water vapor and CO2 are the most important greenhouse gases. CO2 is released into the atmosphere by the respiration of all living organisms and is sequestered through the photosynthesis of plants. CO2 and other greenhouse gases are also released into the atmosphere through human activities including combustion of fossil fuels and other organic materials, deforestation, production of paper, power, and other resources, and mining activities. The greenhouse effect is the absorption of thermal radiation from the land and the oceans by earth’s atmosphere. Atmospheric physicists calculate that the greenhouse effect of the CO2 in the atmosphere warms the earth 60 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) above what the earth’s temperature would be without it (U.S. National Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Change 1998). However, large quantities of greenhouse gas emissions may decrease the amount of heat energy radiated by the earth back to space and upset the global temperature balance. Human activities have greatly intensified the natural greenhouse effect, contributing to global warming (Le Treut et al. 2007). Climate change is strongly affecting many aspects of systems related to snow, ice, and frozen ground (including permafrost); emerging evidence shows changes in hydrological systems, water resources, coastal zones, and oceans (Rosenzweig et al. 2007). Global mean surface temperatures have increased 0.6 to 1.2 °F between 1890 and 1996 (EPA 1997). According to the consensus of research by international climate scientists, global temperatures are projected to increase by approximately 5.4 °F by 2100, with a range between 2.5 and 10.4 °F due to anticipated increases in greenhouse gases (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2001). By 2100, temperatures in Colorado could increase by 3 to 4 °F in spring and fall (with a range of 1 to 8 °F) and 5 to 6 °F in summer and winter (with a range of 2 to 12 °F) (EPA 1997). Garfin (2005) predicts an increase of 2.0 to 3.6 °F in the Colorado River Basin in winter temperatures by 2050. Christensen et al. (2004) predict average annual temperature increases for the Colorado River basin will be between 0.8 and 4.3 °F warmer between 2010 and 2098, relative to the historical climate. Increased temperatures are likely to lead to increased evapotranspiration and earlier snowmelt and runoff. In the western U.S. there is a strong correlation between elevation and annual precipitation. As a result, the mountain ranges in the Rocky Mountain region capture a disproportionate fraction of the total precipitation falling over the region (U.S. National 3-40

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Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Change 1998). Snowmelt and runoff provide agricultural, municipal, industrial, and recreational water for the lower elevations. Scientists forecast that Upper Colorado River Basin peak snowmelt runoff will occur 5 to 25 days earlier than average by 2040-2059, and 15 to 35 days earlier than average by 2080-2099 (Garfin 2005). Christensen et al. (2004) predict average annual precipitation for the Colorado River Basin between 2010 and 2098 to be between 1 percent and 6 percent less than for observed historical climate. A study of potential consequences from global climate change in the Rocky Mountain/Great Basin region was reported in the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Effects of Climate Change and Variability: Rocky Mountain/Great Basin Region (Rocky Mountain/Great Basin Regional Assessment Team of the U.S. Global Change Research Program 2003). The study concluded that possible climate changes could reduce stresses on the region's water resources due to increased overall precipitation, primarily in the form of rain. However, reduced snowpack and earlier melting could change the timing and availability of water in the region and could adversely affect winter sports. Climate changes could also alter natural ecosystems. Intensification of extreme events would be expected due to climate change, including more frequent and potentially more intense forest and range fires, drought, and floods.

Regulatory Framework
As mandated by FLPMA, any activities occurring on BLM-managed lands must comply with all state and federal regulations, including those related to air quality. The EPA establishes and revises the NAAQS as necessary to protect public health and welfare, setting the absolute upper limits for specific air pollutant concentrations at all locations where the public has access. Although the EPA recently revised both the ozone and PM2.5 NAAQS, these revised limits will not be implemented by the CDPHE-APCD until the Colorado State Implementation Plan is formally approved by EPA. Until then, EPA is responsible for implementing these revised standards. Potential development impacts must demonstrate compliance with all applicable local, state, tribal, and federal air quality regulations, standards, and implementation plans established under the CAA and administered by the CDPHE-APCD (with EPA oversight). Air quality regulations require proposed new, or modified existing air pollutant emission sources (including the proposed project) undergo a permitting review before their construction can begin. Therefore, the CDPHE-APCD has the primary authority and responsibility to review permit applications and to require emission permits, fees, and control devices prior to construction and/or operation. Additionally, the U.S. Congress (through the CAA Section 116) authorized local, state, and tribal air quality regulatory agencies to establish air pollution control requirements more (but not less) stringent than federal requirements (such as Colorado’s 3-hour SO2 ambient air quality standard). Additional emission control measures (including emissions control technology analysis and determination) may be required by the applicable air quality regulatory agencies to ensure protection of air quality resources. Moreover, under the federal CAA and the FLPMA, BLM cannot authorize any activity that does not conform to all applicable local, state, tribal, and federal air quality laws, statues, regulations, standards, and implementation plans. The existing air quality of the project area is in attainment with all ambient air quality standards, as demonstrated by the relatively low concentration levels presented previously. Given the project area’s current attainment status, future development projects which have the potential to 3-41

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emit more than 250 tons per year (tpy) (or certain listed sources that have the potential to emit more than 100 tpy) of any criteria pollutant would be required to submit a pre-construction Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit Application, including a regulatory PSD Increment Consumption Analysis under the federal New Source Review and permitting regulations. Development projects subject to the PSD regulations must also demonstrate the use of Best Available Control Technology (BACT) and show that the combined impacts of all applicable sources will not exceed the PSD increments for NO2, PM10, or SO2. The permit applicant must also demonstrate that cumulative impacts from all existing and proposed sources would comply with the applicable ambient air quality standards throughout the operational lifetime of the permit applicant’s project. A regulatory PSD Increment Consumption Analysis may be conducted at any time by the CDPHE-APCD or EPA in order to demonstrate that the applicable PSD increment has not been exceeded by all applicable major or minor increment consuming emission sources. The determination of PSD increment consumption is a legal responsibility of the applicable air quality regulatory agency (with EPA oversight). Sources subject to the PSD permit review procedures are required to demonstrate that impacts to AQRVs will be below Federal Land Managers’ AQRV Work Group (FLAG) “Limits of Acceptable Change” (FLAG 2000).1 The AQRVs to be evaluated include degradation of visibility, deposition of acidic compounds in mountain lakes, and effects on sensitive flora and fauna within the PSD Class I areas. Mandatory federal Class I areas were designated by the U.S. Congress on August 7, 1977, including those existing wilderness areas larger than 5,000 acres and national parks larger than 6,000 acres. The CDPHE-APCD has designated Dinosaur National Monument as a State Category 1 Area, with the same SO2 increments as a federal PSD Class I area. All other locations in the country where ambient air quality is within the NAAQS (including attainment and unclassified areas) were designated as PSD Class II areas with less stringent requirements. Most of the analysis area is currently designated as PSD Class II; Dinosaur National Monument is a State Category 1 Area, and the Flat Tops Wilderness Area is protected by more stringent NO2, PM10, and SO2 PSD Class I increment thresholds. The CDPHE-APCD also requires various pre-construction and operating permits, including: 1) any emission source with the potential to emit air pollutants in excess of 2 tpy must submit an Air Pollution Emission Notice to CDPHE-APCD; 2) all emission sources with the potential to emit NOx or CO in excess of 10 tpy, or 5 tpy of PM10, are required to obtain a permit before construction can begin; 3) sources with potential emissions in excess of 100 tpy of CO, 40 tpy of NOx, or 15 tpy of PM10, must also include a new source modeling analysis in their permit application; CDPHE-APCD modeling guidelines specify the requirements for conducting modeling, including cumulative analyses;

1

Federal Land Managers, or FLMs, are those Secretaries of departments with authority over federal lands (40 CFR 52.21). Under the CAA, FLMs are charged with “an affirmative responsibility to protect the AQRVs (including visibility) of any such lands within a Class I area.” For example, the USFS White River National Forest Supervisor and Rocky Mountain Regional Forester are the Federal Land Managers directly responsible for the lands within the PSD Class I Flat Tops Wilderness Area.

3-42

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4) all sources with the potential to emit any “criteria” air pollutant in excess of 50 tpy must also provide the opportunity for the public to comment on the permit application; and 5) a Title V (or part 70) operating permit is required for all sources with the potential to emit air pollutants in excess of 100 tpy. Since these preconstruction and operating permit programs are part of the Colorado State Implementation Plan, they have been approved (and are therefore enforceable) by EPA. With regard to climate change, as of December 2008, no federal or State of Colorado regulations have been issued that address climate change impacts. However, in April 2007, the Supreme Court concluded that GHG’s meet the Clean Air Act definition of an air pollutant, and in response EPA issued “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Under the Clean Air Act” (EPA HQ-OAR-2008-0318, June 2008). The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretarial Order 3226 directs the BLM to consider and analyze potential climate change impacts when making major decisions regarding the potential utilization of resources under the DOI’s purview. It should be noted that this Secretarial Order holds no regulatory authority.

Conformance to Existing Plans and Policies
Both the CAA and FLPMA require all federal activities (whether conducted directly, or approved through use authorizations) to comply with all applicable local, state, tribal, and federal air quality law, statutes, regulations, standards, and implementation plans. Potential development would conform to these requirements, consistent with existing land use plans.

3.2.2 Cultural Resources/Native American Religious Concerns Cultural Resources
Cultural resources investigations in the area have yielded surface artifacts and buried materials consistent with the regional cultural history. Evidence from the Paleoindian, Archaic, Formative, Protohistoric, and Historic eras has been found in the area. Types of prehistoric sites that may be located within the region include lithic scatters, hunting sites, kill-butchering sites, hunting racks, quarry sites, temporary and extended camps, single and multiple habitation sites, pit houses, wickiups, rock shelters, granaries, cists, food processing areas, burial sites, petroglyph and pictograph panels, and isolated artifacts. Historic-era resources known from the region include trails, forts, toll and wagon roads, stage stations, hotels, resorts, bridges, homesteads, ranches, railroads, canals, towns, schools, mines, and mills. NEPA requires agencies to consider the effects of a planned federal undertaking upon the cultural environment that includes cultural resources and traditional cultural properties (TCP). Cultural resources can be sites, buildings, structures, districts, or objects that are more than 50 years old. They are further categorized as either prehistoric or historic, depending upon their relative ages. Those resources from the period prior to permanent settlement by European settlers are categorized as prehistoric, while those from the subsequent period of permanent European settlement are characterized as historic. Any property that is associated with cultural practices or beliefs of a living community that are rooted in that community’s history and are important in maintaining the continuing cultural identity of the community is considered to be a TCP. 3-43

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Besides NEPA, planned federal undertakings must also comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA). Section 106 requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of an undertaking on historic properties. Historic properties are defined as those cultural resources that are included on, or are eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) was enacted “to secure, for the present and future benefit of the American people, the protection of archaeological resources and sites which are on public lands and Indian lands, and to foster increased cooperation and exchange of information between governmental authorities, the professional archaeological community, and private individuals” (16 U.S.C. 470aa – 470mm, Sec. 2(4)(b)). The reasons behind enactment include recognition that archaeological resources are an irreplaceable part of America’s heritage and that they are endangered increasingly because of the escalating commercial value of a small portion of the contents of archaeological sites. Significant cultural resources or TCPs, which are legally defined as historic properties, include those resources that are listed or considered eligible for listing on the NRHP. The criteria for NRHP eligibility are set forth at 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 60.4: The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, building, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association and (a) (b) (c) that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

(d)

Historical sites such as buildings and ditches are usually evaluated under the first three criteria, while archaeological sites, if eligible, are usually significant under the fourth criterion. TCPs can be found eligible under any of the criteria, but are usually associated with criteria A. Other cultural resources of local, regional, or state significance may be listed on the State Register of Historic Places, administered by the Colorado Historical Society. For cultural resources, the study area is termed the Area of Potential Effects (APE). This area is determined through meetings and discussions with State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and other interested parties. The APE for the proposed mine includes the area to be affected by the construction of the railroad spur and access road with a 120-meter (400-foot) buffer, and the mine facilities area, the transmission line alignment, realignment of CR 10, and those areas that may be subject to secondary or indirect impacts. These areas were intensively surveyed for cultural resources, with the exception of a portion of the proposed railroad spur located on private land, for which 3-44

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permission to access was not obtained, and areas of extreme terrain, where cultural resources were unlikely to be found and pedestrian survey was unfeasible. The area of land designated as the coal lease area, north and east of the mine facilities area, was not inventoried for cultural resources. This area will be subject to subsidence; however, caving of the immediate roof into mined areas does not always translate into surface subsidence. The type of deformation that occurs and whether the deformation reaches the surface depends on a number of factors, including rock type, percent swell of overlying rock, rock strength, thickness and competence of overlying beds, mine layout, mine depth, mining height, and how far a particular competent horizon lies above the void in the mined area. The magnitude, extent, and duration of subsidence can be minimized by an efficient mine layout, proper barrier and gate road pillar design, and a rapid and efficient mining system (Appendix D, Subsidence). If deformation reaches the surface, subsidence will typically appear as basins or depressions, pits, and/or open cracks. Subsidence-induced changes in surface slope are generally minor, having a magnitude commonly less than 3 degrees. At the surface, tension cracks can range from small (less than 1 inch), subtle features that are difficult to recognize to fractures that are several feet wide and several feet deep (Appendix D, Subsidence). This type of fissuring could have an adverse effect on archaeological resources, the type of cultural resource that would be anticipated in this area. The APE for the railroad spur, access road, and mine facilities are detailed in BLM Grand Junction Field Office Cultural Resource Inventory Report 1106-11. A file search of the SHPO database and the Grand Junction Field Office cultural program files were conducted to assess the potential for known cultural resources to be present in the APE. The file searches identified one previously recorded site and two previously recorded isolated finds within the project APE. This site was officially determined as Not Eligible (August 18, 1999). Isolated finds are, by definition, not considered for NRHP listing. A Class II (sampling) cultural resources inventory was conducted in October – December of 1980 on approximately 6,100 acres of lands included in the McClane and Munger Canyons Mine Plan/Permit area. Two prehistoric sites (5GF741 and 5GF742), one historic site (5GF743), and one “suspect area” were located by this study. The site 5GF741 was considered to be potentially eligible to the NRHP. A rare and undisturbed find, site 5GF742, is considered to be eligible to the NRHP. The historic site 5GF743 is on private land and a determination of eligibility has not been made. The “suspect area” consists of a small overhang containing possible fire-altered sandstone. SHPO will be consulted if there is a potential that the project could have an effect on these resources. A Class III (intensive) pedestrian survey was conducted to current standards in April, June, and July of 2006 and the results of that study are the basis of this description of the cultural resources in the APE. The survey resulted in nine newly recorded sites and 20 new isolated finds within the project APE. The recorded sites include three prehistoric open lithic scatters (5GF3876, 5GF3878, and 5ME15397), two prehistoric open camps (5GF3879 and 5ME15398), a slab-lined hearth feature (5GF3880), a historic corral and cabin (5ME15399), and a multi-component site consisting of a prehistoric open lithic scatter and a historic corral (5GF3877). The prehistoric sites range between the Late Prehistoric and the Paleo-Indian periods, spanning approximately 10,000 years.

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The historic sites all date to the 1950s or later, based on land patent research. The historic sites all appear to be associated with ranching activities. Of the nine sites recorded, four were recommended Eligible for the NRHP: 5GF3878, 5GF3879, 5GF3880, and 5ME15398. The remaining five sites were recommended Not Eligible for the NRHP. The BLM consulted with the SHPO on the adequacy of the survey and the determination of eligibility. The SHPO concurred with the BLM’s recommendations on January 2, 2007. The Government Highline Canal (5ME4676) has previously been determined eligible for the NRHP. The Government Highline Canal, completed in 1917, is 55 miles long and carries 1,675 cfs of water. Major features include three tunnels and several major siphons. Twenty segments or features along the canal have been previously recorded, but the segments of the Government Highline Canal where the railroad and transmission line alternatives would cross have not yet been recorded or documented with SHPO. BLM will record these segments at the time the preferred transmission line alternative is surveyed and supplement the Section 106 consultation with SHPO. Though the survey has not been conducted, it is assumed that the segment of the Government Highline Canal where the railroad would cross will be recommended eligible for the NRHP.

Native American Religious Concerns
Section 106 of the NHPA and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation regulations (36 CFR 800.2[c][2][I]) mandate that federal agencies must involve interested Native American tribes in the planning process for federal undertakings. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) of 1978 (Public Law 95-341, 42 U.S.C. 1996 and 1996a), as amended, was enacted to protect and preserve the traditional religious rights of Native Americans. The act was passed as a remedy to three general areas of conflict: access to sacred places on public lands, access to restricted ceremonial items, and prohibition of interference with traditional ceremonial practices from federal officials or curious onlookers. Section 2 of the AIRFA directs federal agencies to consult with Native American groups to determine appropriate procedures to protect their inherent rights, as laid out it the act. For activities on federal lands, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990 (Public Law 101-601, 25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.) requires consultation with “appropriate” Native American tribes (including Alaska Native villages) or Native Hawaiian organizations prior to the intentional excavation, or removal after inadvertent discovery, of several kinds of cultural items, including human remains and objects of cultural patrimony. EO 13007 requires federal land managing agencies to accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Native American sacred sites by Native American religious practitioners and to avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of such sacred sites. It also requires agencies to develop procedures for reasonable notification of Proposed Actions or land management policies that may restrict access to or ceremonial use of, or adversely affect, sacred sites. Consultation with a Native American tribe recognizes the government-to-government relationship between the U.S. government and sovereign tribal groups. Federal agencies must be sensitive to the fact that historic properties of religious and cultural significance to one or more tribes may be located on ancestral, aboriginal, or ceded lands beyond modern reservation boundaries. Consulting tribes are offered the opportunity to identify concerns about cultural resources and comment on how the project might affect them. If it is found that the project would impact cultural resources that are eligible for inclusion on the NRHP and are of religious 3-46

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or cultural significance to one or more consulting tribes, then their role in the consultation process may also include participation in resolving how best to avoid, minimize, or mitigate those effects. By describing the proposed undertaking and the nature of known cultural sites, and consulting with the interested Native American community, the BLM strives to protect areas important to Native Americans. On February 12, 2008, a certified letter was sent to the following federally recognized tribes with an established interest in the project area, inviting them to participate as consulting parties, documented in Appendix E, Coordination and Consultations: • • • Northern Ute Indian Tribe Southern Ute Indian Tribe Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe

Subsequently, each of these tribes was contacted by the BLM staff archaeologist to see if they would be interested in discussing the Proposed Action in person. If new information is provided by Native Americans during the NEPA process, additional or edited terms for mitigation may need to be negotiated or enforced, such as the following: • If new information is brought forward, any site-specific Native American mitigation measures suggested during notification/consultation would be considered during the implementation of the Proposed Action. Strict adherence to the confidentiality of information concerning the nature and location of archeological resources would be required of the project proponent and their subcontractors (16 U.S.C. 470hh). The NHPA requires that if newly discovered cultural resources are identified during the Proposed Action implementation, work in that area must stop and the BLM Authorized Officer notified immediately (36 CFR 800.13). The NAGPRA requires that if any inadvertent discovery of Native American remains or objects occurs, any activity must cease in the area of discovery, a reasonable effort made to protect the item(s) discovered, and immediate notice be made to the BLM Authorized Officer as well as the appropriate Native American group(s). Notice may be followed by a 30-day delay (NAGPRA 1990). On private lands, laws for Historic, Prehistoric, and Archaeological Resources, and for unmarked Human Graves (CRS 24-80-401 and CRS 24-80-1301) would be adhered to by the project proponent and their subcontractors. These state statutes require that the federal Authorizing Officer be notified immediately of any historic or prehistoric finds or human grave. The find must be protected until the Authorizing Officer indicates that action may continue.

•

•

•

3.2.3 Geology and Minerals
The physiography of the surface features in the general area directly reflects the geologic structure of the strata and the relative resistance of the beds to erosion. The Grand Valley is bounded by the Book Cliffs to the north and by the Uncompahgre Plateau to the southwest. The entire valley is underlain by the easily erodible Mancos shale. Both valley boundaries mark the transition of the Mancos Shale into the more erosion-resistant sandstones that form the Book 3-47

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Cliffs (Mesaverde Group) and the edge or the Uncompahgre Plateau (Dakota Sandstone) (Schwochow 1978). Structurally, the regional dip varies, but is generally 3 degrees to the northeast. The nearest mapped geologic structures are the Hunter Canyon and GarMesa Anticlines located to the south and southeast. The smaller Highline Canal Anticline is to the southwest. More locally, faulting at the MCM has identified a small northeast–southwest trending graben. The surface geology consists mainly of non-marine rocks of the upper Cretaceous Mesaverde Group. The overlying Tertiary Ohio Creek, Wasatch, and Green River Formations are found to occasionally cap the Mesaverde Group at the highest elevations north of the project area. Quaternary sand and gravels occur as alluvium near streams or as thin veneering pediment surfaces. The principle formations in the project area are Cretaceous in age. They are described in descending order (Cashion 1973). (See Figure 3-8, Typical Geologic Cross Section.) • • Hunter Canyon Formation (Mesaverde Group): Buff and gray medium- to coarse-grained massive, cliff forming sandstone and gray to greenish-gray shale. Mount Garfield Formation (Mesaverde Group): Buff and gray fine- to medium-grained sandstone and gray shale. Upper part contains very little coal. Lower part contains thick persistent coal beds. The Rollins Sandstone Member is often used as a marker bed and occurs in the coal-bearing sequence at the base of the Cameo zone. Sego Sandstone (Mesaverde Group): Buff and light gray fine-grained sandstone and gray shale. Mancos Shale: Dark gray to black soft shale with thin sandstone beds at various horizons.

• •

Coal Geology
The project area lies in the Book Cliffs Coal Field. The coal field is on the southwest flank of the Piceance Basin that covers much of west-central Colorado. The Book Cliff Coal Field is bounded on the south by the Colorado River in the Grand Valley and the Book Cliffs bordering the southwest flank of the Piceance Basin. The MCM is immediately west of the proposed lease tract. The MCM began production in the late 1970s. Production since 1978 is 2,866,000 tons from the Cameo zone. One other mine, the Munger Canyon Mine, is located in Munger Canyon and produced approximately 103,000 tons for a short period in 1978 to 1979. Coal zones that have been identified in the Book Cliffs Coal Field are, in descending order, the Carbonera coal zone, Cameo coal zone, Palisade coal zone and Anchor coal zone. Due to problems with seam thickness, coal quality, and overburden; the coal beds of the Cameo zone are of the most potentially mineable (Jones 2006). Depending on location in the area, the Cameo may be split into two seams or may form a single, thick coalesced bed. Where coalesced, the Cameo zone consistently averages between 20 to 25 feet. Where split, the lower Cameo is usually a more consistent thickness and is higher in overall coal quality. Average thickness of the lower seam is 10 to 11 feet. Generally, the coals rank as high volatile C with some high volatile B. Quality varies within the seam(s), but the quality of the raw coal is expected to average 10 percent moisture, 15 percent ash, 0.5 percent sulfur and 10,600 British thermal units per pound (Btu/lb). 3-48

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Elevation Profile Graph
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69kV Transmission Line Route 16 Proposed Rail Spur Project Area Proposed Land Use Application Area
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Red Cliff Mine EIS

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Figure 3-8 Typical Geologic Cross Section

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3.2.3 – Geology and Minerals

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

Coal seam fires have occurred in the area. The Smoky Mountain coal seam fire is outside the study area. It was controlled and remediated approximately three years ago. The Hot Point outcrop fire is located near the southern edge of the existing MCM leases. Remediation is being planned for this fire. The Hot Point fire is shown on Figure 2-8, Initial Mine Plan. Overburden above the Cameo zone ranges from zero feet at the outcrop to approximately 2,000 feet in the northern areas of the potential leasing area. A complete description of mining operations and subsidence is contained in Appendix C, Mining Operations and Subsidence.

Other Mineral Resources
Oil and gas are the most prominent other mineral resources being explored and/or developed in the vicinity of the project area. The eastern and southern portions of the proposed coal lease tract are mostly covered with active oil and gas leases. There are no current oil and gas leases on the portion of the proposed coal lease tract in Township 7 South, Range 102 West (T7S, R102W), 6th Principle Meridian (P.M.). Much of the remainder of the project area is currently leased or has been leased in the past for oil and gas (BLM 2007). Figure 3-9, Authorized Oil and Gas Leases within the Existing Coal Lease Application, shows the authorized oil and gas leases within the coal lease application and surrounding area. Table 3-11, Authorized Oil and Gas Leases within the Existing Coal Lease Application, contains the location of each authorized oil and gas lease within the coal lease application, the serial number of each lease, and the acreage of each lease.

Table 3-11 AUTHORIZED OIL AND GAS LEASES WITHIN THE EXISTING COAL LEASE APPLICATION
Township 8S 8S 8S 8S 8S 8S 8S 8S 8S 8S 8S 8S 7S 7S 7S 7S 7S Range 102 W 102 W 102 W 102 W 102 W 102 W 101 W 101 W 101 W 101 W 101 W 101 W 101 W 101 W 101 W 101 W 101 W Section(s) 1 2 3, 9, 10 4 5 11, 12 4 5 6 7 8 8 7, 8, 17, 18 9 16, 17, 20, 21, 22 19, 20, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 27, 33 Serial Number COC 063034 COC 067500 COC 067501 COC 014314 COC 065964 COC 067503 COC 064210 COC 067584 COC 067585 COC 067262 COC 0124705A COC 060771 COC 012864 COC 012999 COC 012865 COC 012757 COC 064209 Acres 586.2 906.87 2175.64 360.0 586.65 1200.0 1592.38 861.67 900.41 1123.29 1080.0 40.0 2551.84 2432.86 2528.35 2561.81 2276.36

3-51

3.2.4 – Paleontology

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

Oil and gas exploration and development has occurred throughout the project area. Primarily, the exploration and development has focused on the Cretaceous Dakota Sandstone and the Jurassic Morrison Formation. Other rock units that have either been produced or evaluated include the Mancos Shale, Cozzette Sandstone, and Entrada Sandstone. More recently, there has been some interest in evaluating the coal bed methane potential from the Mesaverde coal seams. There are 10 producing or capable of production wells and seven plugged wells within the potential future coal leasing area (COGCC 2007 and BLM records). Common variety minerals occurring in the project area include sand and gravel, low-quality clays (e.g., for adobe bricks), and decorative gravel/stone. The designated Red Gravel Community Pit is located in Section 1, T8S, R102W, 6th P.M. along CR 205.

Geologic Hazards
The project area is in the Colorado Plateau seismotectonic province and is considered to be fairly stable. The majority of damaging earthquakes have occurred in the intermountain seismic belt that parallels the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. This belt is approximately 100 miles west of the project area. There have been numerous small earthquakes detected in the Rangely Oil Field attributed to secondary oil recovery operations. The most significant suspected active fault is the Redlands Fault complex about 15 miles to the southeast (Dorchester Mine Permit 1983). The project area is located in Seismic Zone 1 that is generally characterized as possible small earthquakes and minor damage. The earthquake risk is considered low. Rockfalls, landslides or slumping are primarily associated with steep slopes (Colton et. al. 1975). Slumping and other small movements of unconsolidated material usually occur due to significant precipitation events, fluvial erosion, and alternating freezing and thawing. An engineering geologic evaluation was done for the proposed mine and railroad spur. High rockfall risk hazards were identified in the northeastern third of the project area. Other steep, potentially unstable slopes with a moderate risk were identified (McDonald 2006).

3.2.4 Paleontology
The Grand Valley near Grand Junction has yielded world-class fossil specimens of major scientific value. Two of the better known sites, Rabbit Valley and the Fruita Paleontological Site are in the vicinity but outside the project area. Fossils occur in many of the geologic formations within the area. Formations or specific areas can be classified to indicate the likelihood of significant fossil occurrence (usually vertebrate fossils of scientific interest).

Potential Yield Classification System for Paleontological Resources on Public Lands
The “Potential Yield Classification System for Paleontological Resources on Public Lands” (PFYC – see WO IM No. 2008-2009) is as follows: Class 1 – Very Low. Geologic units that are not likely to contain recognizable fossil remains. • • Units that are igneous or metamorphic, excluding reworked volcanic ash units. Units that are Precambrian in age or older. (1) Management concern for paleontological resources in Class 1 units is usually negligible or not applicable. 3-52

re

nk

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Figure 3-9 Authorized Oil and Gas Leases Within the Project Area

25

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3.2.4 – Paleontology

CHAPTERTHREE
(2)

Affected Environment

Assessment or mitigation is usually unnecessary except in very rare or isolated circumstances. The probability for impacting any fossils is negligible. Assessment or mitigation of paleontological resources is usually unnecessary. The occurrence of significant fossils is non-existent or extremely rare.

Class 2 – Low. Sedimentary geologic units that are not likely to contain vertebrate fossils or scientifically significant nonvertebrate fossils. • • • • Vertebrate or significant invertebrate or plant fossils not present or very rare. Units that are generally younger than 10,000 years before present. Recent aeolian deposits. Sediments that exhibit significant physical and chemical changes (i.e., diagenetic alteration). (1) (2) Management concern for paleontological resources is generally low. Assessment or mitigation is usually unnecessary except in rare or isolated circumstances. The probability for impacting vertebrate fossils or scientifically significant invertebrate or plant fossils is low. Assessment or mitigation of paleontological resources is not likely to be necessary. Localities containing important resources may exist, but would be rare and would not influence the classification. These important localities would be managed on a case-by-case basis.

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. • • • Often marine 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 nonvertebrate 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 locality is low, but is somewhat higher for common fossils. Class 3b – Unknown Potential. Units exhibit geologic features and preservational conditions that suggest significant fossils could be present, but little information about the paleontological resources of the unit or the area is known. This may indicate the unit or area is poorly studied, and field surveys may uncover significant finds. The units in this Class may eventually be placed in another Class when sufficient survey and research is performed. The unknown potential of the units in this Class should be carefully considered when developing any mitigation or management actions. • Management concern for paleontological resources is moderate; or cannot be determined from existing data. 3-55

3.2.4 – Paleontology

CHAPTERTHREE
•

Affected Environment

Surface-disturbing activities may require field assessment to determine appropriate course of action.

This classification includes a broad range of paleontological potential. It includes geologic units of unknown potential, as well as units of moderate or infrequent occurrence of significant fossils. Management considerations cover a broad range of options as well, and could include predisturbance surveys, monitoring, or avoidance. Surface-disturbing activities will require sufficient assessment to determine whether significant paleontological resources occur in the area of a Proposed Action, and whether the action could affect the paleontological resources. These units may contain areas that would be appropriate to designate as hobby collection areas due to the higher occurrence of common fossils and a lower concern about affecting significant paleontological resources. 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 two acres. Paleontological resources may be susceptible to adverse impacts from surface disturbing actions. Illegal collecting activities may impact some areas. Class 4b – These are 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 to 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 two 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. (1) (2) (3) (4) Management concern for paleontological resources in Class 4 is moderate to high, depending on the Proposed Action. A field survey by a qualified paleontologist is often needed to assess local conditions. Management prescriptions for resource preservation and conservation through controlled access or special management designation should be considered. Class 4 and Class 5 units may be combined as Class 5 for broad applications, such as planning efforts or preliminary assessments, when geologic mapping at an appropriate scale is not available.

3-56

3.2.4 – Paleontology

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

Resource assessment, mitigation, and other management considerations are similar at this level of analysis, and impacts and alternatives can be addressed at a level appropriate to the application. The probability for impacting significant paleontological resources is moderate to high, and is dependent on the Proposed Action. Mitigation considerations must include assessment of the disturbance, such as removal or penetration of protective surface alluvium or soils, potential for future accelerated erosion, or increased ease of access resulting in greater looting potential. If impacts to significant fossils can be anticipated, on-the-ground surveys prior to authorizing the surface disturbing action will usually be necessary. On-site monitoring or spot-checking may be necessary during construction activities. Class 5 – Very High. Highly fossiliferous geologic units that consistently and predictably produce vertebrate fossils or scientifically significant invertebrate or plant fossils, and that are at risk of human caused adverse impacts or natural degradation. Class 5a – Unit is exposed with little or no soil or vegetative cover. Outcrop areas are extensive with exposed bedrock areas often larger than two contiguous acres. Paleontological resources are highly susceptible to adverse impacts from surface disturbing actions. Unit is frequently the focus of illegal collecting activities. Class 5b – These are areas underlain by geologic units with very 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 very high potential, but a protective layer of soil, thin alluvial material, or other conditions may lessen or prevent potential impacts to 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 two 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. (1) (2) Management concern for paleontological resources in Class 5 areas is high to very high. A field survey by a qualified paleontologist is usually necessary prior to surface disturbing activities or land tenure adjustments. Mitigation will often be necessary before and/or during these actions. Official designation of areas of avoidance, special interest, and concern may be appropriate.

(3)

The probability for impacting significant fossils is high. Vertebrate fossils or scientifically significant invertebrate fossils are known or can reasonably be expected to occur in the impacted area. On-the ground surveys prior to authorizing any surface disturbing activities will usually be necessary. On-site monitoring may be necessary during construction activities.

3-57

3.2.4 – Paleontology

CHAPTERTHREE
Paleontological Classifications in the Project Area

Affected Environment

The BLM paleontology files were reviewed. There are general resource inventories (Armstrong and Kihm 1980, Mellett 1982) and project-specific reports (Armstrong 1983, Miller and Hall 1994) covering the project area. Most of the project area is classified as Class 3, with some areas classified as Class 4. One formation has been categorized as Class 5. The following description of the fossiliferous potential for the geologic formations is drawn from these references and is outlined subsequently:

Class 3
Sego Sandstone – Sediments of the Sego Sandstone are of marine and fresh water origin. They were deposited in a shallow sea, near-shore environment. Tracks of worms and other invertebrates have been found. There is little potential for the occurrence of significant fossil remains. Hunter Canyon Formation – The environment of deposition was dominantly fluvial. Vertebrate fossils have been found in the formation to the north of the project area. To the east of the project area, in DeBeque Canyon, numerous three-toed and four-toed dinosaur tracks have been found as well as imprints of palm tree fronds and trunks. However, due to the steep, rugged nature of the exposures, the potential for finding fossils within the project area is considered low. Green River Formation – The Green River Formation overlies the Wasatch and Ohio Creek Formation. The depositional environment was a relatively shallow, saline, inland lake. Vertebrate fossils have been found in the formation. However most of the finds have come from the higher Parachute Creek Member at such places as the Douglas Pass area. The lower Douglas Creek Member has limited exposures in the very north and northeast portion of the project area. The potential for the occurrence of significant fossil remains is considered low. Quaternary Alluvium – These are more recent deposits of silts, sands, and gravels. Within the project area they occur on terraces, along drainage bottoms, and as talus slopes. Vertebrate fossils have been found in Quaternary deposits elsewhere, outside of the project area. A bison skull was found in Holocene deposits during road-widening operations south of Douglas Pass. Due to the favorable preservation nature of some of the deposits in the project area, the potential for finding scientifically significant fossils is considered good.

Class 4
Mancos Shale – The Mancos shale is of marine origin. Vertebrate remains in the form of fish scales and teeth have been found. Invertebrates include marine shells such as pelecypods and baculites. One set of foot bones of a duck billed dinosaur was collected north of Fruita. Other vertebrate finds in the Mancos at the base of the Book Cliffs near the Mesa/Garfield County line near the Utah border include a “Kritosaurus”-like juvenile duckbilled dinosaur, and marine reptiles, including a short-necked plesiosaur, and at least two mosasaurs. Another plesiosaur was found at the base of the Book Cliffs north of Walker Field Airport. In general, localities appear to be higher in the Mancos section near the Book Cliffs and near the base of the Mesaverde Group. There is a good potential for finding fossils of scientific interest. Mount Garfield Formation – The environment of deposition was extremely variable, including marine, brackish, and fresh water at various times. The number and thickness of the coal beds indicates an extensive swamp environment. Fresh water and marine fossils have been found in 3-58

3.2.5 – Soils

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

this formation. Dinosaur bones, dinosaur tracks, and gastroliths have been reported from coal mines near the area. Plants such as redwood, fig trees, and palms are also represented. The potential for finding scientifically significant fossils is considered good.

Class 5
Wasatch and Ohio Creek Formation – Within the project area, the Wasatch and Ohio Creek Formations are mapped together. They occur at the highest elevations to the north and northeast of the project area. The sediments are stream, floodplain, and swamp deposits. Numerous scientifically significant fossils have been found in the Wasatch Formation elsewhere, particularly to the east of the project area, and the formation has been classified as Class 5. Fossils are more common to the east and become scarce to the west. The formation thins to the west as it nears the Douglas Arch, and perhaps the conditions for fossilization were not as favorable (Armstrong and Kihm 1980). However, given the abundance of fossils found in the formation, the potential for finding scientifically significant fossils is considered good.

3.2.5 Soils
Several resources and resource uses such as livestock grazing, wildlife habitats, and recreation depend on suitable quality soils for sustainability. Thus, the preservation of topsoil and the productivity of public land are a high priority in BLM land management decisions. The soil resources of the project area were investigated via a desktop study conducted during August 2007. The soils that comprise the project area are identified and described within the DouglasPlateau and Mesa County soil surveys areas of Colorado (NRCS 1978; NRCS 2000). Additionally, electronic soils data was compiled and reviewed using the Web Soil Survey (WSS) (NRCS 2007).

Regional Setting and Geologic Influences
The project area primarily consists of narrow foothill valleys, high rolling plateaus dissected by steep canyons, narrow mountain valleys, and relatively high mountains. Floodplains and basins typify a lesser portion of the area. The project area is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Entisols (i.e., soils that have little or no evidence of development of pedogenic horizons; many Entisols are sandy and vary in depth) occur along the floodplains of major streams. Aridisols (i.e., soils with limited availability of moisture for sustained plant growth) cover plateau tops, older terraces, and alluvial fans. Badlands are extensive in the mountains and on plateaus. The geologic characteristics of steep slopes, rockiness, lack of water, and a short growing season have limited land use suitability classes within the project area (NRCS 2000). Most of the smaller washes and creeks that originate in the open desert lands (Book Cliffs) and flow through irrigated croplands and residential areas of the Grand Valley were once ephemeral/intermittent systems. Administrative canal spills and irrigation return flows, groundwater, and precipitation from storm events account for the recent recognition of these waters as perennial systems, known to support aquatic life year-round. Geology has played a dominant role in the types of soils that have developed in this region, and the topography in which they occur. Marine shales and sandstones of the Mancos shale formation are the primary parent materials of soils in this region. The Grand Valley is underlain with Mancos shale. Soils derived from Mancos shale have slow permeability rates, and thus, surface water runoff contributes to increased erosion and sedimentation. Soils derived from 3-59

3.2.5 – Soils

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

Mancos shale generally have high percentages of silt and clay particles with associated thin, fine sandy loam surface horizons. As the Mancos deposits were laid down by the sea, salt (i.e., calcium sulfate/gypsum) was also deposited. Thus, soils developing in Mancos shale materials typically have high salts and sodium contents that may limit sustained vegetation cover. These soils also harbor high concentrations of selenium, a metalloid that is an essential trace nutrient for aquatic and terrestrial species. Bioaccumulation of selenium by waterfowl and aquatic life at low concentrations is highly toxic. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has documented mortalities, reproductive failure, and deformities in fish and aquatic birds exposed to high concentrations of selenium throughout the United States (Martin 2007). Sediments and colluvium from the Mesaverde formation, which forms the upper escarpments of the Book Cliffs, have also influenced soil development and characteristics. These soils do not have the high salt/alkali levels associated with the Mancos formation; soil textures are sandier and permeability is much greater. Thus, vegetation cover is greater than on the Mancos-derived soils, which reduces erosion. The sandier Mesaverde derived soils, however, may be subject to more rapid erosion from recreational use due to potential soil displacement and loss of vegetation. In general, there is a three- to eight-fold greater rate of erosion and sedimentation in watersheds from Mancos shale exposures (Badlands) and from moderately to steeply sloping, shallow Mancos shale-derived soils than from less sloping, sandier soils derived from the Mesaverde formation (BLM 2004).

Soil Types
Identification of the soils that comprise the study area is essential for the assessment of reclamation and postmining land use in the affected areas. Appendix F, Soils Data, contains the soil map units within the project area (Figure 1, Appendix F) and corresponding description, relevant chemical and physical characteristics, and important farmland classification. The soils of the project area were divided into three sections according to the location, series types, and geologic formations. The northern section of the project area is proposed for existing and new federal coal extract leases and support facilities. The proposed railroad spur and power supply transmission line occur in the central and southern portions of the project area.

Northern Section
Steeper mountains and ridges dominate the northern section of the project area where active mining and associated facilities are proposed. This portion of the project area is extremely rough and eroded. Most of the soils are shallow and formed in residuum and colluvium derived from sandstone, shale, limestone, or siltstone. Dominant soils series in the northern section are of the Persayo and Mesa-Avalon series interspersed with rock outcrops. Within the northern section of the project area, a waste rock disposal area will be developed. Southeast of this designated use area there are dissected alluvial fans that are poorly suited for waste rock disposal areas. Alluvial fans are shown in Figure 3-10, Remnant Alluvial Fans at Red Cliff Mine Site.

Central Section
The central portion of the project area is dominated by shallow to deep, well-drained soils on hills, terraces, sideslopes, toeslopes, footslopes, and ridges. These soils formed in thin alluvium and residuum sediments weathered from underlying soft sedimentary bedrock such as sandstone and from saline marine shale. The Killpack soil series dominates the central portion. 3-60

Source:

Red Cliff Mine EIS

0

2666.5

5333 Feet

Scale is approximate

"

ERO Resources Corp. 1842 Clarkson Street Denver, CO 80218 (303) 830-1188 Fax: (303) 830-1199

Figure 3-10 Remnant Alluvial Fans at Red Cliff Mine Site

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3.2.5 – Soils

CHAPTERTHREE
Southern Section

Affected Environment

The southern portion of the study is more gently sloping than the northern and central sections and lies south of the Highline Canal. Soils in the central section are very deep and well drained, they formed in alluvium derived from shale, limestone, and sandstone on stream terraces on valley floors, alluvial fans on valley sides, and summits of mesas. The Fruitvale, Fruita, Fruitvale, and Persayo soil series dominate the southern portion of the project area.

Important Farmlands
Four categories of farmlands are federally regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Farmland Protection Policy Act: (1) Prime Farmlands, (2) Unique Farmlands, (3) Farmlands of Statewide Importance, and (4) Farmlands of Local Importance. Important farmlands are a distinction made by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as soils that support the crops necessary for the preservation of the nation’s domestic food and other supplies, specifically the capacity to preserve high yields of food, seed, forage, fiber, and oilseed with minimal agricultural amendment of the soil, adequate water, and a sufficient growing season. There are several soil series in the project area that are classified as prime farmland if irrigated. Several parcels of irrigated farmland occur in the project area south of the Highline Canal.

Biological Crusts
The presence of biological crusts in arid and semi-arid lands have a very significant influence on reducing soil erosion by both wind and water, fixing atmospheric nitrogen, retaining soil moisture, and providing a living organic surface mulch. These crusts are a complex mosaic of cyanobacteria, green algae, lichens, mosses, microfungi, and other bacteria (Belnap et al. 2001). They can be used as an indicator of rangelands’ ecological health. Development of biological crusts is strongly influenced by soil texture, soil chemistry, and successional colonization by crustal organisms. The type and abundance of biological crust can be used by a land manager to determine the ecological history and condition of a site. Biological crusts are generally found where there are openings in the vascular plant cover and protect open areas from wind and water erosion.

Biological soil crusts are known to occur on public lands near and within the project area (BLM 2004). The presence of biological soil crusts were verified during a site visit conducted in April 2005 by URS Corporation. Spatial inventories of these occurrences on public land in the project area for this Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) have not been performed. Public Law 98-569, a 1984 Amendment to the Salinity Control Act, directed the Secretary of Interior to develop a comprehensive program for minimizing salt contributions from lands administered by the BLM. The BLM manages 48 million acres in the Colorado River Basin above Imperial Dam, or 40 percent of the Colorado River Basin’s area. Of the 48 million, approximately 7.2 million acres, or about 15 percent, contain saline soils (slightly, moderate, and strongly saline soils). Salt enters the Colorado River and its tributaries from groundwater flows, surface runoff, and from point sources such as saline springs and flowing wells. The natural salt load for the Upper Basin (above Lee’s Ferry, Arizona) is estimated to be about 5.2 million tpy. Contributions from BLM land are included in this estimate. Surface runoff from BLMadministered lands above Lee’s Ferry is estimated to be about 700,000 tpy, or about 14 percent. The remaining 4.5 million tons are contributed primarily by groundwater inflow and saline springs from Federal, Tribal, State, and private lands. 3-63

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The Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum (the Forum) was created by Congress in 1973 to provide the Basin States with the information necessary to comply with the Water Quality Standards for the Colorado River and Section 303 of the Clean Water Act. The Forum has an Advisory Council which was established as part of Section 204 of Public Law 93-320, the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974. The Advisory Council provides annual recommendations to Federal agencies in the form of a report that goes to Congress every year. A recommendation (1998) to BLM in this annual report was to identify “…to the Congress salinity control efforts as a stated measurable goal.”

Key Features and Limitations
Key features and limitations of soil in the project area are identified in the table in Appendix F, Soils Data. Most importantly, the potentially problematic soil series are those prone to landslides and active erosion on steep slopes, indicated by gullying and piping processes. The high erosion potential soil series have been identified on Figure 1, Appendix F. Some soils in the project area have moderate to high expansive (high shrink-swell) properties and may contain evaporite minerals that are corrosive to conventional concrete and metal pipes. When wet, soils derived from Mancos shale become sticky and very slippery making unimproved roads virtually impassable. In moist conditions these soils contain excess water and have low bearing strength capacity, which may often result in structural damage if disturbed when wet. Saline or sodic soils may be difficult to stabilize and revegetate upon completion of construction activities, particularly on steeper slopes or slopes greater than 40 percent. The following section describes the available hydrogeologic data and information on groundwater in the EIS study area. This section culminates with descriptions of the conceptual hydrogeologic model and the simple numerical model used to estimate groundwater flows.

3.2.6 Groundwater
Within the project area, there is alluvial and bedrock groundwater. Alluvial groundwater occurs in unconsolidated deposits of sand and gravel formed along drainage courses. The alluvial aquifer is capable of yielding sufficient water for domestic and stock water uses, and as irrigation water near the Colorado River where the alluvial aquifer is broad and the saturated thickness is greater. Groundwater also occurs in consolidated sandstone, siltstone and shale of the Mesaverde Group. The Red Cliff Mine plans to extract coal from the Cameo coal zone, which is in the lower portion of the Mesaverde Group. Based on borehole drilling logs and hydraulic testing within the project area and within the former Dorchester mine lease, which overlaps much of the CAM coal lease, the Mesaverde sandstones and coal beds are tight and yield small quantities of water. Underlying the Mesaverde Group is the Mancos Group, which is comprised predominantly of marine shale, mudstone and claystone with interbedded sandstone, siltstone, and limestone. Some of the sandstone maybe water-yielding; however, the Mancos Group is generally considered a confining unit that retards vertical and lateral groundwater flow (Robson and Banta 1995).

Alluvial Groundwater
Alluvial groundwater near the Red Cliff Mine occurs in Quaternary age sands and gravels within the East Salt Creek drainage west of the mine and within the Big Salt Wash drainage east of the 3-64

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mine (Rare Earth Sciences, LLC and ERO Resources Corp. 2007). Saturated alluvium within the proposed mine lease is limited to the headwaters of East Salt Creek and along Big Salt Wash. The width of the two alluvial valleys ranges from as little as approximately 200 feet in the headwaters to as much as 2,000 feet south of the mine near the Colorado River. Remnant alluvial fans (or pediment deposits) border Mack Wash at higher elevations, but the alluvial fans have minimal, if any, water. Groundwater in the alluvial drainages occurs primarily under unconfined conditions. Localized confined conditions may occur where clay layers are laterally extensive. The direction of groundwater flow in the alluvium is generally parallel or sub-parallel with the axis of the drainage. The hydraulic gradient of the groundwater is expected to be similar to the slope of the land surface within the alluvial valleys ranging from 0.02 to 0.03 in the upper reaches decreasing to between 0.01 and 0.015 in the lower reaches. Alluvial groundwater is recharged by stream flow in the upper reaches of the drainages where there is more likely to be a separation between the channel bottom and the underlying alluvial water table. Recharge of the groundwater is greatest during precipitation events or snow melt runoff when the stage of the creeks increase and more water is able to infiltrate. A lesser amount of recharge may occur from bedrock formations and from irrigation return flows south of the Highline Canal. In the lower reaches of the drainages generally south of the mine, the alluvial groundwater may discharge to the creeks because of shallow water table conditions. This is evidenced by natural sub-irrigated vegetation, such as cottonwoods and tamarisk, within valley bottoms (Rare Earth Sciences, LLC and ERO Resources Corp. 2007). Information on alluvial aquifer characteristics is available from well permits maintained by Colorado Division of Water Resources (2007). Three permitted alluvial wells are within 3-miles radius of the proposed mine surface facilities (see Figure 3-11, Water Wells within the Project Area). Well No. 129010 is approximately 2 miles east of the mine in the alluvium of Big Salt Wash. The well is reported to be 100 feet deep with a pumping rate of 30 gallons per minute (gpm) and depth to water of 35 feet below ground surface. The well is used for stock watering. Another well (No. 189882 on Figure 3-11) is located approximately 3 miles southeast of the mine also in the alluvium of Big Salt Wash. The well is used for domestic water and stock watering; however, well completion information is not available. The remaining well (No. 256861 on Figure 3-11) is located approximately 4 miles southwest of the mine in the alluvium of East Salt Creek. The well is used for domestic water supply and reported to be 109 feet deep with a 12 gpm pumping rate. Based on the available information, the saturated alluvium in two drainages is expected to range from 60 to 70 feet thick and pumping rates may range from 10 to as much as around 40 gpm. Yields to wells are expected to vary depending on the variation in lithology and proximity of wells to the margins of the alluvial aquifers. Historical records from one alluvial well in this study area allow estimation of the hydraulic conductivity of the alluvial aquifer. The pumping and saturated thickness information from Well No. 129010 were used to approximate the hydraulic conductivity based on Darcy’s Law. The hydraulic conductivity is estimated to be 9 feet/day (3 x 10-3 centimeters per second [cm/sec]) assuming a groundwater gradient similar to the sloping land surface of 0.02 and a width of saturated alluvium across the valley of 500 feet. The estimated hydraulic conductivity value is similar to values reported for a silty to medium-grained sand (Freeze and Cherry 1979), which is also similar to the Quaternary alluvial deposits in the valleys that is reported to be comprised of silt and sand (Cashion 1973). 3-65

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In January 1984, the mine permit application for the Fruita Mine proposed by Dorchester Coal Company included baseline hydrologic data required by the State of Colorado [required by Rule 2.04.7(2)] (Kaman Tempo 1984). Even though Dorchester Coal Company’s Fruita Mine project did not progress to the mining stage, the baseline hydrology data are useful for characterizing the potentially affected environment for this Red Cliff Mine EIS. The hydraulic conductivity of alluvium sediments has also been estimated based on hydraulic slug tests of two monitoring wells within the former Dorchester Coal Company lease area (Kaman Tempo 1984). The reported hydraulic conductivity values were 16 and 22 feet per day, which is similar to the value estimated based on the historical records from Well No. 129010. The quality of alluvial groundwater in the upper reaches of the major drainages in the area is generally better than in the lower reaches of the drainages. The progressive increase in ion concentrations in groundwater is due to ion dissolution and ion exchange from the changing nature of bedrock underlying the alluvium (Coffin et al. 1971). The principal ions in the alluvial groundwater are calcium, magnesium, sodium, and bicarbonate. Baseline water quality data for shallow groundwater at the mine is available from two monitoring wells, VB-06-03 and VB-0610 (Figure 3-11, Water Wells within the Project Area). Well VB-06-03 is within alluvial fan deposits near the proposed train loadout and VB-06-10 is within the proposed waste rock pile, also within shallow alluvial sediments. It is of note that the water in the two wells is not representative of alluvial groundwater present along Big Salt Wash and East Salt Creek. Instead the water may be isolated perched water that is not hydrologically connected to the more prominent alluvial aquifers. Well VB-06-03 is 50 feet deep and monitors water in alluvial fan deposits. The well was reported to be dry in August and October 2006. The well was sampled in April and June 2007, and the static water levels were measured to be 38.6 and 43 feet below ground surface, respectively. The sometimes-dry conditions in the well suggest that the water may be perched and not part of a continuous water-bearing unit. In June 2007, the well was bailed dry, indicating a very low water yield to the well. Sample water from April and June 2007 was measured for field parameters only, and measurements were similar for each sample. The pH was 7.4, the conductivity was 13,200 micromhos per centimeter (µmhos/cm), and the temperature was 18.4 degrees Celsius (°C). Although chemical analyses were not performed on the samples, the elevated conductivity suggests that the water has a high total dissolved solids (TDS) concentration. Well VB-06-10 is 29 feet deep and completed in a thin veneer of alluvial sediments on top of the Mancos Shale. Water levels were measured in August and October 2006 and in April and June 2007. Water levels were relatively consistent during these times, ranging from 18.2 to 18.7 feet below ground surface. The two 2007 water samples were analyzed, and the pH was 7.3 and 7.9, and the conductivity was 23,000 and 84,000 µmhos/cm. The water has elevated concentrations of most major ions, and TDS concentrations were reported to be 15,550 milligrams per liter (mg/L) and 56,530 mg/L based on lab analyses of samples collected in August and October, 2006, respectively. The analysis performed on the October 2006 sample showed bicarbonate was 733 mg/L, sulfate was 12,652 mg/L, calcium was 536 mg/L, magnesium was 5,137 mg/L, chloride was 157 mg/L, and sodium was 7,725 mg/L. Some of the dissolved metal concentrations are also elevated including arsenic at 2 mg/L, iron at 95 mg/L, manganese at

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1.3 mg/L, selenium at 0.95 mg/L and zinc at 1.5 mg/L. These chemical analyses indicate that the baseline groundwater quality in the vicinity of the proposed waste disposal area is poor, does not meet drinking water standards for several constituents, and is not usable for most purposes.

Bedrock Groundwater
The regional occurrence of groundwater in the Mesaverde Group is limited to isolated sandstone beds, coal-bearing members, and along faults and fracture zones (BLM/USFS 1999). Water level data from wells at the Red Cliff Mine suggest that this is also the case near the mine. Information on the occurrence of bedrock groundwater at the Red Cliff Mine is available from three monitoring wells monitored by CAM (Stover 2008). Two of the wells (8-2-8 and 8-3-10) are located approximately 0.5 mile northeast of the proposed mine entrance and the third well (7-34-7) is another mile to the northeast (Figure 3-11, Water Wells within the Project Area). CAM plans to recover coal reserves through underground mining in the Cameo coal zone. Thus these wells are monitored to provide information on groundwater near the coal zone in the lower portion of the Mesaverde Group. Completion information for the wells is summarized in Table 3-12, Groundwater Data Near the Red Cliff Mine.

Table 3-12 GROUNDWATER DATA NEAR THE RED CLIFF MINE
Monitoring Well ID 8-2-8 8-3-10 7-34-7
Notes: ft = ID = PVC =

Estimated Collar Elevation (ft) 6,216 6,439 6,613

Total Borehole Depth (ft) 404 540 971

Total Well Depth (ft) 404 540 360

Screened Interval (ft) 384 to 394 492 to 510 350 to 360

Cameo Coal Zone (ft) 357 to 375 492 to 510 925 to 935

Well Construction 2-inch PVC 2-inch PVC 2-inch PVC

feet identification number polyvinyl chloride

Water levels in well 8-2-8 measured from May 2006 through June 2007 were relatively consistent at depths ranging from 391 to 394 feet below ground surface or corresponding elevations between 5,822 and 5,825 feet. The water levels are near the bottom few feet of the Cameo coal zone. The borehole log for the well noted that no water was encountered during drilling, which indicates that the bedrock that overlies the Cameo coal zone at this location contains minimal, if any, groundwater and that the Cameo coal zone yields very little water. Well 8-3-10 water levels have been consistent since June 2006 at a depth of around 535 feet or an elevation of 5,903 feet. Water levels at this depth are 25 feet below the base of the Cameo coal zone. A couple of higher water levels measured in 2006 suggest that the lower portion of the Cameo coal zone may contain groundwater at certain times of the year. The remaining well 7-34-7 is farther to the northeast and the borehole log noted 1 to 2 gpm of groundwater inflow at a depth of 356 feet and the well was screened across this water-bearing zone. Water levels in the well have been steadily decreasing from a depth of 171 feet in September 2005 to a depth of 311 feet in June 2007. The June 2007 water level corresponds to an elevation of 6,302 feet. Such a large, steady decline in water levels is uncharacteristic of bedrock formations in the area. The declining water level may be drilling water introduced into 3-69

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the surrounding formation that is draining over time. The water level is expected to further decrease until reaching the water-bearing zone at a depth of approximately 356 feet. It is unclear if the water-bearing zone at 356 feet represents the regional water table, a perched zone, or water within a fracture or fault zone. The hydraulic connection between the water-bearing zone and the Cameo coal zone that is approximately 570 feet lower is also unclear. Snow melt provides most of the recharge to the bedrock formations and is greatest where sandstone layers are exposed as dip-slopes at higher elevations. Little water recharges the bedrock vertically through the formations, except where alluvial drainages may transmit water to underlying bedrock formations (e.g., Big Salt Wash). Bedrock formations in the Mesaverde Group transmit little groundwater because of the relatively low transmissivity of the fine-grained sandstone, and interbedded coal and shale (Brooks 1983). Further, the Mesaverde formations are typically not productive water-bearing zones due to poor lateral continuity. The permeability of the Cameo coal zone and surrounding sandstone and shale is generally quite low and testing of wells in the Cameo coal zone show that it produces very little water (Reinecke et al. 1991). Available information from hydraulic tests in the Mesaverde formations in the Piceance Basin of Delta County support a low permeability. Transmissivity values for coal beds in the lower Mesaverde formation range from 1.5 to 16.7 square feet per day (ft2/day), with corresponding hydraulic conductivity values between 0.003 to 0.03 ft/day (U.S. Geological Survey [USGS] 1983). Additional hydraulic conductivity values for the Cameo coal zone are from pumping tests in monitoring wells within the former Dorchester Mine lease area. The hydraulic conductivity for the Cameo coal zone is low, averaging 0.11 feet per day. Overburden water-bearing zones overlying the Cameo coal zone have also been tested within the Dorchester Mine lease area. The overburden also has a low hydraulic conductivity, with values averaging 0.007 feet per day. In addition to data from monitor wells provided by CAM, groundwater level data are available from the baseline hydrologic report submitted for the Fruita Mine Permit Application submitted by Dorchester Coal Company (Kaman Tempo 1984). Available groundwater level data in Table 3-13, Groundwater Level Data, have been evaluated to develop the conceptual hydrogeologic model as described in the following text. Table 3-13 GROUNDWATER LEVEL DATA
Water Ground Datum Elevation Elevation Elevation Well (feet msl) (feet msl) (feet msl) Wells Completed Below Water Table 8-2-8 5822 6214 6216 7-34-7 6354 6611 6613 CM-1 5466 5568 5570 CM-2 5518 5717 5719 CM-3 5644 5838 5840 CM-7 5489 5638 5640 56C 5582 5648 5650 580B 5644 5778 5780 58C 5548 5778 5780 59OB 5758 5961 5963

Data Source Stover 2008 Stover 2008 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984

Well Completion Interval Below Cameo Seam Above Cameo Seam Anchor Seam Within Cameo Seam Overburden Interburden (Cameo) Cameo Overburden Cameo Overburden

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Table 3-13 GROUNDWATER LEVEL DATA
Water Ground Datum Elevation Elevation Elevation Well (feet msl) (feet msl) (feet msl) 59C 5690 5961 5963 59W/OB 5600 5964 5966 59W/C 5569 5964 5966 70UA 5986 6192 6194 70C 5865 6192 6194 Wells Completed in Perched, Interflow Zones 71OB 5688 6644 6646 62OB 5567 6563 6565 Dry Wells 69OB dry 6200 6202 8-3-10
Notes: msl TD = =

Affected Environment

Data Source Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Kaman Tempo 1984 Stover 2008

Well Completion Interval Cameo Overburden Cameo Overburden Cameo Overburden Overburden Upper Aquifer Within Cameo Seam Dry at TD, 510 feet below ground elevation.

dry
mean sea level total depth

6437

6439

Information on possible groundwater inflow rates to the Red Cliff Mine may be inferred from the nearby MCM , which is approximately 4 miles north of the proposed mine entrance (Figure 3-11, Water Wells within the Project Area). Based on the annual hydrology reports submitted by CAM, the mine inflows have been as follows:
Water Year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Inflow (gpm) 9.1 9.9 12.4 19.9 31.4 16.4 11.3

Consistent with the available data, a conceptual hydrogeologic model has been developed, and a simple numerical model of groundwater flow has been applied to estimate the future groundwater inflows for this DEIS, as described in later parts of this section. Groundwater quality in the bedrock formations of the Mesaverde Group varies greatly, depending on geology and elevation. The best water quality (i.e., low TDS) occurs near mountain recharge areas and the poorest quality occurs at lower elevations. The quality of water is poorer with increased depth and distance from outcrops (e.g., recharge locations). As an example, a water sample take from a 5,400-foot-deep well near the central portion of the Piceance Basin within the Cameo Coal Group exhibited a TDS concentration of 15,500 mg/L (EPA 2004). Water quality near the margins of the basin may have sufficient meteoric 3-71

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groundwater circulation and better quality. Bedrock groundwater quality is poor due to sodium bicarbonate deposits and salt beds. In general, potable water wells in the area extend no deeper than 200 feet, based on well records maintained by the Colorado Division of Water Resources (EPA 2004). Baseline bedrock groundwater quality at the Red Cliff Mine is available from three monitoring wells. The wells were sampled between three and six times over the 2005 through 2006 period. A summary of the bedrock water quality is contained in Table 3-14, Baseline Bedrock Groundwater Quality for Red Cliff Mine. The minimum, average, and maximum concentrations or values are presented in the table. Bedrock groundwater ranges from slightly basic to slightly acidic, but is generally near neutral with average values in the low 7’s. The two wells that monitor groundwater near the base of the Cameo coal zone (8-2-8 and 8-3-10) have notably poorer quality than the well that monitors groundwater above the Cameo coal zone (7-34-7). This is consistent with other observations in the Piceance Basin that show degradation in groundwater quality at greater depths. The two wells that monitor groundwater near the base of the Cameo coal zone (8-2-8 and 8-3-10) have TDS concentrations ranging from 1,400 to 6,200 mg/L. The waters contain high concentrations of several major cations and anions. Based on the average concentrations in Table 3-14, Baseline Bedrock Groundwater Quality for Red Cliff Mine, the water in well 8-2-8 is a sodium-magnesium-carbonate-bicarbonate-sulfate type and the water in 8-3-10 is a sodiumchloride-carbonate-bicarbonate-sulfate type. Concentrations are elevated for some metals most notably iron, which averages 10 and 59 mg/L in the two respective wells. Other metals with elevated concentrations include arsenic, manganese, and selenium. The well that monitors groundwater in overburden above the Cameo coal zone (7-34-7) has better water quality. Total dissolved solids have reached a concentration of 2,200 mg/L in one sample, but concentrations are typical between 400 to 500 mg/L in the other samples from the well. The water is rich in several major cations and anions. Based on the average concentrations in Table 3-14, Baseline Bedrock Groundwater Quality for Red Cliff Mine, the water in well 7-34-7 is a calcium-sulfate-bicarbonate type. The water is absent carbonate unlike the groundwater in the other two wells. Average concentrations of metals are generally one to three orders of magnitude less than groundwater in the two wells that monitor the Cameo coal zone. Groundwater quality in the overburden and Cameo coal zone has been measured in monitoring wells within the former Dorchester Mine permit area, which overlaps into the project area. Sample data are available for the 1981 to 1983 period as documented in the Dorchester Mine permit, and the chemical data are summarized in Table 3-15, Summary of Overburden and Cameo Coal Zone Groundwater Quality from Dorchester Mine Monitoring Wells (1981 to 1983), for selected parameters. Sodium is the major cation in groundwater from the overburden and Cameo coal zone. Sulfate and bicarbonate make up most of the anions. Total dissolved solids are elevated and as high as 3,400 mg/L in the overburden and 4,400 mg/L in the Cameo coal zone. Sulfate tends to be lower in the Cameo coal zone than in the overburden. Concentrations of metals are low; however, elevated concentrations of iron, manganese, and zinc occur in groundwater from the Cameo coal zone.

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Table 3-14 BASELINE BEDROCK GROUNDWATER QUALITY FOR RED CLIFF MINE
Well 8-2-8 Monitored Zone: Base of the Cameo Coal Zone (Based on May, June, August and October 2006 Samples) Laboratory Parameter pH Conductivity Total Dissolved Solids Total Alkalinity Bicarbonate Carbonate Hydroxide Sulfate Calcium Magnesium Ammonia Hardness Chloride Sodium Nitrate Nitrite Phosphate Arsenic - Dissolved Units su µmhos/cm mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L Min 5.8 1,844 1,399 630 630 75 2 309 49.6 72.6 0.2 423 <0.05 148 <0.15 0.01 0.08 0.01 Ave 7.2 1,991 1,573 717 680 352 2 463 67.4 87.6 1.5 548 8.7 212 0.33 0.012 0.30 0.31 Max 8.1 2,254 1,778 848 707 630 2 654 86.8 100.6 3.7 631 22.5 301 0.86 0.017 0.86 0.67 Well 8-3-10 Monitored Zone: Below or Near the Base of the Cameo Coal Zone (Based on May, June, and August 2006 Samples) Min 6.1 1,476 3,050 702 702 83 2 218 59.3 27.9 2.1 263 <0.5 162 0.45 0.01 0.08 0.002 Ave 7.2 3,094 4,306 941 886 437 2 526 152 51.6 5.2 592 518.1 409 28.3 0.14 1.10 0.23 Max 7.8 6,100 6,164 1,330 1,165 792 2 700 288 86.0 11.2 1073 1553.2 841 82.1 0.4 2.52 0.41 0.02 0.003 Well 7-34-7

Affected Environment

Monitored Zone: Approx. 570 feet Above the Cameo Coal Zone (Based on September and December 2005; and May, June, August, and October 2006 Samples) Min 6.2 554 361 154 147 2 2 37 43 15.0 0.0 174 0.5 3 Ave 7.5 910 741 199 198 2 2 280 68.3 22.4 0.1 252 33.3 97 NA NA 0.06 0.09 0.15 0.43 Max 8.3 2,274 2,229 283 283 2 2 1,129 137.8 38.1 0.2 427 106.1 329

Groundwater Standard

6.5 to 8.5 250 250 10 1 0.05

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Table 3-14 BASELINE BEDROCK GROUNDWATER QUALITY FOR RED CLIFF MINE
Well 8-2-8 Monitored Zone: Base of the Cameo Coal Zone (Based on May, June, August and October 2006 Samples) Laboratory Parameter Cadmium - Dissolved Iron - Dissolved Iron - Total Recoverable Manganese - Dissolved Manganese - Total Mercury - Dissolved Selenium - Dissolved Zinc - Dissolved Units mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L Min <0.002 1 1.25 0.34 0.35 0.000029 0.0066 0.41 Ave 0.04 7.9 10.2 0.40 0.41 0.000073 0.12 0.66 Max 0.08 20.3 25.0 0.50 0.51 0.00011 0.20 0.91 Well 8-3-10 Monitored Zone: Below or Near the Base of the Cameo Coal Zone (Based on May, June, and August 2006 Samples) Min 0.02 4.1 8.8 0.13 0.48 0.000027 0.034 0.25 Ave 0.03 15.65 58.5 0.25 1.36 0.00009 0.25 0.51 Max 0.04 25.6 143.4 0.37 2.88 0.51 0.87 Well 7-34-7

Affected Environment

Monitored Zone: Approx. 570 feet Above the Cameo Coal Zone (Based on September and December 2005; and May, June, August, and October 2006 Samples) Min <0.001 <0.01 0.01 0.005 0.007 0.0026 0.01 Ave 0.004 0.02 0.09 0.008 0.021 0.081 0.029 Max 0.01 0.032 0.21 0.011 0.04 0.00023 0.34 0.07

Groundwater Standard

0.005 0.3 0.05 0.002 0.05 5

0.00018 0.000018 0.000077

Notes: Analytical results are provided by CAM-Colorado, LLC Groundwater Standards from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Control Commission, Regulation No. 41, Basic Standards for Ground Water; Domestic Drinking Water Supply Standards. < = less than Ave = average Min = minimum Max = maximum mg/L = milligrams per liter NA = Parameter not analyzed su = Standard Unit µmhos/cm = micromhos per centimeter

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Table 3-15 SUMMARY OF OVERBURDEN AND CAMEO COAL ZONE GROUNDWATER QUALITY FROM DORCHESTER MINE MONITORING WELLS (1981 TO 1983)
Selected Parameter (mg/L) pH (su) Specific conductance (µmhos) Total dissolved solids Alkalinity Arsenic Cadmium Copper Fluoride Iron Lead Manganese Selenium Zinc Chloride Calcium Potassium Magnesium Sodium Sulfate Nitrate
Notes: < µmhos mg/L su = = = = less than micromhos milligrams per liter Standard Unit

Overburden 7.7 to 8.9 310 to 5,100 1,200 to 3,400 479 to 2,200 <0.005 <0.005 to 0.04 <0.01 to 0.38 1.2 to 2.9 <0.01 to 6 <0.01 to 0.18 0.02 to 0.73 <0.005 to 0.037 <0.001 to 0.37 4 to 80 4 to 238 2 to 32 4 to 150 500 to 1,000 8 to 1,930 <0.05 to 0.4

Cameo Coal Zone 7.3 to 8.9 250 to 4,600 212 to 4,400 130 to 1,800 <0.005 to 0.014 <0.001 to 0.028 0.001 to 0.45 0.001 to 4.0 0.014 to 11 0.003 to 0.11 0.005 to 1.13 <0.005 0.012 to 2.46 <0.01 to 67 3 to 48 4 to 39 1 to 134 14 to 3,200 13 to 829 0.17 to 1.1

Groundwater Standard 6.5-8.5 0.05 0.005 1.0 4.0 0.3 0.05 0.05 0.05 5 250 250 10

Additional baseline bedrock water quality data in the vicinity of the Red Cliff Mine is available from the nearby MCM . Inflow water quality to the Red Cliff Mine is expected to be similar to MCM. Inflow water quality data are available from the first and third quarters of 2006, during which time the underground mine discharge water was sampled (see Table 3-16, Water Quality for McClane Canyon Mine Discharge Water [Underground Samples]). The water is slightly basic, with pH values of 8.4. Total dissolved solids concentrations were 1,600 and 1,700 mg/L. The water is rich in bicarbonate and concentrations are as high as 1,297 mg/L. Based on the first quarter 2006 sample data in Table 3-14, Baseline Bedrock Groundwater Quality for Red Cliff Mine, the discharge water is a sodium-magnesium-bicarbonate-sulfate type. The overall water chemistry is generally similar to the chemistry from wells 8-2-8 and 8-3-10 at the Red Cliff Mine, with the exception of iron, arsenic, and manganese concentrations that are notably lower in the MCM discharge water. 3-75

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Table 3-16 WATER QUALITY FOR MCCLANE CANYON MINE DISCHARGE WATER (UNDERGROUND SAMPLES)
Parameter/Value Pumping Rate pH Conductivity Total Suspended Solids Bicarbonate Calcium Carbonate Chloride Magnesium Potassium Sodium Sulfate Aluminum Arsenic Boron Copper Iron Lead Manganese Selenium Units gpm su µmhos/cm mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L 1st Quarter 2006 150 8.42 2,336 1,700 1,297 59 58 25.2 88 2.9 239 286 <0.05 0.007 0.95 0.025 0.07 <0.05 <0.01 0.177 3rd Quarter 2006 -8.37 2,266 1,601 1,017 9 9 <0.5 17 7.1 298 326 <0.05 0.01 0.85 0.011 <0.01 0.05 0.057 0.34

Source: Rare Earth Science, LLC 2007. Notes: < = less than µmhos/cm = micromhos per centimeter gpm = gallons per minute mg/L = milligrams per liter su = Standard Unit

Springs and Seeps
Springs in the study area have been mapped and described based on data available from the BLM geographic information systems (GIS) database, a hydrogeologic field reconnaissance of the mine facilities area, and historical information collected for Dorchester Coal Company. Even though a comprehensive inventory of all springs has not been completed in all portions of the proposed lease area, a sufficient number of springs have been located, mapped, described, and sampled during previous studies to provide a basis for characterizing the nature of the springs for this DEIS. Detailed spring and seep surveys were conducted in 1982 and 1983 for the Fruita Mine permit application, which was for the mine proposed by Dorchester Coal Company in 1984, but never started. Figure 3-12, Spring Locations, shows the locations of the springs within and surrounding the Red Cliff Mine project area.

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Descriptions of the springs, flow rates and water quality information are provided in the Fruita Mine baseline hydrologic data report (Kaman Tempo 1984), which is reproduced in Appendix G, Water Data and Information. Those surveys locate and characterize springs and seeps in the area of the existing CAM coal lease, and in the southern and western portions of the proposed coal lease area, along Coal Gulch, Garvey Canyon, Big Salt Wash, and Buniger Canyon. Major findings of the surveys are summarized in the subsequent text. Springs in this area have very low flows, which vary seasonally. Most springs flow at less than 1 gpm, and dry up during the summer. In many locations, white salt deposits on the sandstone outcrops suggest the presence of intermittent springs. Many of these intermittent springs emerge from sandstone units and fractures exposed on rugged, steep valley walls, and appear to be supported by localized, perched groundwater tables. The larger, more persistent springs emanate from fractures in sandstone units exposed locally in the incised stream channels of the major drainages. Some springs issue from coal seams, or from alluvium lying along the larger drainage valleys, support surface flow in limited reaches of Garvey Canyon, Coal Gulch, and Hunter Canyon during some portions of the year. These springs are typically obscured by runoff in spring and early summer. In September 1983, some of the larger springs flowed at slightly higher rates than in November 1983, when the largest springs flowed at less than 2 gpm. In September and November, springs in Coal Gulch and Hunter Canyon supported flows in only short reaches of those drainages. In 1984, the baseline hydrology report by Kaman Tempo for the Fruita Mine (proposed by Dorchester Coal Company) commented that many spring locations are statigraphically controlled, and associated with outcrops or subcrops of sandstone and coal. The Kaman Tempo report stated that the most apparent geologic control on groundwater movement is the unnamed syncline that intersects Hunter Canyon and Coal Gulch. (This syncline is shown on Map 2.04.71, which is reproduced in Appendix G, Water Data and Information.) The report suggested that the relatively intense fracturing along the synclinal axis may provide a preferential path for groundwater movement, and noted that several springs exist along the synclinal axis in Hunter Canyon and Coal Gulch. Where sufficient flows allowed, samples collected for lab analyses showed the spring water to be of sodium-sulfate type with high concentrations of TDS, sodium, and sulfate. Water quality data for the springs are provided in Appendix G, Water Data and Information. Overall, the spring water is of poor quality and would not be suitable for domestic use because the sulfate and TDS concentrations exceed drinking water standards. Nonetheless, the water quality of the spring water is suitable for livestock and wildlife, and possibly some types of agriculture. Most springs are located at high elevations in narrow rocky canyons, which are difficult to access. None of the springs have been developed for human use. A low-flow investigation along Big Salt Wash was conducted in the fall of 1983 for the purpose of identifying groundwater contributions to streamflow (Kaman Tempo 1984). That investigation found that the Big Salt Wash reach from Post Canyon to Ruby Lee Diversion is neither a gaining nor a losing stream. Therefore, groundwater recharge or discharge along that stream reach was found to be negligible. In April 2008, URS hydrogeologists performed a site reconnaissance of the areas of the proposed Red Cliff Mine facilities, the existing coal lease area, and portions of the proposed coal lease area, to further evaluate the hydrogeologic conditions and assess the springs. URS observed: 3-79

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•

Affected Environment

The 1982–1983 spring surveys provided a reasonable, comprehensive description of the spring characteristics in the existing and proposed lease areas, however several of the spring locations reported in the earlier surveys were found to be dry in April 2008. (The locations of springs mapped during the 1982-1983 surveys are shown in Appendix G, Water Data and Information, Map 2.04.7-1.) No springs or seeps were found within or near the planned waste rock disposal area, conveyor area or unit train loadout area; Near the proposed mine entrance, one small spring exists, which was not reported in the 1982–1983 survey report; it is located at the bottom of the drainage approximately 350 feet down slope from the proposed portal location; this spring was flowing at less than 2 gpm on April 22, 2008.

• •

A comparison between the land surface elevations of the reported springs and the water table elevation provides an indication of the hydrogeologic relationship between the saturated groundwater flow system and the springs. Table 3-17, Estimated Depth of Groundwater Table at Spring Locations, shows the estimated depth to the water table below each spring described in the 1982-1983 survey reports. The water table elevation is estimated based on the empirical relationship shown on Figure 3-13, Groundwater Levels and Surface Topography. This information indicates all the springs emanate from substantially higher elevations than the water table elevation estimated at the same location. Thus, the source of the springs is likely to be shallow zones of interflow or perched water, that are not hydraulically connected with the water table of the saturated groundwater flow system.

Table 3-17 ESTIMATED DEPTH OF GROUNDWATER TABLE AT SPRING LOCATIONS
Spring Elevation (feet, msl) 5540 5640 5780 5820 6020 5630 5680 5740 5790 5960 6120 6110 6140 6190 5510 5675 6000 Groundwater Table Elevation * (feet, msl) 5349 5438 5564 5600 5779 5429 5474 5528 5573 5725 5868 5859 5886 5931 5322 5470 5761 Depth to Groundwater Table (feet) 191 202 216 220 241 201 206 212 217 235 252 251 254 259 188 205 239 Spring Elevation (feet, msl) 5630 5625 5760 5550 5560 5300 5240 6190 6110 5480 5710 5690 5680 5605 5600 5560 5530 Groundwater Table Elevation * (feet, msl) 5429 5425 5546 5358 5367 5134 5080 5931 5859 5295 5501 5483 5474 5407 5403 5367 5340 Depth to Groundwater Table (feet) 201 200 214 192 193 166 160 259 251 185 209 207 206 198 197 193 190

Spring Name CGS1 CGS2 CGS2A CGS3 CGS4 T1S1 T1S2 T1S3 T1S4 T1S5 T1S6 T2S1 T2S2 T2S3 GCS5 GCS4 GCS1

Spring Name LWS8 LWS9 LWS10 LWS10A LWS11 LWS11A LWS12 PCS1 PCS2 LW1S6 HCS1 HCS2 HCS3 HCS4 HCS5 HCS6 HCS7

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Table 3-17 ESTIMATED DEPTH OF GROUNDWATER TABLE AT SPRING LOCATIONS
Spring Elevation (feet, msl) 5580 5680 6140 5980 5880 5710 5680 6120 6100 6140 5920 5780 5670 5640 Groundwater Table Elevation * (feet, msl) 5385 5474 5886 5743 5653 5501 5474 5868 5850 5886 5689 5564 5465 5438 Depth to Groundwater Table (feet) 195 206 254 237 227 209 206 252 250 254 231 216 205 202 Spring Elevation (feet, msl) 5525 5520 5515 5500 5485 5790 5850 5720 5630 5620 5635 5615 5550 5675 Groundwater Table Elevation * (feet, msl) 5336 5331 5327 5313 5300 5573 5626 5510 5429 5421 5434 5416 5358 5470 Depth to Groundwater Table (feet) 189 189 188 187 185 217 224 210 201 199 201 199 192 205

Spring Name GCS2 GCS3 LiWS1 LiWS2 LiWS3 LiWS4 LiWS5 LWS1 LWS2 LWS3 LWS4 LWS5 LWS6 LWS7

Spring Name HCS8 HCS9 HCS10 HCS11 HCS12 BSC1 BSC1A BSC2 BSC3 BSC4 SCS1 SCS2 SCS3 CGS4

* Notes: Groundwater table elevation is estimated based on linear regression equation shown on Figure 3-13, Groundwater Level Data. msl = mean sea level

Figure 3-13 Groundwater Levels and Land Surface Topography
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Groundwater Rights

Affected Environment

Water rights are administered by the Colorado Division of Water Resources, Office of the State Engineer (OSE). Table F-1 of Appendix G, Water Data and Information, which was compiled from the OSE water rights database, lists the water rights and well permits within one mile of the project area boundary. Table F-2 of Appendix G includes water rights at springs both within the project area, and within one mile outside of the project area boundary. CAM holds well permits on two monitoring wells in the project area (permit numbers 270165 and 270164 in Table F-1 of Appendix G). There are three permitted alluvial wells located within a 3-mile radius of the proposed ROW area boundary, which are described in the beginning of this groundwater section, and located on Figure 3-11, Water Wells within the Project Area. Further northeast, outside the existing coal lease area, there are three more wells included in the OSE water rights database. These three wells are located within the central portion of the proposed coal lease area, along Big Salt Wash upstream of Hatchett Canyon. Information on these wells is shown for permit numbers 15498, 223206, and 223205 in Table F-1 of Appendix G. Well permit 15498 is for irrigation use, while the other two wells are permitted for domestic uses.

3.2.6.1 Conceptual Hydrogeologic Model
A conceptual hydrogeologic model for this DEIS study area has been developed based on an evaluation of the available hydrogeologic data and site information. The conceptual model aids in understanding groundwater flow system, including the inter-relationships between the groundwater regime and the surface water regime, and serves as the foundation for developing a mathematical groundwater flow model to estimate groundwater inflow rates to the proposed mine for the EIS impacts assessment (see Section 4.2.6, Groundwater).

Components of the Hydrologic System
The hydrologic system consists of physical processes at and below the land surface that dynamically interact in response to meteorologic conditions and anthropogenic factors. Below the land surface, water moving in the unsaturated zone also interacts with the processes controlling flow in and out of the deeper saturated groundwater zone. Accordingly, the conceptual model for this site is divided into three hydrologic components: (1) surface water flow, (2) interflow, and (3) groundwater flow. Figure 3-14, Conceptual Hydrogeologic Model, is a simple diagram to illustrate relationships between the major components of the conceptual hydrogeologic model for this study area.

Surface Water
A satellite image showing the land surface in the study area is included as Figure 3-15, Satellite Image of the Study Area. This figure is created from the remote sensing data obtained by the ASTER satellite on August 22, 2007. The near-infrared band is processed with the panchromatic band to reveal surface water features, vegetation, and to sharpen the image. The image provides a regional overview of the land surface topography, surface drainages, streams, lakes, and geomorphologic features.

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Figure 3-14 Conceptual Hydrogeologic Model

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Information from this satellite image is used to supplement other hydrogeologic data to develop the conceptual model of the natural hydrologic system. On this image, the bluish gray areas are areas of bare soil and sparse vegetation while the reddish gray areas indicate areas of more dense, verdant vegetation. Larger, more densely spaced vegetation is reflected by the stronger reddish hues in the uplands on the northeastern side of the study area. There are also thin red zones, generally surrounded by blue areas, which indicate the large healthy vegetation along Big Salt Wash and East Salt Creek. The image also shows some relatively small red areas along other drainages such as Garvey Canyon and Coal Gulch. These vegetation patterns help illuminate the near-surface hydrologic system. During the late spring or summer in a semi-arid area verdant vegetation is typically more widespread, consistent with higher residual soil moisture from the previous wet season and concentration of surface water runoff in drainages. Bright red spots on the satellite image, like those surrounding Ruby Lee Reservoir, would indicate phreatophyte vegetation sustained by shallow groundwater. Overall, the satellite image shows the very dry conditions present at this site. Throughout the proposed mine facilities and waste disposal pile areas, no areas of verdant vegetation are visible that could indicate areas of groundwater discharges to springs or seeps along surface water drainages. Under natural conditions in this region most of the precipitation evaporates, probably more than 90 percent. As stated in the Hydrologic Atlas of the United States (HA-730C) by U.S. Geological Survey (2008), potential annual evaporation generally exceeds average annual precipitation in this area. The high rate of evaporation removes most surface water and soil moisture before the water can percolate below the root zone of plants to recharge an underlying aquifer. Nonetheless, melting snow and ice, and major rainfall events, cause surface water to accumulate and run off into surface drainages and small ponds. Storm runoff moves downhill along the topographic surface, quickly concentrates in surface water drainages and flows downhill, generally toward the southwest. Within the mine area and proposed lease area, flow in most of the surface drainages only occurs following large precipitation or snowmelt events. However, some perennial streams do exist in the project area, as further described in Section 3.2.7, Surface Water. Surface water that does not evaporate or run off, and is not consumed by plants, infiltrates below the root zone and contributes to groundwater recharge or interflow.

Groundwater
Fundamental concepts in physics, soil mechanics, and geology provide the foundation for the conceptual hydrogeologic model of the flow system at this site. Groundwater flow directions are controlled primarily by gravitational forces. In the unsaturated zone above the water table, moisture migrating downward in response to gravity is also strongly affected by capillary forces in the pore spaces of the soil and rock, and the spatial distribution of the pore spaces. Moisture migration is retarded by finer grained sediment or rock, which will cause water to accumulate along bedding plane partings along less permeable layers, or along intersecting fracture zones. Below the water table, the spatial distribution of hydraulic heads (groundwater level elevations) control the direction of groundwater flow. The rate of groundwater flow is controlled by the physical and hydraulic characteristics of the soil and rock units through which the subsurface water passes.

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Hydrogeologic Units

Affected Environment

Natural surface materials in this study area consist of weathered and fractured rock, residual soils, alluvium, and colluvium. Groundwater flows within two principal geologic materials: a surficial unconsolidated hydrogeologic unit consisting of alluvium, colluvium, and weathered bedrock, and a fractured sedimentary bedrock unit, which includes sandstone, shale, and coal seams. The thickness and particle sizes of unconsolidated sediments vary significantly across the site. In upland areas of the watersheds surrounding the mine area, the unconsolidated sediments are thin or absent because of the steeper topographic relief. Alluvial deposits are thickest beneath the larger surface drainages, such as Big Salt Wash, and generally thicken in the lower parts of the watersheds. The lower portion of Big Salt Wash (near Ruby Lee Reservoir) is underlain by a substantial thickness of relatively coarse-grained alluvium, which comprises an alluvial aquifer. Within the bedrock, groundwater flows primarily through secondary porosity features (e.g., fractures, joints, faults, and partings along bedding or lithologic contacts). Sandstone and shale units of the Cretaceous Mesaverde Group comprise the overburden, which overlies the Cameo Coal Seam. Outcrops of the overburden sandstone units show steeply dipping fractures with widely varying orientations, and fracture partings along bedding planes. The porosity of the Cameo coal seam is relatively high. Dense networks of small fractures are well developed, which causes the cleat structure of the coal. In contrast, the matrix of the sandstone has relatively low porosity, because the fine sand grains are well cemented by calcium carbonate. Hence the unfractured sandstone matrix has relatively low porosity and low hydraulic conductivity. With its relatively higher porosity and permeability, the Cameo coal seam is the principal bedrock aquifer. The thin sandstone section below the Cameo Coal Seam is underlain by the Mancos Shale, which is composed of fine-grained sediments deposited in the deeper waters of a large Cretaceous sea. Lower in the stratigraphic section, the Mancos shale also contains several relatively minor sandstone units. Overall, the Mancos Shale restricts the movement of groundwater and generally acts as an aquitard and confining unit in the regional groundwater flow system. Although it is sometimes possible to develop wells in this formation to supply small flows for stock watering purposes, the Mancos Shale is generally not considered an aquifer.

Recharge
Infiltrating precipitation is the source of groundwater recharge. As is typical in semiarid regions underlain by permeable rock and soil, a relatively small portion of the total annual precipitation typically infiltrates the land surface and becomes groundwater. Most of the moisture infiltrating the soil returns to the atmosphere, via evapotranspiration. A major source of groundwater recharge in this area is melting snow. Extended periods of high rainfall are also significant but typically contribute less than snowmelt under these conditions. Recharge also occurs where the level of a surface water body or stream is at higher elevation than the underlying groundwater level. Even though recharge occurs throughout the study area, relatively high recharge rates exist in higher elevations because of higher precipitation rates. Relatively high rates of recharge also exist along surface drainages, because drainages typically contain relatively permeable sediment 3-88

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and concentrate storm runoff. Overall, the average, long-term recharge rate is likely in the range of 5 percent of the average annual precipitation, or less than 1 inch per year in the mine area.

Interflow
In the upland recharge areas, much of the groundwater migrates as interflow within the unsaturated zone, which may exist as water-filled fractures or as localized zones of perched water lying above the water table. The term “interflow” applies to groundwater that accumulates and flows within a localized saturated zone lying above a continuous, widespread phreatic surface or water table. Interflow often occurs in mountainous semi-arid areas underlain by fractured bedrock. The majority of the water that infiltrates the land surface moves rapidly as groundwater interflow within the highly permeable unconsolidated materials along the interface with the less permeable materials. Some interflow may also move within relatively permeable zones in the upper, weathered portion of the bedrock. Most of the small springs in this study area are attributable to surface discharge of interflow, typically along localized fracture systems. Most springs discharge uphill of a surface drainage channel, at isolated points along the valley slopes. In these cases, the flow path between the snowmelt recharge area and the point of spring discharge is relatively short and does not extend as deep as the water table. Many of the interflow-fed springs appear to be supplied by melt water from the previous winter snow pack. Some interflow may be the result of even shorter, transient phenomenon generated in response to a single major precipitation or snowmelt event. The relatively small amount of water that percolates deeper into the bedrock to reach the water table becomes part of the regional, saturated-zone groundwater flow system.

Saturated Zone
Below the unsaturated zone, groundwater completely saturates the available pore spaces and creates a water table of regional proportions, which sometimes called the phreatic surface. The primary input of water to the saturated zone water table is deep infiltration of precipitation. Available data from wells indicate the bedrock fractures are of sufficient frequency, size, length and variable orientation to provide a regional continuous porous medium for groundwater flow. This saturated flow system extends into the lower portions of the regolith materials in some areas. For example, the water table beneath the Big Salt Wash valley extends outward from beneath the hill slopes into the alluvium. Throughout the study area, bedrock groundwater flows through interconnected fractures, and to a lesser extent, within inter-granular pore spaces in the sedimentary rock. In some low-lying valley areas, groundwater also flows in the alluvium and saturated regolith material. Major factors controlling fracture flow are the size of the cross-sectional open area and continuity of the pore spaces within the rock units. The pore spaces in the rock fractures are largely controlled by the spacing, width, length, roughness, infill material and orientation of the fractures, which vary with location and depth. Geologic and hydrologic data show that the groundwater flow system in the site vicinity exhibits the features of a topographically-driven flow system. The available groundwater elevation measurements show a strong correlation between ground surface elevation and the water table (i.e., phreatic surface) elevation. Groundwater level data provided by CAM and the Fruita Mine Baseline Data Report (Kaman Tempo 1984) show groundwater levels are related to land surface 3-89

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Affected Environment

topography. Figure 3-13, Groundwater Levels and Land Surface Topography, is a linear regression plot of groundwater elevations versus topographic elevations using the available data for wells completed below the water table in the study area. The best-fit linear regression to these data has an R-square value of 0.87, which is a very good correlation. This empirical relationship indicates that hydraulic heads in the saturated zone are influenced primarily by the elevation of the ground surface topography. The best-fit regression line equation on Figure 3-13 also provides a basis for using topographic elevations to estimate water table elevations and hydraulic gradients in areas where no well measurements exist. Using the empirical relationship shown on Figure 3-13, Groundwater Levels and Land Surface Topography, together with the hydraulic head measurements from available wells, provides the basis for estimating the spatial trends in hydraulic gradients and hence groundwater flow directions. Figure 3-16, Potentiometric Surface, is a potentiometric map showing contours of equal hydraulic head elevations throughout the study area, which are based on the available groundwater level data and values derived from Figure 3-13. The groundwater level elevation for Well F50-82 shown on Figure 3-16 was obtained from the DRMS permit application (Stover and Associates 2008). This potentiometric map shows groundwater flows away from the upland areas of higher hydraulic head and toward the areas of lower hydraulic heads. Hydraulic gradients in the groundwater flow system are oriented in the same general directions as the land surface slopes, which are generally toward the southwest. Flow paths emanate from the higherelevation recharge areas and converge toward major stream valleys. The topographic influence on groundwater flow is reflected in the potentiometric surface maps and cross-section provided in the Fruita Mine baseline hydrologic data report (Kaman Tempo 1984, Appendix G). That information shows groundwater flows generally away from the uplands surrounding Coal Gulch and Garvey Canyon toward lower elevations in those valleys, which is generally toward the southwest. In the higher elevation areas, hydraulic gradients are downward, but gradients are upward in the lower lying areas. The flow patterns reported previously (Kaman Tempo 1984) are consistent with those depicted on the potentiometric map prepared for this project, Figure 3-16, Potentiometric Surface. Where the groundwater levels rise above ground surface or the level of a surface water body, groundwater will discharge (or seep) from the land surface. Table 3-17, Estimated Depth of Groundwater Table at Spring Locations, shows the estimated depth to the groundwater table below ground surface beneath the springs mapped during the 1982-1983 surveys (Figure 3-12, Spring Locations). This table indicates that the springs located on the upland valley walls emerge at much higher elevations than the water table. Therefore, those upland springs are not hydraulically connected with the water table of the saturated groundwater flow system. Rather, the upland springs are fed by relatively isolated zones of interflow (e.g., perched groundwater), and consequently the surface water seepage created by these small springs is limited to only a very small area because of rapid infiltration and evaporation. Springs that emerge in the valley bottoms along surface drainages may contribute to streamflow. However, the amount of groundwater flow contributed by springs is insignificant relative to the surface water runoff. Discharge from the groundwater flow system is also indicated by the phreatophyte vegetation and wetlands lying along the lower portion of the Big Salt Wash valley.

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Legend Permitted Well Groundwater Monitoring Well Groundwater Elevation, Ft (MSL) Groundwater Flow Direction 69kV Transmission Line Route Proposed Rail Spur Proposed Road Proposed Waste Rock Disposal Area Existing Lease Coal Lease Application Proposed Land Use Application Area Project Area 0 0.5 1 2 3 Miles Map Extent
1 2 4 5 3

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Red Cliff Mine EIS

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Figure 3-16 Potentiometric Surface
05/30/08

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3.2.6 – Groundwater

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

In summary, the available groundwater data indicate it is possible to model the groundwater flow regime as a continuous saturated porous medium in the area potentially affected by the proposed mine.

Groundwater Flow Model
Based on the conceptual hydrogeologic model and available hydrogeologic data, the MODFLOW program has been used to estimate groundwater inflow rates to the proposed mine for the purposes of this EIS. MODFLOW is a well-tested and documented, numerical groundwater flow model developed by the USGS. The model area boundaries are shown on Figure 3-17, Numerical Model Boundaries. A regional scale model was developed for the area. The model domain extended from the Book Cliffs to the Colorado River. For the mine analysis, the model area was focused on the study area, but model boundaries were kept the same. This limited the impact of the boundaries on the model results.

Hydraulic Properties
This MODFLOW model has three layers, which allows the model to predict flow in the saturated zone. In upland areas, properties of the Cameo Coal Seam and the overburden bedrock units are assigned to the upper two layers, with flow in the alluvial aquifer valleys simulated by the upper layer. The bottom layer represents the Mancos Shale. Hydraulic properties of these hydrogeologic units are estimated based on borehole packer tests and aquifer pumping tests of wells. Table 3-18, Hydraulic Parameter Values Specified in MODFLOW Model, provides a summary of hydraulic conductivity (K) values used in the MODFLOW model.

Table 3-18 HYDRAULIC PARAMETER VALUES SPECIFIED IN MODFLOW MODEL
Model Layer 1 2 3
Notes: cm/sec ft = =

Unit Mesaverde Formation Cameo Coal Mancos Shale

Hydraulic Conductivity ft/day cm/sec 0.007 2.E-06 0.11 4.E-05 0.01 4.E-06
ft/day ft2/day = =

Thickness ft 900 50 3000

Transmissivity ft2/day 6.3 5.5 30

centimeters per second feet

feet per day square feet per day

Boundary Conditions
The major watershed divides encompassing the study areas are incorporated into the model as no-flow boundary conditions. The Colorado River serves as a boundary along the southern portion of the model domain. Streams are simulated as drain boundaries, to represent areas of groundwater discharge. The Colorado River was simulated as a River Boundary. Area-wide recharge is specified in the model to be 0.4 inch/year.

Simulation of Current Groundwater Flow
Figure 3-18, MODFLOW Simulation A Groundwater Levels and Flow Into McClane Canyon Mine, shows the model-simulated distribution of hydraulic heads and flow into the MCM, prior to any operations at Red Cliff Mine. In addition to the hydraulic parameters specified in Table 3-18, Hydraulic Parameter Values Specified in MODFLOW Model, a drain boundary is 3-93

3.2.7 – Surface Water

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

incorporated into the model throughout the extent of the existing underground mine openings. The drain elevation is set to the bottom elevation of the simulated coal layer in the model. The amount of water captured by the drain is calculated by mass balance of the drain area simulating the MCM in the model. For the hydraulic parameters and hydrogeologic conditions specified, the model predicts the average inflow to the MCM area to be 48 gpm under long-term steady state conditions. This is similar to recent dewatering flows measured at the mine by CAM, which have ranged from about 10 to 30 gpm (Stover 2008). Reasonable agreement between the model-simulated and actual measurements, indicate the model is capable of reasonably predicting future groundwater inflow rates to Red Cliff Mine. The model predictions of mine dewatering rates and the potential impacts of the dewatering are described in Section 4.2.6, Groundwater.

3.2.7 Surface Water
The Red Cliff Mine project is located in the Colorado River Basin. This is the second-largest basin in Colorado, encompassing more than 18,160 square miles and 19,340 miles of streams. The volume of water that flows through the basin is greater than the combined flows of all the other basins in the state. The project area is located in a sub-basin within the Lower Colorado River watershed, north of the Colorado River near the Colorado-Utah border. The site encompasses the East Salt Creek, Mack Wash, and Big Salt Wash sub-basins. Several ditches and reservoirs and 19 major streams are located in the Red Cliff Mine project area (see Table 3-19, Streams, Ditches, and Reservoirs Located Within the Red Cliff Mine Project Area). Ephemeral streams only flow in response to high surface runoff and when the water table is higher as a result of storms events. A perennial stream flows year round and typically supports aquatic life. An intermittent stream flow is seasonal, and flows are driven by storm events. The base flow of these streams is provided by groundwater seepage into the channel. Intermittent and perennial streams were identified from the most recent USGS maps for this region, dated 1972 and 1973 (Terraserver USA 2008). The specific USGS 7.5 minute series topographic maps reviewed to obtain this information included Fruita, Highline Lake, Howard Canyon, Mack, and Ruby Lee Reservoir. A solid, dark-blue line on the USGS map indicates a perennial stream, while either a thin, light-blue line or a three-dots-and-a-dash line represents intermittent streams. Although many ephemeral streams exist within the project area, none are mapped by USGS. According to the USGS map, Big Salt Wash is perennial along its entire length within the coal lease area and above the location of the planned mine workings. The USGS indicates that this stream changes from perennial to intermittent just south of the Ruby Lee Reservoir explained by the fact that much of the streamflow in Big Salt Wash is diverted to Ruby Lee Reservoir, thus reducing flow. In addition to these streams, there are also four reservoirs and lakes, numerous springs, and irrigation ditches and laterals in the project area that may be affected. The reservoirs and lakes include Highline Lake, Ruby Lee Reservoir, Mack Mesa Lake, and Mack Mesa Reservoir. The main ditch/canal in the project area is the Highline Canal. A discussion of springs in this study area is located in Section 3.2.6, Groundwater.

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Figure 3-17 Numerical Model Boundaries

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Hole

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Figure 3-18 MODFLOW Simulation A Groundwater Levels and Flow Into McClane Canyon Mine

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3.2.7 – Surface Water

CHAPTERTHREE
McClane Canyon Mine X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X Proposed Coal Lease Area Proposed Mine Facilities and Rail Loop Proposed 69kV Transmission Line Crossing Alternative A Transmission Line Crossing Alternative B Transmission Line Crossing

Affected Environment

Table 3-19 STREAMS, DITCHES, AND RESERVOIRS LOCATED WITHIN THE RED CLIFF MINE PROJECT AREA
Water Body Salt Creek East Salt Creek West Salt Creek Mack Wash Reed Wash Big Salt Wash1 Big Salt Wash1 Demaree Canyon Coyote Wash Munger Creek Lapham Canyon Creek Post Canyon Garvey Canyon Buniger Canyon Stove Canyon Coal Gulch Hatchet Canyon East Branch Reed Wash Peck and Beede Wash Grand Valley Canal Mack Mesa Lake Mack Mesa Reservoir Highline Lake Highline Canal Ruby Lee Reservoir Alternative C Transmission Line Crossing Proposed Railroad Spur Crossing

Perennial Streams

X X

X

X

Intermittent Streams

X X X

Ditches and Reservoirs

X

X

X

X

X

Notes: 1 Big Salt Wash is classified as perennial along its entire length within the coal lease area and above the location of the planned mine workings and changes from perennial to intermittent just south of the Ruby Lee Reservoir. kV = kilovolt

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3.2.8 – Water Quality

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

Approximately 180 washes have been mapped within the project area as shown on Figure 3-19, Red Cliff Mine Jurisdictional Determination Drainage Crossings – South, and Figure 3-20, Red Cliff Mine Jurisdictional Determination Drainage Crossings – North (WestWater Engineering 2007). The proposed ROW area encompasses four different stream segments. The proposed coal lease area contains eight different stream segments. The existing coal lease area contains Stove Canyon, which has ephemeral flows although the USGS map indicates that Stove Canyon is an Intermittent Stream. Figure 3-9, Authorized Oil and Gas Leases within the Existing Coal Lease Application, depicts the streams located within the ROW and the proposed and existing coal lease areas.

Surface Water Rights
CAM has existing surface water rights of 3 cfs on Mack Wash (Structure ID 1385 in Table F-2 of Appendix G, Water Data and Information) that are administered by the Colorado Division of Water Resources (Office of the State Engineer).

3.2.8 Water Quality
This section identifies the regulations governing surface water quality within the project areas and describes the baseline water quality standards for determining the effects of proposed mining activities on surface water resources. Available USGS and BLM water quality data within and near the project area was reviewed to assess the site-specific surface water quality of the area. In addition, a review of topographic and geologic maps was completed to assess the topography within the project area. This information is useful in understanding how and where the surface water flows. East Salt Creek, Big Salt Wash, and Mack Wash watersheds are the primary locations where potential impacts may occur as a result of the project; all of these watersheds flow to the south towards the Colorado River. The railroad spur and most of the surface facilities lie within the East Salt Creek watershed. The lease area generally lies on Mack Wash and Big Salt Wash watersheds. Additional surface water impacts on Mack Wash include surface water diversions and the construction of the rail line and bridge crossings. Mack Wash and Big Salt Wash watersheds are important stream segments to evaluate for this EIS; they are classified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as Relatively Permanent Waters (RPW). The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) was established as part of the Clean Water Act amendments of 1972. The purpose of these specific regulations is to control and regulate point sources of water pollution throughout the United States, with the overall objective of eliminating these discharges and ensuring all receiving waters were “fishable” and “swimmable”. These initial regulations targeted point source discharges such as municipal sewage treatment plants and industrial discharges. Stormwater was initially exempt from the point source category and not included. In 1987, the EPA established separate regulations for stormwater (implemented in 1990) for large municipalities greater than 250,000 (i.e., Phase I municipalities), and construction activities disturbing greater than or equal to 5 acres. The recently implemented Phase II regulations require municipalities greater than 10,000 (and identified counties and jurisdictions) to comply with the stormwater regulations in addition to construction activities disturbing greater than or equal to 1 acre (Pitt et al. 2007). In Colorado, stormwater discharge permits are issued by the CDPHE, Water Quality Control Division 3-100

Red Cliff Mine EIS

Figure 3-19 Red Cliff Mine Jurisdictional Determination Drainage Crossings – South

WestWater Engineering

Page 7 of 22

COE Jurisdictional Determination Request

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Red Cliff Mine EIS

Figure 3-20 Red Cliff Mine Jurisdictional Determination Drainage Crossings – North

WestWater Engineering

Page 8 of 22

COE Jurisdictional Determination Request

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3.2.8 – Water Quality

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

(WQCD). Such permits are part of the Colorado Discharge Permit System, or CDPS, under Regulation 61. The Phase II municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) are covered under a general permit for stormwater discharges from MS4s. In addition, the construction stormwater permits are covered under a separate permit addressing the temporary nature of these activities. According to the 1987 BLM Resource Management Plan for the Grand Junction Area (BLM 1987), the primary emphasis of water resources management includes the reduction of salinity and sediment yields from the Grand Valley. The CDPHE-WQCD has attested to these concerns of elevated selenium concentrations by including the Grand Valley washes on the 2008 303(d) List of Impaired Waters, necessitating a total maximum daily loading (TMDL) development. Currently, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) is collaborating with the Grand Valley Selenium Task Force to address these concerns. Baseline conditions are identified by drainage basins, as runoff from the proposed railroad spur, transmission line, and mining activities will collect by drainage basin. The physical, chemical, and biological quality of the water in the Lower Colorado River Basin is the product of the natural and human factors that make up the environmental setting of the basin. Natural conditions such as physiography, climate, geology, and soils affect the ambient water quality while anthropogenic factors such as water use, population, land use, and water-management practices can have a pronounced effect on water quality in the basin. The USACE Jurisdictional Determination Request (see Appendix E, Coordination and Consultations), identified potential Waters of the U.S. (WOUS), documenting specific information for Salt Creek and East Salt Creek. Spring runoff events for the Salt Creek watershed are associated primarily with snow melt from the higher elevations and snow accumulation below 5500 feet is minimal and seldom remains as ground cover for more than a few days. Chemical (water quality) function is most likely insignificant, however, during severe widespread precipitation events the washes could connect with East Salt Creek and transport sediment and pollutants downstream. The naturally occurring selenium in Mancos Shale could be transported during these events. The dry washes within the East Salt Creek Drainage would be impacted by spring runoff events in the upper reaches of drainage basins. Variations in precipitation intensity and spatial distribution further decrease the ability of the washes to transfer nutrients, sediment, or pollution to downstream waters. In general, it can be anticipated that tributaries within the proposed project impact area would have negligible impact on the physical, chemical, and biological conditions of the downstream Colorado River or its tributaries. Existing water quality data collected from BLM and USGS gaging stations are summarized in Table 3-20, Summary BLM and USGS Water Quality Data from Gaging Stations, providing the most relevant data applicable to potential project impacts. The stations were selected to be representative of the project area, based on proximity to the project area and the amount of project-specific water quality data available. Figure 3-21, USGS Stations, illustrates all of the sampling events in the project area. The size of the circles represents the number of sampling events at each site (small is fewer than five samples, medium is five to nine samples, large is 10 to 99 samples, and extra large is greater than 100 samples). Table 3-20 provides water quality samples from BLM stations that represent approximately 20 sampling events from the early 1980s until the summer of 1995 and USGS stations that represent approximately ten sampling events from 1973 to 1999. A complete summary of available surface water analytical data in and near the project area is presented in Appendix G, Water Data and Information. The results of

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3.2.8 – Water Quality

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

this evaluation suggest that the conductivity, turbidity, and dissolved solids concentrations are high.

Table 3-20 SUMMARY BLM AND USGS WATER QUALITY DATA FROM GAGING STATIONS
Site Big Salt Wash Abv Diversion (K) East Salt Creek Above Canal (I) Location Latitude 39° 22' 28.8", Longitude 108° 43' 28.7" Agency Minimum BLM Median Maximum Minimum Latitude 39° 18' 9.1", Longitude 108° 52' 24.8" BLM Median Maximum Minimum East Salt Creek at 6&50 (I) Salt Creek at I70 (H) Averages West Salt Creek at Gage (J') Latitude 39° 14' 9.25", Longitude 108° 53' 44.83" BLM Median Maximum Minimum Latitude 39° 13' 22.91", Longitude 108° 53' 27.16" BLM Median Maximum Minimum Latitude 39° 14' 41.3", Longitude 108° 54' 38.8" BLM Median Maximum Minimum West Salt Creek Nr 8 Road (J) Salt Creek Near Mack, CO Station Number 9163490 East Salt Creek Near Mack, CO Station Number 9163310 Big Salt Wash At Fruita, CO Station Number 9153270 Mack Wash Near Mack, CO Station Number 9163340 West Salt Creek Near Mack, CO Station Number 9153400 Latitude 39° 14' 41.3", Longitude 108° 54' 38.8" BLM Median Maximum Minimum Latitude 39°13'18", Longitude 108°53'32" USGS Median Maximum Minimum Latitude 39°17'50", Longitude 108°51'58" USGS Median Maximum Minimum Latitude 39°09'49", Longitude 108°45'01" USGS Median Maximum Minimum Latitude 39°15'57", Longitude 108°50'32" USGS Median Maximum Minimum Latitude 39°18'31", Longitude 108°58'59" USGS Median Maximum Flow cfs 0.0 1.8 28.6 0.3 1.70 34.2 12.0 15.5 63.9 98.9 127.0 185.5 0.0 0.2 6.6 0.8 20.6 40.7 9.9 21.0 148.0 0.2 0.4 2.6 9.5 18.0 106.0 2.2 7.8 33.0 0.1 0.5 1.0 Conductivity μS/cm 560 1205 2270 1000 3750 7200 1220 2400 2910 1250 1330 1770 2230 8500 16000 1190 1673 8100 884 1670 5410 3180 6955 9150 931 1830 3390 1380 2570 3960 1820 7070 11700 Turbidity NTU 4.0 75.0 1580.0 0.9 125.0 600.0 0.0 45.0 640.0 67.0 168.5 700.0 0.2 87.0 100000.0 3.0 95.0 35000.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 ------2.0 2.0 2.0 ------------Selenium mg/L 0.000 0.000 0.004 0.000 0.000 0.010 0.000 0.000 0.006 0.000 0.000 0.002 0.000 0.000 0.004 0.000 0.000 0.004 7.000 11.000 26.000 8.000 14.500 21.000 7.000 12.000 20.000 ------3.000 3.000 3.000 Dissolved Solids * mg/L 456 1060 1670 0 2900 8200 1282 2204 2948 930 1350 1430 1620 9920 15000 988 1391 10400 3790 3790 3790 ------1570 1570 1570 ------6980 130000 318000

Notes: *Suspended sediment concentration, milligrams per liter --= No data available µS/cm = microSiemens per centimeter BLM = U.S. Bureau of Land Management Cfs = cubic feet per second mg/L = milligrams per liter NTU = nephelometric turbidity unit USGS = U.S. Geological Survey

3-106

Waste Rock Disposal Area
BIG SALT WASH ABV DIVERSION (K)

Garfield County Mesa County
ty un Co ad Ro X

Mine Entrance Conveyor Unit Train Loadout

Access Road

EAST SALT CREEK BELOW CAMP0 GULCH (AB.GH CANAL) 0 WEST SALT CREEK NEAR MACK, CO. EAST SALT CREEK ABOVE CANAL (I)

Co

un

t

o yR

ad

T

EAST SALT CREEK NEAR MACK, CO. GOVERNMENT HIGHLINE CANAL NEAR MACK, CO. HIGHLINE LAKE SITE T3 T02N R03W HIGHLINE LAKE SITE T2 HIGHLINE LAKE SITE T1 MACK WASH NEAR MACK, CO.

139 GOV'T HIGHLINE CA AB CAMP #7 SPILL, NR MACK, CO. CAMP NO. 7 SPILLWAY NEAR MACK, CO. Go ver nm e t LATERALnNO. 48 NEAR MACK, CO. Hig hl eC HIGHLINE LAKE SITEinSB1 an
al

T02N R02W

GOVERNMENT HIGHLINE CA AT 16 ROAD, NR LOMA, CO. BIG SALT WASH AT GOVT.HIGHLINE CANAL

County Road 10

WEST SALT CREEK AT GAGE (J')

EAST SALT CREEK AT 6&50 (I)

Co un

ty R

oa dM

Ma ck
REIDS POND NEAR 12 AND O ROADS, NEAR MACK KIEFER EXTENSION GRAND VALLEY CANAL NR LOMA, CO. KIEFER EXTENSION GRAND VALLEY CA NR FRUITA, CO. REED WASH NEAR MACK, CO. LITTLE SALT WASH TRIBUTARY NEAR FRUITA, CO.

.8

Mack

SALT CREEK AT I-70 (H) SALT CREEK NEAR MACK, CO.

70

Wa sh

EAST BRANCH OF REED WASH AT M RD

6
REED WASH NEAR FRUITA, CO. COLORADO RIVER BELOW BIG SALT WASH LOMA DRAIN AT MOUTH

REED WASH NEAR LOMA, CO. UB00100311AAA ADOBE CREEK AT 21 ROAD

Xcel Energy DITCH AT HWY 6 AND 50, NEAR FRUITA Fruita Uintah Substation
BIG SALT WASH COLORADO RIVER BELOW FRUITA FRUITA SEWAGE EFFLUENT

BIG SALT WASH AT FRUITA, CO. LITTLE SALT WASH AT HWY 50, AT FRUITA

HUNTER WASH AT K AND 21 1/2 ROADS VANWAGNER POND VANWAGNER POND NORTH NR FRUITA, CO DRAINAGE DITCH AT 18 ROAD AND I-70,AT FRUITA ADOBE CREEK NEAR FRUITA, CO.

COLORADO RIVER AT FRUITA COLORADO RIVER NEAR FRUITA, CO. SOUTH POND AT P.SMITH PROPERTY, NR 18 ROAD

Legend
Project Area Proposed 69kV Transmission Line Route Proposed Rail Spur Substation Existing Lease Coal Lease Application Proposed Land Use Application Area

0

0.5

1

2 Miles

Red Cliff Mine EIS

Land Ownership
BLM BOR STATE

Figure 3-21 USGS Stations

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3.2.8 – Water Quality

CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

The high values for these parameters are likely attributed to the chemistry of the Mancos Shale being the predominant geologic formation present at the project location as well as the dynamics of the flow. While the Mancos Shale geology creates naturally high selenium levels, the deep percolation and irrigation return flow from irrigation of the Mancos Shale through agriculture below the Highline Canal can be attributed to the very high concentrations near Mack and Fruita. Section 3.2.5, Soils, provides additional information regarding the Mancos Shale. Kaman Tempo (1984) provided a detailed survey of Coal Gulch, Garvey Canyon, Layton Wash, and Lipan Wash. In addition, Munger Creek, a tributary to East Salt Creek was surveyed. Section 3.2.6, Groundwater, provides a review and summary of the data provided in this report. A summary of this information is also provided in Appendix G, Water Data and Information. The data summarized in Table 3-20, Summary BLM and USGS Water Quality Data from Gaging Stations, indicate a marked difference in water quality above and below the Highline Canal. Big Salt Wash above diversion and East Salt Creek above canal have substantially better quality, particularly of selenium. The data from these two sites indicate no exceedences of the Se standard, whereas Se values are orders of magnitude higher due to irrigated agriculture on Mancos Shale which mobilizes the Se. In general, one of the biggest water quality concerns within the Lower Colorado River basin is elevated selenium concentrations. In July 2001, the CDPHE-WQCD established a “temporary” dissolved selenium standard of 4.6 µg/L for Grand Valley tributaries, including those within the project area, which flow into critical habitat for four endangered fish species of the Colorado River west of Grand Junction, Colorado. This standard was set to increase protection for aquatic life and includes a chronic dissolved selenium standard of 4.6 µg/L. Section 3.2.8.1, Surface Water Classifications, describes the water classifications for the segments within the project area, addressing any increased protection levels to protect assigned designated uses. Salinity or total dissolved solids (TDS) occurs at low concentrations in the headwaters of the Colorado River and its tributaries in Colorado; however, salinity concentrations increase downstream. The primary effects of salinity occur in the lower Colorado River basin. This is largely due to the higher levels of salinity and the type of crops grown there. Since total dissolved solids are conservative constituents which affect certain water uses in the lower Colorado River basin, and in order to utilize the most effective control methods, a basin-wide approach for controlling salinity is being followed. The seven states through which the Colorado River runs formed the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum ("Forum") to coordinate the basin-wide approach. The Forum gathers and reviews information relevant to the complex problem of salinity standards and implementation of controls by the basin states. Colorado, as a member of the Forum, will work with the other basin states and the federal government to manage salinity and its effects through this basin-wide effort (CDPHE-WQCC 1997). In order to provide for sound water quality objectives, numeric criteria are to be established at three key stations (i.e., below Hoover, below Parker and at Imperial Dams) as: • • • Below Hoover Dam 723 mg/l Below Parker Dam 747 mg/l At Imperial Dam 879 mg/l

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3.2.8.1 Surface Water Classifications

Affected Environment

The Colorado Quality Control Commission (WQCC) has classified streams for various uses as described in Colorado Regulation 37, Classifications and Numeric Standards for the Lower Colorado River Basin, effective March 1, 2008. Segment 13a contains all drainages, wetlands, lakes, and reservoirs within the project area upgradient of the Highline Canal within the Lower Colorado River Basin. Segment 13b contains all drainages, wetlands, lakes, and reservoirs downgradient of the Highline Canal within the project area within the Lower Colorado River Basin. Segment 19 contains all lakes and reservoirs tributary to the Colorado River from the point immediately below the confluence of the Colorado River and Parachute Creek to the Colorado-Utah border. The numeric water quality standards that are suitable in maintaining the water quality to preserve the beneficial uses or improve the water quality of the stream are available in CDPHE-WQCC Regulation No. 37 (http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/regulations/wqccregs/wqccreg37lowercoloradoriverbasin.pdf) (CDPHE-WQCC 2007b). According to the water quality regulations established by the WQCC, classifications are established for any state surface water, except water in ditches and other manmade conveyance structures. Although ditches are considered waters of the state, they are not classified, and numeric water quality standards do not apply. Following is a summary of the stream description, classification, and temporary modifications for each segment. Appendix G, Water Data and Information, includes a table specifying the water quality standards for these stream segments (CDPHE-WQCC 2008).

Stream Segment 13a
• Segment Description – All tributaries to the Colorado River including wetlands, from a point immediately below the confluence of Parachute Creek to the Colorado/Utah border except for the specific listings in Segments 13b through 19. Stream Classifications – Aquatic Life Warm 2; Recreation 1b; Agriculture. The definitions for these classifications are found in Regulation No. 31 (CDPHE-WQCC 2007a).
–

•

–

Aquatic Life Warm 2 – Waters not capable of sustaining a wide variety of cold or warm water biota, including sensitive species, due to physical habitat, water flows or levels, or uncorrectable water quality conditions that result in substantial impairment of the abundance and diversity of species. Recreation 1b – Potential Primary Contact Use: The WQCC intends that surface waters have the potential to be used for primary contact recreation. This classification shall be assigned to water segments for which no use attainability analysis has been performed demonstrating that a recreation class N classification is appropriate, if a reasonable level of inquiry has failed to identify any existing primary contact uses of the water segment, or where the conclusion of a use attainability analysis is that primary contact uses may potentially occur in the segment, but there are no existing primary contact uses. Agriculture – Waters are suitable or intended to become suitable for irrigation of crops usually grown in Colorado and which are not hazardous as drinking water for livestock. A portion of this stream segment, Salt Creek, is listed on the 2008 303(d) List as an Impaired Stream Segment for sediment (CDPHE-WQCC 2008).

–

–

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Stream Segment 13b
•

Affected Environment

Segment Description – All tributaries to the Colorado River, including wetlands, from the Highline Canal Diversion to a point immediately below Salt Creek, downgradient from the Highline Canal, the Orchard Mesa Canal No. 2, Orchard Mesa Drain, Stub Ditch and the northeast Colorado National Monument boundary, except for specific listings in Segment 13c. Stream Classifications – Aquatic Life Warm 2; Recreation 1a; Agriculture. The definitions for these classifications are found in Regulation No. 31 (CDPHE-WQCC 2008).
–

•

–

–

Aquatic Life Warm 2 – Waters not capable of sustaining a wide variety of cold or warm water biota, including sensitive species, due to physical habitat, water flows or levels, or uncorrectable water quality conditions that result in substantial impairment of the abundance and diversity of species. Recreation 1a – Existing Primary Contact Use: The WQCC intends that this classification receive the highest level of protection (with an anticipated risk level of eight swimmer illnesses per 1,000 swimmers). It is to be adopted where evidence has been presented that these waters are used for primary contact recreation or have been used for such activities since November 28, 1975 (per the federal regulatory definition of “existing uses”). This use category applies to a subset of waters previously classified recreation 1a. Agriculture – Waters are suitable or intended to become suitable for irrigation of crops usually grown in Colorado and which are not hazardous as drinking water for livestock.

•

Temporary modifications (as defined in Regulation No. 31): Se(ch)=existing ambient quality based on uncertainty. Persigo Wash from Grand Junction discharge to confluence with the Colorado River; and Little Salt Wash from Fruita discharge to confluence with the Colorado River for D.O., F. Coli., NH3, Cd, Cu, Ag, Ni, B, Hg, NO2 = existing quality. Expiration date of 2/28/09. NH3(ac/ch)=TVS(old)(Type i). Expiration date of 12/31/2011. This entire stream segment is listed on the 2008 303(d) List as an Impaired Stream Segment for selenium. All tributaries on the north side of the river, within the project area, are included in this listing (CDPHE-WQCC 2008). Adobe Creek is listed for Escherichia coli (E. coli) and total recoverable iron.

•

Stream Segment 19
•

Segment Description – All lakes and reservoirs tributary to the Colorado River from a point immediately below the confluence of the Colorado River and Parachute Creek to the Colorado-Utah border.
Stream Classifications – Aquatic Life Warm 1; Recreation 1a; Agriculture.
–

•

Aquatic Life Warm 1 – Waters that (1) currently are capable of sustaining a wide variety of warm water biota, including sensitive species, or (2) could sustain such biota but for correctable water quality conditions. Waters shall be considered capable of sustaining such biota where physical habitat, water flows or levels, and water quality conditions result in no substantial impairment of the abundance and diversity of species.

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3.2.8.2 Stormwater Quality Regulations Affecting the Project

Affected Environment

There are three primary stormwater NPDES permits that would be required for the construction and long-term operations of the Red Cliff Mine. The regulations supporting these NPDES permits have been established by the Federal Clean Water Act and the CDPHE-WQCC, and enforced by the CDPHE-WQCD. The General Stormwater Permit applies for five Phase II municipalities adjacent to portions of the project area. As part of the Phase II requirements, these Phase II municipalities may have specific construction stormwater manuals and design criteria that need to be considered. The Construction Stormwater Permit is required for all activities disturbing greater than or equal to one acre of disturbance. As part of this permit, a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) would be developed, outlining specific BMPs and phasing activities that would be implemented throughout the project. The Industrial Stormwater Permit addresses the long-term operations and maintenance requirements of certain industrial activities, including mining, specifically addressing measures to avoid contaminating stormwater runoff as a function of the normal mining operations.

General Stormwater Permit
The following Phase II entities within the vicinity of the project are required to comply with the General Stormwater Permit requirements: Grand Junction Drainage District, Grand Valley Water Users Association, City of Grand Junction, and Mesa County. Each one of these entities has an established stormwater program that includes specific elements pertaining to construction and post-construction activities, in addition to four other elements, within their respective urbanized areas. These Phase II entities have established guidelines, and even in some cases more regionally specific permits for construction activities that occur within their urbanized areas. In addition, many of them have specific drainage criteria guidelines that need to be referenced prior to selecting BMPs for temporary construction activities. Coordination with these entities prior to construction is needed to ensure proper selection of BMPs and that any hydraulic conveyance structures are sized appropriately. The proposed project areas that will be affected by these municipal stormwater permits will include the railroad spur, 69kV transmission line route, land use application, and the coal lease area. Although the proposed project area is not located within any municipal limits, the drainage criteria and erosion and sediment control guidance will assist in meeting stormwater requirements downstream. Additional information regarding this program can be obtained at the following websites: • • • • • CDPHE Information: http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/wq/PermitsUnit/stormwater/ municipal.html Grand Valley Drainage District: http://www.gjdd.org/ City of Grand Junction: http://www.gjcity.org/CityDeptWebPages/PublicWorksAnd Utilities/StormWater/StormWater.htm Mesa County: http://www.mesacounty.us/publicworks/stormwater.aspx Grand Valley Water Users Association: http://www.irrigationprovidersgv.org/ stormwater_discharge.htm

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Affected Environment

Note that the 5-2-1 Drainage Authority is assisting with the implementation of some of the permitting requirements for some of the above-listed municipalities. Additional information can be obtained at: http://521drainageauthority.org/.

Construction Stormwater Permit
Any projects involving greater than or equal to 1 acre of disturbance are required to apply for the CDPHE-WQCD-issued Construction Stormwater permit. The EPA has given CDPHE-WQCD jurisdiction over the issuance of this NPDES permit program in Colorado. A major component of this permit’s requirements is the development of an SWMP, which outlines the construction phases and mitigation measures necessary to prevent erosion and sediment during and after construction.

Industrial Stormwater Permit
An industrial stormwater permit is required for mining operations on federal lands. Typically railroads do not have stormwater quality permit requirements for the track alignment; although, the fueling and maintenance facilities associated with the railroad do have stormwater quality requirements. These requirements are related to industrial activities, such as spill containment and prevention and material storage and handling.

3.2.9 Floodplains
A floodplain is a flat area adjoining a river or stream channel, constructed by the river or stream in the present climate and overflowed at times of high discharge. Changes in stream base level will affect flood stage. Floodplains are typically viewed as a region covered by the 100- and 500-year floods, but flooding can occur at 10- to 50-year recurrence intervals. A recurrence interval is based on the probability that the given event will be equaled or exceeded in any given year (e.g., a 100-year recurrence interval means that a flood of that magnitude has a 1 percent chance of happening in any year). Due to change in climate or changes in watershed condition from grazing, energy development, recreation, or other influences, the water level in a river may change its level by aggrading or degrading. Moreover, changes in the floodplain, such as adding fill material, constructing buildings or bridges, or in any way limiting the natural conveyance of floodwaters, can cause a rise in the 100-year water surface elevation, consequently impacting adjacent properties not previously affected by a 100-year storm event. Floodplains are associated with all of the major drainageways and streams in the project area. The potential sources of flooding upstream and downstream of the project area are the major streams and minor ephemeral streams listed in Table 3-19. The perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral streams within the project area are not mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the assigned Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) (Panel ID Numbers 0802051575B, 0801150050B, 0801150075B, 0801150250B, 0801150250B, and 0801150245B) are designated as Zone D, or “areas in which flood hazards are undetermined.” Thus, there are no FEMA-delineated floodplains in the project area Flood-prone areas could be determined by using nearby gauging stations, channel morphology data, or software such as Hydrologic Engineering Centers River Analysis System (HEC-RAS), to determine flood flows for different recurrence intervals. Mesa and Garfield counties have 3-113

3.2.9 – Floodplains

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Affected Environment

conducted some floodplain mapping, although it is not currently available for the portions of the county(ies) containing the project area.

Floodplain Regulations Affecting the Project
The following regulatory requirements apply to the floodplains located within the project area: • EO 11988, Floodplain Management (1977), was authorized to direct federal agencies to “provide leadership and take action to reduce the risk of flood loss, to minimize the impacts of floods on human safety, health and welfare, and to restore and preserve the natural and beneficial values served by floodplains.” This EO was authorized to assist in furthering NEPA, the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (amended), and the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973. Section 2 of the EO directs the BLM to “evaluate the potential effects of any actions it may take in a floodplain; to ensure that its planning programs and budget reflect consideration of flood hazards and floodplain management; and before taking any action, each agency will determine the floodplain, as well as consider alternatives to avoid adverse effects within a floodplain, including not taking the action.” CFR, Title 44 – Emergency Management and Assistance, Chapter I – FEMA contains the basic policies and procedures of FEMA to regulate floodplain management and to analyze, identify, and map floodplains for flood insurance purposes.

•

Generally, these regulations are enforced at the local level by local governments and agencies, in this case Garfield County and Mesa County. Each of the local governments with jurisdiction in the project area has enacted floodplain regulations, which are consistent with the National Flood Insurance Program. Mesa County’s floodplain management regulations include: • • • • • • • • Regulation of construction in the floodplain Ensure that structures currently within the floodplain are adequately protected Protect the natural state of the watercourse to maintain historic flow capacity Restrict hazardous uses Minimize discharge into watercourses from waste disposal Discourage citizens from purchasing land in the floodplain Control filling of dredged material in waterway Prevent construction that causes major erosion to the watercourse

(Mesa County 2003). Although there are no FEMA-delineated floodplains in the project area, the local floodplain administrators recognize the beneficial values of the floodplain and thereby require a floodplain development permit. As new development occurs in unmapped floodplains, the developer is responsible for mapping and providing floodplain data to Mesa County. Development on 5 acres or more requires that construction runoff protection measures be used. A permit is required from the Water Quality Division of the CDPHE, and BMPs must be used to mitigate erosion on the development site for up to 15 years (Mesa County 2004). 3-114

3.2.10 – Vegetation

CHAPTERTHREE
Alluvial Valley Floors

Affected Environment

The following definition of alluvial valley floors (AVF) is taken from the Colorado Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Act, Section 34-33-103. “Alluvial valley floors” means the unconsolidated stream-laid deposits holding streams where water availability is sufficient for subirrigation or flood irrigation agricultural activities, but does not include upland areas which are generally overlain by a thin veneer of colluvial deposits composed chiefly of debris from sheet erosion, deposits by unconcentrated runoff or slope wash, together with talus, other mass movement accumulation, and windblown deposits. An AVF determination has been prepared for CAM (Rare Earth Sciences, LLC and ERO Resources Corp. 2007). Using existing information, including reconnaissance mapping by OSM and a site reconnaissance, a map was prepared showing AVF’s in the project area (Figure 3-10, Remnant Alluvial Fans at Red Cliff Mine Site). The mapped AVF’s are along East Salt Creek and Big Salt Wash. The East Salt Creek AVF is located west of the project area, and the Big Salt Wash AVF is in the project area including the proposed lease area and areas of transmission line alternatives.

3.2.10 Vegetation
Identification of vegetation associations/plant communities within the study area was accomplished using a combination of field surveys, the recently completed Baseline Vegetation Survey (Cedar Creek Associates 2006), and the Colorado Vegetation Classification Project (CVCP) (CDOW et al. n.d.). The CVCP is a landscape-level vegetation dataset for the State of Colorado, developed cooperatively by CDOW, BLM, and USFS. The study area (93,707 acres) consists of three directly impacted project areas: (1) a proposed mine facility site, (2) a proposed railroad spur corridor and included water pipeline, and (3) a proposed, and alternative, transmission line corridors, (together comprising 452 acres), as well as the existing lease area (7527 acres) and proposed lease area (14,525 acres) north of the facility site, and all the surrounding lands in the vicinity of the proposed project. The vegetation within the study area can generally be categorized into ten CVCP vegetation associations/plant communities: saltbush, sagebrush, greasewood, mesic mountain shrub, piñonjuniper, riparian, Douglas fir, aspen, grass dominated, and disturbed rangeland communities. Three additional CVCP classifications were also found within the study area: commercial/ residential, talus slopes and rock outcrops and bare soil, and water. For the purposes of this analysis (and in consultation with the BLM), two of the CVCP communities (saltbush and disturbed rangelands) were combined and are identified as salt desert shrub throughout this document. Each is described in more detail in Table 3-21, Vegetation Associations Found within the Study Area, and in the subsequent text.

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Affected Environment

Table 3-21 VEGETATION ASSOCIATIONS FOUND WITHIN THE STUDY AREA
Vegetation Association1 Shrublands Salt Desert Shrub Sagebrush Greasewood Mesic Mountain Shrub Mix Woodlands and Forest Pinon-Juniper Riparian/Wetland
1 1

Area (acres) 45,598.33 31,513.02 6,520.83 5,244.21 2,320.27 26,367.73 24,850.06 1,466.72 Less than 46.85 17,733.41 90.66 3,916.64 3,741.61 169.67 9.37 93,706.78

Percent of Total 48.66 33.63 6.96 5.60 2.48 28.14 26.52 1.57 Less than 0.05 18.92 0.10 4.18 3.99 0.18 0.01 100.00

Douglas Fir and Aspen Commercial/Residential Grasslands – Grass Dominated Other Talus Slopes, Rock Outcrops, Bare Soil Water No Data TOTAL

Note: 1 Vegetation Association names as assigned by the Colorado Vegetation Classification Project, except Salt Desert Shrub (CVCP communities: Saltbush (22,923 ac) + Disturbed Rangeland (8,590 ac)) and Riparian/Wetland (CVCP community: Riparian).

Salt Desert Shrub: This is the most abundant natural vegetation association, covering over 33 percent of the study area (Table 3-21, Vegetation Associations Found within the Study Area). Saltbush-dominated associations are found primarily, but not exclusively, on the middle portion of the project areas, primarily north of the commercial/residential lands that comprise most of the southern portions of the railway and transmission line corridors (Figure 1-1, Proposed Action). Additionally, nearly half of the mine facility site is represented by this association. The dominant woody species are Gardner saltbush (Atriplex gardneri), shadscale (A. confertifolia), and mat saltbush (A. corrugata). Broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae) and pretty buckwheat (Eriogonum bicolor) are also frequently encountered. Common native herbaceous species include Salina wildrye (Leymus salinus), Indian rice grass (Achnatherum hymenoides), galleta (Hilaria jamesii), and yellow milkvetch (Astragalus flavus). Weedy species include cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), halogeton (Halogeton glomeratus), annual wheatgrass (Eremopyron triticeum) and tumble mustard (Sisymbrium altissimum). This association also includes a large population of Grand buckwheat (Eriogonum contortum), a dwarf perennial shrub that the Colorado BLM has identified as a Sensitive Species. Sagebrush: This association is found primarily along the northern portion of the project areas, including the mine facility site and the northern portions of the railway and transmission line corridors. The dominant woody species is Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis). The herbaceous vegetation is dominated by cheatgrass but also includes Salina 3-116

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Affected Environment

wildrye and galleta. The intermediate fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus parviflorus var. intermedius), although not common, is notable for the robust individuals in this area. Greasewood: This association is not common within the study area (Table 3-21, Vegetation Associations Found within the Study Area). It is found primarily along drainage bottoms within the salt desert shrub and sagebrush associations. The dominant woody species include greasewood (Sarcobatus vermiculatus) and Wyoming big sagebrush. Cheatgrass and annual wheatgrass are the most abundant herbaceous species. Mesic Mountain Shrub Mix: This is the least common shrub-dominated association within the study area and is found primarily at elevations higher than the other shrub communities. The typical dominant species include gambel oak (Quercus gambelii), serviceberry (Amelanchier utahensis), and/or mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus). Additional common woody species include snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.), big sagebrush, or chokecherry (Prunus virginiana). Pinon-Juniper Woodland: This association is restricted primarily to the slopes and mesas within and to the east of the mine facility site, the northern-most portions of the railway and transmission line corridors, and large portions of the proposed and existing coal leases. Dominant woody vegetation includes Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma), pinon (Pinus edulis) and Wyoming big sagebrush. Common herbaceous species include cheatgrass, broom snakeweed, and Salina wildrye. Riparian/Wetland: Riparian vegetation within the study area is located along drainages and is dominated by a combination of cottonwoods, tamarisk and native wetland plants. Riparian/wetland is discussed further in Section 3.2.11, Wetlands and Riparian. Douglas Fir and Aspen Forests: These forest communities together comprise just 0.05 percent of the study area and are found exclusively at higher elevations, north of the Book Cliffs, within the proposed and existing coal lease areas. Grasslands - Grass Dominated: This association is not common within the study area (Table 3-21, Vegetation Associations Found within the Study Area) and all of it is found outside the directly impacted project areas of the proposed railway and transmission line corridors. It is most abundant on some flat mesa and bench tops found just to the east of much of the proposed railway alignments. The dominant species within the study area are the exotic invasives such as cheatgrass, annual wheatgrass, and jointed goatgrass. Commercial/Residential: This category includes buildings and other developments, managed pastures, and both irrigated and non-irrigated croplands and is found exclusively on the southern portions of the proposed railroad spur and transmission line corridors. Talus Slopes, Rock Outcrops and Bare Soil: Most of this category is located in the vicinity of the mine facility site and consists of the steep slopes of the Book Cliffs. Threatened, Endangered and Sensitive Species (TESS): As described previously, one BLM Sensitive Species, the Grand buckwheat (Eriogonum contortum), was found in the study area in proximity to proposed project areas, as a component of the salt desert shrub association. These findings are discussed within Section 3.2.13, Threatened and Endangered Species. Biological soil crusts (a.k.a. cryptobiotic crusts) occur within the study area, primarily on some of the gentle slopes within the salt desert shrub vegetation association. Along the proposed 3-117

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CHAPTERTHREE

Affected Environment

railroad spur alignment, the southern extent of the distribution is the Highline Canal and the northern extent is the transition from salt desert shrub into the sagebrush vegetation association The distribution of these organisms was documented during the surveys for Grand buckwheat (a BLM-sensitive species discussed within Section 3.2.13, Threatened and Endangered Species and within the report by WestWater 2007). At that time, biological soil crusts were reported to occupy at least 3 percent of the surface area within 92 percent of the sampling plots used for the Grand buckwheat survey. In general, these crusts were not well developed. Mosses were the most frequently observed component of the crusts, lichens were not very extensive, and there was very little evidence of classic soil pinnacles or pedicles typical of well-developed crusts.

Exotic Invasive Plants
Mesa and Garfield counties have identified 22 species of exotic invasive plants as noxious weeds. Of these, three species are on the Colorado State ‘A’ List (Table 3-22, Mesa and Garfield Counties Noxious Weeds List), 16 species are on the State ‘B’ List, and three are on the ‘C’ list.

Table 3-22 MESA AND GARFIELD COUNTIES NOXIOUS WEEDS LIST
Species1 Acroptilon repens Aegilops cylindrical Arctium minus Cardaria draba Carduus acanthoides Carduus nutans Centaurea diffusa Centaurea solstitialis Centaurea maculosa Cichorium intybus Cirsium arvense Cirsium vulgare Cynoglossum officinale Elaeagnus angustifolia Euphorbia esula Isatis tinctoria Leucanthemum vulgare Linaria dalmatica Linaria vulgaris Lythrum salicaria Common Name Russian knapweed Jointed Goatgrass Common Burdock Whitetop, Hoary cress Plumeless thistle Musk thistle Diffuse knapweed Yellow starthistle Spotted knapweed Chicory Canada thistle Bull thistle Houndstongue Russian Olive Leafy spurge Dyer’s woad Oxeye daisy Dalmatian toadflax Yellow toadflax Purple loosestrife County M=Mesa, G=Garfield M&G G G M&G M&G M&G M&G M&G M&G G M&G M&G M&G G M&G M M&G M&G M M&G X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X ‘A’ List2 ‘B’ List3 X X X ‘C’ List4

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Table 3-22 MESA AND GARFIELD COUNTIES NOXIOUS WEEDS LIST
Species1 Onopordum acanthium Tamarix ramosissima Common Name Scotch thistle Salt cedar, Tamarisk County M=Mesa, G=Garfield M&G M&G ‘A’ List2 ‘B’ List3 X X ‘C’ List4

Notes: 1 List and nomenclature from the Colorado Noxious Weed Management Program 2007. 2 All populations of ‘A’ list species are designated for eradication. It is a rules violation to let any plant of any population produce seeds or other reproductive propagules. 3 Species on the ‘B’ list require an implemented weed management plan designed to stop the spread of these species. 4 ’C’ list species for which a management plan is to be developed.

Four species of exotic plants found on both county lists, and the State B List, were identified within the project areas. Three of these species, whitetop (Cardaria draba), Canada thistle (Cirsium avense), and Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens), are found in several locations within the agricultural lands that comprise much of the southern portion of the proposed railway alignment. Additionally, salt cedar or tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) was observed in several locations within proposed project areas. Tamarisk is the dominant species around the small stock reservoir and is also a small component of the pinon-juniper woodland; both areas are within the mine site facility. Tamarisk is also a small component of the vegetation along Mack Wash. It is found along the banks in the vicinity of where the wash crosses U.S. Highway 6. It is also an invader of the greasewood association around water impoundments on the wash west of SH 139 and north of the proposed railroad spur corridor. Redstem filaree (Erodium cicutarium) is another State B list weed that is widespread within the Salt Desert Shrub association and other disturbed sites on BLM lands. Several additional weeds from the State C List are also found within the proposed project areas. The most common non-native plant species found is cheatgrass (Anisantha tectorum, also known as Bromus tectorum). Cheatgrass is the dominant species on the mesa and bench tops above saltbush dominated areas, and represents a significant portion of the herbaceous understory throughout the study area. Jointed goatgrass (Aegilops cylindrical) is found in several locations within the mine facility site within the salt desert shrub, greasewood, and grass-dominated associations, as well as in the heavily disturbed stocktank/reservoir area. Halogeton (Halogeton glomeratus) is found infrequently as a component of the herbaceous understory in the salt desert shrub outside of areas that are likely to be directly disturbed by the proposed project. There are a number of nuisance weeds (exotic plant species not currently listed as a noxious weed species by the State of Colorado) found within the project area. Annual wheatgrass (Eremopyron triticeum) has been increasing in abundance and extent over the last few years within Mesa County. Within the project area, this species appeared to be the second most abundant non-native species, second only to cheatgrass. It co-occurs with cheatgrass on the mesa and bench tops and is a significant component of the herbaceous understory of all the shrub associations. Bur buttercup (Ranunculus testiculatus), is abundant within salt desert shrub. Other notable nuisance weeds within the study area include Russian thistle (Salsola tragus), kochia (Kochia spp.), and tumble mustard (Sisymbrium altissimum). 3-119

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CHAPTERTHREE
3.2.11 Wetlands and Riparian

Affected Environment

Wetlands and riparian areas exist in the project area. Wetlands are areas considered to be within the jurisdiction of the USACE under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, whereas riparian areas are given special consideration by BLM due to importance to fish and wildlife, and hydrologic resources on public lands. The study area for wetlands and riparian included the mine facility area and the railroad corridor, but did not include the proposed lease area.

Wetlands
Areas of potential USACE jurisdiction consist of WOUS. In general, WOUS includes wetlands (areas with wetland plants, hydric soils and hydrology); Traditionally Navigable Waters (TNW), such as the Colorado River; RPW (drainages with water flow 3 or more months per year) such as Mack Wash, Big Salt Wash, and East Salt Wash; and Non-RPWs that provide a surface or subsurface hydrologic connection to wetlands along RPWs (USACE 2007a). The project area was examined to determine areas of potential USACE jurisdiction during the 2006 and 2007 field seasons. Two Jurisdictional Determinations (JD) were filed with USACE in December 2007 and January 2008 requesting a non-jurisdictional determination for ephemeral drainages and a request for confirmation of wetland delineation and jurisdictional determination for potential wetlands in the project area. The USACE jurisdictional determinations are included in Appendix E, Coordination and Consultations. The USACE Jurisdictional Determination concluded that no potentially jurisdictional WOUS were present in the project area north of the Highline Canal. South of the Highline Canal, several wetlands and one RPW were identified. Identified wetlands are related directly to application of irrigation water on agricultural lands, and on the basis of March 2007 USACE Regulatory Branch Memorandum 2007-1 (USACE 2007b) were considered to be nonjurisdictional. These include wetland fringes along irrigation ditches in upland areas and sections of irrigation ditches that are impounded by blockages from vegetation or at culverts. All of the ditches are constructed in upland areas, and historic aerial photographs indicate that all of the area where these wetlands now occur was salt shrub desert prior to initiation of irrigation. Several wetlands were found to be related to groundwater seeps that are also likely related to irrigation water application, and therefore, non-jurisdictional. Unlined ditches can have losses of up to 2 cubic feet of water per foot of ditch area per day (BOR 1986), and the irrigated areas of the Grand Valley are underlain by a shallow perched water table derived from deep percolation of irrigation water and seepage from irrigation systems. Wetlands are present in some areas where the perched water table occurs near the surface. Wetlands have not been delineated in the proposed coal lease area along Big Salt Wash. On the basis of the USACE Jurisdictional Determination, the only jurisdictional wetland in the project area is 0.71 acre along the RPW, Mack Wash. The jurisdictional WOUS includes 0.6 acre of non-wetland (Mack Wash flow path) and 0.1 acre of adjacent fringe wetland. Approximately 16.1 acres of delineated wetland were considered to be non-jurisdictional because they are related to irrigation water application and return flows. Of this, approximately 11.5 acres are emergent wetland marshes, 3.1 acres are fringe wetland along irrigation ditches, and 1.5 acres are emergent marsh that no longer has wetland hydrology. Emergent wetland marshes are dominated by cattail (Typha latifolia), spikerush (Eleocharis palustris), threesquare (Scirpus pungens), alkali muhly (Muhlenbergia asperifolia), and mannagrass (Puccinellia 3-120

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pauciflora). Fringe wetlands are also dominated by the same wetland plants as the marshes and coyote willow (Salix exigua). All of these wetlands exist on private lands located south of the Highline Canal along the railroad spur alignment. No wetlands were identified on BLM lands. The location of identified WOUS in the project area are shown on Figure 3-22, USACE Wetlands.

Riparian Areas
Riparian areas in the project area are limited to the narrow floodplains along Mack Wash and other small washes south of the Highline Canal on private lands. Riparian habitat north of the Highline Canal (BLM) within the project area includes areas along Big Salt Wash in the proposed coal lease area. The riparian areas present south of the Highline Canal are dominated by scattered cottonwoods, coyote willow and greasewood. Portions of the riparian areas include wetlands likely to be under USACE jurisdiction. Other than along Big Salt Wash in the proposed coal lease area, the proposed project and all alternatives do not include any riparian areas on BLM lands. For the purposes of this analysis, all riparian areas south of the Highline Canal (private lands) will be considered to be wetlands.

3.2.12 Fish and Wildlife
The project area (mine facilities area and railroad corridor, see Figure 1-1, Proposed Action) is comprised of four dominant and reasonably distinct habitat community types: agricultural, salt desert shrub, sagebrush, and juniper scrub. These community types support a diversity of wildlife species as well as key habitats important to their survival. Information contained in this section is derived from the Baseline Wildlife and Vegetation Surveys conducted by WestWater Engineering, Inc. (WestWater) in 2006, and the Baseline Wildlife Report compiled by Cedar Creek Associates, Inc. in 2006. Surveys done by WestWater focused on BLM sensitive plant and animal species, raptor nest sites, areas of concentrated big game use, prairie dog town distribution, and birds of conservation concern (BOCC) along with a listing of all migratory bird species encountered, noxious weed concentrations, and naturally occurring perennial waterways. These observations are shown on Figure 3-23, Wildlife Observations.

Wildlife Species
Big Game
Mule deer, pronghorn, elk, and mountain lion are the four big game species that occupy habitats in or near the project area. Black bear may also be present at higher elevations, more heavily wooded habitats above the project area, but this species presence in the area is unlikely. Observations of animals or animal sign (pellets) confirmed use of the study area by mule deer, pronghorn, and elk. The entire project area is contained within the CDOW Game Management Unit (GMU) 30. The project area is located within year-long range for mountain lion and pronghorn, while elk and mule deer use the project area primarily during the winter months. The project area is located within or near CDOW mapped mule deer, elk, and pronghorn winter range, winter concentration areas, and/or severe winter range. Winter range is shown on Figure 3-24, Winter & Severe Winter Range. Map classification information for mule deer, elk, and pronghorn was 3-121

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obtained from Natural Diversity Information Source (NDIS) (CDOW n.d.). CDOW’s definitions for these big game winter activity areas are as follows. •

Winter Range – That part of the overall range of a species where 90 percent of the individuals are located during the average five winters out of ten from the first heavy snowfall to spring green-up or during a site-specific period of winter as defined for each Data Analysis Unit (DAU). Winter Concentration Area – That part of the winter range of a species where densities are at least 200 percent greater than the surrounding winter range density during the same period used to define winter range in the average five winters out of ten. Severe Winter Range – That part of the range of a species where 90 percent of the individuals are located when the annual snow pack is at its maximum and/or temperatures are at a minimum in the two worst winters out of ten.

•

•

Mule Deer
Mule deer populations in the project area region are managed by CDOW as part of the Book Cliffs Herd. This herd population is contained within GMUs 30 and 21. GMU 21 is located adjacent to and north of GMU 30. Most of the entire northern portion of the project area is located within mule deer winter range in GMU 30. The project area at the base of the Book Cliffs escarpment is entirely within mule deer severe winter range, while a mule deer winter concentration area extends into the northwest portion of the project area (Figure 3-24, Winter & Severe Winter Range). The August 2006 field survey observations of mule deer pellet group concentrations confirmed extensive mule deer use of portions of the project area. Accumulations of mule deer pellet groups and evidence of shrub hedging was most pronounced on the outwash benches supporting sagebrush habitat at the base of the Book Cliffs. Based on trails and fecal droppings in the canyons leading to the mine bench, the juniper mesa below the mine site, the northeastern portion of the disposal area and the open juniper woodland north of the disposal area are important foraging areas for elk and deer. These areas contain annual vegetation and are the first to green-up early in the year. CDOW considers these sagebrush benches to be the most important mule deer winter habitat areas within the study area (Riggs 2006). The areas near the base of the Book Cliffs are also considered important daily or weekly movement corridors as the steep slopes of the Book Cliffs funnel animals through the area. Access across all areas for foraging and watering appears very important for the well being of mule deer herds in this area CDOW population estimates for the Book Cliffs mule deer herd (Colorado Outdoors n.d.) indicate recent deer herd numbers to be relatively stable to slightly increasing: 2003 – 9,670 animals; 2004 – 8,770 animals; and 2005 – 9,800 animals.

Elk
Elk populations in the project area region are managed by the CDOW as part of the Yellow Creek Herd. This herd population is contained within GMUs 21, 22, 30, 31, and 32. GMUs 21, 22, 31, and 32 are located to the north and east of GMU 30 and include the entire area between the state line, I-70, SH 13, and SH 64. As indicated on Figure 3-24, Winter & Severe Winter Range, the northern portion of the project area is located within elk winter range, and most of this area is also within elk severe winter range. The August 2006 field survey observations of elk pellet group concentrations confirmed relative high elk use of potions of the project area, 3-122

Red Cliff Mine EIS

Figure 3-22 USACE Wetlands

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Red Cliff Mine EIS

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Figure 3-23 Wildlife Observations
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8

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Red Cliff Mine EIS

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UN TY RO AD M

Figure 3-24 Winter & Severe Winter Range
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although elk pellet group numbers were not as abundant as those observed for mule deer. Accumulations of elk pellet groups and evidence of shrub hedging was similar to mule deer and was most pronounced on the outwash benches supporting sagebrush habitat at the base of the Book Cliffs. The CDOW considers these sagebrush benches to be the most important elk winter habitat areas within the project area (Riggs 2006). Early spring use by elk was also very evident on the point of the ridge to the south of the proposed mine bench. Past disturbance and an old jeep road leading to this area have resulted in the abundance of annual grasses and forbs on disturbed areas. CDOW population estimates for the Yellow Creek elk herd (Colorado Outdoors n.d.) indicate recent elk herd numbers to be slightly decreasing: 2003 – 9,780 animals; 2004 – 8,840 animals; 2005 – 8,270 animals.

Pronghorn
Pronghorn populations in the project area, GMU 30, and surrounding GMUs are relatively low, and the CDOW has not established any hunting seasons for pronghorn in the region. The majority of the project area (lower elevations below the Book Cliffs escarpment and north of the Highline Canal) is within pronghorn yearlong range and winter range (see Figure 3-24, Winter & Severe Winter Range). Pronghorn winter concentration areas are located immediately southwest and south of the mine facilities area, while severe winter range is located just west of SH 139 and the project area (see Figure 3-24). Pronghorn use was most notable along the railroad route in the area between the Highline Canal and SH 139. Several well-used trails crossed the rail route, one of which likely leads to a watering site adjacent to irrigated cropland. The trails are also used by cattle. Not all crossings of the rail corridor use the trails, but the trails are areas of concentrated use. The southernmost trails occur about 0.4 mile north of the Highline Canal. The other two trails occur in close proximity to each other, about 0.25 mile further north, with one in a draw and the other on an adjacent ridge. The second area of obvious use was adjacent to the utility road corridor between SH 139 and the mine facilities. Because of low pronghorn numbers in the region, field surveys did not document any heavily used areas by pronghorn, but sagebrush and salt desert shrub habitats are the most important for pronghorn in the study area. During field surveys in June and August 2006, pronghorn were observed along the proposed railroad spur alignment north and east of the Highline Canal, along the main access road (CR X) to the facilities area, and on the facilities site. Recent herd population numbers for pronghorn in the study area region are not available from the CDOW. Informal estimates place the herd size in the neighborhood of 75 animals (Van Graham 2008).

Mountain Lion
Mountain lion occur throughout the study area region with their range being closely tied to that of mule deer. Mountain lion prey primarily on mule deer and, like their prey, are typically wideranging. Mountain lions will follow their prey’s seasonal movement and inhabit summer range or winter range in conjunction with mule deer. As a result of their wide-ranging habits, population densities are usually low. Documented home ranges for mountain lion in the Western U.S. range from 32.5 to 479.0 square kilometers (Anderson 1983). Preferred mountain lion habitat consists of rough or steep terrain in remote areas with suitable rock or vegetation cover. Based on this information and the wide-ranging habits of mountain lion, it is likely that the project area occurs within a territory occupied by this species. Mountain lions are most likely to

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utilize the project area during the winter months when mule deer numbers increase on the northern portion of the project area.

Predators, Furbearers, and Small Mammals
Due to the secretive nature and nocturnal habits of many furbearers and other small mammals, the specific distribution and population densities within the project area are unknown. Furbearers and predators known or likely to occur in the area include coyote, badger, gray fox, ringtail, kit fox, long-tailed weasel, western spotted skunk, striped skunk, and bobcat. All of these species, except ringtail, are adapted to a wide range of grassland and shrubland habitats and are likely residents of the project area. Field surveys documented the presence of coyote and badger. Coyote sign (scat) was encountered irregularly, but throughout the less rugged portions of the study area and coyotes are likely to occur in all habitats wherever suitable small mammal or rabbit prey can be found. Badgers prefer open grassland and sagebrush habitats supporting populations of white-tailed prairie dogs and ground squirrels, its preferred prey. Badger diggings were encountered occasionally in the desert salt shrub and sagebrush habitats in white-tailed prairie dogs towns within the project area. Bobcats, like coyote, occur in wide variety of habitats. This species prefers rugged areas with caves, rock outcrops, and ledges. Favored prey includes large rodents, rabbits, and hares. Juniper scrub habitat, along the Book Cliffs escarpment, provides the most suitable habitat for bobcat within the study area. Striped skunk and long-tailed weasel inhabit a wide variety of habitats but often prefer areas near water and may not be common in the project except in the agricultural area in the southern portion of the rail line. The western spotted skunk prefers canyon and foothill country below 8,000 feet in elevation in Colorado. It appears to favor broken country or rocky terrain supporting montane shrublands, semi desert shrublands, and piñon-juniper woodlands (Fitzgerald et al. 1994). Kit fox inhabit desert and semi-desert shrubland and margins of piñon-juniper woodlands throughout much of the Southwest. Additional information on the kit fox is included in Section 3.2.13, Threatened and Endangered Species. The range of the ringtail extends from southern Mexico and Baja, California, through the Southwest and into the northwestern one-third of the U.S. They inhabit open, semi-arid country where rocky outcroppings, canyons, or talus slopes are present. Although omnivorous, ringtails show a preference for animal matter. Principal food items include arthropods, small mammals, and fruits (Poglayen-Neuwal and Toweill 1988). Ringtails most often den in rock crevices, boulder piles, and talus but also use brush piles, other animal burrows, rural cabins, and caves (Poglayen-Neuwal and Toweill 1988). Habitats within the project area support a wide variety of other small and medium-sized mammals including the gray fox, long-tailed weasel, western spotted skunk, and striped skunk, associated with Colorado Plateau semi-desert and agricultural habitats. Many of the rodents and other small mammal species present represent an important food source for raptors and mammalian predators. Although specific information regarding population numbers and the distribution of most of these species is not available, some general conclusions related to species occurrence in the project area can be made based on habitats present and field surveys. Field surveys documented the presence of black-tailed jackrabbit, desert cottontail, white-tailed prairie 3-130

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dog, and least chipmunk. Prairie dogs were encountered at various points on public and private lands from the Highway 6&50 crossing to the mine facilities area. Figure 3-23, Wildlife Observations, indicates areas on and adjacent to proposed facilities currently supporting prairie dog populations. Burrow densities and area occupied by various populations varied considerable. The largest concentrations occurred on private land north of CR M.8 and on private and public land east of agricultural lands along East Salt Wash and north of the Highline Canal. White-tailed prairie dogs are a cornerstone species in desert habitat, and additionally provide habitat for black-footed ferret, an endangered species. More information about the locations of white-tailed prairie dog towns is presented in Section 3.2.13, Threatened and Endangered Species. Other small mammals likely to be study area residents include deer mouse, long-tailed vole, and plains pocket mouse at the lower elevations and mountain cottontail, rock squirrel, canyon mouse, piñon mouse, bushy-tailed woodrat, and yellow-bellied marmot at the higher elevations, associated with the upper portions of the Book Cliffs escarpment.

Raptors
Raptors that are not considered TESS and likely to occur in the project area are listed in Table 3-23, Raptor Species that May be Present in the Project Area. Several of these raptors are identified as BOCC by the USFWS (USFWS 2002).

Table 3-23 RAPTOR SPECIES THAT MAY BE PRESENT IN THE PROJECT AREA
Common Name Bald eagle Scientific Name Haliaeelus leucocephalus BOCC Y Habitat & Breeding Records Open Water – Lakes, Forested Wetlands, Shrub Dominated Wetlands; common winter migrant along river corridors. Elevation: 300-8,000 feet Grassland, shrubland, agricultural areas, and marshes. Nests in areas with abundant cover (e.g., tall reeds, cattails, grasses) in grasslands and marshes. Also known to nest in high-elevation sagebrush. Cottonwood riparian to spruce/fir forests, including piñon/juniper woodlands. Nests most frequently in pines and aspen. High density young, or even-aged, stands of coniferous forest and deciduous forests of aspen or oak brush with small stands of conifers. Piñon-juniper woodland. Diverse habitats including grasslands, piñon-juniper woodlands and deciduous, coniferous and riparian forests. Nests in mature trees (especially cottonwood, aspen, and pines) and on cliffs and utility poles. Typically, arid grassland, desert, agricultural areas, shrublands and riparian forests. Nests in trees in or near open areas. Grasslands, shrublands, agricultural areas, piñon-juniper woodlands, and ponderosa forests. Prefers nest sites on cliffs and sometimes in trees in rugged areas.

Northern harrier

Circus cyaneus

Y

Cooper’s hawk Sharp-shinned hawk

Accipiter cooperii

N

Accipiter striatus

N

Red-tailed hawk

Buteo jamaicensis

N

Swainson’s hawk

Buteo swainsoni

Y

Golden eagle

Aquila chrysaetos

Y

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Table 3-23 RAPTOR SPECIES THAT MAY BE PRESENT IN THE PROJECT AREA
Common Name American kestrel Prairie falcon Great-horned owl Northern sawwhet owl Long-eared owl Scientific Name Falco sparverius Falco mexicanus Bubo virginianus BOCC N Y N Habitat & Breeding Records Coniferous and deciduous forests and open terrain with suitable perches. Nests in cavities in trees, cliffs and buildings. Grasslands, shrublands, and alpine tundra. Nests on cliffs or bluffs in open areas. Occupies diverse habitats including riparian, deciduous and coniferous forests with adjacent open terrain for hunting. Mountain and foothills forest and canyon country. Significant use of piñon-juniper woodland and Douglasfir. Occupies mixed shrublands. Nests and roost in sites in dense cottonwoods, willows, scrub oak, junipers and dense forest of mixed conifers and aspens.

Aegolius acadicus

N

Asio otus

N

Note: BOCC = birds of conservation concern

Bald eagles are common winter residents on the Colorado River and utilize cottonwood trees for night roosts, hunting perches, and nesting. There are several nesting pairs of bald eagles on the Colorado River, with the closest nest sites found in Horsethief Canyon, approximately three miles southwest of the south end of the railroad spur. Golden eagles and red-tailed hawks will nest in large trees and cliffs or rock outcrops. The only trees of suitable size for nesting by these species occurred on private land within the railroad corridor. Suitable nesting habitat for redtailed hawk, golden eagle, prairie falcon, and great-horned owls is provided by ledges on cliffs and areas of rock outcrop on the Book Cliffs. Great-horned owls do not build their own nests and often occupy old nests of eagles, hawks, and ravens on cliff faces and rock outcrop. Northern harriers usually nest on the ground or in low shrubs in pockets of dense shrub and grass cover, along drainages or near wetlands. Two nests were located in cattail patches adjacent to Big Salt Wash. The American kestrel is a cavity-nester that uses abandoned woodpecker holes, magpie nests, and rock outcrop crevices. Stands of juniper and large cottonwoods also provide potential nest sites for red-tailed hawk, long-eared owl, saw-whet owl, Cooper’s hawk, and sharp-shinned hawk. Biologists surveyed and inventoried the project area for raptors during June and August of 2006 by searching cliffs and walking all areas of suitable nesting habitat. All potentially suitable sites within 0.25 mile of the proposed railway route were inspected for the presence of nests. Survey results are depicted in Table 3-24, Raptor Nest-Site Locations. All locations of survey observations were recorded using handheld global positioning system (GPS) units, and locations were recorded as Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates North American Datum of 1983, Zone 12 South.

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Table 3-24 RAPTOR NEST-SITE LOCATIONS
Species Northern harrier Northern harrier Burrowing owl Burrowing owl RT hawk/ raven Golden eagle Raven Unknown Great-horned owl
Notes: BLM UTM = =

Affected Environment

UTM Easting 683479 6832223 688695 688678 692902 692945 690866 692916 692003

UTM Northing 4346830 4345191 4354251 4358750 4361476 4360716 4363011 4362653 4359843

Habitat Type Cattails Cattails Annuals Annuals Cliff Cliff Cliff Cliff Unknown

Status Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Inactive Active

Ownership Private Private Private BLM BLM BLM BLM BLM BLM

Comments Approximately nest location based on adult behavior One chick in nest Adult Pair with owl pellets on several mounds Three young observed in burrow Young fledged but active this year based on white-wash Large stick nest. Young fledged but active based on white-wash Stick nest. Raven nest based on white-wash Old stick nest not active this year Fledglings; nest site not observed; likely tree

U.S. Bureau of Land Management Universal Transverse Mercator

Raptor observations (Cedar Creek 2006) other than nest sites included red-tailed hawk, raven, and northern harrier along the road access corridor, golden eagles perched on the Book Cliffs above the disposal area and soaring over the desert area, a peregrine falcon stooping on prey at a small stock pond, kestrels, and a falcon (undetermined species) perched on the transmission pole along access corridor. Very heavy white-wash beneath a cottonwood located on private land strongly indicates a hunting perch for bald or golden eagles during the winter months. Three great-horned owlets were observed on the juniper woodland bench indicating nesting in the woodland or adjacent cliff habitat. In this portion of Colorado, the raptor nesting season is generally considered to occur between mid-February and mid-August. Typically, owls and eagles are the first raptors to begin the annual nesting cycle followed by members of the Genus Accipiter, Buteo, Circus, and Falco. By mid-August all young birds have usually fledged and left the nest. Several TESS raptor species including the bald eagle, ferruginous hawk, peregrine falcon, and burrowing owl are known to utilize the project area. The burrowing owl is the most frequent user of the project area, breeding and nesting in the project area. The bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and ferruginous hawk utilize the area for hunting during the months they are present in Colorado. Additional information on these Threatened and Endangered birds of prey can be found in Section 3.2.13, Threatened and Endangered Species.

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Migratory Songbirds

Affected Environment

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) provides federal protection of migratory bird species, and the BLM is required to evaluate the potential effects of a project on such species. A draft USFWS MOU defines BLM responsibilities under the MBTA. The MOU directs the BLM to avoid or minimize the unintentional take of migratory birds to the extent practicable. The MOU also places high management priority on BOCC identified by the USFWS (USFWS 2002). The BOCC listing for the Southern Rockies/Colorado Plateau (USFWS 2002) was reviewed, and migratory songbirds on this list that are potential breeders in the study area are presented in Table 3-25, Birds of Conservation Concern Likely to Occur in the Project Area. BOCC raptors are listed in Table 3-23, Raptor Species that May be Present in the Project Area.

Table 3-25 BIRDS OF CONSERVATION CONCERN LIKELY TO OCCUR IN THE PROJECT AREA
Common Name Pinyon jay Gray vireo Black-throated gray warbler Scientific Name Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus Vireo vicinior Dendroica nigrescens Habitat & Breeding Records
• Piñon-juniper woodlands. Nests in piñons or junipers. • Confirmed breeder in Mesa County and observed on the project

area.
• Sparse Woodland, dry shrubby areas. • Mature piñon-juniper woodlands. Nests on horizontal branches in

piñon or juniper.
• Nesting has been confirmed in Mesa County. • Large contiguous areas of low-elevation big sagebrush or

Sage sparrow Brewer’s sparrow

Amphispiza belli

sagebrush/greasewood shrublands. Nests in sagebrush.
• Presence has been confirmed on the area during the nesting season. • Sagebrush, desert shrub. • Confirmed breeder in Mesa County

Spizella breweri

Songbird diversity within the study area is limited by the lack of vegetation species and structural diversity. Few songbird species were recorded by qualitative surveys within the study area. Juniper scrub slopes represent potentially suitable habitat for gray vireo, but their distribution in Colorado is irregular and quite localized (Andrews and Righter 1992). Piñon jay and black-throated gray warbler typically prefer denser and taller piñon-juniper woodlands than the juniper scrub habitat areas supported within the study area with the exception of the woodland located on the east edge of the project area. Sage sparrows prefer extensive stands of sagebrush. Sagebrush benches in the study area appear to contain suitable sagebrush stands for sage sparrow. Like the gray vireo, the sage sparrow’s distribution in Colorado is irregular and localized (Andrews and Righter 1992). The Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) database indicated that sage sparrow presence was recorded in and near the study area in April 1988 in Sections 2 through 11 (T8S, R102W). Brewer’s sparrow is well distributed throughout western Colorado but was not observed in the project area. It is found primarily in larger sagebrush stands of medium to tall height and is a confirmed breeder in Mesa County. Other songbirds noted on the project area during surveys in 2006 included horned lark, mourning dove, loggerhead shrike, sage thrasher, magpie, Clark’s nutcracker, mocking bird, ash-throated 3-134

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flycatcher, chipping sparrow, black-chinned sparrow, night hawk, meadow lark, lark sparrow, Scott’s oriole, Say’s phoebe, blue-gray gnatcatcher, western kingbird, violet green swallow, rock wren, and canyon wren.

Upland Game Birds
Chukar and mourning dove are the only upland game birds likely to be found in the project area. Mourning doves inhabit shrubland and grassland habitats in the region. However, they prefer agricultural areas and open woodlands with scattered trees and shrubs near water and are common throughout the project area. Doves were common during June, particularly around a small watering hole, although none were observed during the August 2006 field survey of the facilities area. Mourning doves are present in the region primarily during the summer months, migrating to warmer climates in the southern U.S. and Mexico for the winter. Chukars have been introduced as a game bird throughout many arid areas of the western U.S. This species prefers arid sagebrush/grasslands in areas of rocky or rugged terrain. Chukar nest on the ground typically in rock or shrub cover. They require water and will make daily trips to watering sites during the hottest parts of the summer (Terres 1980). Preferred food includes the seeds of understory grasses (especially cheatgrass and bunchgrasses) and weedy species and the leaves of succulent forbs (Terres 1980). The lack of springs and other water sources throughout the summer near or in areas of suitable chukar habitat may limit chukar presence within the project area during this period. Chukars were observed at the base of the Book Cliffs in June 2006, but were not seen or heard during the August 2006 field survey.

Waterbirds
Waterbirds include waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wading birds typically associated with wetlands and bodies of surface water. Within the study area, aquatic habitat for waterbirds is restricted to two small seasonal stock ponds in the desert area and irrigation water found in the agricultural areas. In the desert area perimeters of stock ponds have been degraded by livestock use, and they offer little vegetation cover suitable for use as waterbird resting or nesting cover. Ducks, geese, great blue heron, and killdeer are quite common in agricultural areas and adjacent wetlands, canals, and ponds that occur within the project area.

Reptiles and Amphibians
A total of 20 reptiles and amphibians could potentially occur within the project area based on habitat preferences and known distributions. Within the desert area the presence of amphibians is limited by the general lack of surface water in the project area. Only one amphibian, Great Basin spadefoot, is a likely resident in this portion of the project area. This species is listed as BLM sensitive and is discussed in Section 3.2.13, Threatened and Endangered Species. Within the agricultural area south of the Highline Canal, bull frogs were noted at two locations associated with small ponds and wetland habitat. Five species of reptiles (longnose leopard lizard, short-horned lizard, plateau striped whiptail, collared lizard, and gopher snake) were recorded during the 2006 field surveys. The longnose leopard lizard is listed as a BLM sensitive species and is discussed in Section 3.2.13, Threatened and Endangered Species. Five observations of longnose leopard lizard were recorded during the 2006 field surveys (Figure 3-23, Wildlife Observations). All observations occurred north of the 3-135

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Affected Environment

Highline Canal and below the base of the Book Cliffs. Although WestWater biologists did not observe sagebrush lizards, western whiptail lizards, milk snakes, and midget-faded rattlesnakes, these species are likely residents in the project area.

Fish
Fish species known to inhabit Mack Wash include flannel-mouth suckers, roundtail chubs, bluehead suckers, and speckled dace. Natural spawning of flannel-mouth suckers occurs in Salt Creek (Martin 2007). Salt Creek and East Salt Creek are not crossed by the railroad, and no flowing washes were encountered between the Highline Canal and Book Cliffs during the field surveys that were conducted during all seasons in 2006 and 2007. Except for East Salt Creek and scattered stock ponds on the desert (mostly dry) all water in the project area is a result of irrigation development.

3.2.13 Threatened and Endangered Species
This section describes threatened and endangered species (TESS) of plants and animals present within the project area or within habitat that could be affected by project actions. Threatened and endangered species are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Projects that may affect species listed under the ESA, habitat for such species and candidate for listing species are subject to consultation between the federal permitting agency (BLM) and the USFWS. Sensitive species are rare species managed by BLM to ensure that proposed projects do not contribute to the need for the species to become ESA listed. USFWS has identified the following species for consideration (USFWS 2006, 2008) (Table 3-26, Threatened and Endangered Species with the Potential to Occur within the Project Area).

Table 3-26 THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES WITH THE POTENTIAL TO OCCUR WITHIN THE PROJECT AREA
Common Name Boneytail* Colorado pikeminnow* Humpback chub* Razorback sucker* Uinta Basin hookless cactus DeBeque phacelia Scientific Name Gila elegans Ptychocheilus lucius Gila cypha Xyrauchen texanus Sclerocactus glaucus Phacelia submtica ESA Status E E E E T E

Notes: (T = federally-listed threatened; E = federally-listed endangered; C = a federal candidate species) *Water depletions in the Upper Colorado River Basin may affect the species and/or critical habitat in downstream reaches in other states.

In addition, USFWS has requested that estimates of the size of white-tailed prairie dog colonies present in the project area be provided to determine if surveys for black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) is warranted. Therefore, a section describing black-footed ferret habitat and occurrence in the Grand Valley is included here. 3-136

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Affected Environment

The four endangered fish listed in Table 3-26, Threatened and Endangered Species with the Potential to Occur within the Project Area, are collectively referred to as the Colorado River fishes for the purposes of this analysis.

Colorado River Fishes
The Colorado River fishes are native species of the Colorado River system which have decreased in numbers due to decreased flow in the rivers, loss of suitable habitat, and diminished water quality likely resulting from human uses. The portion of the Colorado River downstream from the proposed project is designated critical habitat for these fish. In addition, Mack Wash and Salt Creek may at times be used by these species. Projects that may result in the depletion of water or diminish water quality must undergo USFWS consultation.

Uinta Basin Hookless Cactus
This threatened species is found between 4,500 and 6,000 feet in elevation, primarily on rocky hills, mesa slopes, and alluvial benches of desert shrub communities and similar habitats. Uinta Basin hookless cactus has been found at a few locations in the Grand Valley (Spackman et al. 1997), but not within the proposed project area. Surveys of the project area by WestWater Engineering and Cedar Creek Associates did not locate any individuals or populations of this species.

DeBeque Phacelia
This plant is a candidate for listing under the ESA and is also considered to be a BLM sensitive species. DeBeque phacelia is a small, summer annual plant that grows only in Garfield and Mesa counties within the Piceance Basin in western Colorado (Spackman et al. 1997). The species’ total range is less than 300 square miles. The plant is restricted to elevations between 4,700 and 6,200 feet on the sparsely vegetated, dark gray and brown, clayey soils with high shrink-swell potential of the Atwell Gulch and Shire members of the Eocene and Paleocene Wasatch geological formation. To date, no individuals or populations of this plant have been reported in the Grand Valley or the proposed project area. Surveys of the project area by WestWater Engineering and Cedar Creek Associates did not locate any individual or population of this species.

Black-footed Ferret and White-tailed Prairie Dog Colonies
Numerous black-footed ferret surveys have been performed in the Grand Valley since the species was included on the ESA list. To date, no ferrets have been observed in the Grand Valley or within the project area. All known populations of black-footed ferrets in North America were introduced from captive-reared stock. The nearest such experimental population (managed by the BLM White River Field Office) is located between Massadona and Elk Springs, over 60 miles north of the project area. Active prairie dog colonies are an essential element of black-footed ferret habitat. White-tailed prairie dog colonies at least 200 acres in area, with a burrow density of at least 8 burrows per acre, and located within 4.34 miles of a similar colony may be considered potential black-footed ferret habitat. 3-137

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Affected Environment

WestWater surveys of the project area identified 13 white-tailed prairie dog colonies (see Figure 3-23, Wildlife Observations). Of these, 11 are located along the proposed railroad spur alignment, seven of which may be crossed by the railroad spur. Two colonies were found along the access road to the facility site. The estimated acreage of each town and the estimated burrow density per acre are shown in the Table 3-27, White-tailed Prairie Dog Colonies.

Table 3-27 WHITE-TAILED PRAIRIE DOG COLONIES
Colony Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Area of Colony Acres > 173.78 * 4.70 18.57 1.59 17.85 23.01 74.10 9.00 16.89 >12.33 * 137.73 56.77 9.43 Estimated Burrow Density/Acre 16 10 3 8 3 6 12 3 2 2 11 4 2

Notes: *Surveys in these areas were limited by land ownership issues. > = greater than

The location of these colonies relative other colonies beyond the survey limits of the WestWater work is not known.

Sensitive Species
Several species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and plants are identified by the State of Colorado and/or the BLM as sensitive species. Table 3-28, Federal and State Sensitive Species, lists the species that may occur in the project area.

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Table 3-28 FEDERAL AND STATE SENSITIVE SPECIES
Common Name Bald eagle Scientific Name Haliaeetus leucocephalus State Status Threatened Federal Status De-listed in 2007, protected under Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act BLM Sensitive De-listed in 1999. BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive N/A BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive BLM Sensitive

Burrowing owl Peregrine falcon Kit fox Townsend’s big-eared bat Spotted bat Fringed myotis Yuma myotis Big free-tailed bat Botta’s pocket gopher Midget faded rattlesnake Milk snake Long-nosed leopard lizard Great basin spadefoot Northern leopard frog Colorado round-tailed chub Grand buckwheat DeBeque milkvetch Grand Junction camissonia Cliffdwellers cryptanth
Notes: BLM = N/A =

Athene cunicularia Falco peregrinus Vulpes macrotis Plecotus townsendii Euderma maculatum Myotis thysanodes Myotis yumanensis Nyctinomops macrotis Thomomys bottae Crotalus viridis concolor Lampropeltis triangulum Gambelia wislizenii Scaphiopus intermontanus Rana pipiens Gila robusta Eriogonum contortum Astragulus deqequaeus Camissonia eastwoodiae Cryptantha elata

Threatened Special Concern Endangered Special Concern N/A N/A N/A N/A Special Concern Special concern N/A Special concern N/A Special Concern Special Concern N/A N/A N/A N/A

U.S. Bureau of Land Management not applicable

Searches for these species were carried out concurrent with other biological surveys performed by WestWater in 2006. No evidence of kit fox, Botta’s pocket gopher, midget faded rattlesnake, milk snake, Great basin spadefoot, Northern leopard frog, DeBeque milkvetch, Grand Junction camissonia, or cliff dwellers cryptanth was observed. However, considerable numbers of Grand buckwheat were observed, as were five long-nosed leopard lizards.

Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Burrowing Owl
Bald eagles are common winter residents on the Colorado River and utilize cottonwood trees for night roosts, hunting perches and nesting. There are several nesting pairs of bald eagles on the Colorado River, with the closest nest sites found in Horsethief Canyon, approximately three miles southwest of the south end of the railroad spur. Peregrine falcons nest on cliffs and forage over wide areas of adjacent habitat. There are known nesting pairs in Colorado National Monument, approximately 8 miles southeast of the project area. Burrowing owls were found at 3-139

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Affected Environment

two locations during the biological survey (see Figure 3-23, Wildlife Observations). An adult pair was observed about 0.25 mile east of the proposed rail alignment in prairie dog colony 11. Owls had apparently being using several burrows because regurgitated pellets were found on several burrow openings. The second group of owls (3 young birds) was observed in prairie dog colony 12 near the access road from SH 139 to the mine site. Specific locations of the burrowing owl observations are included in Table 3-24, Raptor Nest-Site Locations.

Kit Fox
In addition to being a BLM Sensitive Species, the kit fox is state listed as a Colorado Endangered Species. Kit fox occupy semi-desert shrubland dominated by saltbush, shadscale, sagebrush and/or greasewood, as well as the margins of piñon-juniper woodlands. Rabbits are a critical component of their diets. According to NDIS, kit fox are known to occupy Mesa, Delta, and Montrose counties. The project area includes the appropriate vegetation and abundant rabbits, both of which are important components of kit fox habitat. Western Colorado represents the northeastern edge of the kit fox’s range that extends from the northern Great Basin south through the desert Southwest and into Mexico. In Colorado this species’ historic range included the lower Gunnison River and Colorado River drainages below about 6,000 feet (Fitzgerald et al. 1996). After four years of study, Fitzgerald concluded that kit fox range and numbers in western Colorado had declined considerably. Fitzgerald captured ten kit fox in 1,930 trap nights at 922 trap sites over the four-year period in the lower Colorado River valley. One fox was trapped in Prairie Canyon (extreme west Garfield County), three were captured in Rabbit Valley (extreme west Mesa County) and six were trapped in the Cocoran Point area northeast of the Grand Junction airport. Radio-collared kit fox captured in western Mesa and Garfield counties moved 20 to 25 miles during the Fitzgerald study. Follow-up studies by Beck (1999, 2000) supported Fitzgerald’s conclusions and postulated that the species was close to extinction in the state. Other incidental sightings of kit fox were made by CDOW personnel in the early and late 1980s (Graham 2007). Fitzgerald estimated that over 200 square miles of sagebrush and saltbush rangelands, clay barren areas, and shrub-grasslands appeared to be suitable habitat in the lower Grand Valley. Almost the entire project area represents potential habitat for kit fox and is within their historical range. Although no den sites or kit fox sign were found during the 2006 surveys, it must be noted that kit fox are nocturnal and the field surveys were conducted during daylight hours, therefore it cannot be ruled out that kit fox are residents in the project area. Given the habits and mobility of this species, use of several inventory methods would be required, including spot-light routes, track detection stations, and searches for dens, to more accurately determine the status of kit fox in the project area.

Sensitive Bats
Five bat species (Townsend’s big-eared bat, spotted bat, fringed myotis, Yuma myotis, and big free-tailed bat) listed as BLM sensitive could reside in the Red Cliff Mine project area. Townsend’s big-eared bat is also listed as a state special concern species. Based on existing data it is unlikely that the fringed myotis and big freetail bat occur within the project area. The remaining bat species, Townsend’s big-eared bat, spotted bat, and Yuma myotis could occur within the project area but the probability is not high. Adequate foraging habitat exists for all 3-140

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Affected Environment

three species but suitable habitat for roosting, maternity roosts, and hibernacula is lacking in the project area.

Botta’s Pocket Gopher
Although no specific sites were surveyed in 2006 to determine the status of Botta’s pocket gophers in the project area, they are known to inhabit the project area. Botta’s pocket gophers can be found in a variety of habitats, including agricultural land, piñon juniper woodland, and semidesert shrublands (Fitzgerald et al. 1994). They are expected to occupy areas with deep soils along the rail alignment.

Midget Faded Rattlesnake and Milk Snake
These snake species inhabit varied habitats, including rocky to sandy soils in semi-desert shrublands, canyons, piñon-juniper woodlands, and arid river valleys between 7,500 and 9,500 feet (rattlesnake) or below 8,000 feet (milk snake). Both are secretive and may be difficult to detect without a concerted effort.

Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
Within the project area, habitat for this species includes fairly dense stands of saltbush, greasewood, rabbitbrush, juniper woodlands, and cheatgrass on clay soils. This habitat is found along much of the railroad alignment north from the Highline Canal continuing east of SH 139 to the proposed facility site, including the base of the Book Cliffs within and north of the mine and facility site. According to Hammerson (1999), these lizards are most common where the ground surface between shrubs is bare or lightly vegetated and where the soil is mounded at the base of the shrubs and pocked with rodent burrows used by the lizards during the nighttime and winter. A minimum of five individuals were observed by WestWater biologists within the study area during the biological surveys, including two in salt desert shrub (saltbush/shadscale), one in sagebrush, one in juniper woodland, and one in a burn reseeded with four-wing saltbush and perennial grasses.

Great Basin Spadefoot and Northern Leopard Frog
Great Basin spadefoot toads occur north of the Uncompahgre Plateau (including parts of Mesa and Garfield counties) at elevations up to 7,000 feet in piñon-juniper woodlands, sagebrush flats, and semi-desert shrublands. Habitats include the bottoms of rocky canyons, broad dry basins, and stream floodplains. There are known records of occurrence in the Grand Valley, west of the project area, between Salt Creek and the Utah state border (Hammerson 1999). Northern leopard frogs are widely distributed in Colorado including the project area below the Highline Canal, in habitats including wet meadows, ponds, marshes and irrigated areas. Formerly abundant, the frogs have become scarce in many areas of Colorado, due in part to loss of habitat and predation from non-native bullfrogs (Hammerson 1999).

Colorado Round-tailed Chub
Colorado round-tailed chub are listed as a Colorado species of special concern and a BLM sensitive species. These fish occupy slow-moving waters adjacent to areas of faster current in large rivers (NDIS), including the portions of Mack Wash and Salt Creek adjacent to the 3-141

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Affected Environment

Colorado River (Martin 2007). Formerly abundant in the lower Colorado River drainage, they have become increasingly scarce in recent years, causing them to be added to the sensitive species lists.

Grand Buckwheat
Grand buckwheat is a dwarf perennial shrub with small yellow flowers, typically in bloom from May to August (Freeman & Reveal 2005). This species is found in Mancos shale badlands on gently rolling hills with sparse salt desert shrub vegetation between elevations of 4,250 to 5,600 feet (Spackman et al. 1997). Grand buckwheat has a limited distribution largely restricted to the Grand Valley of Mesa County, Colorado and Grand County, Utah. A Grand buckwheat sampling plan was prepared in consultation with BLM biologists on the basis of the WestWater observations. The results were reported in a document prepared by WestWater Engineering (WestWater 2007). A summary of the findings is presented. The approved sampling plan, including the shape and area of the sampling quadrats, as well as the number of samples to collect, was based on the methods described by Elzinga et al. (2001). The study found an estimated total Grand buckwheat population within the study area of approximately 1,144,614 individuals. These plants are found on side slopes of the numerous ridges in the study area, but not within lowlands dominated by greasewood (Sarcobatus vermiculatus), or in areas with dense cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) (see Figure 3-25, Grand Buckwheat Habitat and Occurrences).

Debeque Milkvetch, Cliffdweller’s Cryptanth and Grand Junction Camissonia
DeBeque milkvetch is found between the elevations of 5,100 and 6,400 feet inhabiting the varicolored, fine textured, seleniferous saline soils of the Wasatch Formation-Atwell Gulch Member. The cliffdweller’s cryptanth is found between the elevations of 4,600 and 5,000 feet in salt desert shrub communities found on the clayey Mancos shale derived soils. The Grand Junction camissonia is found between 3,900 and 5,900 feet in sparse desert shrub communities (mat saltbush, shadscale, and blackbrush) and sparse juniper woodlands on adobe hills in the lower valleys of western Colorado. There is suitable potential habitat for each of these species within Mesa County and both the cliffdweller’s cryptanth and Grand Junction camissonia have been recorded within the Grand Valley between the study area and the Utah state border. The nearest recorded observation of DeBeque milkvetch is over 20 miles east of the project area.

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Red Cliff Mine EIS

Figure 3-25 Grand Buckwheat Habitat and Occurrences

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CHAPTERFOUR
4. Section 4 FOUR Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

This chapter is a site-specific analysis of potential impacts that could result from the implementation of a Proposed Action or alternatives to the Proposed Action. The purpose of this chapter is to analyze and disclose potential impacts of the federal actions on the human environment, and to develop mitigation designed to reduce potential adverse impacts to the extent possible. The federal actions are the applications received by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) described in Chapter 1, Purpose and Need, and the alternatives described in Chapter 2, Alternatives. The potential consequences (impacts) of each alternative are described in this chapter using the same order of the two resource topics (“Human Environment and Resource Use” and “Physical Resources”) presented in Chapter 3, Affected Environment. Identical organization for Chapters 3 and 4 allows the reader to compare existing resource conditions (Chapter 3) to potential impacts (Chapter 4, Environmental Mitigation and Consequences) for the same resources. There are many different ways to assess impact, such as temporary, long term, direct, indirect, and cumulative. In this chapter, temporary and long term impacts are identified within each resource section. Direct and indirect impacts are implied within the sections, as opposed to having separate headings. Unless indicated otherwise, all impacts described in this chapter are direct impacts. Cumulative impacts for all resources are described in Section 4.5, Cumulative Impacts. Temporary impacts are those impacts that typically occur during construction, but would not occur during operations. Long term impacts would remain over the life of the project (30 years or longer). Direct impacts are those impacts which are caused by the Proposed Action and occur at the same time and place (40 Code of Federal Register [CFR] 1508.8(a)). Indirect impacts are impacts caused by the Proposed Action and are later in time or farther removed in distance, but are still reasonably foreseeable. Indirect impacts may include growth-inducing impacts and other impacts related to induced changes in the pattern of land use, population density, or growth rate, and related impacts on water and air and other natural systems, including ecosystems (40 CFR 1508.8(b)). A cumulative impact is the impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the Proposed Action or alternative when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person who undertakes such other actions (40 CFR 1508.7). No Action Alternative In each resource section, there is a discussion of the No Action Alternative. This section describes the impacts that would result if the required permits and coal LBA described in Chapter 1 are not issued, effectively not allowing the applicant to mine, transport or lease the coal. If the No Action Alternative is selected, this proposed project would not be built and operated. Proposed Action Alternative In each resource section, there is a discussion of the Proposed Action Alternative. This section describes the impacts that would result from the proposed mine and facilities, mine lease area, 4-1

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

railroad, water pipeline, and transmission line. Temporary (i.e., construction) impacts are discussed, as well as long term (i.e., life of project [30 years] or longer) impacts. A detailed description of the proposed mitigation measures is included. Table 4-1, Railroad Spur, Water Pipeline, and Transmission Line Alternatives Temporary and Long Term Impacts to BLM-Managed Land and Private Land, displays the temporary and long term impacts to BLM-managed land (north of the Highline Canal), privately owned land north of the Highline Canal, and privately owned land south of the Highline Canal. Assumptions and descriptions of how these numbers were calculated are addressed in the following text. Table 4-1 RAILROAD SPUR, WATER PIPELINE, AND TRANSMISSION LINE ALTERNATIVES TEMPORARY AND LONG TERM IMPACTS TO BLM-MANAGED LAND AND PRIVATE LAND
Temporary Impacts Private North of Highline Canal (acres) 0 0 29 2 0 Private South of Highline Canal (acres) 91 <1 <1 <1 <1 Total Temporary Impacts (acres) 264 86 59 52 53 Long Term Impacts Private North of Highline Canal (acres) 0 0 <1 <1 0 Private South of Highline Canal (acres) 70 <1 <1 <1 <1 Total Long Term Impacts (acres) 203 17 6 10 11

Linear Feature Railroad Spur/ Water Pipeline Proposed Transmission Line Transmission Line Alternative A Transmission Line Alternative B Transmission Line Alternative C
Note: BLM =

BLM (acres) 173 86 30 50 53

BLM (acres) 133 17 6 10 11

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

Assumptions Common to the Proposed Railroad Spur, Water Pipeline, and all Transmission Line Alternatives
• • Temporary impact calculations do not include temporary construction lay-down areas, staging areas, temporary workspaces, and material storage yards. Impact calculations are approximate, and are subject to minor changes based on issuance of right-of-way (ROW) grants and easements.

Proposed Railroad Spur/Water Pipeline
As discussed in Section 3.1.1, Land Ownership and Use, CAM-Colorado, LLC (CAM) must pipe water to its mining operation using existing water rights. CAM’s diversions are within their allocated water rights, and would not impact senior water rights in the area.

4-2

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

The water pipeline would be located along the proposed railroad spur and would have identical temporary construction impacts. Since the water pipeline would be buried, there would be no long term impacts resulting from the water pipeline. The temporary ROW width for construction was assumed to be 150 feet for the entire length of the railroad corridor. Temporary impacts to BLM-managed land include disturbance within the temporary ROW along the length of the railroad corridor on BLM-managed lands, and temporary disturbances due to construction of the concrete box under State Highway (SH) 139 and the bridge over the Highline Canal. Temporary impacts to private land south of the Highline Canal include disturbance within the temporary ROW along the length of the railroad corridor south of the Highline Canal and construction of the Mack Wash Bridge. The railroad spur does not cross private land north of the Highline Canal; therefore there are no temporary or long term impacts to private land north of the Highline Canal. Temporary topsoil stockpiles would disturb approximately 1 acre each, and there would be approximately 1 stockpile per mile of railroad spur. Temporary impacts of the railroad spur and water pipeline would include approximately 173 acres of BLM-managed land, 0 acres of private land north of the Highline Canal, and approximately 91 acres of private land south of the Highline Canal. The long term ROW width was assumed to be 115 feet for the length of the railroad corridor. This ROW includes a permanent access road adjacent to the railroad spur for the entire length of the corridor. As previously mentioned, there would be no long term impacts associated with the water pipeline. Long term impacts of the railroad spur would include approximately 133 acres of BLM-managed land, 0 acres of private land north of the Highline Canal, and approximately 70 acres of private land south of the Highline Canal.

Assumptions Common to all Transmission Line Alternatives
There are several assumptions common to all transmission line alternatives: • Transmission lines located along existing county roads would use the county roads as access roads. On roads containing existing transmission lines, the existing poles would be removed and an underbuild circuit would be constructed as described in Chapter 2. Transmission lines that are located along county roads without existing transmission lines would secure easements from Mesa County and would use the county roads as access roads. In areas north of the Highline Canal where transmission line alternatives are bounded by private land on one side and BLM-managed land on the other, the applicant would secure a transmission line ROW on BLM-managed lands and the transmission lines would be located on BLM-managed lands. An average of 15 poles per mile would be sited north of the Highline Canal, and an average of 17 poles per mile would be sited south of the Highline Canal (due to the need for an underbuild circuit). Transmission lines constructed along existing county roads would have temporary and long term impacts equal to 4 square feet per pole, as existing roads would be used for access. Temporary ROW for transmission line sections not running along existing county roads would be 100 feet. Permanent ROW for access roads not running along existing county roads would be 20 feet. 4-3

•

•

• • •

CHAPTERFOUR
Proposed 69kV Transmission Line

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

The proposed transmission line would temporarily impact approximately 86 acres of BLMmanaged land. The proposed transmission line would not cross any private land north of the Highline Canal; therefore there would be no temporary impacts to private land north of the Highline Canal. The proposed transmission line would follow existing county roads south of the Highline Canal, so the only temporary impacts would be due to the 4 square feet per pole disturbance. This amounts to less than 1 acre of temporary disturbance to private land south of the Highline Canal. Long term impacts would include approximately 17 acres of BLM-managed land and less than 1 acre of private land south of the Highline Canal.

Transmission Line Alternative A
Transmission Line Alternative A follows existing county roads for the majority of the route. A new easement would need to be secured along County Road (CR) 16 north of the Highline Canal. Alternative A follows an existing easement for a transmission line and natural gas pipeline. This corridor crosses CR 16 at Coal Gulch and runs northwest to the mine (see Figure 2-18, Transmission Line Alternatives). Temporary impacts would include approximately 30 acres of BLM-managed land, approximately 29 acres of private land north of the Highline Canal, and less than 1 acre of private land south of the Highline Canal. Long term impacts would include approximately 6 acres of BLM-managed land, less than 1 acre of private land north of the Highline Canal, and less than 1 acre of private land south of the Highline Canal.

Transmission Line Alternative B
Transmission line Alternative B follows existing ROW south of the Highline Canal, and follows the existing transmission line/natural gas pipeline easement as described for Alternative A. Temporary impacts would include approximately 50 acres of BLM-managed land, approximately 2 acres of private land north of the Highline Canal, and less than 1 acre of private land south of the Highline Canal. Long term impacts would include approximately 10 acres of BLM-managed land, less than 1 acre of private land north of the Highline Canal, and less than 1 acre of private land south of the Highline Canal.

Transmission Line Alternative C
Transmission Line Alternative C follows existing county roads south of the Highline Canal, and follows the proposed railroad spur for approximately 3 miles north of the Highline Canal. Alternative C does not cross private land north of the Highland Canal. Temporary impacts would include approximately 53 acres of BLM-managed land, 0 acres of private land north of the Highline Canal, and less than 1 acre of private land south of the Highline Canal. Long term impacts would include approximately 11 acres of BLM-managed land, 0 acres of private land north of the Highline Canal, and less than 1 acre of private land south of the Highline Canal. 4-4

4.1 – Human Environment and Resource Use

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration The analysis of alternatives is essential to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and the goal of objective decision-making. This section describes the impacts resulting from several alternatives to the Proposed Action: the grade-separated railroad crossing at CR M.8, the use of noiseless crossing traffic control devices where the railroad intersects CR M.8 and CR 10, and the three transmission line alternatives. Short Term Use vs. Long-Term Productivity This section describes the relationship between short term uses of the environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long term productivity (40 CFR 1502.16). Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitment of Resources This section describes the impacts of the Proposed Action and alternatives to resources that could not be changed or are permanent (irreversible), and the impacts of the Proposed Action and alternatives to resources that could not be restored, replaced, or otherwise retrieved upon closure of the mine and decommission/reclamation of the mine and facilities associated with the mine (irretrievable) (40 CFR 1502.16). Summary Table of Mitigation Measures A table is presented in Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, that lists applicable laws, regulations, and policies and summarizes the recommended mitigation measures for all resources. Cumulative Impacts Cumulative impacts for past, present, and reasonably foreseeable projects and development in the project area and in Mesa and Garfield counties are discussed. The anticipated incremental impacts of the Proposed Action are compared with impacts from other projects/development including energy development in Mesa and Garfield counties.

4.1

HUMAN ENVIRONMENT AND RESOURCE USE

4.1.1 Land Ownership and Use No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the development of this mine would not occur and there would be no change to the current land use in the project area.

Proposed Action Alternative
Mine and Facilities A number of surface facilities are proposed to support the mining operation including a waste rock pile, fuel oil storage/fueling stations, an electrical substation, bathhouse/office building, outdoor material storage areas, equipment shop, warehouse, washbay, covered storage, sewage treatment plant, water tank, water treatment building, mine vent fan, transmission line, non-coal waste storage, rock dust storage, pump house, conveyor transfer building, railroad maintenance 4-5

4.1.1 – Land Ownership and Use

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

road, water pipeline and diversion, coal preparation plant, mine access roads, and unit train loadout. The loadout would be comprised of the clean coal stockpile, reclaim tunnel, conveyor belt, batch weigh system, and loadout tower. Some of these facilities would be located on the coal lease, with the remainder on the ROW application area. See Section 2.11.6, Associated Surface Facilities, for additional description of the facilities. Existing land uses in the mine site include dispersed recreation, livestock grazing, and wildlife use as described in Section 3.1.1, Land Ownership and Use. The McClane Canyon Mine (MCM) is located approximately 4 miles north of the proposed mine and is included within coal leases currently held by the applicant. The mine and facilities would be located on BLM-administered lands. These lands are managed under the Grand Junction Resource Area Resource Management Plan (RMP) (BLM 1987) and North Fruita Desert Management Plan (BLM 2004). The Grand Junction Resource Area RMP identifies approximately 390,000 acres of the Book Cliffs as acceptable for further coal leasing consideration (BLM 1987). The mine and facilities are among the 390,000 acres identified in the RMP as suitable for coal leasing. The North Fruita Desert Management Plan identifies 5,607 acres within the North Fruita Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) with no surface occupancy (NSO) stipulations (BLM 2004). None of this acreage is within the mine or mine facilities area. Lease Area The future coal leasing area is estimated to be about 23,000 acres. The entire lease area is within BLM jurisdiction. Underground mining would create subsidence within the lease area as described in Section 4.2.3, Geology, and Appendix D, Subsidence. Use of BLM lands and minerals would require the mine operator to competitively obtain additional coal leases on these lands. Existing land uses within the lease area include mineral exploration and production facilities, oil and gas development and extraction, livestock grazing, dispersed and developed recreation, and wildlife use. Some existing gas wells overlying the lease area may be plugged or “mined around.” Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Rules (30 CFR § 75.1700) require underground mines to maintain a 300-foot diameter solid coal barrier around all active or inactive gas and oil wells, unless a smaller barrier is approved by MSHA. Future oil and gas development would be constrained by coal development activities that precede applications for permit to drill (APD). The lease area is located entirely on BLM-administered lands. As stated in the Mine and Facilities section, applicable land use plans include the Grand Junction Resource Area RMP (BLM 1987) and North Fruita Desert Management Plan (BLM 2004). The coal lease area is among the 390,000 acres identified in the RMP as suitable for coal leasing. Railroad The proposed railroad spur would traverse approximately 9.5 miles of BLM-administered land, and approximately 5 miles of private land. Use of federal lands would require the mine operator to obtain a ROW grant on these federal lands. Existing land uses along the railroad route include dispersed and developed recreation, agriculture, irrigated farmland, livestock grazing, wildlife use, transportation and utility 4-6

4.1.1 – Land Ownership and Use

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

corridors, and low-density single family residential development within rural private land parcels. Within the Town of Mack, the proposed route passes through areas zoned General Industrial District (I-2). A “wye” (triangle) would be constructed to link the railroad spur with the main line at Mack to allow uninterrupted train flow in all directions. The railroad is located on BLM-administered lands and private lands within the jurisdiction of Mesa County. The Grand Junction Resource Area RMP designated 234,113 acres as unsuitable for public utilities, and 606,456 acres as sensitive to utility development; the remainder of the Resource Area is designated suitable for consideration for public utilities (BLM 1987). The railroad corridor is within the area designated suitable for consideration for public utilities. The North Fruita Desert Management Plan identifies threatened and endangered species habitat, scenic values, steep slopes, deer and elk winter range, and known locations of sensitive species as sensitive to the location of public utilities (BLM 2004). The remainder of the North Fruita Desert SRMA is designated suitable for utilities; the railroad corridor is within this area. Private land in the project area is under the jurisdiction of Mesa County and is discussed in the Mesa Countywide Land Use Plan (Mesa County 1996) and the Loma/Mack Area Plan (Mesa County 2004). The railroad corridor is consistent with both plans. Water Pipeline The water pipeline would be buried along the railroad spur alignment. It would extend to a water tank located at the Red Cliff Mine site above the portal level. A smaller water tank would also be constructed near the coal preparation plant. The proposed pipeline would traverse approximately 9.5 miles of BLM-administered land, and approximately 5 miles of private land. Use of federal lands would require the mine operator to obtain a ROW grant on these federal lands. Existing land use along the pipeline corridor is the same as described in the Railroad section. The water pipeline crosses BLM-administered lands and private lands under the jurisdiction of Mesa County. Compliance with these land use plans is the same as addressed in the Railroad section. Transmission Line Existing land uses within the proposed transmission line ROW consist of mineral exploration and production facilities, oil and gas development and extraction, livestock grazing, transportation and utility corridors, water control management by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), dispersed and developed recreation, agriculture, irrigated farmland, wildlife use, and low-density single family residential development within rural private land parcels. The proposed transmission line would cross 7.1 miles of BLM lands and would not cross any private land ownership north of the Highline Canal. South of the Highline Canal, the proposed transmission line would be adjacent to 95 private parcels of land, and would not cross any private parcels of land. Table 4-2, Transmission Line Impacts to Private Land Parcels, shows the approximate number of private parcels located adjacent to the transmission line, and the approximate number of parcels crossed by the transmission line. Alternatives A, B, and C are discussed later. An underbuild distribution line would be constructed in areas with existing 4-7

4.1.1 – Land Ownership and Use

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

distribution lines south of the Highline Canal. New transmission lines would be constructed along existing county road easements on private lands also south of the Highline Canal, and new ROWs would be secured for construction of new transmission lines on BLM-administered lands. Purchasing easements from private landowners would not be necessary, as the proposed transmission line does not cross any privately owned parcels of land north of the Highline Canal. Table 4-2 TRANSMISSION LINE IMPACTS TO PRIVATE LAND PARCELS
Transmission Line Proposed 69kV Line Alternative A Alternative B Alternative C
Source: Mesa County Assessor, 2008 *South of the Highline Canal kV = kilovolt

Number of Private Parcels Adjacent to Transmission Line* 95 90 82 96

Number of Private Parcels Crossed by Transmission Line 0 19 5 0

Pad or pole-mounted transformers would be used as necessary to provide electrical power to the mine facilities as described previously. Land use impacts from the pad transformers would be minimal. The transmission line crosses BLM-administered lands and private lands under the jurisdiction of Mesa County. Compliance with these land use plans is addressed in the Railroad section. New transmission lines would be constructed along existing county road easements on private lands, and new ROWs would be secured for construction of new transmission lines on BLMadministered lands. Temporary Impacts Temporary land use impacts would result from construction of the access roads, conveyor belt, material storage sites, railroad corridor, and construction lay-down areas. Temporary impacts would result from equipment and topsoil storage areas and temporary access roads. Temporary impacts to BLM-managed land and privately owned land due to the railroad/pipeline corridor and the transmission line alternatives are found in Table 4-1. Construction of the mine facilities would temporarily impact approximately 237 acres. Construction activities of the railroad include cut-and-fill, compaction, and track laying along the railroad corridor. Construction of the water pipeline and use of material storage sites and construction lay-down areas would result in temporary impacts to wildlife habitat, livestock grazing, and agricultural lands along the pipeline corridor. After reclamation and revegetation, wildlife habitat, livestock forage, and agricultural productivity should return to normal within approximately two growing seasons. Long Term Impacts Long term impacts to land use would result from the aboveground facilities associated with the mine; surface facilities would displace livestock grazing, recreation, and wildlife use from the 4-8

4.1.1 – Land Ownership and Use

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

immediate area for the life of the project (30 years). Upon decommissioning of the mine, surface facilities would be removed and the land would be restored to its original vegetative cover per BLM policy. Long term impacts to BLM-managed land and privately owned land due to the railroad/pipeline corridor and the transmission line alternatives are found in Table 4-1. The mine facilities would permanently impact 237 acres, not including the entire waste rock pile footprint. Permanent impacts to land use would arise from construction of benches for the mine facilities and the waste rock pile. Cuts and fills associated with construction of the loadout area would also permanently impact land use. Up to 90-foot-deep cuts are projected for the loadout area. The waste rock pile is approximately 190 acres. These areas would be permanently converted from the existing land use to energy development. The long term impacts to land use would be the operation of a linear utility corridor for the life of the project. Land use along the railroad and pipeline corridor would be converted to a utility ROW. Construction of the railroad would result in loss of agricultural lands, livestock grazing, recreation, and wildlife habitat along the railroad corridor for the life of the project. This may also result in long term alteration of trails and lack of recreational access along the railroad and pipeline corridor. Construction of the railroad would result in long term impacts to transportation corridors. The trains would cross public roads in four locations. The Proposed Action is a grade-separated crossing with SH 139, and at-grade crossings for CR 10, CR T, and CR M.8. Long term impacts to land use would result from construction of the railroad corridor. As previously discussed in Chapter 2, to improve the sight distance at the CR 10 crossing, CR 10 would be realigned. This realignment of CR 10 would result in long term conversion of existing low-density residential and agricultural land use to road ROW. Other long term impacts to land use would result from construction of the railroad corridor. To construct the rail alignment, cuts and fills would be necessary to provide a level, gentle-sloping railbed. Cuts and fills vary, with 25- to 50-foot-deep cuts and fills being common. These areas would permanently be converted from the existing land use and converted to a utility ROW. The “wye” constructed to link the railroad spur with the main line at Mack would result in a permanent change from the existing industrial land use to utility ROW. The proposed transmission line would have several long term land use impacts. The disturbance area associated with placement of poles would be removed from current land use for the duration of the project. Access roads may be required for the life of the project for transmission line maintenance; these roads would be revegetated upon termination of the project. The proposed transmission line and primary substation would result in conversion of existing land use to a utility ROW for the life of the project. Mitigation Measures Use of federal lands would require the mine operator to obtain ROW grants on these federal lands. Some gas wells overlying the lease area may be plugged or “mined around” per MSHA Rules (30 CFR 75.1700). All temporary construction areas would be reclaimed and revegetated per BLM policy. 4-9

4.1.1 – Land Ownership and Use

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Upon decommissioning of the mine, surface facilities would be removed and the land would be restored to its original vegetative cover per BLM policy. Access roads would be closed to the public, and the disturbed area would be reclaimed. Upon project termination, the railroad would be removed, including bridges, crossing warning devices, and gate systems at road intersections, and the area would be revegetated according to BLM policy. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, contains a list of mitigation measures; some of which would lessen impacts to other land uses.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 One proposed alternative is a grade-separated railroad crossing at CR M.8. Existing zoning classifications along the proposed railroad route at CR M.8 are I-2 (General Industrial District) and RSF-1 (Residential-Single-Family District). Land use in the immediate area of the gradeseparated railroad crossing would be temporarily affected during construction of the gradeseparated railroad crossing. Long term impacts to land use from this alternative would include a permanent change in land use for land acquired to construct the bridge to a utility ROW. Temporary and long term land use impacts due to the grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 are as follows: • • Temporary: A 100-foot bridge would be constructed with a construction ROW of 150 feet for a total temporary disturbance of approximately 0.3 acre Long term: The permanent ROW would decrease to 115 feet, yielding approximately 0.3 acre of permanent disturbance (no substantive difference from temporary)

The location of the grade-separated railroad crossing at CR M.8 is within Mesa County jurisdiction. CR M.8 is identified as a valuable corridor for transportation within the Loma/Mack Area Plan (Mesa County 2004), and this plan identifies the need for long-range planning for access and ROW to improve safety. The grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 is consistent with the Loma/Mack Area Plan. An at-grade crossing at CR M.8 may restrict future residential, commercial, and industrial development west of CR M.8. This alternative would have no effect on Mesa County’s road circulation plan. Mesa County would retain ROWs reserved in 1890 and 1892 proclamation on non-existing roads. Mesa County would retain the rights to develop new roads west of the railroad, and rights for new roads to cross the railroad track. If new roads are constructed over the railroad track, an appropriate crossing would be constructed. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices There would be no long term land use impacts from noiseless crossing traffic control devices. These devices would be installed within the railroad ROW where the railroad crosses CR 10 and CR M.8, as described in Section 2.11.1, Proponent Proposed Action. Temporary impacts may result during construction; however, any construction impacts would be minor. CR 10 and 4-10

4.1.1 – Land Ownership and Use

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

CR M.8 are under the jurisdiction of Mesa County; compliance with land use plans is the same as described in the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative A Transmission Line Alternative A would cross 4.1 miles of BLM lands and 4.2 miles of private land ownership north of the Highline Canal. Alternative A would be adjacent to 90 private parcels of land, and would cross 19 private parcels of land north of the Highline Canal. This alternative follows CR 16 and an existing pipeline/transmission line alignment. An underbuild distribution line would be constructed in areas with existing distribution lines, and new easements and ROWs would be secured for construction of new transmission lines. Grand Valley Power (GVP) would be required to obtain ROWs grants on these federal lands. GVP would have to purchase easements or ROWs on private lands that do not currently contain transmission or distribution lines. Temporary and long term impacts to BLM-managed land and privately owned land are found in Table 4-1. The description of existing land uses, temporary and long term impacts, and compliance with existing land use plans is the same as the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative B Transmission Line Alternative B would cross 5.8 miles of BLM lands and 1.9 miles of private land ownership north of the Highline Canal. Alternative B would be adjacent to 82 private parcels of land, and would cross 5 private parcels of land. An underbuild distribution line would be constructed in areas with existing distribution lines, and new easements and ROWs would be secured for construction of new transmission lines. Impacts to recreational trails are described in Section 4.1.4, Recreation. GVP would be required to obtain ROWs grants on these federal lands. GVP would have to purchase easements or ROWs on private lands that do not currently contain transmission or distribution lines. Temporary and long term impacts to BLM-managed land and privately owned land are found in Table 4-1. The description of existing land uses, temporary and long term impacts, and compliance with existing land use plans is the same as the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative C Transmission Line Alternative C would cross 7.7 miles of BLM lands and would not cross any private land ownership north of the Highline Canal. Alternative C would be adjacent to 96 private parcels of land, and would not cross any private parcels of land. An underbuild distribution line would be constructed in areas with existing distribution lines, and new easements and ROWs would be secured for construction of new transmission lines. Impacts to recreational trails are described in Section 4.1.4, Recreation. GVP would be required to obtain ROW grants on these federal lands. Because no private lands are crossed north of the Highline Canal, GVP would not be required to obtain easements across private lands. Temporary and long term impacts to BLM-managed land and privately owned land are found in Table 4-1. The description of existing land uses, temporary and long term impacts, and compliance with existing land use plans is the same as the Proposed Action.

4-11

4.1.2 – Grazing

CHAPTERFOUR
4.1.2 Grazing No Action Alternative

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

There would be no effects to grazing under the No Action Alternative.

Proposed Action Alternative
All of the components of the Proposed Action combined would result in approximately 452 acres of vegetation disturbance and lost livestock forage within BLM grazing allotments. At 20 acres per animal unit month (AUM), approximately 22.6 AUMs would be lost. This is not expected to result in any decrease in forage allocation within the allotments since the forage loss is such a small portion (less than 0.2 percent) of the 9,928 active AUMs available on the allotments. Livestock access to some water sources may be changed. Temporary Impacts Temporary impacts such as fence crossings would occur to existing range improvements. Temporary impacts to BLM-managed land and privately owned land are found in Table 4-1. Temporary impacts would occur to slightly greater than 22.6 AUMs during the construction period and revegetation of disturbed areas during construction. It is possible that the train operations may start wildfires. Sparks from brake shoes and carbon particles ejected from the train may ignite dried vegetation under certain conditions. Long Term Impacts The proposed project is expected to have a generally negative affect on Land Health due to difficulties in reclaiming the soils. Disturbed lands are not likely to meet Land Health Standards for at least 10 years following reclamation (Fowler 2007). Approximately 22.6 AUMs would be lost for the life of the mine. A Land Health Assessment has not been done for the grazing allotments involved in the proposed project area. However, based on visual observations by BLM resource specialists, the allotments are currently considered likely to be meeting Land Health Standards (Fowler 2007). Mitigation Measures Fence repair or rebuilding would be done as required. If stock water sources are disrupted, water would be supplied as needed. Cattle guards may need to be installed to protect livestock from rail or vehicular traffic. If livestock are struck by trains, the applicant would be required to compensate the livestock owner. Railroad Fires In order to mitigate fires caused by the train, it is necessary to treat potentially hazardous vegetation within the railroad ROW. There are three basic methods of reducing ROW fire hazards: mechanical clearing (physical removal of vegetation), burning, and chemical treatment. These fire hazard reduction methods often need to be used in combination for optimum hazard reduction. Mechanical clearing is most useful for initial clearing of heavy fuels, such as old logs, and for construction and maintenance of firebreaks. Chemical treatment is most useful for maintenance 4-12

4.1.2 – Grazing

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

of clearings already established. However, it can create flash-fuel problems if used as the first treatment. Burning can be used for either initial or maintenance treatment but is normally unsafe without a mechanically cleared firebreak (Union Pacific Railroad et al. 1999). Certain fire hazards cannot be treated by removal, burning or herbicides. These might include vegetation such as moss and grass growing on rock cliffs or cut-banks, rare or endangered plant species, and short stretches of ROW where the other methods are precluded for any reason. In these situations, fire retardant chemicals should be employed, either alone or in combination with the other methods. Fire Fighting Methods When fires do occur on railroad property or ROW, the company has a legal responsibility to report them to the protection agency and to do all in its power to suppress the fire. Some railroad companies use hyrailer (a vehicle that can travel on rails and roads) patrols and water tank cars in fire-prone areas to fight wildfires started by trains. Hyrailer patrols may be timed to follow 10-15 minutes behind trains. They may have a one or two-person crew which is provided with a radio and limited firefighting tools. Unless they discover a fire while it is still very small they would usually need help in suppressing it. Such patrols are quite costly, and they are, therefore, seldom put behind every train during an entire fire season (Union Pacific Railroad et al. 1999). Several railroad companies provide water tank cars exclusively for fire protection purposes during fire season. These large water sources (8,000-12,000 gallons each) can be of great help to fire suppression forces. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, includes additional information on fire mitigation, seed mixes for soil stabilization, grazing use, and wildlife habitat.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 Impacts to grazing under this alternative would be the same as those shown for the Proposed Action. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Impacts to grazing under this alternative would be the same as those shown for the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative A Impacts to grazing under this alternative would be the same as those shown for the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative B Impacts to grazing under this alternative would be the same as those shown for the Proposed Action.

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4.1.3 – Wilderness and Special Designations

CHAPTERFOUR
Transmission Line Alternative C

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Impacts to grazing under this alternative would be the same as those shown for the Proposed Action.

4.1.3 Wilderness and Special Designations No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, mining development would not occur, and there would be no impact to wilderness and special designations.

Proposed Action Alternative
The project area does not contain Wilderness, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild Horse Areas, or National Conservation Areas. Therefore, there would be no direct or indirect impacts to these areas under the Proposed Action. The project area contains a portion of the North Fruita Desert SRMA. Recreational impacts to the North Fruita Desert SRMA are described in Section 4.1.4, Recreation. Mine and Facilities The mine is not located within any wilderness or special designations. Therefore there would be no direct impacts to wilderness and special designations. Direct impacts due to air emissions are addressed in Section 4.2.1, Air Quality. Lease Area Only a small portion of the lease area is within the North Fruita Desert SRMA; no surface activity would take place in this area. Therefore, there would be no direct impacts to wilderness and special designations. Indirect impacts due to subsidence are discussed in Appendix D, Subsidence. Railroad Part of the railroad route is within the North Fruita Desert SRMA. Impacts due to the location of the railroad corridor within the North Fruita SRMA are discussed in Section 4.1.4, Recreation. Water Pipeline Most of the proposed water pipeline would be constructed along the railroad corridor within the North Fruita Desert SRMA. After construction, the water pipeline would be buried and there would be no impact. Transmission Line The proposed transmission line would cross 7.1 miles of BLM lands within the North Fruita Desert SRMA. Indirect impacts due to the location of transmission line alternatives within the North Fruita SRMA are discussed in Section 4.1.4, Recreation.

4-14

4.1.4 – Recreation

CHAPTERFOUR
Temporary Impacts

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Temporary impacts would result from construction of the water pipeline, the railroad, and the transmission line. Temporary impacts to the North Fruita Desert SRMA are discussed in Section 4.1.4, Recreation. Long Term Impacts Long term impacts to the North Fruita Desert SRMA would include the operation of new transportation and utility corridors and changing the existing land use from an open range environment to an industrial use within the transportation and utility corridors. Long term impacts to the North Fruita Desert SRMA are discussed in Section 4.1.4, Recreation. Mitigation Measures No mitigation measures are necessary.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 The grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 is not located within any wilderness or special designations. Therefore there would be no impacts to wilderness and special designations. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices The noiseless crossing traffic control devices would not be located within any wilderness or special designations; therefore, there would be no change to wilderness and special designations. Transmission Line Alternative A Transmission Line Alternative A would cross 4.1 miles of BLM lands within the North Fruita Desert SRMA. Impacts are discussed within Section 4.1.4, Recreation. Transmission Line Alternative B Transmission Line Alternative B would cross 5.8 miles of BLM lands within the North Fruita Desert SRMA. Impacts are discussed within Section 4.1.4, Recreation. Transmission Line Alternative C Transmission Line Alternative C would cross 7.7 miles of BLM lands within the North Fruita Desert SRMA. Impacts are discussed within Section 4.1.4, Recreation.

4.1.4 Recreation No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the proposed mine development would not occur and there would be no change to existing recreation.

Proposed Action Alternative
The project area has a variety of dispersed recreation opportunities on BLM-managed land, and also contains the Highline Lake State Park, which offers camping and water-related activities. 4-15

4.1.4 – Recreation

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

BLM land between the Highline Canal and the Book Cliffs is within the North Fruita Desert SRMA and is managed for multiple use, with an emphasis on recreation opportunities. Mine and Facilities Dispersed recreation, including mountain biking, occurs in the location of the proposed mine and facilities; these areas would be permanently closed to recreation for the life of the project (30 years). There is an existing two-track road partially within the mine area that can be accessed via CR X (otherwise known as Mitchell Road or Power Line Road) that would be closed to public use. However, this area is not considered a high-use area. The BLM Bicycle Emphasis Area, primarily accessed by CR 18, is located several miles to the east of the project area and would not be impacted by mine construction or operations. Figure 3-1, Recreational Trails within the North Fruita Desert SRMA, shows the mine, associated linear features, and recreational trails within the project area. Lease Area Approximately 70 acres of the existing lease and approximately 811 acres of the land use application are within the North Fruita Desert SRMA (see Figure 3-1, Recreational Trails within the North Fruita Desert SRMA). No aboveground facilities would be located in the lease area within the North Fruita Desert SRMA; therefore, there would be no impacts to recreation. Indirect impacts due to subsidence are discussed in Appendix D, Subsidence. Railroad Nine and a half (9.5) miles of the railroad route is within the North Fruita Desert SRMA. The railroad alignment crosses four segments of BLM-managed trails. Part of the railroad alignment is within 0.5 mile of Highline Lake State Park. The railroad alignment would not have direct impacts to recreationists at Highline Lake State Park, but would have indirect visual and noise impacts to recreational users. See Sections 4.1.8 and 4.1.9 for discussion of visual and noise impacts respectively. Water Pipeline The water pipeline follows the railroad alignment. Part of the water pipeline is within the North Fruita Desert SRMA, and construction of the pipeline would temporarily disturb recreational use of affected trails. Normal recreational activities would resume following pipeline construction. Transmission Line The proposed transmission line is located on private lands south of the Highline Canal, and would not impact recreation in this area. The portion of the transmission line that runs through the North Fruita Desert SRMA crosses six segments of trails and is within 0.5 mile of the Mack Wash loop trail for the entire extent of the transmission line route on BLM lands. The transmission line would be placed so that poles do not alter existing trails; however, access roads may directly impact trails. The transmission line may have indirect visual impacts to recreational users. Temporary Impacts Temporary impacts to dispersed recreation would occur during construction of the transmission line and water pipeline, as recreation areas may be temporarily closed during construction, and trails may be temporarily altered by construction impacts (e.g., temporary access roads). The 4-16

4.1.4 – Recreation

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

railroad would temporarily impact approximately 173 acres of the North Fruita Desert SRMA during construction. The transmission line would span existing trails, and would not directly impact trails. Long Term Impacts Long term impacts to recreation may result from the placement of the railroad and permanent access roads for maintenance of the transmission line. The railroad would permanently impact approximately 133 acres within the North Fruita Desert SRMA. The railroad alignment crosses four segments of trails, and the transmission line crosses six segments of trails. This may result in long term alteration of trails and lack of recreational access along these corridors. Alternative A would have a minimal effect on the recreation issues related to the North Fruita Desert SRMA. All transmission line alternatives except Alternative A would have some effect as they cross or interrupt the existing designated trail network. No other long term impacts to recreation would be expected except that the linear ROW with poles and conductors would result in indirect visual impacts in some areas, affecting the natural setting of recreational activities. See Section 4.1.8, Visual, for discussion of visual impacts. Mitigation Measures Within the North Fruita Desert SRMA, BLM would require that existing trails impacted by the mine facilities and the railroad be mitigated. One way in which this may be done would be for the Applicant to contract with the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition to design and construct alternate trail routes for those that are closed by the mine facilities or railroad alignment. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, includes additional mitigation measures for recreation.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 The grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 is on privately owned land under the jurisdiction of Mesa County. There would be no impacts to recreation from this alternative. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices The noiseless crossing traffic control devices are on privately owned land under the jurisdiction of Mesa County. There would be no impacts to recreation from this alternative. Transmission Line Alternative A Transmission Line Alternative A is on private land south of the Highline Canal, and would not impact recreation. North of the Highline Canal, Alternative A follows CR 16 for the majority of the length of the transmission line and crosses one two-track trail. Impacts would be less than the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative B Alternative B is on private land south of the Highline Canal and crosses one trail that is under construction on BLM land north of the Highline Canal. Impacts would be less than the Proposed Action. 4-17

4.1.5 – Socioeconomics

CHAPTERFOUR
Transmission Line Alternative C

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Alternative C is on private land south of the Highline Canal, and would not impact recreation. North of the Highline Canal, Alternative C crosses five trail segments. Impacts would be the same as the Proposed Action.

4.1.5 Socioeconomics
Socioeconomic impacts of the Proposed Action and the alternatives would be generated by the construction and operation of the coal mine and the railroad spur built to transport the coal out of the region. The project would produce a valuable energy source, creating new jobs and new local business expenditures. In turn, secondary economic impacts would be generated in the form of additional jobs and income and increased local, state, and federal government revenue. The new jobs would likely result in increased local population and that population growth could potentially impact local government facilities and services—housing, schools, domestic water systems, etc. In the context of the broader regional and national energy economy, the development of the Red Cliff Mine would increase the domestic fossil fuel supply, improving the reliability of our national energy system. The No Action Alternative would avoid a potential increase in demand for local government services and disruption of human activities near the proposed project, but would also forego the employment, public revenue, and energy supply benefits associated with the action alternatives. Most of the socioeconomic impacts would be felt in the Grand Valley of Mesa County. This area has a large population, a number of sizeable established communities, and a well-developed community infrastructure located within a 15- to 45-minute commute from the proposed coal mine. Construction workers who do not already reside in the area would find temporary residence in local motels or other rental housing facilities. The majority of permanent mine employees would reside in the Grand Valley. Similarly, local project expenditures for fuel, housing, equipment, services, and supplies needed for construction, development, and operation of the mine would take place in the Grand Valley. Jurisdictions within Mesa County would receive much of the sales tax associated with the proponent’s local expenditures and the ad valorem taxes (property taxes) on the railroad spur. However, because the mine and most of the coal resource would be located in Garfield County, the ad valorem taxes associated with the mining operation itself would flow to jurisdictions within Garfield County. The U.S. and the State of Colorado would share the federal royalties generated by the mine, and Colorado would receive additional revenues based on the state severance tax. In general, socioeconomic impacts are described here in terms of the entire project—the mine and facilities, the railroad spur, and all related facilities such as the water pipeline and the transmission line. When impacts can be attributed to a specific project element, it is noted. The timing of project implementation is unknown, but this analysis assumes in general that the rampup to full production would be fairly rapid—about 2 years—because this scenario would produce the strongest potentially adverse impacts.

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No Action Alternative

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Under the No Action Alternative, the Red Cliff Mine would not be developed and no railroad spur would be constructed. There would consequently be no socioeconomic impacts, with one possible exception. The proponent has already purchased a substantial amount of property along the proposed route of the railroad spur. Should the project not go forward, the proponent may dispose of those properties which may lead to a potential socioeconomic impact if they were disposed of rapidly, putting downward pressure on prices; develop the properties which may lead to an increase in the economic return of the properties; or take no action, which may or may not have a socioeconomic impact, depending on market conditions. The No Action Alternative would avoid increased demand for local government services and disruption of human activities near the proposed project, but would also forego the employment, public revenue, and energy supply benefits associated with the action alternatives.

Proposed Action Alternative
The proposed Red Cliff Mine would have two phases, a construction phase, during which the railroad spur from the mine to the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and the facilities at the mouth of the mine would be constructed, and an operational phase, during which the coal would be mined, cleaned, and shipped out. Affected Community The affected community, as described in Section 3.1.5, Socioeconomics, identified the following “anticipated social impacts” through scoping comments and interviews (Moore 2007): • • • • • • • • Loss in property values due to the railroad spur Isolation of 20,000 to 30,000 acres of deeded land Impact on rural flavor and sense of community A sense that the old way of life would be lost A redefinition of the area as an industrial corridor due to the railroad spur The noise of the railroad, both the horn used when coming to the crossings and the sound of the train itself Safety issues associated with the proposed at-grade railroad crossings at CR M.8 and CR 10 Disruption of automobile traffic patterns due to the proposed at-grade railroad crossings at CR M.8 and CR 10, including school buses which currently operate 6 to 8 times per day at these intersections Displeasure with CAM’s interactions with the community

•

In order to achieve a more coherent analysis of the social impacts and consequences, both those anticipated and expected, the analysis of the issues and concerns found through scoping and interviews were examined within the following thematic framework: • Property Values/Social Dislocation: Some residents believe that building the railroad spur as proposed would reduce property values. Their concern about a potential loss in property values appears to be related to changes they foresee occurring in the character of the 4-19

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

landscape, from rural agricultural to semi-industrial, and concerns over safety and inconvenience issues described below. In contrast to this perspective, other community representatives, particularly as reflected in the BLM Public Scoping Report, believe that the purchases of real estate being made by CAM are already raising real estate prices. • An Anticipated Loss of Rural Values: One of the social impacts most often mentioned by community members is an anticipated loss of rural values that are rooted within the affected community and the surrounding physical environment. Many community residents in the vicinity of Mack believe that the noise of the train, the disruption of agricultural activities, and changes in the visual landscape would negatively affect the rural character of the community, would present overwhelming consequences to the values they hold dear, and would give people the sense that an old way of life would be lost as a result of the mine and railroad spur. Impacts on Safety: Community concerns about decreases in transportation safety are among the impacts which might be viewed as most tangible. This interaction is often expressed as increasing the potential for accidents in relationship to school buses, and interfering with medical emergencies. Residents also use additional means of expressing their safety concerns, such as the daily frequency of the train and school bus interactions, specifically the proposed grade crossings of CR 10 and CR M.8, and on-going disruptions of routine traffic routes to which they have become accustomed. Residents readily indicate that an underpass (for both CR M.8 and CR 10) would be appropriate solutions, since it seems most apparent to them that having the railroad spur cross county roads in these two locations could increase accidents with school buses and limit access for emergencies. An Industrial Corridor: At a somewhat larger scale in terms of land use impacts on the community, the building of the railroad spur within a rural landscape is looked at as an industrial intrusion. The concern is expressed in terms of creating an “industrial corridor” within an existing residential area. Some residents have countered that the Union Pacific rail line along Interstate 70 (I-70) already exists, and there was a previous train route (the Uintah Railway) to a gilsonite mine on Baxter Pass, somewhat further to the northwest of the proposed Red Cliff Mine. Some residents anticipate that the railroad spur would over time create a wider zone, industrial in nature, which would attract associated commercial uses and functions. Much of this social impact, which is related to future real estate developments, is highly anticipatory because a number of the residents also feel they do not have clear and trustworthy information about future land use developments that might bring about additional incompatible industrial or semi-industrial uses. Company Relations with the Community: Some members of the community have expressed concern and distrust of mining in the area. Residents have asked for an increased level of communication with CAM, and a desire to have more information about future plans for mining near their communities.

•

•

•

Employment and Income Table 4-3, Red Cliff Mine, Estimated Construction Employment, shows the estimated number of employees (full-time equivalents) that would be working on construction of the mine facilities, the railroad spur, and related facilities. The estimates are based primarily on information in the Proposed Action, although several categories were estimated independently. The Earth-Moving category includes all earth-moving equipment operators, supporting equipment operators, 4-20

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laborers, and supervisors involved in the cut-and-fill earthwork necessary to prepare the railroad track bed and to implement measures to minimize soil erosion and reclaim the disturbance. The Bridges and Culverts category includes all equipment operators, truck drivers, laborers, and supervisors needed to deliver and install bridges and culverts along the length of the railroad spur. The Track category includes all equipment operators, truck drivers, laborers, and supervisors required to deliver track materials along the route and to install the materials and lay the track. The Waterline and Transmission Line categories include equipment operators, laborers, and supervisors needed to install a waterline along the length of the railroad spur and to build an electric transmission line to the mine mouth. Table 4-3 RED CLIFF MINE, ESTIMATED CONSTRUCTION EMPLOYMENT
Number (FTEs*) Year 1 Earth-Moving Bridges and Culverts Track Waterline** Transmission Line** Mine Facilities Total 110.1
Notes: * Full-time equivalents. ** Not from Proposed Action, estimated independently.

Annualized Year 1 32.8 13.3 Year 2

Year 2

65.5 26.6 44.0 8.0 10.0 72.0 116.0

22.0 4.0 5.0 36.0 55.1 58.0

Each of the categories is described in the Proposed Action as taking about 6 months to complete. For analysis purposes, the numbers have been annualized by dividing them in half, on the assumption that half the workers working twice as long would achieve the same result. The activities have been additionally sequenced into the likely order of occurrence. Thus, the railroad spur dirtwork naturally would take place before the track was laid. It is additionally assumed that construction would occur over a period no longer than two years. The operations work force—miners, mine mouth facility personnel, and supervisors and managers—is estimated by the Proposed Action to be 200 to 250 employees at the mine’s full productive capacity of 8 million tons a year. Here, it is assumed that the level would be 250 mine employees. There are already 47 workers associated with the existing MCM that would be replaced by the Red Cliff Mine, so the net additional coal mine employment would be 203. In addition to the jobs and expenditures directly related to each phase, additional jobs and income would be generated indirectly as a result of the economic linkages between the construction and mining sectors and other sectors of the local economy. Business and consumer expenditures by the mine and its employees would ripple through the economy, supporting indirect and induced increases in employment and income. These secondary effects are estimated using the IMPLAN (Input-Output Model for Planning) economic model with 2006 Mesa County data. IMPLAN is an analytical predictive model that evaluates economic effects based on a specific change in a producing sector (IMPLAN 2007). 4-21

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Table 4-4, Red Cliff Mine, Employment and Income Impacts, describes the employment impacts estimated by the model. The secondary effects of the new direct economic stimulus provided by the Red Cliff Mine would require some time to occur, as local businesses assess their ability to meet the new demand with existing resources and the likelihood of the new demand continuing into the future. Thus the effects of construction in years 1 and 2 may not occur at all or could be smaller than estimated. Construction activities are temporary in nature and, in fact, the duration of most of the individual activities described earlier would be 6 months or less, diminishing the size of the actual impact that would occur. Table 4-4 RED CLIFF MINE, EMPLOYMENT AND INCOME IMPACTS
Construction Impact Type Employment Direct Secondary Total Income Direct Secondary Total $2,780,956 $1,187,594 $3,968,550 $2,918,146 $1,120,814 $4,038,960 $2,209,723 $2,011,882 $4,221,605 $17,934,000 $12,660,598 $30,594,598 $15,724,277 $10,648,716 $26,372,993 55 32 87 58 30 88 47 53 100 250 336 586 203 283 486 Year 1 Year 2 McClane Mine Operations Red Cliff Mine Change

The secondary employment effect of the mine would also require time to occur fully but the long term nature of the mining operation may encourage local businesses to expand their own operations more quickly in response to the new demand for their supplies and services. What most adds uncertainty to the timing of the secondary effects is the timing of the direct effects; that is, the rate at which mine employment is increased. The number of mine employees is directly related to the level of production, and the Proposed Action does not describe the point at which full production would be reached. For this analysis, it is assumed that full production would be reached after two years of operation and that all miners would be brought on during that two-year period. The following discussion also assumes that, once reached, the full production level of 8 million tons per year would be sustained. The 203 mine employees would make up a 13.4 percent addition to the relatively small 2005 Mesa County mining sector, but the 486 new jobs created in total would constitute only 0.6 percent of the total 2005 Mesa County employment. The annual personal income estimated to be generated by the proposed coal mine mirrors the employment numbers. An additional $15.7 million of direct income, generating secondary income of $10.6 million, yields a total of $26.4 million, which is equivalent to 0.7 percent of Mesa County’s 2005 total personal income. Property Values A strong and sustained population growth over the last few years has had an upward impact on housing and other property values in Mesa County. Any population increase generated by the 4-22

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Proposed Action would be part of the continuing county growth but would not be of a magnitude to further influence housing prices in any identifiable way. There is, however, potential for the railroad spur to have a downward influence on private property values in the area through which the spur would pass. This is a fear expressed by residents living west of Mack. The railroad spur would alter the character of the CR 10 corridor, introducing an industrial feature that would not be in accord with the current agricultural and rural residential character of the landscape. Moreover, construction of the spur would define the corridor in such a way that it could be a more likely location for siting future industrial utilities and facilities, such as an overhead transmission line, a pipeline, or warehouses. The changed character of the corridor coupled with the concerns about train noise, safety, dust, and traffic interruptions at CR 10 and CR M.8 would all tend to reduce the number of people who would wish to buy residential property in the corridor, which would in turn reduce the value of properties in the area. A number of studies have confirmed the notion that proximity to a freight railroad tends to reduce property values, by as much as 10 percent of the potential value (Jaouhari and Simons 2004, Bellinger 2006, Strand 2001). These studies indicate that properties in the immediate vicinity of the railroad are most affected, that the downward influence diminishes rapidly with distance, that the amount of train traffic matters, and that train noise and safety are among the factors influencing value. Interviews with appraisers and realtors that have experience in Mesa County confirm these findings, with the caution that the influence on prices is not absolute, and that railroad vicinity property values would still rise if the general direction of property values in the region is upward (Moore 2008). Long term impacts are addressed subsequently. Population The Proposed Action would create both temporary and long term increases in population in Mesa County. The total population effect depends on the extent to which the new jobs created as a result of the Proposed Action are filled by new members of the workforce, principally those who have migrated to the area for work. This is a likely scenario given the lower-than-average unemployment rates in Mesa County over the last few years and the possibility that the proponent may prefer to hire experienced underground miners from other areas rather than train local hires. This analysis assumes that all of the new jobs created would result in in-migration and that the local population would increase accordingly. An eventual increase in 486 jobs would result in an estimated 335 new households, representing a population increase of 814. This amounts to 0.6 percent of the county’s estimated 2005 population. While it is likely that virtually all of the new population would reside in Mesa County, it’s not possible to determine in what communities the population would locate. The majority of the secondary jobs created by the Proposed Action would be located in the central part of the Grand Valley and people holding these jobs could choose to reside in many different communities, just as the current workforce does. Few locations are more than a 45-minute commute from the central part of the valley. Similarly, the employees of the Red Cliff Mine would be a 15-minute commute along SH 139 to I-70 at Loma, from which point most of the Grand Valley is within 30 minutes driving time.

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Local Government Facilities and Services As the previous discussion indicates, the maximum population attributable to the Proposed Action represents a very small increment to the current population of Mesa County. The additional population attributable to the project would thus have a negligible effect on government facilities and services, including domestic water, sewage treatment, emergency services, housing, and social services. There is one possible exception to this general conclusion. The only service that the Proposed Action may potentially affect adversely would be the schools in the area served by Fruita Monument High School. This area generally includes the western half of the Redlands and the western portion of the Grand Valley from CR 24 to the Utah state line. Current enrollments at some of the elementary and middle schools feeding Fruita Monument High School and at the high school itself are near or exceeding their design capacity (Bingham 2008). If all of the new employees at the Red Cliff Mine were immigrants to the Grand Valley, and if they all were to choose to locate in the area served by Fruita Monument High School, and if they were all to arrive within a very brief period, say 2 years, then an estimated 133 new elementary, middle school, and high school students would have to be placed in an already crowded system. This scenario is cautionary, however. It is not likely to occur for several reasons: some of the new jobs may go to current residents; many of the miners new to the area would choose to live at dispersed locations throughout the Grand Valley; and the ramp-up to full production could take more than 2 years, moderating the effect of the growth in the student population. In addition, Mesa County Valley School District 51 may propose a bond issue to the voters in the fall of 2008. If a bond issue were to pass, then new schools would be constructed that would accommodate anticipated growth in the west end of the Grand Valley. Public Revenue Construction and operation of the Red Cliff Mine would require substantial expenditures for labor, supplies, and materials. However, the major contribution of the project toward local public revenue would be through property taxes on the mine facilities and the coal resource, severance taxes paid to the State of Colorado, much of which could eventually be returned to local jurisdictions, and federal royalty payments, 50 percent of which are returned to Colorado for dispersal to sub-jurisdictions within the state, including the county where the royalties were generated. (A recent federal appropriations bill changed the distribution to 52 percent federal and 48 percent state for one year. If this change were extended by Congress, Colorado’s share of the Red Cliff Mine royalties would be less.) The Red Cliff Mine would be subject to various taxes and royalties that would produce substantial revenue for local, state, and federal governments. Both Mesa County and Garfield County would assess ad valorem taxes on the mine facilities, including the railroad spur, and on the value of the coal in the ground. Mesa County would also receive sales taxes based on business and consumer expenditures generated by the Proposed Action. The State of Colorado would recover a severance tax on the value of a mineral resource irretrievably lost to the state. The federal government, from whom the coal resource is being leased, would receive an annual royalty payment as well as an annual rental fee. The federal royalty for coal mined by underground methods is 8 percent of the gross value of the coal produced. When the Red Cliff Mine is producing at the proposed rate of 8 million tons per year, the annual royalty payment to the federal government would be $15.4 million, assuming an 4-24

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

open market price of $24.00 per ton. Historically, federal mineral royalties were split evenly between the federal government and the state of origin, which would result in a $7.7 million annual distribution to the State of Colorado. (A recent federal appropriations bill changed the distribution to 52 percent federal and 48 percent state for one year. If this change were extended by the Congress, Colorado’s share of the Red Cliff Mine royalties would be approximately $7.4 million.) Severance taxes are imposed by states on certain nonrenewable resources that are “removed from the earth” because “the value of such resources to the state of Colorado is irretrievably lost.” The severance tax on coal is applied to all production after the first 1,200,000 tons produced annually. For underground mines, a 50 percent credit against the tax is also applied. The per ton severance tax rate is currently $0.54 per ton and has remained at that level since 1992. When the Red Cliff Mine is producing at the proposed rate of 8 million tons per year, the annual severance tax imposed by the state could be $1.8 million, based on an assumed open market price of $24.00 per ton. Property taxes would be levied and collected by both Mesa and Garfield counties. Mesa County would assess property taxes on the railroad spur and other properties within the county. Garfield County, where the mine facilities and most of the recoverable coal are located, would assess property taxes on the mine facilities and on the value of the coal in the ground. When the Red Cliff Mine is producing at the proposed rate of 8 million tons per year, the annual property tax receipt due to Garfield County could be $710,035, based on the price assumption and assessment methodology of the Colorado Division of Property Taxation and on the current mill levy in western Garfield County. This amount is about 5 percent of the total 2003 property tax revenue collected by Garfield County and the school district that taxes property in the area of the Red Cliff Mine. The property tax revenue due Mesa and Garfield counties on the equipment and facilities, including the railroad spur, cannot be estimated because no information on the value of the facilities is available. Sales taxes are imposed in Mesa County by the state, the county, and the incorporated communities in the Grand Valley. Revenues to all these jurisdictions would increase because of the additional business and consumer expenditures generated by the Proposed Action. Since the direct and indirect economic activity attributable to the mine makes up less than a 1 percent addition to the economy of Mesa County, the increased sales tax revenue would be marginal. Mesa County and jurisdictions within the county would indirectly receive benefit of the severance taxes and federal royalties paid by the Red Cliff Mine. Jurisdictions within the county receive a direct payment equal to 15 percent of the Severance Tax Local Impact Fund’s 50 percent share of the severance tax, based on the residency of mine employees. At peak production, that would be an annual payment equal to $137,700. Additionally, jurisdictions in Garfield County would receive a share of the federal royalties distributed to the state. That share has been increasing in the last few years (as the total amount of royalties received by the state increases) and has averaged about 411 percent the last two years. At that percentage, Garfield County jurisdictions would receive a total of about $850,000 annually. The combined severance and federal royalty payments that would go annually to jurisdictions in the two counties is estimated at $982,500. This amount is about 5 percent of the total resource-related revenue received by Mesa and Garfield counties in 2003.

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

A sizeable portion of the severance tax and federal mineral royalty receipts is placed in the Local Government Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program. The funds administered by this program are made available to communities impacted by mineral development. Both Mesa County and communities within the county would be eligible to receive grants and loans through this program to help address impacts produced by the Proposed Action. Environmental Justice As described in Section 3.1.5, Socioeconomics, the environmental justice requirement of Executive Order 12898 is that “Federal agencies identify and address disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including the socioeconomic effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.” Minority populations in this context are Hispanic, African-American, American Indian, Asian, or Pacific Islander populations that either a) exceed 50 percent in the affected area or b) are meaningfully of greater percentage than in the general population. Low-income populations are those whose incomes fall below the federally defined poverty threshold (CEQ 1997). As discussed in Chapter 3, the percentage of minorities within the study area does not exceed 50 percent and is substantially lower than the percentage in the State of Colorado as a whole. Consequently, the proposed project would not disproportionately affect minority populations as defined. The percentage of the population that falls below the poverty level in the study area is not meaningfully higher than the percentage for the State of Colorado as a whole. In addition, because very few people live in or near the project area, no minority or low-income populations have been identified that would experience common conditions of environmental exposure or effects. Consequently, development would not unduly affect minority or low-income individuals in the study area. Temporary and Long Term Impacts Socioeconomic impacts of the Proposed Action and the action alternatives would be generated by the construction and operation of the coal mine and the railroad spur built to transport the coal out of the region. The project would produce a valuable energy source, creating new jobs and new local business expenditures. In turn, secondary economic impacts would be generated in the form of additional jobs and income and increased local, state, and federal government revenue. The Red Cliff Mine in its proposed format would bring substantial social changes to the affected community in the vicinity of Mack, along with some likely, positive, socioeconomic benefits to the larger region. At a fundamental level, the degree of the social consequences or impacts of the Red Cliff Mine hinge upon the capacities of the community members to adapt to the character and depth of a significant industrial development within a low density, rural-residential area. Most community members who live within a 2- to 3-mile radius of the railroad spur believe that it would definitely impact the surrounding rural atmosphere and their underlying rural community values. As the residents contemplate future impacts of the project, a considerable level of uncertainty about associated social and economic changes also exists, but the latter are less focused than the impacts they anticipate from the railroad spur in particular. Mitigation measures that would assist the affected community’s capacity to adapt to these social consequences could be of benefit. An eventual increase in 486 jobs would result in an estimated 335 new households, representing a population increase of 814. This amounts to 0.6 percent of the county’s estimated 2005 4-26

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

population. The new jobs would likely result in increased local population and that population growth could potentially impact community infrastructure—housing, schools, domestic water systems, etc.—and social well-being. In the context of the broader regional and national energy economy, the development of the Red Cliff Mine would increase the domestic fossil fuel supply, improving the reliability of our national energy. Most of the socioeconomic impacts would be felt in the Grand Valley of Mesa County. This area has a large population, a number of sizeable established communities, and a well-developed infrastructure located within a 15-to 45-minute commute from the proposed coal mine. Construction workers who do not already reside in the area would find temporary residence in local motels or other rental housing facilities. The majority of permanent mine employees would reside in the Grand Valley. Similarly, local project expenditures for fuel, housing, equipment, services, and supplies needed for construction, development, and operation of the mine would take place in the Grand Valley. Jurisdictions within Mesa County would receive much of the sales tax associated with the proponent’s local expenditures and the ad valorem tax on the railroad spur. However, because the mine and most of the coal resource would be located in Garfield County, the ad valorem taxes associated with the mining operation itself would be received by jurisdictions within Garfield County. The United States and the State of Colorado would share the federal royalties generated by the mine and Colorado would receive additional revenues based on the state severance tax. There is potential for the railroad spur to have a downward influence on private property values in the area through which the spur would pass. This is a fear expressed by residents living west of Mack. The railroad spur would alter the character of the CR 10 corridor, introducing an industrial feature that would not be in accord with the current agricultural and rural residential character of the landscape. Moreover, construction of the spur would define the corridor in such a way that it would be a more likely location for siting future industrial utilities and facilities, such as an overhead transmission line, a pipeline, or warehouses. The changed character of the corridor coupled with the concerns about train noise, safety, dust, and traffic interruptions at CR 10 and CR M.8 would all tend to reduce the number of people who would wish to buy residential property in the corridor, which would in turn reduce the value of properties in the area. A number of studies have confirmed the notion that proximity to a railroad tends to reduce property values, by as much as 10 percent of the potential value. (Jaouhari and Simons 2004, Bellinger 2006, Strand 2004) These studies indicate that properties in the immediate vicinity of the railroad are most affected, that the downward influence diminishes rapidly with distance, and that train noise and safety are among the factors influencing value. Interviews with appraisers that have experience in Mesa County confirm these findings, with the caution that the influence on prices is not absolute, and that railroad vicinity property values would still rise if the general direction of property values in the region is upward. In sum, the Proposed Action would increase Mesa County employment and income. To the extent that new jobs are filled by immigrants to the area, population would increase. The magnitude of these changes, even if they were to occur over a brief period of time, is not large enough to have a noticeable impact in and of themselves on the local community infrastructure. The Red Cliff Mine would be the source of additional revenue to local, state, and federal 4-27

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

governments, becoming substantial at the proposed full-production level. The addition of 8 million tons of steam coal a year to the nation’s supply of fossil fuels would have a small but beneficial effect on the national energy economy. Mitigation Measures • Property Values/Social Dislocation: Potential negative impacts on property values can be in part avoided by properly addressing some of the other concerns: safety, noise, deterioration in viewsheds, etc. Some uncertainties about future developments could be mitigated by providing quality land use planning and related information to the community; e.g., through an appropriate role being played by the responsible governmental entities, such as the Mesa County Planning Commission. An Anticipated Loss of Rural Values: Landscaping measures could overcome some of the visual impact concerns. Horn noise mitigation could in part be addressed through grade separations and the noiseless crossings for CR M.8 and CR 10. The deeper social impacts on rural values could in part be addressed by working more closely with the community to enhance traditional social interactions, community cohesion, historic preservation, rural fire protection, and alleviate possible school crowding. Impacts on Safety: Recommendations by the community have been made for safer crossings, especially at CR 10 and CR M.8, by creating grade separations. Additional adaptations to the community’s design suggestions about safety and road realignments would require additional public involvement in a collaborative mode in order to create satisfactory mitigation alternatives. An Industrial Corridor: Some mitigation benefits could be provided through clearer and more transparent communications about associated land use restrictions, intentions, and objectives. In the long run the role and authority of local governments in guiding compatible land uses, working directly with the community residents, would be vital to maintaining the rural quality of life within the Mack-Loma community area. Company Relations with the Community: Along with the other specific mitigation measures, a framework to improve community-company communications and relations is needed. This could take many forms, but should be based on an agreement between the parties to establish clearer expectations and open lines of communication about the mine and rail construction and operations phases. A commitment among all parties to establish a neighborly, working partnership would pay long term benefits for community sustainability, towards more effective mine operations, and for employee well-being.

•

•

•

•

Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, contains additional recommended mitigation measures for socioeconomic impacts.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 The socioeconomic impacts under this alternative would be similar to those of the Proposed Action with two exceptions. The construction employment and expenditures for this crossing could be slightly more than those for the railroad spur as proposed. If so, the temporary employment and income effects associated with the construction phase of the project may be 4-28

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marginally greater than those of the Proposed Action. This alternative would lessen some of the social/community concerns regarding traffic safety, emergency response times, and noise impacts. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Socioeconomic impacts under this alternative would in general be similar to those of the Proposed Action. This alternative would lessen some of the social/community concerns regarding noise impacts. Transmission Line Alternative A Socioeconomic impacts under this alternative would be greater than those of the Proposed Action or the other transmission line alternatives. Transmission Line Alternative A would go through 19 privately-owned parcels, which would increase the level of difficulty in obtaining easements. Transmission Line Alternative B Socioeconomic impacts under this alternative would be slightly greater than those of the Proposed Action due to the need to cross 5 privately-owned parcels of land. Transmission Line Alternative C Socioeconomic impacts under this alternative would be similar to those of the Proposed Action.

4.1.6 Transportation No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, mining development would not occur, and there would be no changes to the existing transportation system, and no construction impacts as a result of this alternative. Future traffic volumes within the project area would continue to increase as a result of energy development and economic growth in the area. Forecast growth rate estimates provided by Mesa County (Simms 2007) indicate that this area could experience a high growth rate of 7 percent per year for the next 20 years.

Proposed Action Alternative
Mine and Facilities Reconstruction of the intersection of CR X (also known as Mitchell Road or Power Line Road) and SH 139 would have no adverse impacts to the state highway. CR X would be designed to meet Mesa County Road and Bridge Standard requirements. By using these standards, the intersection improvements would utilize the latest roadway design standards and incorporate safety, implicitly. Once improved, CR X would be open to the public and provide access to public lands, grazing allotments, and gas transmission lines. Only the portion of CR X which crosses the Red Cliff Mine property, would have posted, restricted assess and be fenced to protect private property and keep the public safe. 4-29

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CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

CR X lies within the Grand Valley Airshed; the road surface would be asphalt or chip-n-seal to remain dust free. Traffic ingress and egress would not impact current operations as SH 139 is not congested. Background traffic volumes within the project area would continue to increase as a result of energy development and related growth in the Grand Valley area. The Mesa County regional traffic demand model estimates the growth rate to be 7 percent per year on the roads near the towns of Mack and Loma. Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) estimates the traffic growth on SH 139 would be 3.6 percent per year near the Mesa/Garfield County line. The future traffic operations and impacts were evaluated when the Proposed Action alternative would be fully functional. In five years the Red Cliff Mine would be operating at full capacity and employ 250 workers per day divided over two work shifts. The mine would continue to provide coal to the Cameo Power plant (as long as CAM holds the contract) via semi-trailer trucks that would continue to travel on SH 139 and US 6. Traffic generated by the Red Cliff Mine is estimated to vary from a high of 470 vehicles per day (vpd), based on a single occupancy vehicle, to 260 vpd, based on an average of two employees carpooling per work shift. Car or van pools would be encouraged to minimize traffic congestion and promote safety. The future traffic impacts were determined when the Proposed Action alternative was functioning at full capacity. While traffic to and from the site may increase 370 vpd, SH 139 would continue to operate well below the two-lane capacity threshold of 27,000 vpd. The level of service (LOS), a measure of traffic performance, is grade B and considered acceptable. At this LOS there would be no adverse impacts as a result of the Proposed Action alternative. A state highway access permit, utility and special use permit would need to be acquired from CDOT prior to construction of the SH 139/CR X intersection. The access permit, which addresses traffic, environmental, and design issues, would require the approval of the CDOT Region 3 Regional Access Manager. Based on the CDOT Access Code, a right turn deceleration lane is anticipated for traffic ingress, and a left turn acceleration lane is not required. The final determination for the need to build turn lanes would be determined during the access control permit approval process. In addition to the access control permit, a utility and special use permit is required due to the presence of utilities at this location. Future traffic volumes in 2026 on CR M.8 and CR 10 are estimated to be 895 and 530 vpd, respectively. Based on current travel patterns, traffic on these county roads would experience an increase in traffic ranging from 5 to 15 vpd, as a result of the Proposed Action alternative. Emergency response to the Red Cliff Mine would improve by approximately 5 minutes, because the Proposed Action alternative is 5.4 miles closer to the hospital than the MCM. The Proposed Action alternative would not result any long term substantial impacts to the transportation system. Lease Area There would be no additional impacts to the highways or traffic due to activities in the lease area.

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4.1.6 – Transportation

CHAPTERFOUR
Railroad

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

A grade-separated crossing at SH 139 is proposed. SH 139 would be reconstructed to cross over the proposed railroad. CR 10 would be realigned to form a perpendicular railroad track crossing. This realignment would improve safety by improving sight distance at this location. The railroad grade crossings at both CR M.8 and CR 10 would delay vehicles by 6.5 to 7.5 minutes at each location. During the peak hour of travel, the crossing coal train would delay an average of 14 vehicles on CR M.8 and 9 vehicles on CR 10. During off-peak hours of travel the average total number of vehicles stopped by the train on CR M.8 and CR 10 would be 5 and 3 vehicles, respectively. After the train has cleared the railroad grade crossing, the small number of queued vehicles would quickly disperse. There is a low potential that an emergency vehicle could be delayed at either grade crossing. Since accidents are random events that can happen any time of day or night, it is unlikely that one of the four trains per day would delay the responding emergency vehicle by 6.5 to 7.5 minutes. The Mesa County Sheriff has estimated that if CR M.8 is blocked, emergency vehicle response time could be extended by up to 11 minutes if the vehicle was to drive north to cross the tracks at CR 10. Temporary Impacts Traffic would be temporarily impeded for 2 to 4 weeks during construction of the CR M.8 railroad grade crossing. Egress and ingress to some private property may be affected. Traffic would be temporarily impeded for 2 to 4 weeks during construction of the realigned CR 10 at-grade crossing. Egress and ingress to some private property may be affected. Traffic may be temporarily impeded at the intersection of SH 139 and CR X. Intersection improvements would not require closing of the state highway. A temporary detour would be constructed on SH 139 at the location of the railroad underpass, and traffic speed may be somewhat reduced through the detour. Long Term Impacts Long term impacts would consist of occasional delays at CR M.8 and CR 10 during train crossings. Some local residents may choose to alter their driving patterns. Mitigation Measures CR X would be designed to meet Mesa County Road and Bridge Standard requirements. Since this road lies with in the Grand Valley Airshed, the road surface would be asphalt or chip-n-seal to remain dust free. The intersection improvements would incorporate the latest design and safety standards and be designed in accordance with Mesa County and CDOT standards. A traffic management plan would be developed during the final design of the project to minimize disruption to traffic flow. These plans would be designed in accordance with agency standards and would include maintenance of access to private property, minimizing disruption to local businesses, and provision of detours or alternate routes as needed. 4-31

4.1.7 – Utilities

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Construction activities would be coordinated with agency officials to avoid the need for nighttime construction in certain sensitive areas near residents. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, contains additional proposed mitigation measures for transportation impacts.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 Operation of a grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 would lessen transportation impacts as compared to the Proposed Action as traffic would not be required to stop when a train passes through the intersection. There would be no delay of emergency vehicles during a train’s passing. Temporary construction impacts and detours would be considerably longer, as a new bridge on CR M.8 would be constructed over Mack Wash as well as the railroad grade. Bridge construction could take 6 to 9 months. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Long term impacts would be similar to those described for the Proposed Action. Temporary construction impacts would be slightly greater, as it would take longer to construct the railroad crossings. Transmission Line Alternative A There would be no impacts to transportation from this alternative. Transmission Line Alternative B There would be no impacts to transportation from this alternative. Transmission Line Alternative C There would be no impacts to transportation from this alternative.

4.1.7 Utilities No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, mining development would not occur, and there would be no changes to existing utilities.

Proposed Action Alternative
The development of a new mine would necessitate the creation of many new utilities, such as new electric transmission lines to the mine area, and a water pipeline. These new utilities are described in detail in Chapter 2 and are part of the Proposed Action. The intent of this Utilities section is to describe impacts to other existing utilities that would result from any of the components of the Proposed Action being implemented. There are no known large utilities such as large gas or oil pipelines that would be disrupted as a result of the Proposed Action. 4-32

4.1.7 – Utilities

CHAPTERFOUR
Railroad and Water Pipeline

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

During the construction of the railroad and water pipeline, there may be minor utilities such as underground phone lines and small electric distribution lines that would have to be cut and replaced or moved. Identification of these small utilities would occur as part of the preconstruction efforts by the contractor who would be building each component of the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Construction of the transmission line would not disrupt other utilities. Where the new transmission line would displace existing distribution lines, the distribution line would be reconstructed as an underbuild line on the same poles that carry the transmission line. Temporary Impacts Temporary impacts may result from construction of the project linear facilities. These impacts may include temporary power outages for area residents that would be affected by the construction of the underbuild transmission line, and temporary suspension of service of the underground phone lines and small electric distribution lines. Long Term Impacts There would be no long term impacts to existing utilities. Mitigation Measures Any underground phone lines and small electric distribution lines within the railroad/pipeline ROW would be replaced or moved in accordance with all applicable federal, state, and utility provider regulations and policies. Any displaced distribution lines would be replaced with underbuild lines. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, contains additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to utilities.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 No impacts to utilities would result from this alternative. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices No impacts to utilities would result from this alternative. Transmission Line Alternative A Impacts would be the same as described for the proposed transmission line. Transmission Line Alternative B Impacts would be the same as described for the proposed transmission line. Transmission Line Alternative C Impacts would be the same as described for the proposed transmission line.

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4.1.8 – Visual

CHAPTERFOUR
4.1.8 Visual No Action Alternative

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Under the No Action Alternative, mining development would not occur, and there would be no impacts to visual resources.

Proposed Action Alternative
Visual resource impacts would vary according to viewer location and orientation. SH 139 is the main travel route within the project area. SH 139 is a designated National Scenic Byway. Negative visual influences to the scenery as viewed from the scenic byway would reduce the scenic driving quality of the byway. Development of the mine and associated facilities would occur south of and near the base of the Book Cliffs, at approximately the same elevation as SH 139, and there is little topographical relief or vegetative cover that would screen travelers’ views of some of the mine facilities. Northbound travelers would have longer and more direct views of the mine site than southbound travelers. Observers in vehicles traveling at 65 miles per hour may have only fleeting views of some of the facilities. The North Fruita Desert SRMA south of the Book Cliffs is in an undesignated Visual Resource Management (VRM) category. This area is used for recreation, and there may be some project facilities visible from different locations in the SRMA. That portion of the Grand Junction Field Office planning area in the Book Cliffs is designated as VRM Class III. The objective of this class is to partially retain the existing character of the landscape. Three visual simulations were prepared from a Key Observation Point (KOP) along SH 139 (Figure 4-1, Photo Simulation Map). This point was selected as it provides a view of the proposed railroad crossing under SH 139 (Figure 4-2, Photo Simulation – Looking South at Railroad Alignment Crossing Under SH 139) and is a relatively high point along SH 139 to view the mine area (Figure 4-3, Photo Simulation – Looking at Mine Site). The third view, Figure 4-4, Photo Simulation – Looking North at Jeep Trail Alignment Crossing Over SH 139, is a simulation of the Jeep Trail railroad alignment as it crosses SH 139. This view is provided to give readers an idea of what a railroad overpass over SH 139 would look like. This alignment was not carried through the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for detailed analysis. Mine and Facilities Mine facilities would introduce man-made structures into the landscape that would draw attention to their size, lines, and forms that contrast with the surrounding natural appearing landscape. These structures include a unit train loadout, a coal preparation plant, package sewage treatment plant, sediment pond, office, shop, warehouse, conveyors, water tank, ventilation fan, raw coal stockpile, and a waste rock pile as described in the Proposed Action description in Chapter 2. Figure 4-3, Photo Simulation – Looking at Mine Site, is a simulation of the mine facilities. From this KOP, the loadout silos and water tower would be visible, as would the waste rock pile up against the base of the Book Cliffs. The actual mine portals and benches are not visible due to their distance from the KOP and their orientation along the Book Cliffs.

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P oo i li Lct n h tS ao oao mu t n i (e O srao Pi ) Ky bevt n o t i n
MM1. 0 9
J e T al e p ri R iA in n al l me t g

Po o e R i r p s d al A in n l me t g

R dCi Mi ES e l n I f e f Fg r 41 i eu P ooSmu t nL c t nMa h t i l i o ai ao o p

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AFTER

BEFORE

Red Cliff Mine EIS

Figure 4-2 Photo Simulation – Looking South at Railroad Alignment Crossing Under SH 139

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BEFORE

Red Cliff Mine EIS

Figure 4-3 Photo Simulation – Looking at Mine Site

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Red Cliff Mine EIS

Figure 4-4 Photo Simulation – Looking North at Jeep Trail Alignment Crossing Over SH 139

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4.1.8 – Visual

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Other mine features may be visible for varying periods of time from other locations along SH 139. The sediment ponds may draw attention due to the clearing of vegetation and the large geometric shape of the ponds. The loop track would create some visual impacts due to the 90-foot cuts necessary to maintain the required grade. The waste rock pile and coal stockpiles would draw attention due to the clearing of vegetation and the large piles of coal and waste rock. The facilities associated with the proposed mine would be constructed on benches, which would be carved out of the existing terrain. This would create distinct contrasts with the natural topography of the area. Siting facilities on benches would draw attention to the facilities due to the contrast of the benches with surrounding topography. These facilities would be over 2 miles away from SH 139 at the closest point and would be oriented so they would not be directly exposed to SH 139. The mine and benches are located on cliff faces oriented away from some of the higher use recreation areas at the north end of CR 18 (campground and trailhead), and would not be visible from those locations Access and maintenance roads would require the removal of vegetation and changes in the existing topography by cutting and filling of soil. After construction, the color of the exposed soil would contrast with the surrounding vegetation and be highly visible. Roads create a linear contrast in the landscape due to the contrasting soil color, changes in vegetation patterns, and changes in the natural topography, which combine to create a visible change in the landscape. Lease Area Most of the activities taking place within the lease area would be underground. Some minimal visual effects of subsidence (see Section 4.2.3, Geology, and Appendix D, Subsidence) could include swales, small cracks in the ground surface, and rock falls. These would be visible only to observers actually in the lease area. Railroad Railroad construction would result in the removal of vegetation and changes in the existing topography by cutting and filling of soil. After construction the railroad ties would contrast with the color of the surrounding landscape and be visible. Railroads create a linear contrast in the landscape due to changes in vegetation patterns, addition of railroad tracks, and changes in existing topography, which combine to create a visible change in the landscape, often visible from long distances. Figure 4-2 is a visual simulation looking south at the proposed rail crossing (with train) under SH 139, approximately 1.5 miles south of the KOP. Southbound travelers would have a view as they approached the crossing. Due to the topography, northbound travelers would probably not see the crossing until they were almost over it. The railroad grade would be visible at various locations to local residents traveling on CR 10 and CR M.8. Visibility would be variable depending on the cuts and fills, distance from the roads, and aspect of the railroad to the road (parallel vs. perpendicular). A portion of the railroad alignment would be within 0.5 mile of Highline Lake State Park, and would be visible from parts of the park, especially from some of the recreational facilities located on higher ground around the lake. Due to the park’s distance from the mine site (approximately 7 miles), it is unlikely that mine facilities would be visible.

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CHAPTERFOUR
Water Pipeline

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Temporary visual impacts would result from surface disturbance associated with construction of the water pipeline. There would be no long term impacts to visual resources, as the water pipeline would be buried parallel to the railroad grade. Transmission Line The proposed transmission line is adjacent to 95 parcels of private land south of the Highline Canal. The line would be constructed along county roads, in some places replacing existing lines. The transmission line and the underbuild distribution line would have the same configuration and appearance as existing lines in the project area (see Figure 2-10, Typical Cut & Fill Sections, for examples of existing structures). North of the Highline Canal, the transmission line would cross six trails in the North Fruita Desert SRMA. Transmission line and associated access road construction would result in the removal of vegetation along the transmission line ROW. After construction the transmission lines would create a linear contrast with the surrounding natural landscape. The linear ROW with poles and conductors would result in indirect visual impacts in some areas, affecting the natural landscape. The line would be visible to recreationists using these trails. Temporary Impacts Temporary visual impacts would result from surface disturbance associated with construction prior to reclamation and revegetation. Long Term Impacts The project would require night lighting in certain locations including the office, shop, warehouse, sewage treatment plant, and active mine areas. This would create a noticeable nighttime light source, although it would be at least 2 miles from the nearest resident. The visual impacts would combine to create a different looking landscape in portions of the project area. The physical alteration of the existing landscape would be substantial in some areas, and the existing undeveloped natural appearance of the area would change due to the industrial facilities on-site and the creation of linear features. Long term visual impacts would be associated with the railroad, transmission line, access and maintenance roads, the mine facilities and associated benches, and the waste rock pile. Mitigation Measures Temporary construction areas would be revegetated according to BLM policy, thus reducing visual impacts due to construction. Mine facilities would be painted colors that would blend with the background colors as required by the Standard Design Practices in the Grand Junction RMP (BLM 1987) (unless prevented by safety or permitting requirements). Full-cutoff lighting at the mine facilities could be used to reduce nighttime light impacts. Upon termination of the project, the aboveground mine facilities would be removed and the area would be revegetated in accordance with BLM policy. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, contains additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to visual resources. 4-44

4.1.8 – Visual

CHAPTERFOUR
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
In addition to the visual impacts described previously, a grade-separated railroad crossing at CR M.8 would involve construction of a bridge supported by concrete capped piles. The bridge over Mack Wash and CR M.8 would be approximately 35 feet higher than the existing road grade. This would be highly visible to travelers on CR M.8. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Noiseless crossing gate systems consist of a series of automatic flashing-light signals and gates where the gates extend across both the approach and departure side of roadway lanes. Unlike two-quadrant gate systems, noiseless crossing gates provide additional visual constraint and inhibit nearly all traffic movements over the crossing after the gates have been lowered (U.S. Department of Transportation [USDOT] 2002). These systems are designed to be highly visible for the purpose of increasing safety, especially when a train is approaching and crossing the county roads. Transmission Line Alternative A Transmission line Alternative A is adjacent to 90 parcels of land south of the Highline Canal, crosses 19 parcels of private land north of the Highline Canal, and is adjacent to one trail in the North Fruita Desert SRMA. North of the Highline Canal, the line would be parallel with and adjacent to CR 16 for over 5 miles (see Figure 2-12, Proposed Mine Facilities, Map 1 of 5). There are currently no transmission or distribution lines along CR 16 in that location. Visual impacts to residents north of the Highline Canal would be greater than the Proposed Action, as there is currently no transmission line crossing those private land parcels. Transmission Line Alternative B Transmission line Alternative B is adjacent to 82 parcels of land south of the Highline Canal, crosses five parcels of private land north of the Highline Canal, and crosses one trail under construction in the North Fruita Desert SRMA. Visual impacts to residents north of the Highline Canal would be greater than the Proposed Action, as there is currently no transmission line crossing those private land parcels. Transmission Line Alternative C Transmission line Alternative C is adjacent to 96 parcels of land south of the Highline Canal, and crosses five trails in the North Fruita Desert SRMA. Over 18,000 feet of the transmission line would parallel the railroad and water pipeline, putting the visual scars in one corridor for that length of line. The transmission line would come within 0.25 mile of SH 139 at its closest point, but is that close for only a short segment (less than 0.5 mile – see Figure 2-12, Proposed Mine Facilities, Map 1 of 5).

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4.1.9 – Noise

CHAPTERFOUR
4.1.9 Noise No Action Alternative

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Under the No Action Alternative, mining development would not occur, and there would be no noise impacts.

Proposed Action Alternative
Mine and Facilities Noise emissions as a result of the operation of the surface facilities for the underground mines are not expected to be a general nuisance as there are no sensitive receptors in the area. The source of noise generated by the mine and associated facilities could include automobiles, diesel trucks, locomotives, and machinery. Noise levels are not anticipated to exceed 95 dBA. Noise generated during normal operations would dissipate over a distance of 1,500 feet to 55 dBA, which is typical for this area. Lease Area There would be a minimal noise level increase in the lease area as a result of this project. The majority of the activities in the lease area would be conducted underground, and there are no sensitive receptors in this area. Noise generated within the lease area may be heard for a distance of up to 2 miles, depending on climatic conditions. The noise generated in the lease area would be well below the 65 dBA threshold and would not require any mitigation. Railroad The prediction of the future horn noise levels and impacts at the proposed grade crossings of CR M.8 and CR 10 from the proposed coal train was completed using the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Grade Crossing Noise Model. In accordance with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations for sounding railroad horns, a 102 dBA maximum A weighted sound level (Lmax) at 100 feet from the front of the train to the road crossing was used. In addition to the maximum horn sounding level, the model considers the horn location on the locomotive, the non-train noise environment, length of impact area, train speed, train length, number of locomotives, and the future number of trains during a 24-hour period. The model calculated the distance of the 65 dBA contour and location of the moderate and severe impacts zones within the 0.5-mile long noise envelope. Unlike noise generated from increasing automobile traffic, train noise is not permanent. Normal background noise levels would resume after the train crossing has completed each pass. A discussion of the railroad horn noise impacts are summarized in the following text. CR M.8 Grade Crossing The results from the railroad horn noise model at the proposed CR M.8 grade crossing are shown in Figure 4-5, County Road M.8/Railroad Grade Crossing Railroad Horn Noise Impact Areas. Receptors R1 and R3 would hear the railroad horn, but levels would be below “moderately impact,” as defined in Chapter 3, Table 3-6, Noise Levels Defining Impact for Transit Projects. Receptor R4 would experience moderate noise impacts when the horn is sounded up to 4 times a day. The predicted noise levels are estimated to increase 3 dBA, at these locations. Normal background noise levels would resume after the train crossing has been completed. 4-46

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Receptor R2 would experience a severe noise impact when the horn is sounded at the grade crossing. The noise level during would increase by approximately 8 dBA, after which normal background noise levels would resume. No receptors at this location would exceed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) acceptability standard of 65 dBA for a residence. Table 3-6, Noise Levels Defining Impact for Transit Projects, Category 2 shows the project noise impact exposure used to identify the level of impacts based on an existing noise exposure level of 52 dBA. Other residences located within a mile radius of the grade crossing would hear the train horn, but would not be moderately or severely impacted by the horn noise. The noise levels would be well below the 65-dBA threshold and would not require mitigation. In addition to train horn noise, the locomotive and coal rail cars with generate noise with each pass. Residences located within a half-mile radius of the tracks would hear train noise, but levels would be less than moderate or severe impacts. The noise levels generated by the locomotive and coal rail cars would be well below the 65 dBA threshold and would not require mitigation. Normal background noise levels would resume after the train has passed the proximity of the residence. CR 10 Grade Crossing The results from the railroad horn noise model at the proposed CR 10 grade crossing are shown in Figure 4-6, County Road 10/Railroad Grade Crossing Railroad Horn Noise Impact Areas. Receptor R8 would hear the railroad horn, but the level would be below the “moderate impact.” Receptors R5, R6, R7, and R9 would experience moderate noise impacts when the horn is sounded up to four times in a 24-hour period. The predicted increase in noise levels vary from 1 to 6 dBA when the railroad horn is sounded. Receptor R10 would experience a severe noise impact when the horn is sounded as the train passes by the property. The noise levels would increase approximately 12 dBA, and exceed the 65 dBA HUD standard. Table 3-6, Noise Levels Defining Impact for Transit Projects, Category 2 shows the project noise impact exposure used to identify the level of impacts based on an existing noise exposure level of 54 dBA. Other residences located within a mile radius of the grade crossing would hear the train horn, but impacts would be below moderate or severe. The noise levels would be well below the 65 dBA threshold and would not require mitigation. Residences located within a half-mile radius of the tracks would hear train noise, but impacts would be below moderate or severe. The noise levels generated by the locomotive and coal rail cars would be well below the 65-dBA threshold and would not require mitigation. Normal background noise levels would resume after the train has passed the proximity of the residences. Highline Lake State Park The Proposed Action alternative would not directly impact the picnic area located at Mack Mesa Lake. The train, which would pass no closer than 6,000 feet from the picnic area, may be heard by park users, but this noise would be well below mitigation thresholds levels.

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CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Water Pipeline No noise impacts would result from this project feature. Transmission Line No noise impacts would result from this project feature. Temporary Impacts Construction equipment would be the primary source for noise that creates a temporary noise impact. This noise would be most noticeable from construction of the railroad alignment and pipeline corridor, at the grade crossings, and from trucks traveling on the roads to the daily work area. There would also be temporary noise impacts from construction of the transmission line. Construction noise at the mine facilities would dissipate before any sensitive receptors would be affected. Noise from rock blasting would be generated during the first six months of the mine and associated linear facility startup operations. Rock blasting would be required to build the mine benches and some access roads. Rock blasting would be conducted in accordance with current mining standards to reduce injuries that may result from a premature blast, fly rock, misfires, and fumes. The air blast and vibration may be heard and felt within a 1,250-foot radius of the blast area. Vehicles traveling on SH 139 may see the dust cloud from the rock blast, but would likely not hear the sound or feel the vibrations. Long Term Impacts Residents in the Mack vicinity would hear train horns up to eight times per day as trains pass through the two at-grade crossings. Receptor R10, near the CR 10 grade crossing, would be severely impacted by train horn noise. The noise levels would increase approximately 12 dBA, and exceed the 65-dBA HUD standard at this receptor, with each pass of the train. There would be no long term noise impacts resulting from operations at any other location. Mine operations would generate noise, but there are no sensitive receptors in the area that would be affected. Noise may cause some wildlife to avoid the operations areas. Mitigation Measures The criteria to mitigate severe railroad horn noise impacts can be found in the FTA Transit Noise and Impact Assessment Manual, which has been adopted by the FRA. The criteria states that mitigation should be considered when there is a 5-dBA increase in Ldn or Leq, and the total noise level exceeds 65 dBA. Mitigation measures include tall earth berms or noise walls to reduce noise to acceptable FTA levels. Other noise mitigation measures can include insulating the home or structure, installing noiseless crossing traffic control devices at the grade crossing to create “quiet zones,” or purchasing and moving the residential property. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the yellow shaded parcels are owned by CAM, and are not considered for assessment of noise impacts. Any dwelling units that may currently exist on these parcels are assumed to be unoccupied after the railroad is constructed. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, contains additional proposed mitigation measures for noise impacts.

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CHAPTERFOUR
CR M.8 Grade Crossing

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Noise mitigation is not required at this grade crossing location. The sensitive receptors R1, R3, and R4 would experience a minor 3-dBA increase in noise, which is below the FTA criteria requiring mitigation. Noise receptor R2 would experience an 8 dBA increase in noise, which exceeds the FTA minimum of 5 dBA, for a total noise level of 60 dBA. To be considered for mitigation, both the minimum increase and total noise levels must be equaled or exceeded. This location does not exceed the 65 dBA total noise threshold, and therefore no mitigation is required. CR 10 Grade Crossing Noise mitigation is required for receptor R10 at this grade crossing location. When the train passes the property and the horn is sounded, this location would experience a 12-dBA increase in noise for a total noise level of 66 dBA. This location exceeds both the 5-dBA minimum noise level increase and the 65-dBA total noise threshold. Noise mitigation at this location should consider installing an earth berm, a concrete noise wall, a combination earth berm/concrete wall; insulating the building with sound proof material; installing a noiseless crossing traffic control device at the grade crossing; or purchasing and moving the residence. Receptors R5, R6, R7, and R9 would experience moderate noise impacts, but would not exceed the 65-dBA criteria, when the horn is sounded up to four times a day. Construction Noise The contractor would take appropriate measures to reduce noise from construction equipment. This would include the installation and maintenance of engine mufflers. To avoid noise impacts at night, nighttime construction may be curtailed in certain sensitive areas near residents.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Alternatives were developed that could eliminate train horn noise. In addition to this noise source, locomotive noise was studied. The coal train would increase noise levels in proximity to the tracks. The horizontal distance from the center of the tracks to the severe noise impact limit for non-horn railroad noise would vary slightly along the railroad route. This variation in distance is due to the changes in background noise levels. Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 This alternative would lessen noise impacts, as a grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 would eliminate train horn noise impacts, as the horn would not be sounded at the crossing. Noise sources would be limited to locomotive and coal rail cars as the train passes through the area. Residents located within a half-mile radius of the grade-separated crossing may hear the train noise, but the analysis determined that impacts to nearby residences would be below the moderate or severe thresholds. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices The public requested that a grade crossing alternative be studied where the sounding the horn is not required. A noise analysis of a “quiet zone” created by installing the noiseless crossing traffic control device was completed at each road/railroad location. This analysis used similar procedures and is summarized below. The FTA train horn noise model was used to predict noise 4-53

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CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

levels from the locomotives, excluding train horn noise. The model evaluated the noise generated from three diesel locomotives per train at each railroad grade crossing. CR M.8 Grade Crossing with Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control The results from the railroad horn noise model, excluding train horn noise, at the proposed CR M.8 grade crossing are shown in Figure 4-7, County Road M.8 Grade Crossing with Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Railroad Noise Impacts. For comparative purposes, a 0.5-mile noise envelope was used centered on the CR M.8 crossing. Receptors R1, R3, and R4 would hear the train with each pass, but impacts are below the moderate threshold. The predicted noise levels would increase by approximately 1 dBA for total noise level of 53 dBA. This increase in noise does not meet the FTA noise mitigation criteria, and therefore no additional mitigation is required. Residences located within a 0.5-mile radius of the grade crossing may hear the locomotive noise, but impacts would be below the moderate or severe thresholds. No further mitigation is required for this measure. CR 10 Grade Crossing with Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control The results from noise model at the proposed CR 10 grade crossing are shown in Figure 4-8, County Road 10 Grade Crossing with Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control, Railroad Noise Impacts, Receptors R5, R6, R7, and R8 would hear the train, but the impact is below the moderate threshold. Receptor R10 would experience a moderate noise impact. The predicted noise levels at R10 would increase by approximately 3 dBA, for a total noise level of 58 dBA. This increase in noise does not meet the FTA noise mitigation criteria, and therefore no additional mitigation is required. Residences located within a 0.5-mile radius of the grade crossing may hear the locomotive noise, but impacts would be below the moderate or severe thresholds. No further mitigation is required for this measure. Transmission Line Alternative A Impacts would be the same as those for the Proposed Action transmission line alternative. Transmission Line Alternative B Impacts would be the same as those for the Proposed Action transmission line alternative. Transmission Line Alternative C Impacts would be the same as those for the Proposed Action transmission line alternative.

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4.1.10 – Hazardous Materials

CHAPTERFOUR
4.1.10 Hazardous Materials No Action Alternative

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Under the No Action Alternative, there would be no changes to the current management of hazardous materials in the proposed project area. Impacts would remain unchanged from existing conditions.

Proposed Action Alternative
Mine and Facilities Operation of the proposed facilities would involve potentially toxic or hazardous materials including hydrocarbon waste, detergents, solvents, and batteries. Generated wastes would be handled in accordance with applicable regulations as described in Section 3.1.10, Hazardous Materials. Hazardous wastes generated during operation would be removed from the site by a licensed regulated waste management contractor at regular intervals and trucked to authorized facilities for recycling or treatment and disposal. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission issues annual hazardous materials transportation permits to anyone hauling hazardous materials that require placarding under 49 CFR 172 or 173. The transporter is required to provide proof of liability insurance at the time of application (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment [CDPHE] 2008). Waste rock would be generated through the process of separating the coal from the mined material. Waste rock would also be generated from tunneling or blasting. Sulfur-bearing material can be brought up to the surface in waste rock. When sulfide minerals come in contact with air, precipitation, and groundwater, an acidic leachate can be formed. This leachate can result in acid mine drainage (AMD), which picks up heavy metals and carries these toxins into streams or groundwater. Other toxic forming material (earth materials or waste) can also be brought up to the surface with waste rock. When these materials are acted upon by air, water, and weathering or microbiological processes, they can produce conditions in soils or water that are toxic to plant or animal life. Testing of the rock from the proposed mine site does not indicate that any sulfur-bearing material is present. Therefore waste rock from the proposed mine has been determined to be non-acid-forming or non-toxic-forming. Lease Area There are no known existing hazardous material sites within the lease area based on a report provided by Environmental Data Resources (EDR) (EDR 2007). The locations of hazardous materials outside of the boundary drawn by EDR are unknown, but this area is unlikely to contain hazardous materials. All activities which would involve hazardous materials within the leasing area are described in the Mine and Facilities section. Railroad There are no known hazardous material sites within the project area, and no known hazardous waste haul routes that transect the proposed railroad alignments (EDR 2007). The proposed railroad would not haul hazardous materials. Hazardous materials would be trucked off the mine site via the mine access road and SH 139. 4-59

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

In the advent of a railroad derailment no hazardous materials would be spilled or released as a result of the Proposed Action alternative. The diesel fuel, which is used to power a locomotive, is contained in doubled walled tanks and is less likely to rupture when compared to single walled fuel tanks on trucks. Diesel fuel when spilled is typically not a hazardous waste. A coal spill is not a considered a hazardous material. Section 303 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986 (SARA Title III) (EPCRA) requires the preparation of Emergency Response Plans for rail emergencies. Emergency Response Plans include very specific procedures to mitigate rail derailment and any resulting spills. The Public Utilities Commission requires the establishment and maintenance of a written system safety program plan. Water Pipeline Construction of the water pipeline would not affect hazardous materials. Transmission Line Construction of the transmission line would not affect hazardous materials. Temporary Impacts Impacts from hazardous materials due to construction of the railroad, water pipeline, transmission line, and access road would remain unchanged from existing conditions. Long Term Impacts Long term impacts may result from AMD and other toxic forming material if it was created by the mining process. See the mitigation measures section for proposed mitigation. Mitigation Measures As described in Section 3.2.3, Geology and Minerals, rock in the project area is predominantly shale and sandstone. With little or no sulfur bearing materials, the waste rock would likely be non-acid forming. Waste rock was analyzed to determine if it is an acid-or toxic-forming material. The rock was tested and determined to be non-acid or non-toxic-forming, and it would be stockpiled within the waste rock pile as described in Section 2.11.6, Associated Surface Facilities, in accordance with applicable state regulations (2 CCR 407-2.2.04.09 through 2 CCR 407-2.2.04.11). The facility would implement a program to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials to the extent practicable. The facility would have a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plan (40 CFR Part 112) addressing the accidental release of materials into the environment. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, contains additional proposed mitigation measures addressing hazardous materials.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 Impacts from hazardous materials under this alternative would be the same as those described for the Proposed Action.

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Impacts from hazardous materials under this alternative would be the same as those described for the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative A Impacts from hazardous materials under this alternative would be the same as those described for the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative B Impacts from hazardous materials under this alternative would be the same as those described for the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative C Impacts from hazardous materials under this alternative would be the same as those described for the Proposed Action.

4.1.11 Health and Safety No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, there would be no changes to health and safety in the proposed project area. Impacts would remain unchanged from existing conditions.

Proposed Action Alternative
Mine and Facilities Although proper health and safety precautions would be used at the mine, coal mining is a dangerous profession. Underground mining has one of the highest fatal injury rates of any U.S. industry, more than five times the national average compared to other industries (NIOSH 2008). Fatalities, injuries, and disasters, although less frequent than in the past, continue to occur, and health concerns posed by gases, dusts, chemicals, noise, extreme temperatures, and other physical conditions continue to result in chronic and sometimes fatal illnesses. In the last three decades, improvements in mining technology, equipment, processes, procedures, and workforce education and training have resulted in greater safety and health. MSHA and the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety (DRMS) regulate worker safety and health at mines. The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act administered by MSHA and the Coal Mine Health and Safety Rules and Regulations of the Coal Mine Board of Examiners administered by DRMS would be fully implemented during construction and operation of the project (DRMS 2008). Construction and operation of the proposed project presents hazards to human health and safety. These hazards are in addition to the existing risks within the project area as described in Section 3.1.11, Health and Safety. All construction activities would be conducted in compliance with applicable MSHA and/or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, depending on applicable jurisdiction. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 4-61

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) requires mines to control fugitive dust by watering coal stockpiles during dry weather. Lease Area All activities which would involve health and safety within the lease area are described in the Mine and Facilities section. Railroad Traffic safety impacts due to railroad construction and operation are addressed under Section 4.1.6, Transportation. Air emission health impacts are addressed under Section 4.2.1, Air Quality. Other than traffic and air emissions, railroad construction and operation impacts to health and safety would remain unchanged from existing conditions. Water Pipeline Water pipeline construction and operation impacts to health and safety would remain unchanged from existing conditions. Transmission Line Contact with high voltage electricity can be potentially lethal. A 69,000 volt (69kV) transmission line would be required to supply the required power. Construction and operation of this transmission line would adhere to all approved codes of practices and procedures. The 69kV transmission line and the associated 12kV underbuild circuit would be designed to meet the current edition of the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). A qualified electrical contractor would construct the 69kV transmission line. That contractor would maintain an industry standard safety program for public and employee safety at all times during construction. Typically, the contractor would meet NESC as well as OSHA rules published as 29 CFR 1910.137 and 29 CFR 1910.269. Qualified electricians and secured access and isolation procedures would reduce risks associated with high voltage. Temporary Impacts Impacts associated with construction may include but are not limited to: • • • Dust from roads and earthwork: Hazards are associated predominantly with inhalation or other contact. Traffic incidents on-site: Hazards are associated with personal vehicles and construction equipment. Construction equipment hazards: Personnel may be at risk of interacting with construction machinery, parts from vehicles, and earth moving equipment resulting in the potential for serious injury. Fuel, oil or chemical leaks from equipment and vehicles: These leaks can pose health and safety risks. Noise: Prolonged exposure to excessive noise can cause permanent hearing losses. Cold and heat stress: Temperature extremes can affect worker health and safety. Slips, trips, and falls: Injuries associated with slips, trips, and falls may occur. 4-62

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•

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Confined space entry and excavation and trench hazards: Hazards associated with confined space entry and excavation and trench hazards include limited or restricted means for entry or exit and cave-ins.

Long Term Impacts Impacts associated with operation may include but are not limited to: • Rock and roof falls: Nearly 40 percent of the 98 coal mine fatalities between 1996 and 1998 were caused by falls of ground. Underground miners are at much greater risk than surface miners. Nearly half (45 out of 101) of underground mine fatalities were attributed to roof, rib, and face falls. Coal Dust: Inhalation of coal dust is a health hazard. Black lung disease (also known as pneumoconiosis) is caused by inhaling coal dust. Although the 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act sought to eliminate black lung disease, the American Lung Association (ALA) estimate that 400 former coal miners die of black lung each year (ALA 2008). Underground air quality: The air in an underground mine can easily become contaminated. Oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), and carbon dioxide (CO2) are introduced by blasting and internal combustion engines. Dust is created by virtually every aspect of the mining process. Diesel particulate matter (DPM) is present where diesel engines are operated. Without controls, every miner is subjected to health hazards ranging from eye and throat irritation to death. Blasting: Blasting creates a number of risks such as flying rock, dust, noise, vibration, and airblast effects. Flying rocks and airblast effects can cause serious personal injury if not properly controlled. Fire in coal storage and handling facilities: Coal stockpiles may combust spontaneously, which may result in fires. Accidents related to use of tools and machinery: Accidents related to tool and machinery use may result in personal injury or death. Birds and bats: Respiratory diseases such as histoplasmosis, psittacosis, and cryptococcosis can be transmitted by excretions of birds or bats. These diseases are transmitted either by inhaling the dust from feathers or droppings or inhaling contaminated soil. Traffic incidents on-site: Hazards are associated with use of personal vehicles and mine operation equipment. Chemical release to atmospheric or ground systems: Hazards are associated with accidental release of chemicals. Contact with high voltage electricity: Electricity use from mine lighting and the electrical operation of infrastructure would require the use of potentially lethal levels of voltage and amperage. Failure to provide adequate emergency treatment and response: Personal injury and death may result from failure to provide adequate emergency treatment and response.

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• • •

• • •

•

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Mitigation Measures • •

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Dust from roads and earthwork: Dust from earth-moving machinery would be controlled by water and dust suppression chemicals. Traffic incidents on-site: Construction workers operating vehicles, as well as personnel working around vehicles on-site would be trained and licensed where applicable, so that these vehicles are operated in a safe and appropriate manner. Construction equipment hazards: Construction vehicles and equipment would be operated within the manufacturer’s specifications. All vehicles and equipment would be maintained and serviced on a regular basis. Maintenance “lock-out/tag-out” safety systems would be implemented. Fuel, oil, or chemical leaks from equipment and vehicles: All vehicles and equipment would be maintained and serviced on a regular basis. The facilities would have an SPCC Plan (40 CFR Part 112). The SPCC Plan would include spill prevention and containment as well as response and clean-up to an accidental spill or leak. Noise: Appropriate hearing protective equipment would be utilized by construction workers as required by MSHA and OSHA regulations. Employers must provide hearing protectors to all workers exposed to 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) noise levels of 85 dB or above. This requirement ensures that employees have access to protectors before they experience any hearing loss. The OSHA publication for Hearing Conservation (OSHA 3074) provides guidance for monitoring and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for construction workers. Cold and heat stress: Personnel training, monitoring, and correct personal protection can help mitigate the effects of temperature extremes. Slips, trips, and falls: Identifying and eliminating or minimizing hazards, use of proper footwear, and implementing behavioral-based training would help reduce injuries associated with slips, trips, and falls. Confined space entry and excavation and trench hazards: Personnel would be trained and/or knowledgeable about applicable OSHA safety training and regulations. Rock and roof falls: Best practices have been developed through experience and research to reduce these risks. They combine engineering design, roof support, equipment, mining methods, and human factors to create safer workplaces and work practices (NIOSH 2008). Coal Dust: Most of the coal transfer points and processing actions during coal production would be enclosed and, therefore, limit the amount of “fugitive” emissions. Health standard provision of the Federal Mine Safety & Health Act of 1977, Public Law 91-173 (as amended by Public Law 95-164) would be strictly adhered to. Underground air quality: Ventilation to supply fresh air and remove/dilute contaminants and pollutants would be a component of the mining design. Blasting: Blasting experts would utilize safe blast design, control of access, and evacuation warnings before blasting. Personnel in the vicinity of a blast would wear PPE, and all

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•

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

personnel would observe safe distances during blasting activities. Safety procedures would be strictly adhered to. • Fire in coal storage and handling facilities: A fire suppression system would be an element of the engineering design. Relevant site staff would complete fire safety training. An Emergency Response Plan inclusive of a local trained fire crew and proper containment and shutdown procedures would be implemented. Accidents related to use of tools and machinery: Equipment and machinery would be operated within the manufacturer’s specifications. All equipment and machinery would be maintained and serviced on a regular basis. Employees would be trained and have current licenses where necessary. Maintenance lock-out / tag-out safety systems would be implemented. Birds and bats: Cleaning up affected areas would help to prevent the spread of infection. Ventilation to supply fresh air and remove/dilute contaminants and pollutants as well as proper PPE use would be components of the mining design. Traffic incidents on-site: Miners operating vehicles on-site would be trained and licensed, so that these vehicles are driven in a safe and appropriate manner. Chemical release to atmospheric or ground systems: Personnel would be trained in appropriate storage and handling and incident response. Material safety data sheets (MSDSs) would be available on-site. Chemical incidents would be included in the Emergency Response Plan. Contact with high voltage electricity: Construction and operation of this transmission line would adhere to all approved codes of practices and procedures. Qualified electricians and secured access and isolation procedures would reduce risks associated with high voltage. Failure to provide adequate emergency treatment and response: The federal government recently initiated the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006, signed into law on June 15, 2006 by President Bush. In addition to additional emergency air supply regulations, the MINER Act calls for a plan of post-accident communication between underground and surface personnel via a wireless, two-way medium, and for an electronic tracking system, permitting surface personnel to determine the location of any persons trapped underground. The new federal standards are mandated to be implemented by June 2009.

•

•

• •

•

•

Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, contains additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to health and safety.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 Traffic safety impacts due to this alternative are addressed under Section 4.1.6, Transportation. Other than traffic, construction and operation impacts to health and safety would remain unchanged from existing conditions.

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Traffic safety impacts due to this alternative are addressed under Section 4.1.6, Transportation. Other than traffic, construction and operation impacts to health and safety would remain unchanged from existing conditions. Transmission Line Alternative A Impacts to health and safety under this alternative would be the same as those described for the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative B Impacts to health and safety under this alternative would be the same as those described for the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative C Impacts to health and safety under this alternative would be the same as those described for the Proposed Action.

4.2

PHYSICAL RESOURCES

4.2.1 Air Quality
A detailed Air Quality Analysis Modeling Report has been prepared for this proposed project and is included as Appendix H, Air Quality Analysis Modeling Report. The report describes the modeling methodology and predicted air quality impacts for criteria pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NOx, SO2, and CO), as well as impacts to Air Quality Related Values (AQRV) (visibility deposition). Emission estimates for VOCs, a precursor to ground-level ozone, and greenhouse gases (GHGs) are also provided. The following information summarizes the potential air quality impacts from the project.

No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative would result in air emissions remaining the same as they are today. There would be no increases in emissions of particulate matter, NOx, SO2, CO, VOCs, or GHGs.

Proposed Action Alternative
Construction and operation of the proposed mine would result in both temporary and ongoing emission increases to the atmosphere. Emissions were divided into three distinct groups, coinciding with the three individual phases of the project: Phase 1 – Railroad Construction; Phase 2 – Mine Area, Transmission Line, and Haul Roads Construction; and Phase 3 – Production (i.e., coal mining operations). Estimated criteria pollutant emissions from the project, grouped by project phase, are shown in Table 4-5, Projected Criteria Pollutant Emission Increases for the Proposed Red Cliff Mine (tpy), and detailed emission calculations for each type of emission source/activity are provided at the end of Appendix H, Air Quality Analysis Modeling Report.

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Table 4-5 PROJECTED CRITERIA POLLUTANT EMISSION INCREASES FOR THE PROPOSED RED CLIFF MINE, (tpy)1
Pollutant NOx CO SOx VOC PM10 PM2.5
2

Phase 1 Railroad Construction 73.16 23.97 0.05 3.32 27.71 84.10

Phase 2 Construction: Mine Area/Transmission Line/Haul Roads 25.16 8.36 0.02 1.14 49.24 15.62

Phase 3 Production 80.54 10.01 0.04 3.91 23.80 7.14

Notes: 1 tons per year 2 VOC emissions are a precursor to ozone formation, along with NOx

Based on these estimated emission rates, a minor source air quality construction permit would be required in order to begin construction of the mine area. Major source, or prevention of significant deterioration (PSD), air permitting would not be required. However, due to the amount of estimated emissions associated with the production phase, an air quality modeling analysis for the production phase emissions would likely be required by CDPHE as part of a minor source air quality construction permit application. A “near-field” air quality dispersion modeling analysis was conducted to assess impacts occurring within 1 kilometer of the proposed mine site using the AMS/EPA Regulatory Model (AERMOD). A “far-field” air quality dispersion modeling analysis was conducted using the EPA-approved CALPUFF model to assess impacts, including those to AQRVs in Class I and sensitive Class II areas within 200 kilometers of the proposed mine area site. A brief description of both models and the various model inputs are provided in Appendix H, Air Quality Analysis Modeling Report. Short term (1-hour, 3-hour, 8-hour, 24-hour) and long term (annual) impacts were assessed for several Clean Air Act (CAA) criteria pollutants in both the near-field and farfield analyses. Additionally, potential visibility impacts and nitrogen and sulfur deposition amounts were assessed in the far-field analysis, in accordance with established air quality modeling guidance. A screening version of CALPUFF (known as CALPUFF-Lite) was used for the far-field analysis, as a conservative assessment approach. Specific Class I and sensitive Class II areas included in the far-field analysis are listed below. Utah • • Arches National Park (Class I Area) Canyonlands National Park (Class I Area)

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Colorado • • • • •

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Black Canyon of the Gunnison Wilderness (Class I area) Flat Tops Wilderness (Class I area). Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness (Class I area) Colorado National Park (sensitive Class II area) Dinosaur National Monument (sensitive Class II area)

Five years of data were modeled in both analyses, with the specific years and meteorological data sets recommended by air quality staff at the CDPHE. Both analyses were conducted according to the distinct project phases, since each project phase would occur separately, with the Phase 1 railroad construction occurring first, followed by the Phase 2 mine area/transmission line/haul road construction activities, and finally by the Phase 3 start of ongoing operations (also referred to as “production” in Appendix H, Air Quality Analysis Modeling Report). An expected timeline for the three project phases is included as an attachment to Appendix H. Temporary Impacts – Criteria Pollutants Temporary impacts would occur from those emissions generated during construction activities. Primarily, construction emissions would consist of fugitive road dust from vehicle traffic, heavy construction vehicles and mobile equipment, and soil disturbance. A small amount of construction-related emissions would be generated by fuel combustion in construction equipment and passenger vehicles. The near-field and far-field analyses did not predict any maximum ambient concentrations exceeding the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) or Colorado Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) due to the two construction phases. Far-field modeling, which did not include cumulative sources, predicted a few potential temporary air quality impacts due to construction activities. • Predicted maximum 24-hour concentrations of particulate matter less than 10 micron in diameter (PM10) are higher than PM10 24-hr Class I PSD Significant Impact Levels (SILs) for each year modeled, at each Class I and sensitive Class II area included in the far-field analysis. The SILs do not represent thresholds at which unacceptable impacts occur; rather they are typically employed as screening values to be used in PSD permitting to determine whether additional air quality modeling should be performed. The SILs are established conservatively low, so that larger projects going through the PSD construction permitting process would be required to perform cumulative air quality analyses. This analysis is not a permitting action and is not subject to PSD regulatory requirements. However, comparisons to the SILs are employed as a conservative threshold in assessing impacts and the need for additional modeling. While the PM10 24-hr model results for construction activities are higher than the PM10 24-hr SIL, the highest modeled PM10 24-hr concentration in the farfield analysis (2.64 micrograms per cubic meter [μg/m3]) is less than 2 percent of the PM10 24-hr NAAQS value of 150 μg/m3. Due to the temporary nature of these construction activities, cumulative source modeling is not required. 4-68

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•

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Several days per year, various Class I and sensitive Class II areas are shown to have visibility impacts during the temporary construction period. Specifically, the far-field analysis provides the number of days per year when visibility changes by at least one deciview. A change of one deciview is translates to a “just noticeable” visibility change for most individuals. The majority of the visibility impacts occur at areas close to the proposed mine area, such as the Flat Tops Wilderness and the Colorado National Monument. In a few cases, visibility impacts are noted at Canyonlands National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison Wilderness. The maximum visibility impacts were in the Colorado National Monument, during the Phase 1 railroad construction, with 3, 6, 7, 20, and 16 days impacted in the five modeled years, respectively. It should be noted that a conservative approach was used in the CALPUFF-Lite input, to apply the light extinction coefficient for fine particulate matter to all sizes of particulate matter emissions, which may have increased the number of days predicted to have visibility impacts. Nitrogen deposition impacts equal to or higher than the deposition analysis threshold (DAT) of 0.005 kilogram per hectare per year (kg/ha/yr) are shown at the Colorado National Monument for both construction phases. The greatest predicted nitrogen deposition impact was 0.00876 kg/ha/yr. The DAT is the additional amount of N or S deposition within a Class I area, below which estimated impacts from a proposed new or modified source are considered insignificant. Because exceedance of the DAT at Colorado National Monument is predicted to occur only during the construction phase, no cumulative deposition analysis was performed. For comparison purposes, Federal Land Manager levels of concern for cumulative impact analysis are 3 kg/ha/yr for nitrogen and 5 kg/ha/yr for sulfur. No other nitrogen impacts exceeding the DAT were predicted, and no sulfur impacts exceeding the DAT for any area, from either construction phase, were predicted.

•

As mentioned earlier, these temporary impacts result in the far-field analysis, which utilized a screening-level version of the CALPUFF model (CALPUFF-Lite). Results from a CALPUFF Lite analysis are considered to be conservative assessments of air quality impacts, because a number of assumptions are made that tend to result in over-predictions of impacts. At times, CALPUFF-Lite can predict much larger impacts that would be predicted from the full version of CALPUFF. If a full version of CALPUFF were used for the far-field analysis, it is possible that some of these temporary impacts would be negated. These impacts are temporary because they are caused by the construction activities associated with the proposed mine. The expected timeline for construction is only 1.5 years. Following the startup of mining operations, the construction emissions would cease, and air quality impacts from the construction activities would also cease. Long Term Impacts – Criteria Pollutants Long term impacts would occur from emissions generated as part of the Phase 3 production activities. These emissions would consist of fugitive dust from vehicles and haul trucks, storage piles, and coal conveyance at the mine site, and other criteria pollutants emitted from fuel burning equipment at the mine site. The emissions would be ongoing and long term. No significant air quality impacts are associated with the long term emissions. All modeled criteria pollutants in the near-field and far-field analyses were lower than the respective air quality standard. No days of visibility change were noted in the far-field analysis, and all deposition rates were well below the thresholds for deposition impacts. 4-69

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Greenhouse Gases

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Methane, carbon dioxide (CO2), and nitrous oxide (N2O) would be the primary GHGs emitted from the proposed Red Cliff Mine.1 At this time, methane and CO2 emissions are not regulated by the US EPA or the State of Colorado from an air quality permit basis. N2O is indirectly regulated by the state because it is a component of NOx, which is regulated as a criteria pollutant under the Clean Air Act (CAA). GHGs would be emitted from two primary sources at the proposed mine: (1) fuel combustion and the resulting exhaust from heavy construction equipment and vehicles (including trains), and (2) methane from mine ventilation and degasification systems. Mine ventilation systems are employed at underground mines as a key safety measure, so that explosive concentrations of methane are avoided in the mine. The ventilation systems direct large quantities of air through the mine in order to dilute the methane within the mine to safe concentrations (typically below one percent methane on a volume basis). Some mines must also employ a degasification system to supplement the ventilation air system. Degasification systems reduce methane quantities by draining gas from the coal-bearing strata before, during, and after mining, depending on the specific mining needs. When employed, degasification system methane emissions are estimated to account for approximately one-third of total methane emissions from underground coal mining (EPA 2005). The extent of degasification systems (for safety purposes) at the proposed mine is unknown at this time and will remain unknown until specific technical data and mine experience can be gathered. However, as discussed in Section 2.9, Methane Venting, it will likely be necessary to install two or three methane degasification wells in each longwall panel. The location of the methane degasification wells and the timing of drilling are unknown at this time. Methane degasification well placement would be based on need as established by the conditions in the mine as well as surface conditions and will be designed site-specifically as the project progresses. Methane emission estimates from the underground mine ventilation and degasification systems are based on the total methane ventilated from the mine plus the methane liberated from degasification systems, less any methane that would be recovered. There is no available Red Cliff Mine measurement data for methane emissions. Consequently, Red Cliff methane emission estimates are based on data and assumptions published in Identifying Opportunities for Methane Recovery at US Coal Mines: Profiles of Selected Gassy Underground Coal Mines, 2002–2006 (EPA 2008a). In this study, liberated methane emissions at existing mines were calculated as an average of the results of four quarterly tests conducted in 2006 by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Four western Colorado coal mines are included in the report. The methane emissions at the Red Cliff Mine would be sampled quarterly by MSHA, and would be published by MSHA. Mine plans submitted to DRMS and OSM for the future coal lease area would incorporate methane emissions data obtained from the Red Cliff Mine.

1

Methane is approximately 21 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 100-year period. N2O traps approximately 310 times more heat than CO2.

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Red Cliff Mine methane emissions were estimated based on the specific emissions (the amount of methane released in cubic feet per ton of coal production) at the four western Colorado coal mines. To estimate Red Cliff Mine methane emissions, specific emissions from the four Colorado coal mines were averaged and the result was multiplied by the 11.4 million ton maximum coal production rate proposed for the Red Cliff Mine. As discussed in Section 2.11.2, Expand Coal Mining Production, projections for coal production are that the mine will only produce up to 3.0 million raw tpy during the first five year permit term. Table 4-6, Colorado Coal Mine Production and Methane Emissions, presents the published EPA data for the four Colorado mines and the calculated emission estimates for the Red Cliff Mine. Table 4-6 COLORADO COAL MINE PRODUCTION AND METHANE EMISSIONS
Estimated 2006 Methane Ventilation, Degasification and Use Data Methane Drained through Degasification Systems (mmcfd) 0.5 1.9 0.0 9.1 9.7

Mine Bowie No. 2 Elk Creek McClane Canyon West Elk Red Cliff
1

Company Union Pacific Oxbow Mining Wexford Capital Arch Coal Mine Operator

2006 Coal Production (mm tons) 4.4 5.1 0.3 6.0 11.4

Ventilation Emissions (mmcfd) 1.5 5.6 0.9 9.1 14.5

Total Methane Liberated (mmcfd) 2.0 7.4 0.9 18.2 24.2

Specific Emissions (cf/ton) 161 530 1,300 1,107 775

Methane Used (mmcfd) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.0

Source: EPA 2008a. Notes: 1 Red Cliff Mine emissions estimates were derived from the averaged specific emissions for the other four Colorado mines. cf = cubic feet mmcfd = million cubic feet per day mm tons = million tons

Table 4-6, Colorado Coal Mine Production and Methane Emissions, also provides quantities of methane produced from ventilation air methane (VAM) and degasification systems for each existing mine, as well as estimates for the Red Cliff Mine. While all mines have VAM systems, only some mines have methane degasification systems. However, because three of the existing Colorado mines have degasification systems and larger mines are more likely to have degasification systems, the Red Cliff Mine is assumed to have a degasification system in order to estimate emissions and provide a full discussion of potential GHG mitigation options. When degasification systems are used, EPA estimates that emissions from degasification systems account for 20 to 60 percent of total emissions. Using the average EPA estimate, Red Cliff Mine degasification emissions were assumed to be 40 percent of total potential mine emissions. Estimated GHG emissions from the Red Cliff Mine from all mine operations, including combustion sources and methane liberation, are provided in Table 4-7, Projected Uncontrolled 4-71

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

GHG Emissions for the Proposed Red Cliff Mine. These emissions reflect operations at maximum capacity and full production. Table 4-7 PROJECTED UNCONTROLLED GHG EMISSIONS FOR THE PROPOSED RED CLIFF MINE
Source CO2 from combustion sources VAM emissions Methane degasification emissions N2O from combustion sources TOTAL
Notes: CO2 = = = = = = carbon dioxide carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide tons per year ventilation air methane

CO2e Emissions (tpy) 10,463 2,326,554 1,551,036 189 3,888,242

CO2e
GHG N2O tpy VAM

As shown in Table 4-7, Projected Uncontrolled GHG Emissions for the Proposed Red Cliff Mine, VAM is the largest source of CO2e emissions. Table 4-7 shows estimated GHG emissions during full production, which is expected to reflect maximum emissions. Emission estimate calculations are provided in Appendix H, Air Quality Analysis Modeling Report. The emissions summary in Table 4-7, Projected Uncontrolled GHG Emissions for the Proposed Red Cliff Mine, provides uncontrolled GHG emissions. If vented without treatment proposed mine production (at maximum production capacity) is estimated to increase total annual CO2e emissions within the state of Colorado by 3 percent (based on statewide emissions during 2005). Statewide GHG emissions are based on estimates included in Colorado Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Reference Case Projections 1990–2020 (CDPHE 2007). This is equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of 0.76 coal fired power plants, and the CO2 emissions from the energy use of 311,332 homes for one year (EPA 2008b). Potential climate change impacts attributable to the proposed project cannot be quantified at this time, due to the extremely complex global circulation modeling effort that would be required. It is unknown whether methane recovery and either methane control or beneficial use would be feasible at the proposed mine. Currently, recovery is only being practiced to a small degree (capturing approximately 3 percent of total emissions) at one of the four existing Colorado coal mines profiled in the EPA report Identifying Opportunities for Methane Recovery at US Coal Mines: Profiles of Selected Gassy Underground Coal Mines, 2002–2006 (EPA 2008a). Methane recovery and emission reduction and/or use options are discussed below. Mitigation Measures – Criteria Pollutants and GHGs Mitigation measures and emissions controls would be implemented to reduce particulate matter/fugitive dust emissions during both construction and ongoing production activities. Fugitive dust (PM10) emissions from all vehicles traveling on non-paved surfaces during all 4-72

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project phases would be controlled utilizing water or a surface surfactant. Storage piles would be watered as necessary to limit wind erosion potential and reduce fugitive PM10 emissions. Most coal transfer points and processing activities during coal production would be enclosed and, therefore, limit fugitive PM10 emissions. Mitigation measures to decrease GHG emissions during construction include: • • • Use of alternative fuel construction equipment, Use of local building materials, and Recycling of demolished construction material.

With regard to GHG emissions, mitigation measures are beginning to be implemented at some coal mines. Mitigation measures to decrease GHG emissions and potentially decrease projectrelated climate change impacts during the production phase principally include measures designed to reduce coal mine methane (CMM) emissions (see Section 2.9, Methane Venting). Methane liberation from the mine may be reduced through mine planning, sealing previously mined areas, and degasification efforts. CMM mitigation would include methods to reduce emissions from both the ventilation air methane (VAM) and degasification systems. EPA’s Identifying Opportunities for Methane Recovery at US Coal Mines: Profiles of Selected Gassy Underground Coal Mines, 2002–2006 (EPA 2008a) reports that significant developments in CMM recovery have occurred during the last several years. However, economic, technical, legal, and safety hurdles may limit implementation (see Section 2.9, Methane Venting). The following paragraphs discuss potential methane recovery and control or beneficial use options. Some or all of these methods may not be feasible at the proposed mine. Additional sitespecific mine information would be needed to determine whether any of the following GHG control strategies could be implemented at the proposed mine. As shown in Table 4-7, Projected Uncontrolled GHG Emissions for the Proposed Red Cliff Mine, the two largest GHG sources at the proposed mine would be methane from the VAM and degasification systems (if a degasification system is used). Characteristics and uses of these types of emission streams are summarized below. • VAM — The low methane concentration in VAM (typically 0.5 percent by volume) complicates methane control by oxidation/combustion or beneficial use. The low heat content of VAM and the potential for moisture or dust in VAM are limiting factors and generally restrict VAM emission reduction scenarios to non-beneficial uses since it is not a quality fuel. VAM can be destroyed in special types of thermal or catalytic oxidizers, or it can sometimes be used as combustion air for engines or turbines. In some cases, the methane concentration of VAM can be increased to make beneficial use more feasible. Methane Degasification Systems — Methane emissions from degasification systems have relatively high methane concentrations (above 30 percent by volume) and, depending on the type of degasification system, can be nearly pure methane. Methane liberated from degasification systems can be controlled using flares or other oxidation technologies, or can be put to beneficial use. Examples of typical beneficial uses of methane liberated from degasification systems include the following:

•

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•

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Inject the methane gas into a nearby natural gas pipeline (if the methane concentration of the gas exceeds 95 percent and meets other criteria) involving the recovery of methane gas streams and collection into pipelines for sale to pipeline companies; Fuel power-generating equipment such as internal combustion engines or turbines (either at the mine or at nearby facilities); Fuel mine or nearby facility heaters, furnaces, or dryers; and/or Fuel for coal mine vehicles.

• • •

Methane combustion or oxidation, whether from equipment at the downstream end of pipelines, or in power generation equipment, or in flares, would result in fewer CO2-equivalent emissions (by a factor of 21) as compared to direct methane release to the atmosphere. Note that the Red Cliff estimate from methane degasification systems shown in Table 4-6, Colorado Coal Mine Production and Methane Emissions, equates to a pipeline sales potential of 3.5 billion cubic feet per year. Pipeline injection of coal mine methane is most often used in advance of mining using vertical methane wells drilled into the coal seam and surrounding strata. The total amount of methane recovered depends on site-specific conditions and the number of years the wells are drilled in advance of mining. Recovery of up to 70 percent of the total methane liberated is possible. However, in some very low permeability coal seams vertical wells may not be cost-effective due to limited methane flow. Also, the cost of disposing of production water may be a significant factor in determining economic viability. Vertical methane degasification wells into the gob from the surface and horizontal degasification bore holes from within the mine coincident with mining or after mining from sealed areas typically yield lower methane concentrations which further decrease over time. The methane may still be usable with treatment for pipeline shipment, to power mine related equipment, or to augment the low methane levels 1 percent or less in the VAM, so that it may be used as combustion air, heating, or oxidizing. The primary purpose of these wells is to reduce and maintain methane in the mine at a safe level. The operator must maintain the flow for that purpose and not for the purpose of the beneficial use. The vertical methane degasification wells may recover 30 to 50 percent of the methane liberated by mining, while horizontal bore holes have a recovery efficiency of up to 20 percent. Other issues affecting the feasibility of pipeline injection include gas quality, while issues such as power pricing may impact decisions regarding power generation. While there are demonstrated technologies using methane from degasification wells, VAM technologies are still in the developmental stage and cost information is still limited, thus they may not be feasible for the proposed project at this time. (EPA 2008a). While methane flaring reduces GHG emissions, it also wastes the methane resource. It is therefore the least favored means of reducing GHG emissions. Several potential GHG mitigation measures have been considered and resulting GHG emissions have been estimated. The feasibility of implementing one or more of these mitigation measures at the Red Cliff Mine is not known and cannot be assessed until additional mine information becomes available. To evaluate the impact from future recovery and control of methane on GHG emissions, potential GHG emission reductions were calculated and compared to uncontrolled 4-74

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GHG emissions. Since the methane recovery efficiency at the mine is not known, 40 percent recovery of methane was assumed (EPA 2008a). The following three types of GHG control were analyzed: • VAM emissions with recovery and oxidative control, • Emissions from methane degasification with recovery and flaring, and • Emissions from methane degasification with recovery and beneficial use. Including a no-control scenario, six combinations of these three control techniques are included as potential mitigation measures. Emissions were calculated for each of these cases and the results are shown in Table 4-8, Estimated Controlled and Uncontrolled CO2e Emissions from Red Cliff Mine (tpy CO2e). Additional assumptions and detailed emission calculations are provided on the Ventilation/Degasification GHG Emissions calculation spreadsheet in Appendix H, Air Quality Analysis Modeling Report. Table 4-8 ESTIMATED CONTROLLED AND UNCONTROLLED CO2E EMISSIONS FROM RED CLIFF MINE (tpy CO2e)
Control Scenarios No VAM Control and Degasification Recovery with Beneficial Use1

No Control

No VAM Control and Degasification Recovery with Flaring

VAM Oxidative Control and No Recovery

VAM Oxidative Control and Degasification Recovery with Flaring

VAM Oxidative Control and Degasification Recovery with Beneficial Use1

VAM Emissions Degasification Emissions Total Emissions Avoided Emissions

2,326,554 1,551,036 3,877,590 1,347,924

2,326,554 203,112 2,529,666 1,698,754

2,326,554 -147,718 2,178,836 2,021,886

304,668 1,551,036 1,855,704 3,369,811

304,668 203,112 507,780 3,720,640

304,668 -147,718 156,950 1,347,924

Notes: 1 Assumes use as a fuel onsite or at a nearby location. VAM = ventilation air methane

Total CO2e emissions include methane that is emitted directly from the mine, any recovered but uncontrolled methane, and CO2 emissions resulting from combustion.2 For example, degasification methane that is flared is assumed to have an 87.5 percent control effectiveness in terms of CO2e emissions (EPA 2008a). Beneficial use of methane as a substitute for another fuel

2

The products of combustion are CO2 and water. Therefore, CO2 will be emitted whenever methane is recovered and combusted. However, the net atmospheric heat trapping potential of those combustion emissions is less than the net atmospheric heat trapping potential for a direct release of methane. 4-75

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in power-generating equipment or heaters provides a greater GHG emission reduction benefit than combustion-based control such as flaring. With beneficial fuel use, the methane displaces fuel that would otherwise need to be produced and transported to the equipment site. EPA estimates that the value of recovering one ton of methane to be used in lieu of burning some other fuel results in a 23 ton reduction of CO2e emissions (EPA 2008a). In comparison, destruction of one ton of recovered methane via flaring achieves an 18.25 ton reduction of CO2e emissions. As shown in Table 4-8, Estimated Controlled and Uncontrolled CO2e Emissions from Red Cliff Mine (tpy CO2e), CO2 potential emissions reductions vary from 14 percent to nearly 55 percent if one or more forms of control would be technically and economically feasible at the proposed mine. Examples of legal and safety issues that would need to be addressed before the control scenarios could be implemented are summarized below. • Methane ownership issues — As discussed in Section 2.9, Methane Venting, coal and oil and gas resources fall under differing regulations (43 CFR 3400 for coal, and 43 CFR 3100 for oil and gas) which implement provisions of the MLA. The federal coal lease grants the lessee the exclusive right and privilege to drill for, mine, extract, remove, or otherwise process and dispose of the coal deposits in the lease; the coal lease does not grant the right to the coal lessee to capture methane gas released incident to mining. Further, the coal lease reserves the right of the Lessor (BLM) to lease other mineral deposits contained on the leased coal lands including oil and gas (BLM Form 3400-12, Section 7). A recent Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) decision – the Vessels Decision – has ruled that the methane gas released by coal mining into the environment, as approved by MSHA for the protection of coal miners, is not the oil and gas deposit addressed by leasing under the MLA (Vessels Coal Gas, Inc., 175 IBLA 1, 28). Once mining occurs, the Vessels Decision holds that the oil and gas leasing (43 CFR 4100) provisions of the MLA is no longer the appropriate authority under which BLM should authorize coal mine methane capture and beneficial use. In response, BLM is currently studying alternative means of authorizing coal mine methane capture and beneficial use. In spite of this uncertainty, it may be possible for the mine operator to obtain competitive oil and gas leases from BLM for the unleased areas shown on Figure 3-9, Authorized Oil and Gas Leases within the Existing Coal Lease Application, which would allow the mine operator to drill methane degasification wells in advance of mining. This would decrease the need for methane venting and degasification systems during mining, thereby improving mine safety. This would also potentially allow for capture and beneficial uses as previously described. For those lands already leased for oil and gas, the mine operator would need to arrange with the present oil and gas lease holders to drill methane degasification wells in advance of mining. Negotiations could also include obtaining the use of methane gas in mining operations. • Technological or economic feasibility issues — Technological and economic feasibility issues are discussed in Section 2.9, Methane Venting. Technological feasibility issues include methane gas quality; and facilities for production, processing, compression, and transportation of the gas. Economic feasibility issues include whether the volume of methane released from the mine would warrant installation of the facilities for production, processing, compression, and transportation of the gas. There are also issues related to permitting these facilities so they do not interfere with mine operations. 4-76

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• Flare safety issues — As discussed in Section 2.9, Methane Venting, methane flaring at active mines has not been implemented in the United States due to safety concerns about the potential for flame propagation back down to the mine area and the possibility for explosion (Lewin 1995 as cited in EPA 2008a). At this time, methane flaring is not a generally accepted practice among miners, union parties, mine owners, and MSHA. Given the uncertainties described above, an adaptive management process described in Section 2.9, Methane Flaring, has been proposed as part of the Proposed Action. The goal of the adaptive management process is to reduce GHG emissions to the maximum extent possible. Approximately 60 percent of the methane vented from underground coal mines is emitted with the ventilation air, as shown in Table 4-7, Projected Uncontrolled GHG Emissions for the Proposed Red Cliff Mine. It is therefore desirable to identify a VAM technology that can be employed in the Red Cliff Mine with the approval of MSHA, DRMS, and OSM as soon as possible, and to attempt to remove obstacles that may limit use of methane degasification wells in advance of mining. The adaptive management process would utilize the EPA Coalbed Methane Outreach Program (CMOP), and other pertinent studies to help identify and determine economic and technically feasible methods of reducing methane emissions at the Red Cliff Mine. CMOP is a voluntary program with a goal of reducing methane emissions from coal mining. CMOP works cooperatively with coal companies and related industries to address barriers to using coal mine methane instead of emitting it to the atmosphere. The adaptive management process as described in Section 2.9, Methane Venting, would require BLM and the coal mine operator to evaluate opportunities for CMM projects on an annual basis. Beginning one year following mine plan approval, the coal mine operator will submit to BLM a report detailing the feasibility of CMM projects in regard to economic, technical, legal, and other considerations. Annually thereafter, the mine operator shall provide BLM with summaries on the status of these projects and any mitigation and/or capture methods implemented, including the effectiveness of methane capture, the percent of methane captured, any operational difficulties, and findings regarding suitability of the projects’ costs and adaptability. The annual reports must also outline any legal obstacles precluding implementation of any methane mitigation and/or capture. If methane mitigation and/or capture is deemed technically, economically, and legally feasible, the mine operator and BLM will develop a schedule for implementation. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, contains additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to air quality.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 Impacts may be marginally lower than the Proposed Action, as vehicles would not be stopped and idling at the CR M.8 crossing. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Impacts would not be substantively different from the Proposed Action. 4-77

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Transmission Line Alternative A

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Impacts would not be substantively different from the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative B Impacts would not be substantively different from the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative C Impacts would not be substantively different from the Proposed Action.

4.2.2 Cultural Resources/Native American Religious Concerns No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative would not affect any significant cultural resources.

Proposed Action Alternative
Mine and Facilities Construction of the mine and related facilities would not directly impact any significant cultural resources. Indirect impacts may occur to cultural resources from changing off-highway vehicle (OHV) use. Lease Area The proposed lease area has not been surveyed for cultural resources; therefore, it is not known if there are any significant cultural resources that might be affected by potential future subsidence in this area. A few surveys have been conducted for other undertakings that covered portions of the proposed lease area that allow for the estimation of the types of cultural resources that may be present. These types of resources include prehistoric sheltered and open camps; prehistoric, protohistoric, and historic rock art; protohistoric wikiups; and historic irrigation ditches. All of these types of resources could potentially be impacted by subsidence. Two prehistoric sites (5GF741 and 5GF742), one historic site (5GF743), and one “suspect area” were located by the 1980 study of the McClane and Munger Canyons Mine Plan/Permit area. Any surface disturbing activities located in the vicinity of these four sites would require monitoring by a qualified archaeologist in the vicinity of these sites. There would be an approved subsidence plan in place prior to the commencement of mining that would proactively address any potential impacts to cultural resources prior to their occurrence. Railroad Construction of the railroad would affect one significant cultural resources, a segment of the Government Highline Canal (5ME4676). However, because the railroad would cross the canal by way of a bridge that would not physically alter the canal itself, it is likely that this impact would be determined to be No Adverse Effect. Water Pipeline Construction of the water pipeline would not affect any significant cultural resources. 4-78

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Conveyor

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

The construction of the conveyor would require monitoring in the vicinity of eligible site 5GF3880. It may be that data recovery of this small site would be a more appropriate management action to avoid requiring the company to provide long term monitoring and reporting and the responsibility to protect the site because it could be destroyed because of proximity to a facility that may require maintenance and repair. Transmission Line The proposed transmission line corridors have not been surveyed for cultural resources; therefore, it is not known if these features would affect any significant cultural resources. Any of the transmission lines would cross the Government Highline Canal (5ME4676) but would not physically alter the canal. However, siting of the power poles and access roads is flexible; therefore, it is probable that the transmission line would be constructed without affecting any significant cultural resources. The terminus of the Proposed Action transmission line has been inventoried and would require monitoring during construction and possible mitigation if the substation is going to be located near site 5ME15398. Temporary and Long Term Impacts There are no anticipated temporary or long term impacts to cultural resources from the Proposed Action. Mitigation Measures Because the Proposed Action or the alternatives would have no adverse effect on any significant cultural resources, no mitigation measures, other than site avoidance, would be required. The proponent would need to provide monitoring during construction of the conveyor and annual monitoring of site 5GF3880 to ensure compliance with avoidance with this eligible site. Access to one eligible site, 5ME15398, would be limited by fencing potential access points. The fencing would have to prevent any access to the ridge where the site is located. The fence would be gated and locked to allow administrative access for any maintenance on the existing transmission line. The fence would be constructed prior to any construction activity. As discussed in Section 3.2.2, Cultural Resources/Native American Religious Concerns, there would be an approved subsidence plan in place prior to the commencement of mining that would proactively address any potential impacts to cultural resources prior to their occurrence. When a transmission line alternative is selected, a cultural resources survey would be conducted. Only two of the eligible sites are within the APE from the proposed development of the mine. 5GF3880 requires monitoring during conveyor construction. If the waste rock disposal area changes in this area of the mine project and facilities cannot avoid the site, a testing plan to determine if any remaining cultural deposits are present would be developed and submitted for review through additional consultation with the SHPO. 5ME15398 would be avoided by direct impacts from the mine project but because of its location it may be affected by secondary impacts associated with off highway vehicle use or changes in the current BLM transportation plan in this area of the North Fruita Desert Planning Area. If the road is not closed as a result of the mine development, secondary impacts would be avoided by fencing the road along the site boundary.

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, contains additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to cultural resources.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 Construction of the grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 would not affect any significant cultural resources. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Implementation of this alternative would not affect any significant cultural resources. Transmission Line Alternative A The proposed transmission line corridors have not been surveyed for cultural resources; therefore, it is not known if these features would affect any significant cultural resources. However, siting of the power poles and access roads is flexible; therefore, it is probable that this alternative could be constructed without affecting any significant cultural resources. Transmission Line Alternative B The proposed transmission line corridors have not been surveyed for cultural resources; therefore, it is not known if these features would affect any significant cultural resources. However, siting of the power poles and access roads is flexible; therefore, it is probable that this alternative could be constructed without affecting any significant cultural resources. Transmission Line Alternative C The proposed transmission line corridors have not been surveyed for cultural resources; therefore, it is not known if these features would affect any significant cultural resources. However, siting of the power poles and access roads is flexible; therefore, it is probable that this alternative could be constructed without affecting any significant cultural resources.

Native American Religious Concerns
There are no known issues or impacts to Native American religious concerns or access issues concerning Native American religious or traditional sites related to the No Action or any of the Action alternatives.

4.2.3 Geology No Action Alternative
If the No Action Alternative is selected, coal would not be disturbed by exploration or mining. The coal resource and the structural and lithologic integrity of the lease tract would remain in place. The potential to recover the coal resource at some time in the future would remain.

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Proposed Action Alternative
Mine and Facilities

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Coal would be mined by longwall and/or room and pillar techniques. The additional impacts of mining are described in the Lease Area section in subsequent text. Lease Area The MCM is located within the mine lease area, and is currently being mined using room-andpillar advance mining techniques, with overburden depths ranging from 160 to 1,200 feet. In some of the panels, pillars were robbed (mined) on retreat to maximize coal recovery. No observations have been reported of surface subsidence effects over the MCM. Estimates of maximum subsidence, tensile and compressive strains, and maximum slope changes were made over the five selected panels and are indicated by number on Figure 7 in Appendix D, Subsidence. The predicted maximum surface subsidence for the five panels ranged from 1.52 feet to 2.56 feet (Table 1, Appendix D). The predicted tensile strains would result in estimated 1-inch to 2-inch wide tensile cracks at the ground surface based on a 200 to 2,000 foot overburden thickness (Table 2, Appendix D). The MCM has extracted approximately 36 percent of Cameo Seam coal by advance room-and-pillar mining, apparently without any chimney collapse to the overlying ground surface. After a mine is closed progressive deterioration of the roof can result in chimney failures, which at shallow depths can and frequently do breach the ground surface. Areas where the overburden thickness is less than 200 feet above the Cameo Seam may exhibit subsidence at some point in the future. Mining the coal lease tract would result in the removal of the coal resource. Coal would be mined by longwall and/or room and pillar techniques as previously described. After coal recovery, the overburden would be altered due to subsidence. A gradual lowering of the surface would occur due to the subsidence after the extraction of the coal. A more detailed description of the potential subsidence impacts is presented in Appendix D, Subsidence. Rock falls at the outcrop could occur, but the historic burning of the coal along the outcrop would preclude a significant amount of mining close to the outcrop. Therefore, rock falls induced by mining would be less likely. In addition, any methane within the coal seam and adjacent strata caved or fractured by mining excavation would be lost. Recoverability of any oil and gas resource present in the geologic formations below the coal seams would be reduced due to the limiting of drill pad locations. Total loss of the resource would not occur because of the possibility to directionally drill into the lower horizons. The Hot Point outcrop fire is located near the southern edge of the existing MCM leases and is shown on Figure 2-8, Initial Mine Plan. This project would have no impact to the Hot Point fire, as coal mine operations are moving away from the fire. There would be no disturbance in the vicinity of the outcrop fire that would exacerbate the fire. Railroad No appreciable impact to the geologic and mineral resource is anticipated.

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Water Pipeline

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

No appreciable impact to the geologic and mineral resource is anticipated. However, in the event of a leak from the mine facilities (e.g., water tank, pipeline), leakage could deep percolate into Mancos Shale and leach selenium. Transmission Line No appreciable impact to the geologic and mineral resource is anticipated. Temporary and Long Term Impacts Geologic Hazards A landslide is a geologic hazard characterized by a perceptible downslope sliding or falling of a relatively dry mass of earth, rock, or a mixture of the two. Rockfalls are geologic hazards, as well, characterized by free falling rock masses. The degree of risk posed by landslides or rockfalls to proposed development is variable, ranging from low (very old, well drained, gentle slopes) to high (overhanging rocky cliffs with loose rock material on steep slopes and poorly consolidated surficial deposits). In most cases the risk of future movement can be reduced by appropriate design and construction practices (engineered excavation and grading) and by active mitigation techniques, such as: control of surface and subsurface drainage; rock tieback anchors, rock scaling, and buttressing. A large rockfall hazard area and a landslide have been identified within the bounds of the proposed Red Cliff Mine site and rail alignment. See Figure 4-9, Surficial Geology and Geologic Hazards, Red Cliff Mine, and Figure 4-10, Surficial Geology and Geologic Hazards, Red Cliff Mine Railroad Spur. There is a potential that mining subsidence could aggravate existing landslides and other geologic hazards. Mining-induced seismic events as a result of mining would likely occur. Based on existing information, these events are not expected to cause damage to surface resources or overlying structures. Impacts described subsequently are for all action alternatives. The assessment of impacts from subsidence is summarized from a comprehensive assessment included as Appendix D, Subsidence, of this EIS. Subsidence The effects of subsidence on the surface of the landscape can take several forms. Chimney caving can cause sinkholes and troughs to open up. Both cracks and ridges can form due to tension and compression strains. Subsidence trough-like depressions occur directly above and somewhat outside the panel where the coal is being extracted. On steep slopes and cliffs, subsidence may result in landslides and rockfalls. Slope change or tilt can occur on steep slopes. The time that it takes for surface manifestations to occur can be almost immediate up to over 50 years.

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Red Cliff Mine EIS

Source: Vector Colorado, LLC

Figure 4-10 Surficial Geology and Geologic Hazards Red Cliff Mine Railroad Spur

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

It is extremely difficult to quantify the impact of geology on the extraction of coal and the resulting subsidence of the ground surface. There are some obvious generalities that can be stated with complete confidence, but predicting what would happen and where is fraught with risk. The overall geology of the coal bearing Mesaverde Group is generally known, but the sitespecific geologic conditions are not fully understood because it is possible to see only outcrops and the immediate roof and floor. The coal seam and the overburden lithology are changing conditions. Differing lithologies (rock types) have differing strengths; e.g., stronger sandstones and weaker shales and mudstones. Because of the rugged terrain in the project area, subsidencerelated surface impacts may change several times as the overburden depth changes along the roughly 7,300-foot to 13,500-foot lengths of the longwall panels. Subsidence, strain, and tilt predictions would be less certain than would be the case in more gentle and flatter terrain. For instance, the potentially additive subsidence on ridges would increase the tensile strain and the width of open surface cracking. However, higher compression ridges, but negligible tensile fractures, are likely to occur in narrow valley bottoms, because the overburden on both sides would try to move toward the bottom of the valley as the subsidence trough approaches and then passes the valley bottom. Consequently subsidence impacts are likely to be greater on narrow ridges and lesser in narrow valley bottoms than they would be in more subdued terrain. A springs survey is described in Section 4.2.6, Groundwater. Surface water delineations (stream and wetlands) are described in Section 4.2.7, Surface Water. Subsidence-related impacts to these groundwater and surface water features would be evaluated against baseline (pre-mining) characteristics. Strains and displacements on steep slopes with thin alluvial cover, particularly cliffs, may cause surface fractures on the order of several inches to more than 2 feet wide and possibly 25 feet deep, compared to a fraction of an inch to a few inches wide and a few feet deep in valley bottoms at the same overburden depth. When the relief is subdued and terrain gentle, the surface fractures would be consistent in width and depth and generally follow a smoothed ovaloid around the panel perimeter. Cracks would tend to be widest (approaching 20 inches) and deepest (possibly 50 feet) along prominent joints and fractures on the steepest slopes and cliffs, which in turn, may become less stable and more susceptible to landslides and rockfalls. Landslides and rockfalls would be most likely to occur where mining approaches the outcrop, and the overburden depth is decreasing. It should be anticipated that longwall mining under the canyon walls would present a similar hazard for rock to roll out from undermined sandstone outcrops. The slopes of the canyon walls are certainly steep enough within the Red Cliff Mine project area to result in thin fragmented soil cover and, therefore, 1-foot wide surface fractures opening when undermined by a longwall panel at the shallower depths, under approximately 500 feet. For any mining panel width and coal extraction thickness, the maximum subsidence, tilt, and strain at the ground surface should decrease with increasing overburden depth. By itself, simply vertically lowering the ground surface would not be a problem. However, the ground surface is lowered over and near a longwall panel only as the coal between the panel headgate and tailgate pillars is progressively extracted and the longwall face is advanced. The surface subsidence trough advances with the longwall face and all sides of the longwall panel deflect downward toward the center of the panel, where the vertical subsidence is maximum. The bending of the overburden develops as the longwall panel progresses and forms a stable semi-permanent trough after the panel is completely mined. The maximum vertical subsidence over a panel is of major importance because it contributes to the magnitude of extension, 4-87

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

compression, and tilting. The magnitude of potentially adverse impacts decreases as the mining depth increases. Table 8, Appendix D, Subsidence, presents predicted maximum vertical subsidence for a variety of panel widths and overburden depths. Predicted vertical subsidence ranges from a maximum of 8.9 feet to a minimum of 3.2 feet. Figure 19, Appendix D shows the relationship of panel width to vertical subsidence. The maximum horizontal tensile strains are the most serious potential hazard with respect to anticipated subsidence impacts from longwall mining in the proposed Red Cliff Mine lease area. Table 10, Appendix D, Subsidence, shows predicted maximum surface fracture widths ranging from almost 20 inches to less than 1 inch. The conservative predicted single panel maximum slope angle changes resulting from longwall mining of the proposed project area, potentially ranging from approximately 0.5 to 12 percent (0.3 degrees to 7 degrees), would present significant hazards to overlying industrial, business, and residential uses. However, there are no such land uses over the Red Cliff Mine and none are planned. The principal tilting hazard posed by longwall mining to the undeveloped surface would appear to be tilting cliff-forming sandstone beds outcropping on the canyon walls with the potential for toppling sandstone boulders toward the canyon floors. The slopes of Big Salt Wash canyon, the major canyon in the project area, are as steep overall as 32 degrees, with walls as high as 920 feet. A conceptual mine plan has been projected in order to estimate potential subsidence impacts (Appendix D, Subsidence). This plan assumes that the minimum overburden depth would be 200 feet above the Main Cameo Seam and the maximum overburden depth would be 2,000 feet. The planned minimum overburden depth for longwall mining is 200 feet in order to minimize (1) the potential for chimney caving to the ground surface, (2) the interception and diversion of groundwater through the mine workings, (3) the loss of surface water to the fracture zone overlying completed longwall panels, and (4) the potential development of up to 20-inch-wide surface fractures along the sides of the panels. It also assumes that the planned coal mining height ranges from 8 to 11 feet. The 11-foot maximum height was used as a conservative maximum thickness in the subsidence analysis. Rockfall Hazards The primary geologic hazard is quantifying the risks associated with slope instability hazards within the proposed Red Cliff Mine site. During field reconnaissance, large boulders to small cobbles were observed as source material along the near vertical cliffs, benches, and steeper slopes of the Book Cliffs in the northeastern one-third of the project area. In numerous places along the steeper slopes, colluvium boulders up to 5 feet in diameter were observed that had obviously fallen from the steeper slope uphill. Furthermore, the exposed resistant sandstone beds comprising the cliff forming rocks of the Book Cliffs are fractured such that large blocks rest above the steeply sloping to near vertical terrain at higher elevations. Weathering and freeze-thaw action occurring seasonally could potentially free a large block of this bedrock producing a rockfall. Accordingly, the risk of rockfall in much of the mine area is considered high. Landslide Hazards A relatively small landslide is located along the east-northeast permit boundary. The landslide does not appear to be active as there is no fresh head scarp, closed depressions, or pressure 4-88

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CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

ridges; however, sudden changes in existing conditions such as changes in groundwater conditions, slope cuts, or additional loading could reactivate this landslide. The landslide appears to be younger than the predominant pediment deposit but is sufficiently old to have developed a defined drainage at the base. In addition to the existing landslide, areas as potentially unstable slopes (PUS) comprise steep slopes that are stable in their existing condition and present moderate to high risk of future landslides or other slope instabilities. Modifications to slope grade, loading, storm runoff, or groundwater conditions could promote conditions where risks associated with landsliding are increased. Accelerated Erosion Due to the loose sandy composition of the steeper slopes in the northeast and the high weathering susceptibility of the Mancos Shale, the risk of accelerated erosion is moderate to high. Additionally, there are three zones (see Figures 4-9 and 4-10) in the project area where evidence of accelerated erosion is distinctly visible. Both of these areas are marked by dendritic drainage patterns unlike the pervasive parallel drainage patterns that feed the larger streams such as Salt Wash to the southeast. Furthermore, each of the zones of rapid or accelerated erosion is marked by steep headward erosion scars and appears to be advancing upstream towards the Book Cliffs. Other Geologic Hazards Soil material derived from the Mancos Shale and the Mesaverde Group may contain clays that, on wetting, can swell causing damage to structures. Old small earthen dams are scattered across the property. The area behind (upstream) these dams may contain soft soils with significant organic material that, on loading, may prove susceptible to collapse and/or differential settlement. Mesaverde Group and Mancos Shale bedrock may contain radioactive minerals that, on decay, may produce radon gas. The presence of radon gas in structures has been identified as a potential health risk. The evaluation of risk due to the natural occurrence of radon gas at this stage of investigation is beyond the scope of this EIS. Earthquake risk in the project area is considered low. The property is located in Seismic Zone 1 characterized by earthquakes of Modified Mercalli Intensity VI or smaller, and minor damage. No active faults have been identified in the project area that would require consideration of surface rupture. The project area is not located in any published flood zone. The known subsurface mine workings are not within the mine plan or lease area; therefore, collapse or subsidence of mine workings is not a credible hazard. According to soil maps prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) most of the soils derived from Mesaverde Group and Mancos Shale contain high concentrations of soluble salts (i.e., calcareous and gypsiferous soils). Soluble salts present deleterious effects to concrete; therefore, on-site materials should be evaluated for potential alkali-aggregate reaction. Soils with high soluble salt concentrations are also susceptible to collapse upon loading.

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CHAPTERFOUR
Mitigation Measures Subsidence

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Mitigation of subsidence impacts can best be done by appropriate design of the mine plan. It is possible to mitigate somewhat the adverse impacts by varying panel width, by designing gateroad pillars between panels to yield when the first of two adjacent panels is mined and crush after the face of the second panel is mined past, and by positioning longwall panels with respect to a particularly important surface feature. Normally, if landslides or rockfalls are present in an area, constraints on design and construction may be necessary to minimize risk. Longwall panels should not be completed in overburden conditions of less than 200 feet (see Figure 13, Appendix D, Subsidence). The 200-foot overburden contour extends approximately 360 feet upstream from the outcrop line in Big Salt Wash and approximately 550 feet upstream from the outcrop line in Garvey Canyon. Long term protection from chimney subsidence to the overlying ground surface can be provided in such shallow overburden by partially backfilling the entries in these two areas upon final closure of the Red Cliff Mine. No longwall or full extraction mining would occur under Big Salt Wash under the Proposed Action. The potential for draining surface water into the Red Cliff Mine is low, but probably precludes longwall mining under stream courses and water impoundments when the bedrock overburden thickness is less than 95 feet. Big Salt Wash is particularly at risk because it also contains a road and has agricultural uses. Because there is no available depth of alluvium below any of the deeply incised canyons, and due to the absence of any data on the potential fault control of the nearly trellis drainage pattern in the project area, conservatism must be used and a minimum of 200 feet of overburden required to positively prevent water loss from longwall mining under even intermittent stream courses. It is possible at least to partially mitigate tilting hazards and similar potential major toppling hazards in Big Salt Wash, Garvey Canyon, and along Munger Creek by designing the longwall panels to retreat toward these drainages from the north and from the south. Retreating toward these drainages would slightly flatten the slope of the canyon walls as opposed to advancing away from Big Salt Wash which would slightly steepen the canyon walls. A conceptual mine plan has been proposed in Section 8.2 of Appendix D, Subsidence, that would mitigate potential subsidence impacts in the project area. The goals of the conceptual plan were to maximize safety, then mitigate to the extent possible subsidence impacts, and finally to maximize resource recovery. However this is not the only plan that may mitigate certain impacts, and the mine operator may develop other plans. The mine operator would also be required to comply with state and federal regulations regarding subsidence impacts as they prepare their mine plan and permit application. Rockfall Hazards Based on project plans to date, a conveyor and mine portal access road would cross the boundary of the rockfall hazard area. Constructing these facilities would undoubtedly change the existing natural conditions. Therefore, site-specific engineering designs and rockfall mitigation measures would be necessary to ensure the safety of both infrastructure and personnel in these areas. Slope stability studies and, where appropriate, rockfall stability analyses should be completed for structures proposed in the rockfall hazard area. 4-90

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Landslide Hazards

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

If the practice of avoidance is adopted for the proposed construction, risks associated with future movement of the landslide deposit are considered low. Accelerated Erosion Project plans should be guided by an engineering firm qualified in geotechnical engineering design. During periods of isolated heavy precipitation or rapid snowmelt, accelerated erosion is exaggerated. Site-specific engineering designs and mitigation measures should be developed to control the flow of surface water away from the upstream headward erosion scars of the two zones. Other Geologic Hazards Although the anticipated loadings from the proposed Red Cliff Mine facilities would be relatively large, foundation designs should be based on results of laboratory swell/consolidation testing. Foundation designs should be guided by results of swell/consolidation laboratory testing. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, contains additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to geology and subsidence.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 No appreciable impact to the geologic and mineral resource is anticipated. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices No appreciable impact to the geologic and mineral resource is anticipated. Transmission Line Alternative A No appreciable impact to the geologic and mineral resource is anticipated. Transmission Line Alternative B No appreciable impact to the geologic and mineral resource is anticipated. Transmission Line Alternative C No appreciable impact to the geologic and mineral resource is anticipated.

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CHAPTERFOUR
4.2.4 Paleontology No Action Alternative

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

If the No Action Alternative is selected, no paleontological resources would be disturbed by construction, exploration, or mining.

Proposed Action Alternative
Mine and Facilities The Wasatch Formation is classified as Class 5 (PFYC system) for paleontological resources. The Wasatch Formation has limited exposures at the highest elevations in the project area. There is a good potential for finding fossils of scientific interest throughout most of the project area. Temporary and Long Term Impacts Ground-disturbing activities have the potential to uncover or destroy paleontological resources. Mitigation Measures If any surface disturbing activities (e.g., vent shafts) are planned on areas underlain by the Wasatch Formation, the site would be surveyed by a qualified paleontologist prior to construction. This would significantly decrease the possibility of fossil destruction. A survey would not be required prior to the BLM authorization for any activities not immediately underlain by the Wasatch Formation. However, if any fossils are noticed at anytime, the Authorized Officer must be notified so the resource can be recorded, evaluated, stabilized, or mitigated. All persons associated with operations under this authorization shall be informed that any objects or sites of paleontological or scientific value, such as vertebrate or scientifically important invertebrate fossils, shall not be damaged, destroyed, removed, moved, or disturbed. If in connection with operations under this authorization, any of the previously mentioned resources are encountered, the operator shall immediately suspend all activities in the immediate vicinity of the discovery that might further disturb such materials and notify the BLM authorized officer of the findings. The discovery must be protected until notified to proceed by the BLM authorized officer. As feasible, the operator shall suspend ground-disturbing activities at the discovery site and immediately notify the BLM authorized officer of any finds. The BLM authorized officer would, as soon as feasible, have a BLM-permitted paleontologist check out the find and record and collect it if warranted. If ground-disturbing activities cannot be immediately suspended, the operator shall work around or set the discovery aside in a safe place to be accessed by the BLMpermitted paleontologist. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, includes additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to paleontology.

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CHAPTERFOUR
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Impacts and mitigation associated with construction of the railroad crossing would be identical to those described in the Proposed Action section. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices No impact to the paleontological resource is anticipated. Transmission Line Alternative A Impacts and mitigation associated with construction of the transmission line would be identical to those described in the Proposed Action section. Transmission Line Alternative B Impacts and mitigation associated with construction of the transmission line would be identical to those described in the Proposed Action section. Transmission Line Alternative C Impacts and mitigation associated with construction of the transmission line would be identical to those described in the Proposed Action section.

4.2.5 Soils No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the proposed project would not occur. Coal removal and the associated disturbance and impacts to soils would not occur on the additional acres of the lease.

Proposed Action Alternative
Potential soil issues in the project area may include: • • • • • • • • Highly saline and shallow soils, which may be difficult to re-vegetate. Landslides. Expansive soils. Corrosive soils. Erosive soils; some soils are slowly permeable and concentrate run-off during storm events. Soils derived from Mancos shale tend to be very sticky and slippery; unimproved roads may be impassable when wet. Potential impacts to prime farmland south of the Highline Canal. Potential impacts to biological soil crusts.

Some soils are prone to landslides and active erosion on steep slopes, indicated by gullying and piping processes. Some soils in the project area have moderate to high expansive (high shrinkswell) properties and may contain evaporite minerals that are corrosive to conventional concrete 4-93

4.2.5 – Soils

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

and metal pipes. When wet, soils derived from Mancos shale become sticky and slippery, making unimproved roads virtually impassable. In moist conditions these soils contain excess water and have low bearing strength capacity, which may often result in structural damage if disturbed when wet. Saline or sodic soils may be difficult to stabilize and revegetate upon completion of construction activities, particularly on steeper slopes or slopes greater than 40 percent. The Grand Junction RMP lists these criteria to identify management areas and potential impacts of planned actions of the project: 1. Suitability of the soil to support the project (or the soil limitations that may lessen or prevent the project’s success). 2. Special safety hazards associated with particular soils or soil characteristics (i.e., slumping or mass movement). 3. Critical erosion areas in which land treatments or other practices have a high probability of reducing soil loss and degradation of water quality. 4. Slopes over 40 percent, as the susceptibility to accelerated erosion and mass movement are great. Removal and replacement of soils during mining and reclamation would cause changes in the soil resources. In reclaimed areas, soil chemistry and soil nutrient distribution would generally be more uniform and average soil 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 the reclaimed land. The replaced soil would support a stable and productive vegetation community adequate in quality and quantity to support the planned postmining land uses (wildlife habitat and rangeland). There would be an increase in the near-surface bulk density of soil resources after reclamation. As a result, the average soil infiltration rates would generally decrease, which would increase the potential for runoff and soil erosion. Topographic moderation following reclamation would potentially decrease 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 action would form a new soil structure in the reclaimed soils, and infiltration rates would gradually return to premining levels. Mine and Facilities The mine facility site would impact the following soil map units: • • • • • • • Killpack-Badlands-Persayo complex; 3 to 12 percent slopes; saline Mesa-Avalon complex; 3 to 12 percent slopes Tolman-Rock outcrop-Chugcreek complex; 3 to 12 percent slopes; very stony Persayo silty clay loam; 3 to 25 percent slopes Moffat-Kompace complex; 6 to 35 percent slopes Chipeta silty clay loam; 3 to 30 percent slopes Leebench warm-Avalon complex; 3 to 12 percent slopes 4-94

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CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

The proposed mine facility is located on soil map units that have high erosive potentials (Persayo, Chipeta, and Badland); therefore, erosion and sedimentation should be mitigated during construction of the mine facility site. These soil map units formed in residuum from alkaline marine shales containing gypsum, which is corrosive to concrete and is known to lower fertility and plant water availability. Moreover, both the Persayo and Chipeta soil series have high shrink-swell capacities, which can cause structural damage to structures and foundations. When disturbing the natural land surface in these areas of shale and other soft sedimentary material, it is advised to avoid constructing in locations generally prone to landslides, including steep slopes or the base of slopes with noticeable mass movement. These attributes may cause limitations during construction and overall maintenance of the mine facility site. Railroad The proposed construction of the railroad spur would impact the following soil map units: • • • • • Killpack-Persayo complex; 3 to 25 percent slopes Killpack-Badlands-Persayo complex; 3 to 12 percent slopes; saline Leebench warm-Avalon complex; 3 to 12 percent slopes Persayo silty clay loam; 3 to 25 percent slopes Killpack silty clay loam; 0 to 2 percent slopes

North of the Highline Canal, the Killpack-Persayo and Killpack-Badlands-Persayo complexes dominate the railroad spur alignment. South of the canal, the Persayo silty clay loams dominate the alignment and are primarily used as agricultural parcels. These soil map units that have high erosion potentials; therefore, erosion and sedimentation should be mitigated during construction of the mine facility site. These soil map units formed in residuum from alkaline marine shales containing gypsum, which is corrosive to concrete and is known to lower fertility and plant water availability. The Persayo soil series has high shrink-swell capacities, which can cause structural damage to structures and foundations. Moreover, the Killpack soil series formed in alluvium and residuum from saline marine shale. High salinity inhibits or eliminates re-vegetation potential in the affected area because of increased soluble salt concentrations in the root zone of the soil (NRCS 2004). Selenium also occurs naturally and is present in these sedimentary formations. This element is required in trace amounts for human and animal health, but it can have adverse health problems for livestock, wildlife, and humans when ingested in higher-than-required concentrations. The high selenium content in the region is known to have adversely affected fish and avian populations, and the salinity has impacted agricultural lands, water delivery facilities, and water quality (USGS 2007). Transmission Line North of the Highline Canal, the transmission line would impact the following dominant soil map units: • • • • Killpack-Persayo complex; 3 to 25 percent slopes Persayo-Blackstone complex; 6 to 45 percent slopes Badlands-Deaver-Chipeta complex; 25 to 99 percent slopes; extremely stony Mack-Avalon complex; 3 to 12 percent slopes 4-95

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•

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Killpack-Neiberger complex; 3 to 25 percent slopes

These dominant map units are moderately to very deep, well-drained soils that formed in slope alluvium and alluvium derived from sandstone and shale on sideslopes and toeslopes of rolling shale hills. Once again, these soils have high erosion potentials, high shrink-swell capacities, and high selenium, salt, and gypsum levels. South of the Highline Canal, the transmission line would impact the following dominant soil map units: • • • Sagers silty clay loam; 0 to 2 percent slopes Killpack silty clay loam; 0 to 2 percent slopes Ustifluvents; 0 to 2 percent slopes

The Sagers and Killpack silty clay loam map units are moderately to very deep, well-drained soils that formed in alluvium and residuum from saline marine shales. These soils are on basin and valley floor remnants, alluvial fans, and stream terraces. Ustifluvents are moderately welldrained soils found on floodplains formed in alluvium derived from sandstone and shale. The soils that compose the alignment south of the canal are primarily used for agricultural production and may be irrigated. Some of these soils are considered prime farmland if irrigated, and impacts on them should be minimized. Access Road The proposed construction of the access road (CR X) would traverse approximately 2.4 miles and also impact the following soil map units: • • • Killpack-Persayo complex; 3 to 25 percent slopes Killpack-Badlands-Persayo complex; 3 to 12 percent slopes; saline Leebench warm-Avalon complex; 3 to 12 percent slopes

The impacts, risks, and hazards associated with these soils are the same as the proposed railroad spur. Temporary Impacts Construction activities can have serious detrimental effects on the soils on construction sites. Topsoil removal, grading, and filling drastically reduce soil quality on these sites, resulting in long term adverse impacts on plant growth and runoff. Another construction practice is allowing heavy equipment and even smaller construction vehicles to drive or park on the site. The vehicles compact the soil and compaction lowers the rate or water infiltration and reduces the available water-holding capacity (NRCS 2004). Unimproved roads with soils derived from Mancos shale may be impassable when wet due to the sticky and slippery nature of these soils and low load bearing strength. Erosion from construction sites has offsite environmental and economic impacts. Erosion creates two major water quality problems in surface waters and drainageways, excess nutrients and sediment. Both impacts create unwanted biological growth and turbidity that degrades the habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms. Sediment can accumulate in stream channels, lowering the flow capacity and causing more frequent flooding in areas that were never flooded or were only rarely flooded in the past (NRCS 2004). 4-96

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CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

This total area of temporary disturbance would be reduced through successful reclamation as described in the Mitigation Measures section. Long Term Impacts Long term impacts would result from soil-disturbing activities related to construction of the mine, facilities, and associated linear features. Impacts resulting from construction of the mine site and associated facilities could include removal of vegetation, exposure of the soil, mixing of soil horizons, soil compaction, loss of topsoil productivity, and increased susceptibility of the soil to wind and water erosion. The project would permanently impact approximately 452 acres of soil. Mitigation Measures Reclamation and Revegetation Soils suitable to support plant growth would be salvaged for use in reclamation. Soil stockpiles would be protected from disturbance and erosional influences. Soil material that is not suitable to support plant growth would not be salvaged. Soil or overburden materials containing potentially harmful chemical constituents would need to be specially handled. After soil is replaced on reclaimed surfaces, revegetation would reduce erosion. The mine would construct sediment control structures as needed to trap eroded soil. Vegetation growth should be monitored on reclaimed areas to determine if soil amendments are needed. These measures are required by regulation and are, therefore, considered to be part of the Proposed Action. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, includes seed mixes for soil stabilization, grazing use, and wildlife habitat. Appendix B also contains a mine reclamation plan, revegetation plan, noxious weed control plan, and revegetation success monitoring plan. Erosion and Sedimentation In order to mitigate erosion and sedimentation on construction sites, adding mulch and seeding may protect the soil from erosion. Straw bales, silt fences, gravel bags, narrow grass strips or buffers, vegetative barriers, and terraces and diversions catch sediment and shorten slope length and the amount of erosion-prone surface. Combinations of cover and structural practices help to control erosion and sedimentation and improve soil quality. Some temporary measures, such as a silt fence at the base of the slope, do not reduce the hazard of erosion on the slope but trap some of the sediment leaving the slope. Soils would be exposed during construction. It is essential that the exposed area is minimized and that a protective cover is established. Conservation practices that provide immediate permanent cover or provide intermittent cover are very effective in controlling erosion and runoff. Other practices, such as diversions and terraces, also help to control erosion and runoff. They provide temporary protection until vegetation becomes established, and they provide permanent protection for the site (NRCS 2004). Saline Soils Soil salinity can have significant impacts on soil erosion and reclamation potential. Erosion of saline soils can also have significant impacts on the water quality of downstream watersheds. Saline sediments that originate in the project area may eventually flow into the Colorado River. 4-97

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CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Salinity levels in the Colorado River are a regional, national, and international issue and the control of sediment discharged from public lands is mandated by the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974. Proper land use is the BLM’s preferred method of achieving salinity control, with the planning process being the principal mechanism for implementation. Impacts are to be minimized in areas with saline soils, and revegetation of previously disturbed saline soils is to be promoted to the extent possible. The major sources of salinity are the saline soils of the Upper Colorado River basin and agricultural irrigation-return flows. Much of the soil in the Project area is derived from and overlies the Mancos Shale, a saline marine deposit which produces large quantities of solutes. Given that saline sediment and increased water runoff is one of the key pollutants in the Colorado River basin, significant investments in stormwater control and upkeep would be necessary and would help minimize erosion if properly chosen and installed. Although construction activities may affect only a relatively small acreage of land in a watershed, they can be a major source of sediment and increased water runoff because activities often leave the soil disturbed, bare, and exposed to the abrasive action of wind and water. Increased sediment and water runoff impacts water-quality and creates unwanted biological growth and turbidity that degrades the habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms (Muckel 2004). Adding mulch, seeding, and providing sod protects the soil from erosion. Straw bales, silt fences, gravel bags, narrow grass strips or buffers, vegetative barriers, and terraces and diversions catch sediment and shorten the length of the erosive surface. Combinations of cover and structural practices help to control erosion and sedimentation and improve soil quality. Some temporary measures, such as a silt fence as the base of the slope, do not reduce the hazard of erosion on the slope but trap some of the sediment leaving the slope. The following are some basic principles of erosion and water-runoff control on construction sites (Muckel 2004): • • • • • • • • • • • • • Divide the project into smaller phases, clearing smaller areas of vegetation. Schedule excavation during low-rainfall periods when possible. Fit development to the terrain. Excavate immediately before construction instead of exposing the soil for months or years. Cover disturbed soils with vegetation or mulch as soon as possible and thus reduce the hazard of erosion. Divert water from disturbed areas. Control concentrated flow and runoff, thus reducing the volume and velocity of water from work sites and preventing the formation of rills and gullies. Minimize the length and gradient of slopes (e.g., use bench terraces). Prevent the movement of sediment to offsite areas. Inspect and maintain all structural control measures. Install windbreaks to control wind erosion. Avoid soil compaction by restricting the use of trucks and heavy equipment to limited areas. Break up of till compacted soils prior to vegetating or placing sod. 4-98

4.2.5 – Soils

CHAPTERFOUR
•

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Avoid dumping excess concrete or washing trucks onsite.

Soil would be exposed during construction. It is essential that the exposed area is minimized and that a protective cover is quickly established. Conservation practices that provide immediate cover (sod) or provide intermittent cover (mulching and seeding) are very effective in controlling runoff and erosion. Other practices, such as diversions and terraces, also help to control runoff and erosion. They provide temporary protection until vegetation or sod become established, and they provide permanent protection for the site. Expansive/Shrink-Swell Soils The potential for structural damage can often be minimized or the damage avoided altogether by following certain practices. With expansive soils, the main goal is to minimize fluctuations in soil water content. Proper surface drainage, plant species choices, and long term maintenance are all important. In more arid areas, typical of the climate within the project area, excess moisture should be kept several feet away from structures and foundations (NRCS 2004). Landslides/Slope Failure Slope failure and landslides have the potential to occur especially in areas of shale and other soft sedimentary material. The deepest cuts and fills would be located in the proposed loadout area of the project. Cutting and filling of steep slopes (>15 percent) should be avoided wherever possible. If a steep slope exists, all water flowing onto the slope should be redirected with diversions or a slope drain. Silt fence at top and toe of the slope must be anchored well, although this measure may not provide adequate protection by itself. On steep slopes, jute netting and erosion control blankets (geotextiles) should be used in conjunction with seeding or mulching, as seeding alone may not be effective (EPA 2008). Professional assistance should be sought before earth-moving and stabilization of cut and fill slopes begins. Geotechnical engineers should usually be brought in to remediate a slope failure. Slope failures are both dangerous and complex, and any remediation work should involve skilled and experienced geologists and engineers (Muckel 2004). Some of the basic principles of erosion and water-runoff control on construction sites listed in the Saline Soils section should be implemented. Important Farmlands There are several soil series south of the Highline Canal classified as prime farmland if irrigated. Efforts to minimize human impacts should be made by concentrating traffic and activities within confined areas. Biological Soil Crusts Efforts to minimize human impacts to biological soil crusts should be made by concentrating traffic and activities within confined areas. Soil Compaction Soil compaction problems can be reduced or eliminated through use of proper management practices. If compaction occurs in the top six to eight inches of the soil, tillage tools such as a chisel plow or moldboard plow can be used to shatter the compacted layer. However, if compaction is below eight to ten inches, tillage tools such as a subsoiler, ripper, or paraplow may be needed. By breaking up subsurface compaction, natural processes (such as root penetration, soil microbial activity, water infiltration, and freeze-thaw cycles) would be accelerated and would be more capable of returning the soil to a pre-disturbance condition. Defining both 4-99

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CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

vulnerability to and recoverability from soil compaction is dependent upon the natural patterns of plant and soil heterogeneity and initial disturbance type. Recovery estimates are highly variable for arid environments with severe compaction range from 70 to 680 years, but are dependent on the severity of compaction and the vigor of natural processes that operate locally to alleviate compaction (Webb 2002, Prose and Wilshire 2000). The following are preventative measures that could be taken to minimize soil compaction: • Reduce traffic – Traffic is the major cause of excessive soil compaction. The more often equipment travels across a site, the greater the opportunity for soil compaction. Reduce the number of passes. Reduce tire pressure to reduce surface compaction – While reduced tire pressure would not reduce subsurface compaction, it would reduce surface compaction. Low pressure tires or dual wheels would reduce the degree of surface soil compaction but may increase the area compacted. The soil must support the weight of the equipment. Duals or low pressure tires simply spread out the weight. Reduce traffic under wet conditions – Soil is more compressible when wet. Traffic during high moisture conditions may compact soil, whereas the same traffic under dry conditions would not. As the soil dries, it has a higher soil strength, making it less susceptible to compaction. A dry soil supports traffic more readily than a wet soil. In addition, compaction stresses generated from the same wheel would be transmitted deeper in wet soils. Control traffic – Whenever possible, restrict all equipment to specific tracks or traffic lanes through the field, leaving the rest of the site essentially uncompacted. This requires some equipment management but may be well worth the effort.

•

•

•

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 Impacts to soils from this alternative would include temporary impacts to soils from construction of the bridge over Mack Wash and the railroad grade and raising the grade of CR M.8. The grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 would temporarily impact approximately 0.3 acre and permanently impact approximately 0.3 acre. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Impacts of the noiseless crossing traffic control devices are the same as described in the Railroad section. Proposed 69kV Transmission Line The proposed transmission line would temporarily impact approximately 2.6 acres and permanently impact less than 1 acre. Transmission Line Alternative A The impacts to soils for this alternative would be the same as described for the proposed transmission line. However, a very small portion (less than 0.25 mile) of the transmission line crosses dissected alluvial fans associated with Big Salt Wash (see Figure 3-10, Remnant Alluvial Fans at Red Cliff Mine). These alluvial fans are vegetated with Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata wyomingensis) in communities that are identified as critical big game 4-100

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CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

winter range. Due to the limited length of transmission line that crosses this are, impacts to big game winter range associated with the alluvial fans would be minimal. Because this alternative follows CR 16 north of the Highline Canal, impacts to soils would be slightly lower than the Proposed Action, as no new access roads would be required. Transmission line Alternative A would temporarily impact approximately 0.77 acre and permanently impact less than 1 acre. Transmission Line Alternative B Impacts to soils from this alternative would be slightly less than those described for the Proposed Action, as additional access would be required. Transmission line Alternative B would temporarily impact approximately 1.87 acres and permanently impact less than 1 acre. Transmission Line Alternative C Impacts to soils from this alternative would be slightly less than those described for the proposed transmission line due to the transmission line following the rail and pipeline corridor for 18,000 feet. This would eliminate the need for additional access for this length of transmission line. Transmission line Alternative C would temporarily impact approximately 1.73 acres and permanently impact less than 1 acre.

4.2.6 Groundwater No Action Alternative
If the No Action Alternative is selected, alluvial and bedrock groundwater would not be impacted by mining. Groundwater beneath the lease tract would be undisturbed.

Proposed Action Alternative
Construction and operation of the mine and/or associated surface facilities may cause local impacts to alluvial and bedrock groundwater within parts of the mine area, and have been assessed as described below. Mine Entrance and Surface Facilities This section addresses all reasonably foreseeable potential impacts to groundwater that may result from the mine facilities to be constructed at or above the ground surface. No extraction of coal would occur at depth below the mine entrance portal or the planned mine surface facilities because the Cameo coal seam does not exist below those areas. Rather, underground mining of the Cameo coal would proceed northeastward from the mine entrance portal, and would extend to greater depths beneath the cliffs with distance from the portal. Potential impacts of the underground mining and related subsidence are described later in this section. The mine entrance portal would be driven into the Cameo coal seam where no alluvial groundwater currently exists. Even though the Cameo coal is considered an aquifer further eastward, this coal seam is not an aquifer in the area of the mine entrance portal. In that area, bedrock groundwater only occurs in localized perched water zones above the water table. These perched water zones have limited extent, and cannot produce quantities of groundwater for any human use. In the area of the mine entrance portal, the water table exists at greater depths in the bedrock, in strata below the Cameo coal. 4-101

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Table G-1 of Appendix G, Water Data and Information, contains existing permitted wells in, and within one mile of, the project area boundary; Table G-2 contains existing water rights in, and within one mile of, the project area boundary. Many livestock and domestic wells operate under "exempt" well permits, even though such permits do not grant water rights. No water well permits exist for water use in the existing coal lease area, or in the proposed ROW area. Moreover there are no water rights listed for any springs in those areas. However, there are two alluvial wells with permits for domestic use. Both these wells are more than one mile away from any proposed mining activity. One well (Permit #189882) is located more than a mile southeast of the proposed ROW area boundary, and the other well (Permit #256861) is located more than a mile to the southwest of that area. Based on a field reconnaissance that URS hydrogeologists performed to identify springs in areas of proposed mine surface facilities, there is only one small spring (URS 4/22/2008, on Figure 3-18, MODFLOW Simulation A Groundwater Levels and Flow Into McClane Canyon Mine) in those areas. This spring is located along the alluvial drainage about 1,800 feet south of the proposed mine portal. This small spring has only been observed once, following the runoff season, but it has not been sampled for lab analysis. The source of this spring water is likely a localized perched zone in the alluvium, which is recharged by seasonal runoff along the ephemeral drainage. Because the spring is near the proposed coal conveyor belt facility, it could be impacted by mine construction or operation. For example, erosion and sedimentation along this alluvial channel during construction of the conveyor belt could reduce the spring flow. Accidental spills of fuel or oil during construction, and coal spills from the conveyor belt could adversely impact the water quality of this small spring by contributing compounds associated with liquid petroleum products. Construction of the railroad spur and operation of the coal loading facilities could have similar impacts on the shallow groundwater in that local area if accidental spills or leaks occur. However, the alluvium is thin or absent throughout that area and thus impacts to alluvial groundwater are expected to be minimal. The mine operators are expected to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) during operations, which would include cleaning up accidental fuel spills during construction and accidental coal spills. Therefore these proposed mine surface facilities are not expected to cause long term impacts to the flow or quality of shallow alluvial groundwater. Of all the surface facilities associated with the mine, only the coal waste rock disposal area has the potential to cause long term changes in the quality of shallow alluvial groundwater. Poor quality leachate may be formed by infiltrating precipitation reacting with the coal waste. The leachate would likely contain elevated total dissolved solids and sulfate, and could seep into the groundwater below. However, the potential adverse impact to groundwater quality would be inconsequential because the shallow groundwater in that area is naturally poor in quality and the coal waste pile would be designed and operated to enhance runoff and minimize infiltration. The Mancos Shale underlies the footprint of the coal waste rock disposal pile, except for a few limited areas of thin colluvium and narrow patches of alluvium lying within the small arroyos crossing that area. Along the largest arroyo crossing the coal waste rock pile footprint, a narrow deposit of alluvium contains a small amount of alluvial groundwater. The depth to alluvial groundwater in the area is approximately 19 feet based on measurements in monitoring well VB-06-10 (see Figure 3-11, Water Wells within the Project Area). Baseline quality of the shallow alluvial groundwater in the area of the waste rock pile is poor, as observed in monitoring 4-102

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well VB-06-10. Total dissolved solids content of water samples collected from this well in 2007 have ranged from 15,550 to 56,530 mg/L and concentrations are elevated for several metals including arsenic, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc. Seepage from the pile would be reduced by limiting infiltration of precipitation. The coal waste rock pile would be constructed and keyed into natural ground with the waste rock and coal dust being compacted in lifts to provide stability. Compaction of fill in lifts would reduce the permeability of the pile, which would reduce infiltration. The surface of the pile is designed to promote runoff, which would also reduce infiltration. Runoff from the coal waste rock pile would be captured and routed to the sedimentation ponds. Proper compaction and collection of runoff would minimize infiltration into the waste rock pile and seepage of water to the underlying alluvial groundwater. The seepage rate from the pile would be much lower than the natural recharge rate, which is about 0.5 inch/year, because of the very low permeability of the compacted, fine grained coal waste rock material, and because the surface of the pile would be graded to promote runoff. In any case, considering the poor baseline water quality, any potential infiltration from the coal waste rock pile would not degrade the alluvial groundwater quality substantially because the water quality is currently so poor. No impact to the bedrock groundwater is expected because of the great thickness of the Mancos Shale that underlies the pile. The Mancos Shale is hundreds of feet thick and has a very low hydraulic conductivity (and permeability), which restricts groundwater movement. There are no bedrock aquifers underlying the coal waste rock pile area that could be impacted by seepage from the pile. Underground Mine in Existing Lease Area The underground mine workings are not expected to adversely impact the flow or quality of alluvial groundwater because the workings would not directly encounter alluvial groundwater, for the reasons described in the following paragraphs. Alluvial groundwater occurs in Quaternary age sands and gravels within Big Salt Wash and East Salt Creek that extend to relatively shallow depths below those drainages. Neither of those drainages lay above or adjacent to the area below which mining is planned in the existing lease area. Mine workings would not extend beneath the alluvial groundwater located along those drainages. Where the underground mine extracts coal from deeper bedrock formations of the Mesaverde Group, the workings would be at least several hundred feet below any mapped surface drainage. Only thin, localized lenses of shallow alluvium exist along those drainages, the largest of which are Stove Canyon and Buniger Canyon. The water table is estimated to be more than 100 feet deep in those areas. Thus it is unlikely that groundwater exists in the alluvium along those drainages. Even if small amounts of shallow perched groundwater exist in some places, the coal seam is several hundred feet below the alluvium, so there would be no direct intersection of the mine and alluvial groundwater. Nonetheless, there is a potential for the mine subsidence to impact alluvial groundwater. If mine subsidence causes new fractures in the bedrock below alluvium in some areas, alluvial groundwater could drain downward along the fractures and reduce groundwater levels in the alluvium. However, the mine subsidence evaluation (Appendix D, Subsidence) indicates fractures would probably extend less than 100 feet above the mined coal seam, and that the mining company can positively prevent water loss from the alluvium by maintaining at least 200 feet of bedrock overburden between all underground workings and the bottom of the alluvium. Most areas potentially containing alluvial groundwater are separated from the coal seam to be mined by much more than 200 feet of bedrock overburden. 4-103

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The flow and quality of bedrock groundwater may be impacted as mining advances down-dip to the northeast. In the western part of the existing lease area, data from drill holes indicate that the overburden and the Cameo coal seam lay above the groundwater table. In those areas, only limited zones of interflow or perched water occur within the overburden. Further eastward, where the water table lies above the Cameo coal seam, it is considered to be an aquifer (Kaman Tempo 1984.) The uppermost bedrock groundwater occurs just below or within the Cameo coal seam in wells 8-3-10 and 8-2-8 (see Figure 3-11, Water Wells within the Project Area), which are approximately 2,000 to 3,000 feet northeast of the mine entrance. Southwest of those wells, the mine workings are unlikely to encounter bedrock groundwater because the water table potentiometric surface lies below the Cameo coal seam. Thus it is unlikely that bedrock groundwater would be impacted until the mine workings reach the approximate locations of wells 8-3-10 and 8-2-8. After the mining encounters bedrock groundwater, the water would be collected and pumped from the mine, which would cause groundwater to flow toward the underground workings. As mining extends further north and east, the mine would encounter saturated groundwater conditions in the Cameo coal seam, which would increase groundwater inflows to the mine. The MODFLOW groundwater flow model described in Section 3.2.6, Groundwater, has been used to estimate future groundwater inflows to the Red Cliff Mine within the existing lease area. For this model, the future mine limits are specified to be consistent with those in the mine permit application. In the entire area to be mined, the Cameo coal seam model layer is simulated as being actively dewatered at the same time, with a hydraulic conductivity set to 100 ft/day, to simulate active mine conditions. (Note, this value is simply assumed for the purpose of simulating the increased hydraulic conductivity in the mine workings – the assumed value is approximately 1000 times greater than the hydraulic conductivity of the Cameo coal seam prior to mining.) The MCM is also simulated as continuing to operate under a dewatered condition. A hypothetical dewatering well is located within the Red Cliff mine area, and the pumping rate was adjusted until water levels in the Red Cliff mine area match the bottom elevation of the coal seam layer in that area The model boundaries and groundwater levels predicted by MODFLOW for these conditions are shown on Figure 4-11, MODFLOW Simulation B Groundwater Levels and Flow into McClane Canyon Mine with Red Cliff Mine Extended to Existing Coal Lease Limit. For the hydraulic parameters and hydrogeologic conditions specified, the model predicts the average inflow to the Red Cliff mine to be on the order of 10 to 40 gpm. This is in addition to the pumping rate at MCM estimated by the model to be about 24 gpm. Thus, assuming both mines would operate concurrently, the model predicts the combined flow into both mines would be about 30 to 70 gpm. If the MCM ceases dewatering in the future, it is reasonable to expect that the pumping rate from Red Cliff mine would have to increase by a similar amount (to total an average of about 50 gpm) to maintain dewatered working conditions in the mine. (Note, the model has also been used to predict the groundwater flows into the mine if it is extended further eastward into the proposed coal lease area, as described in the following section.)

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The estimated low inflow to the mine is not expected to alter the bedrock groundwater flow regime substantially, other than in the area immediately surrounding the mine workings, because of the low hydraulic conductivity of the bedrock and coal seam. Compared to current conditions, the expanded areal extent and magnitude of the additional drawdown attributable to the Red Cliff Mine would be small. The drawdown in the groundwater bearing zones in bedrock would not affect human users of groundwater. There are no known bedrock water supply wells within the existing coal lease area or within the proposed ROW area. None of the springs in or near the existing mine lease area have been developed for use, and thus there are no water rights to any springs there. Several small springs are located on the eastern margin of the existing lease area (Figure 3-12, Spring Locations). None of these springs have been developed for human use, but they are likely used by livestock and wildlife when climatic conditions cause the springs to flow. There are no water rights associated with springs in this area that are listed in Table F-2 of Appendix G, Water Data and Information. These springs would not likely be impacted by inflow to the underground workings because they are not hydrologically connected to the Cameo coal groundwater flow system. As described in Section 3.2.6, Groundwater, these springs are fed by shallow zones of perched water in the fractured, weathered sandstone. In the eastern lease area, there are great thicknesses of relatively tight, unsaturated sandstone and shale separating those perched zones from the water table and the water-bearing Cameo coal. The potential for mine subsidence to impact groundwater has also been assessed. Subsidence at other mines has caused new bedrock fractures to open up at the ground surface and below alluvium. It is conceivable that groundwater could drain downward along new bedrock fractures caused by mine subsidence, which could reduce groundwater levels in both the bedrock and the alluvium. Fractures extending up to ground surface could also drain water from the springs. However, the mine subsidence evaluation (Appendix D, Subsidence) indicates fractures are unlikely to extend more than 200 feet in the overburden above the mined coal seam. In most areas, alluvial groundwater is separated from the coal seam by more than 300 feet of bedrock overburden. Moreover, the mining would be planned by the mine operator to avoid creating subsidence or subsidence-induced fractures beneath any alluvial valley floor. In the unlikely event that subsidence induced fractures were to extend up to or near the ground surface in the area where a spring now exists, it is possible the spring would cease to exist at that location. However, continued infiltration of precipitation would maintain groundwater recharge and probably cause another spring to form nearby. The new spring would likely emerge where the new fracture intersects the ground surface lower on the valley wall. Alternatively, the subsidence induced fracture may extend as far downward as the base of the Cameo coal underburden, which could cause new springs to emerge where that stratum intersects the valleys further toward the west. If subsidence caused new fractures extended to ground surface, this would cause groundwater recharge to increase compared to current conditions, which could offset some of the impacts by increasing spring flow rates. The baseline quality of bedrock groundwater encountered in the mine is poor based on monitoring of wells in the project area. The groundwater has naturally-elevated concentrations of several major cations and anions. Groundwater near the base of the Cameo coal zone has elevated total dissolved solids concentrations ranging from 1,400 to 6,200 mg/L. Concentrations are elevated for several metal constituents including arsenic, iron, manganese, and selenium. Mining would potentially increase the availability of inorganic and metal constituents to impact groundwater by excavating rock and coal and exposing fresh surfaces to oxygen and water. 4-107

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However, the groundwater within the Cameo coal seam is neutral and has buffering capacity primarily in the form of bicarbonate (alkalinity), and acid generation is not expected. Considering the poor baseline water quality and limited inflow to the mine, the mine is not expected to substantially degrade groundwater quality beyond current conditions. Underground Mine Expansion into Proposed Lease Area If the new mine extends further eastward to include the proposed lease area, the impacts of the mine surface facilities on groundwater would be essentially the same as those described in the Mine and Surface Facilities section. Mining the tract would encounter bedrock groundwater that already has poor quality. As for the existing lease, the coal waste rock pile is the only surface facility that may impact groundwater. However that potential impact would be minimal because the shallow groundwater in the alluvial fan deposits is very limited in extent and naturally has poor water quality. Even though the coal waste rock pile would become much larger as mining progresses through the proposed lease area, the footprint of the pile would overlie Mancos Shale, which would restrict seepage and prevent impacts to deeper groundwater. The underground mine workings would encounter increasing groundwater inflows as the mine progresses eastward in the proposed lease area. Again the MODFLOW model described in Section 3.2.6, Groundwater, has been used to estimate the approximate rate of groundwater inflow. For this scenario, the model includes the proposed mine area with an underground layout consistent with the maximum panel sizes used for the subsidence evaluation (Appendix D, Subsidence). The model assumes that mining has progressed to exhaust the MCM and permitted Red Cliff mine extents, and dewatering has ceased in those areas. This model is set up with the mine extended throughout the existing lease area and western part of the proposed lease area as shown on Figure 4-12, MODFLOW Simulation C Groundwater Levels and Flow into McClane Canyon Mine with Red Cliff Mine Extended into Eastern Part of Proposed Coal Lease. Areas directly under Big Salt Wash would not be mined, and thus the model cell parameters in those areas remain the same as for pre-mining conditions. The 2,000-foot overburden contour is the eastern limit of the mine area specified in the model. For all areas not within the proposed lease area, the model parameters remain the same as previously described for pre-mining conditions. The hydraulic conductivity of the Cameo coal model layer has been increased by 100 times that of the undisturbed Cameo coal seam (from 0.11 ft/day to 11 ft/day) to represent mined out zones that would have collapsed before the final extent of open working panels shown on Figure 4-12, MODFLOW Simulation C Groundwater Levels and Flow into McClane Canyon Mine with Red Cliff Mine Extended into Eastern Part of Proposed Coal Lease. This figure also shows the extent of open working panels assumed for the final stage of mining. The open panels are specified as sinks for groundwater flow (to be extracted by hypothetical dewatering wells). Under these conditions, the model predicts that groundwater inflows would be on the order of 800-1,000 gallons per minute. Pumping of groundwater from the mine at that rate would be needed to maintain dry working conditions in the open panels beneath the proposed lease area. After several years of operations, groundwater from dewatering operations may be used as makeup water (depending on the amount available) and therefore may reduce surface water diversion impacts. However, at the present time, the mine operator does not hold water rights for using groundwater produced from the mine. Dewatering water that could not be used for mining processes would need to be treated before discharge to meet water quality standards. Any 4-108

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untreated discharges of the poor quality dewatering water would adversely impact downstream surface water resources, and thus should be avoided or appropriately managed. Groundwater level and hence pumping capacity of three wells in the central portion of the proposed lease along Big Salt Wash could be adversely affected by mine dewatering operations if mining extends into the proposed lease area. Two of these wells (permit numbers 223205 and 223206) are shallow domestic wells. The other well (permit number 15498) is reportedly used for irrigation. The impacts to these wells are expected to be minor because mining activities that could induce subsidence below the alluvial valley floor would not be permitted. Potential impacts of this dewatering on springs have also been assessed. There are numerous small springs within or near the proposed lease area as shown on Figure 4-12, MODFLOW Simulation C Groundwater Levels and Flow into McClane Canyon Mine with Red Cliff Mine Extended into Eastern Part of Proposed Coal Lease. (Spring locations throughout the study area are shown on Figure 3-12.) For reasons described in Section 3.2.6, Groundwater, most springs in the study area are ephemeral upland springs that would likely not be affected by mine dewatering because they are not hydrologically connected to the deeper, water-bearing Cameo coal. However, a relatively small number of springs located in valley bottoms may be connected to the water table and thus may be impacted by lowering of the water table caused by mine dewatering. For instance, it is not clear to what degree there is hydrologic connection between the water table and the valley springs located along the southern and northern margins of the proposed lease area, or those springs located to the east of the proposed lease area boundary. If some of these valley springs are directly connected to the water table, dewatering of the mine in those areas could reduce spring flows. However, the magnitude of the spring flow reduction would depend on the distance from the mine workings and the overburden thickness separating the spring and the Cameo coal seam. Flow rates at springs located more than 1 mile away from the underground mine working would probably have only a minimal reduction, which would almost certainly be less than the natural temporal variability in spring flows attributable to changes in precipitation. Railroad Shallow groundwater in alluvial fan deposits may be impacted by excavation associated with the railroad. To construct the rail alignment, cuts and fills would be necessary to provide a level, gentle-sloping railbed. Cuts vary, with 25- to 50-foot-deep cuts being common. The deepest cuts are located in the loadout area where 90-foot-deep cuts are projected. Monitoring well VB-06-03 (50 feet deep) is in the vicinity of the loadout area. The well has measurable water in it periodically at depths of about 40 feet. The sometimes dry conditions in the well suggest that the groundwater may be perched and not part of a continuous water-bearing unit. Water from the well has not been analyzed for inorganic or metal constituent; however, the specific conductivity of the groundwater has been measured at 13,200 µmhos/cm. The high specific conductivity indicates this groundwater has high dissolved solids content with potentially elevated concentrations of metals. Although excavation for the railroad may intersect shallow groundwater near the loadout area, the groundwater is currently of poor quality and thus is not likely be further degraded by the project construction or operation. If any excavation encounters groundwater, the water would drain from the excavated slopes and then evaporate or re-infiltrate at lower elevations in the excavation. Substantial groundwater inflows into the excavations are not expected because 4-111

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shallow groundwater is likely to be only present in perched, localized zones throughout the areas where excavations are planned. No springs exist in the railroad spur loadout area based on the April 2008 field reconnaissance conducted by URS hydrogeologists. Further south along the rail alignment, no field survey of springs has been performed, but no springs are visible on aerial photos in those areas. Water Pipeline No measurable impact to alluvial and bedrock groundwater is anticipated. Transmission Line No measurable impact to alluvial and bedrock groundwater is anticipated. Temporary Impacts No temporary impacts to groundwater would occur from the Proposed Action. Long Term Impacts Impacts to groundwater could occur as a result of coal mining where mine workings are near or intersect subsurface water. Alluvial groundwater could be affected by seepage of water containing salts and metals leached from the coal waste rock pile or coal stockpile situated near the mine at the surface. However, the shallow groundwater in the alluvium beneath those piles is extremely saline and naturally poor in quality, thus long term impacts to that alluvial groundwater would be minimal. Because there would not be significant rates of seepage expected from any of the mine surface facilities, there would not be significant changes in shallow groundwater flow rates or flow directions. To verify that operation of these mine surface facilities is not adversely impacting groundwater, monitoring wells would be installed southwest of, and in close proximity to, the waste rock and coal stockpiles. These monitor wells would be routinely sampled for chemical analyses, as part of the long term hydrologic monitoring program to be implemented by the mine operator. Underground mining activities have the potential to impact the flow and quality of groundwater. After mine operations cease, the Red Cliff Mine would be closed in accordance with BLM requirements and BMPs to minimize long term impacts to water quality. Upon mine closure, the mine openings would be sealed at the ground surface to prevent access, prevent inflow of surface water, and minimize uncontrolled or undesirable outflow of affected groundwater. After dewatering of the mine workings ceases, groundwater levels would rise to approach pre-mining conditions. Long term adverse impacts to groundwater levels or quality are not anticipated to result from the underground mine. Mitigation Measures Appropriate mitigation measures would be required if data from the monitoring wells showed adverse impacts to groundwater. A water replacement plan for any injury to existing water sources that may be due to mining must be in place prior to mining as required by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) and the Colorado Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Act. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, includes additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to groundwater.

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Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
No measurable impact to alluvial and bedrock groundwater is anticipated. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices No measurable impact to alluvial and bedrock groundwater is anticipated. Transmission Line Alternative A No measurable impact to alluvial and bedrock groundwater is anticipated. Transmission Line Alternative B No measurable impact to alluvial and bedrock groundwater is anticipated. Transmission Line Alternative C No measurable impact to alluvial and bedrock groundwater is anticipated.

4.2.7 Surface Water
Impacts to surface water that can occur as a result of the project would be primarily from temporary actions such as the construction of the railroad spur, water pipeline, and other surface facilities and the long term operation of these facilities to support the coal mining operation. An additional long term impact to surface waters could be from the construction of the mining benches. Surface water features that may be affected due to these activities may include filling of some ephemeral drainages, impacts to streams and springs from land subsidence, and discharge of mine inflow water to local drainages. All of these activities have the potential to impact the quantity and quality of surface water runoff; however, these potential impacts can be minimized through the development and implementation of an appropriate mine plan including the design and implementation of protective measures such as BMPs to treat stormwater runoff prior to discharging to streams and springs and maintain adequate overburden above mining activities. Surface water impacts are measured by changes in water quantity and quality, typically limited to areas in close proximity to the impact and potentially within a few miles downstream of mining activities.

No Action Alternative
Surface water impacts for the project area under the No Action Alternative (i.e., if the Proposed Action was denied) would be the same as under the existing condition.

Proposed Action Alternative
Mine and Facilities For mining operations, short term impacts are those that would occur from the time when construction of the mine and facilities begins through reclamation when vegetation has been reestablished. Long term impacts are those that would persist during mining and operation. Impacts to surface water (e.g. direct diversions out of Mack Wash) and groundwater (e.g. groundwater seepage from coal seam and overburden material into mine) that may occur under 4-113

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the Proposed Action alternative include effects of erosion, sedimentation, removal of vegetation, excavation, subsidence, and water diversions. During both the construction and the operation of the mine, the linear facilities associated with the mine (such as railroads, access roads, utility corridors, and transmission lines) would be designed using BMPs to minimize the affect to any surface waters they cross. Utilities would be buried under washes deep enough that they would not be affected by floods or erosion. Railroads and access roads crossing washes would use culverts to channel stormwater under the roads. They would be appropriately sized according to local requirements. The proper erosion and sediment controls would be selected, if needed, to ensure runoff from these linear facilities would not impact the surface waters. Surface water flows in the existing coal lease could be disrupted by the effects of subsidence. Figure 4-13, Mine Plan and Overburden, shows planned mining in the first six years. All mined areas would be under a minimum of 200 feet of overburden. Note that there are no perennial streams that would be impacted and no mining is planned under Buniger Canyon or Munger Creek. Mining is planned under the upper reaches of Stove Canyon, with overburden depths of over 500 feet over the mains, and about 1,000 feet over the longwall panel where the subsidence would occur. Generally, the potential for draining surface water into the mine is low, as long as the bedrock overburden thickness is greater than 95 feet (see Appendix D, Subsidence, Section 6.1.2). Appendix D includes additional discussion of geologic and topographic factors that influence subsidence and the potential impacts to surface water, depending on the depth and type of the overburden. No alluvium has been mapped in this area (see Figure 3-10, Remnant Alluvial Fans at Red Cliff Mine Site). Based on the analysis presented in Appendix D and discussed further in this section, there is very little likelihood of surface water draining into the mine. Potential temporary impacts to ephemeral streams are discussed in Temporary Impacts in this section. There is little likelihood of long term impact to the flows of East Salt Creek. During mining operations, runoff from the waste rock pile would be collected in ditches and contained in sediment ponds. The eight sediment ponds (A – H) are shown on Figure 2-12, Proposed Mine Facilities Map 1 of 5, through Figure 2-16, Proposed Mine Facilities Map 5 of 5. After settling the sediments, water would evaporate, infiltrate into the ground, or be released to the drainages. Runoff from other mine features such as the coal storage pile would also be collected and allowed to settle prior to infiltration or release to the drainages. Water discharged during dewatering groundwater and mining operations would also be collected in sediment ponds and then released to drainages. Drainages that would receive surface water runoff would include the ephemeral drainages that eventually drain to East Salt Creek. However, most of the runoff would seep into the ground through the sedimentation ponds and very little water is expected to drain to East Salt Creek. Groundwater drainage from the mine would settle in underground sumps and then be pumped to the surface and into ephemeral drainages, and it is unlikely that much of the water would reach East Salt Creek. Additional detail regarding the quality of the discharge is being provided in Section 4.2.6, Groundwater. Railroad The short term surface water impacts caused by the railroad would include those that occur during construction of the railroad in addition to a reasonable period during the reestablishment of vegetation (reclamation). Short term impacts may include excavation or filling of material, removal of vegetation, or other impacts due to construction activities. The railroad would be constructed so that any potential impacts to the streams would be mitigated by placing appropriately sized culverts or bridges. Erosion and sediment controls would also be selected 4-114

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4.2.7 – Surface Water

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

and installed to ensure the stormwater runoff from these facilities does not cause a water quality impact to the water crossings. Bridges are proposed to be constructed over the Highline Canal and Mack Wash for the railroad spur. Short term impacts associated with the construction of these bridges may include erosion, sedimentation, or removal of vegetation. Any potential construction impacts to the Highline Canal or Mack Wash would be mitigated through use of BMPs and specifically identified as part of the Construction Stormwater Permit Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP). Potential long term impacts of the bridges include the conveyance of stormwater runoff directly into these waters. Potential mitigation and proper conveyance of this runoff to rip-rap rundowns, minimizing erosion, and sediment traps to treat the water prior to discharging to these waters minimize the potential to discharge polluted stormwater. These measures are typically addressed as part of the preliminary and final bridge design process and addressed in the SWMP. In the unlikely event of a train derailment and spill, coal or diesel fuel may reach surface water from contents of the rail cars. An emergency spill plan would be created to mitigate the likelihood that there would be a major impact to the water quality. This would be part of the mine’s industrial stormwater permit or other similar plan to address spills. The UPRR also has emergency response procedures to address spills and derailments. Impacts to surface water from blowing coal dust from the trains should be minimal, as the coal would come from the coal preparation plant wet and the mining operation would employ dust suppression (watering) on their conveyor systems. Water Pipeline The water pipeline could cause local, short term impacts during construction of the pipeline in addition to those impacts that may occur during reclamation (i.e., a total of about 5 years). Short term impacts may result from grading and removal of vegetation and erosion associated with construction activities. Long term impacts are typically a result of impervious surfaces and areas where there are concentrated flows, such as culverts; all of which can be mitigated with proper roadside ditch design combined with velocity controls and inlet and outlet protection at culverts. Long term impacts typically occur after the 5-year construction/reclamation period, and are minimal to none, as the likelihood of pipeline failure is low, assuming the revegetation efforts are successful in obtaining 70 percent of the preexisting vegetative cover. In the unlikely event of failure, the decrease pressure and flow rate in the pipeline would be detected remotely, and flow through the pipeline would be shut off. Some flooding may occur in topographic lows and drainage channels if this occurred, which would cause erosion, the intensity of which would depend on the rate, force, and volume of the discharged water. These impacts would be mitigated with erosion and sediment controls, described further in the mitigation measures section. The water depletion due to the diversion to the water pipeline may impact stream flows in Mack Wash. Depending upon the timing and volume of the diversion, surface water quality may be impacted through a reduction in flow and potentially water quality. CAM currently holds a 3 cfs water right at the SCMC Pump No 1 for industrial and domestic use with an appropriation date of June 7, 1982 in water case number 81CW471. This water right was made absolute (i.e., put to beneficial use) in case number 03CW228 on August 12, 2004. An alternate point of diversion is expected to be applied for to move this existing right upstream by approximately 1 mile. The impacts of this diverted water have been accounted for in the original water right and would be similar in the alternate point. CAM estimates that 1 cfs of water would be diverted on a yearly 4-117

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CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

basis. After several years of operations, groundwater from dewatering operations may be used as makeup water (depending on the amount available) and therefore may reduce surface water diversion impacts. However, at the present time, CAM does not hold water rights for the use of this groundwater, as previously discussed in Section 4.2.6, Groundwater. CAM’s existing water rights on Mack Wash are administered in the Colorado Division of Water Resources (Office of the State Engineer) priority system, in accordance with the Prior Appropriation Doctrine of first-in-time, first-in-right. If a junior water right holder would utilize any water out-of-priority, the Colorado Division of Water Resources requires an approved augmentation plan to ensure that senior water rights are not injured. An augmentation plan is a court-approved plan, which is designed to protect existing water rights by replacing water used in a new project (Colorado Division of Water Resources 2008). Augmentation plans are necessary in areas where there is a shortage of water during part or all of the year. Augmentation is a method to allow junior water rights holders to use water when a call has been placed without reducing water available to senior water rights holders. If CAM needs to utilize water out of priority, it would file an application with the Water Court, Water Division 5 (Colorado River and White River Basins) explaining exactly where the water would be obtained, where water would be used, what it would be used for, how much would be used, the source of augmentation water, when and where augmentation water would be required, and how the augmentation plan would be operated (Colorado Division of Water Resources 2008). Table G-2 of Appendix G, Water Data and Information, lists the existing water rights within the project area boundary. Water rights up to one mile outside of the project area boundary are also listed in order to determine water rights that may be impacted if mining were to extend to the project area boundary. Through use of the augmentation plan, there would be no impacts to surface water rights. Transmission Line The local short term impacts for the transmission line would similar to those discussed for construction, grading, and clearing of vegetation activities. Long term impacts would be none to minimal. The proposed transmission line would span all surface water bodies; therefore, there would be no long term impacts to surface water. The short and long term impacts would be mitigated through proper design and implementation of erosion and sediment controls. Lease Area There would be subsidence in the lease area that could impact ephemeral and intermittent drainages. Appendix D, Subsidence, presents a discussion of the geologic and topographic factors that influence subsidence and a comprehensive analysis of the potential for surface water to be impacted and to drain into the mine. Generally, the potential for draining surface water into the mine is low, as long as the bedrock overburden thickness is greater than 95 feet (see Appendix D, Section 6.1.2). In accordance with CAM’s permit application, there would be a minimum of 200 feet of overburden over mine workings. Figure 13 in Appendix D shows the overburden contours. Note that the majority of the area to be mined in the lease area has overburden of between 500 and 2,000 feet. While there may be surface fractures in the alluvium with less than 500 feet of overburden, there would be no loss of surface water into the mine, provided the fractured zone (see Figure 5, Appendix D, Mining Operations and Subsidence) is not intersected (Section 6.1.4, Appendix D). Additional discussions regarding the hydraulic conductivity of the fractured zone is included in Section 6.1.2, Appendix D. 4-118

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Big Salt Wash is a perennial drainage, and would be protected through carefully planned mining operations. In accordance with Colorado DRMS regulations, there would be no longwall panels mined under Big Salt Wash, or under the alluvium as shown on Figure 3-10, Remnant Alluvial Fans at Red Cliff Mine Site. Mains or tunnels driven under Big Salt Wash would be constructed so as to prevent surface subsidence. There would be a minimum of 200 feet of overburden of competent bedrock over the mains. The rock would be drilled and tested, and the competent rock overburden measured prior to construction of the mains. Ephemeral and intermittent drainages may show slight to moderate effects of surface subsidence, depending on the location and depth of the mining operation. These temporary impacts are discussed further in the following section. Impacts would be mitigated with erosion and sediment controls, described further in the mitigation measures section. Temporary Impacts Temporary impacts to surface waters may result during construction, resulting in the disturbance of soils. Temporary impacts associated with construction activities may include sediment erosion and transport across the site from disturbance of soils or destruction of vegetation that could be reconstructed or revegetated. These temporary impacts ultimately result in the discharge of untreated stormwater runoff into nearby streams and water bodies. In order to mitigate temporary impacts, appropriate erosion and sediment controls would be implemented for any stormwater runoff (i.e., BMPs) to reduce sediment from entering surface water, as applicable. Impacts that occur beyond construction activities are considered long term and are discussed in the following section. Components of the proposed project may impact the existing hydrologic features. The major streams, ditches, and reservoirs in the Red Cliff Mine project area are summarized in Table 3-19, Streams, Ditches, and Reservoirs Located within the Red Cliff Mine Project Area. The proposed mine facilities, railroad spur and/or the transmission line routes have the potential to affect these water bodies, but impacts would be mitigated through the use of structural and non-structural BMPs where feasible. The proposed project may also impact several local springs; a more complete discussion of potentially affected springs is found in Section 4.2.6, Groundwater. Impacts on the various water features within the project area would vary based on the location and the level of construction activity necessary to construct the proposed project component (rail, transmission line, etc.) type. Overall, the soils in the area are naturally high in selenium due to the Mancos Shale geology, which tend to be released during earth disturbing activities (i.e., construction). The Mancos Shale is also a source for TDS in surface waters, which would also tend to be released during construction. Therefore, any soil disturbing activities would have the potential to increase concentrations of these constituents in nearby water bodies and would require special mitigation measures. In the lease area, the stream gradient of an ephemeral channel could change because of differential vertical settlement due to subsidence over a short distance. In an extreme case, gradient changes may disrupt flow. Such an event is not probable in topographic conditions of the area where most stream channels are relatively steep. Flow through the drainages could temporarily be affected by a subsidence crack across a stream channel; however the crack would be expected to heal fairly quickly so the surface drainage pattern would be naturally restored. These ephemeral channels are expected to be typically dry with flow occurring during spring snowmelt and after significant precipitation events. Therefore, short term disruptions in the flow 4-119

4.2.7 – Surface Water

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

from these streams should have very little impact on long term flows in Big Salt Wash or East Salt Creek. Long Term Impacts Stormwater runoff would result in long term impacts to water quality. Stormwater runoff may originate from coal and waste rock stockpiles or runoff from impervious surfaces, such as pavement. Runoff may enter into streams, washes, and irrigation ditches. With the construction and use of permanent water quality control structures, however, these impacts would be negligible. Negligible impacts to water being conveyed in the Highline Canal are expected since this water is originally diverted outside of the project area. Water quality impacts, resulting from accelerated erosion and sedimentation in stream channels and increased turbidity and salinity of surface waters due to runoff and erosion from disturbed areas, are expected to be minimal because surface water control measures are part of the project design and would be implemented as described in the mitigation measures section. Additional water quality impacts due to diversions up to 3 cfs at the SCMC Pump No. 1 out of Mack Wash would cause depletion to this wash and may impact downstream water users and water quality. The proposed project may also impact several local springs; a more complete discussion of affected springs is found in the Section 4.2.6, Groundwater. Water quality impacts due to the proposed bridges crossing over Mack Wash and the Highline Canal for the railroad spur would be mitigated with BMPs, as applicable. Discharge water from mine runoff and operations would create a long term impact to surface water quality, however impacts would be mitigated through the use of permanent structural sedimentation ponds and sediment traps as needed and other nonstructural/administrative practices and training. Based on the analysis presented in Appendix D, Subsidence, and the planned design of the mine, there would be no long term impacts to perennial or tributary streams in the existing or potential coal lease areas. Mitigation Measures Temporary impacts from construction could be mitigated through the use of BMPs and other mitigation measures described below. By implementing specific temporary and permanent BMPs for construction activities and long term facility operations, impacts to surface water would be minimized. A more detailed set of specific temporary (construction) and permanent (long-term) BMPs would be selected and designed during the final phase of the project when the alignments and survey are obtained. The amount of ROW for design would be sufficient to implement BMPs. A list of BMPs and guidelines for minimizing both temporary and permanent impacts to surface waters as a result of this project are provided below. Potential subsidence impacts would be mitigated through mine plan design. A water replacement plan for any injury to existing water sources that may be due to mining must be in place prior to mining as required by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) and the Colorado Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Act. • Prior to construction of the mains or tunnels under Big Salt Wash, the rock would be drilled and tested, and the competent rock overburden measured. There would be a minimum of 200 feet of competent bedrock overburden over the mains under Big Salt Wash. Install and implement temporary BMPs for construction, including re-establishment of native vegetation. 4-120

•

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CHAPTERFOUR
•

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

All applicable permits would be obtained prior to any construction activities, all regulations cited in these permits would be followed during construction and operations. Additional permitting information is presented in Chapter 1. Applicable guidelines pertaining to stormwater quality mitigation would be followed for discharge from point-sources, mine water, and sediment ponds. This includes obtaining a stormwater construction permit prior to construction. BMPs outlined in this permit (Stormwater Water Management Plan [SWMP]) shall be followed during construction. A SWMP would be developed that would outline the BMPs to be used for construction. Practices from the Erosion Control and Stormwater Quality Guide (ECSQG) (CDOT 2002) are outlined below. The City of Grand Junction and Mesa County have Drainage Criteria Manuals addressing similar BMPs and can also be referenced.
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Adjacent disturbed slopes would be revegetated with native plant species to protect exposed soils from erosion (see BMP EC 1, ECSQG). Where temporary or permanent seeding operations are not feasible due to seasonal constraints, mulch or other CDOT-approved methods of stabilization would be applied to protect soils from erosion (see BMP EC 2, ECSQG). Erosion control blankets and ditches would be used as appropriate on newly seeded slopes to control erosion and promote the establishment of vegetation (see BMP EC 5, ECSQG). Erosion control blankets and seeding would be used to stabilize all cuts and fill surfaces. The slope of the cut and fill surface would dictate the type of erosion control blankets or turf reinforced matting and seeding to be used. Temporary berms would be given priority consideration for protecting the sensitive areas in the project area (see BMP EC 8, ECSQG). Additional erosion control measures, such as silt fences and erosion bales, can be implemented, but with care and not as the sole erosion control system at the construction site. Erosion logs and bales would be certified weed-free of noxious weeds. Erosion logs and bales can be used as sediment barriers and filters along the toe-of-fills adjacent to water surface waterways and drainages, and at the cross-drain inlets where appropriate with additional reinforcement and in conjunction with other erosion control measures, such as temporary berms (see BMP EC 1, ECSQG). Where appropriate, silt fences can be used to intercept sediment-laden runoff before it enters a water body, such as a wetland, only when they are used in conjunction with other erosion control measures such as temporary berms (see BMP EC 3, ECSQG). Where appropriate, slope drains would be used to convey concentrated runoff from the top to the bottom of disturbed slopes (see BMP EC 7, ECSQG). Slope and cross-drain outlets would be constructed to trap sediment. Check dams would be used where appropriate to slow the velocity of water through roadside ditches and swales (see BMP EC 9, ECSQG). All culverts would be designed for 100-year flow conditions with inlet and outlet protection included.

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•

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Temporary BMPs would be implemented to reduce selenium concentrations and selenium loading in waterways and wastewater containment areas to downstream tributaries and ultimately the Colorado River. Sediment ponds would be designed to settle out sediment, for a specific water quality capture volume, as specified in the City of Grand Junction and/or Mesa County drainage criteria manuals. Netting would be placed over open sediment ponds to prevent the exposure of migratory birds to increased selenium concentrations in the water, as well as any hazardous materials, especially petroleum products. All work performed on the project within the CDOT ROW would conform to Section 107.25 (Water Quality) and Section 208 (Erosion Control) of the CDOT Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction. Construction access to the site, for items such as haul roads, crane paths, and concrete washout areas, would be planned to minimize or avoid impacts to sensitive habitats. Temporary stream crossing would be designed and constructed to ensure water quality is maintained in streams when construction vehicles need to cross a waterway. Construction of any specific crossing method would not cause a significant water level difference between upstream and downstream water surface elevations. Construction would also not disturb or create a barrier in the stream channel during fish migration and spawning periods. Temporary clear-water diversion structures would be implemented where appropriate permits have been obtained to perform work in a running stream or waterbody (see GP3, ECSQG). Diversion structures would be constructed with minimal water quality impacts. The construction impacts of diversion structures on streams shall be minimized by scheduling operations during low-flow periods and avoiding fish migrations and spawning periods. Concrete washout area applicable to highway improvements would be constructed at the improvement site(s) with the following specifications:
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Suitable locations within the ROW would be set aside for a concrete truck wash-out area. A pit with sufficient capacity to hold all anticipated wastewaters would be constructed at least 50 feet away from any state waters, and the bottom of the pit would be at least 5 feet higher than groundwater. The area would be signed as a concrete wash-water clean-out area, and the access road leading to a paved road or highway shall have a stabilized construction entrance as detailed in the ECSQG.

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Non-structural BMPs, such as pesticide and fertilizer application guidelines and anti-icing and de-icing guidelines, would be employed to improve water quality in conjunction with BMP implementation. Other non-structural BMPs such as water quality signage adjacent to the receiving streams and irrigation ditches are examples of other tools that shall be considered for implementation. Permanent BMPs would be used where practical for use during the construction phase to improve the water quality control at the site to minimize erosion, sedimentation, and loading of selenium and salts to waterways. 4-122

The following BMPs address permanent, long-term mitigation as a result of the project: •

4.2.7 – Surface Water

CHAPTERFOUR
•

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Permanent BMPs would be implemented to reduce selenium concentrations and selenium loading in waterways and sediment ponds to prevent increased concentrations to downstream tributaries and ultimately the Colorado River. Diversion ditches and sediment ponds would be designed to control runoff and prevent the release of high concentrations of selenium to the receiving water bodies. Bridges would be installed to decrease further aquatic and riparian impairment created by stream crossings. Diversion ditches and sediment ponds would be designed to control runoff and prevent the release of high concentrations of selenium to the receiving water bodies. Under the federal regulations, rail tracks are not required to be covered by a stormwater permit, and are not required to implement BMPs. However, the UPRR has emergency response procedures to address spills and derailments. Mitigation measures would include BMPs to reduce/prevent increased selenium concentrations to downstream tributaries during temporary construction and long term operations of the mine by stabilizing severely eroding stream channels, limiting surfacedisturbing activities to the extent practicable, protecting municipal watersheds, and installing bridges with proper drainage features (e.g., downspouts with riprap at the end that daylights) for project stream crossings to decrease aquatic and riparian impairment. Inlet and outlet protection would be considered as part of the long term mitigation for culverts.

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Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, includes additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to surface water. Any potential impacts from this project can be even further mitigated through coordination with other agencies on watershed concerns. Several local, state, and federal agencies are involved in addressing existing water quality issues. For instance, mitigation of construction of the railroad spur, west of Mack Mesa Lake State Park, would include cooperation among the mine operator, Colorado State Parks (CSP), CDOW, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
In summary, the greatest potential for impacts for the alternatives carried forward for further consideration would be during construction and would be mitigated through the proper planning and design of BMPs to mitigate stormwater runoff. The differences among these alternatives are minimal because of the regulatory requirements dictating the final stabilization of the corridors after construction. Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 This alternative includes the construction of a roadway bridge over Mack Wash. Any impacts as a result of the construction of this bridge would occur during construction activities and are temporary in nature. Temporary impacts during construction of the bridge would be mitigated with temporary erosion control measures (BMPs) that would be dictated in the SWMP to protect water crossings. Bridge drains and rundowns at the approaches to bridges can be used to convey stormwater runoff from the bridge to sediment control devices, and would be included in the design, if determined to be necessary. The size of the bridge span would dictate the volume of water that needs to be conveyed and potentially treated. Long term impacts from this alternative 4-123

4.2.8 – Floodplains

CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

may include stream channeling or impacts due to the presence of a bridge pier in the water way. Any surface water runoff from the construction of this project component would be controlled through BMPs. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices There is no anticipated impact from this alternative. Transmission Line Alternative A Impacts during construction would be slightly greater than the Proposed Action due to the line’s partial location in the Big Salt Wash alluvial floodplain as discussed in Section 4.2.8, Floodplains. Transmission Line Alternative B Impacts during construction would be slightly greater than the Proposed Action due to the line’s partial location in the Big Salt Wash alluvial floodplain. Transmission Line Alternative C Impacts would be slightly less than those described for the Proposed Action as the transmission line would share a corridor with the proposed railroad spur and pipeline for part of its length.

4.2.8 Floodplains
Section 2 of EO 11988 directs the BLM “to evaluate the potential effects of any actions it may take in a floodplain; to ensure that its planning programs and budget reflect consideration flood hazards and floodplain management; and before taking any action, each agency would determine the floodplain, as well as consider alternatives to avoid adverse effects within a floodplain, including not taking the action.” Although FEMA has not mapped the potentially flood-prone major streams, ephemeral streams, ditches, and reservoirs, the Proposed Action and its associated construction and operational activities could result in short term and/or long term adverse impacts on floodplain areas if these water bodies cannot be avoided. The loss of floodplain from the project area, the increase in stormwater discharges from the increase in impervious surfaces, as well as the potential for increased flow velocities from the use of culverts, could increase the volume and velocity of stream flows downstream of the project area. The Mesa County Public Works Department requires that a Floodplain Development Permit be obtained prior to construction. The purpose of the permit is to minimize the likelihood of property damage to buildings or improvements in the event of a flood.

No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative would not involve any of the proposed activities within an identified floodplain and would not encourage development within a floodplain. Therefore, this alternative is in compliance with EO 11988 and would not result in any adverse impacts to floodplains.

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4.2.8 – Floodplains

CHAPTERFOUR
Proposed Action Alternative
Mine and Facilities

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

During construction and operation, the railroad, access roads, utility corridors, and transmission lines associated with the mine would not affect the ephemeral streams they cross. Utilities would be buried deeply enough that they would not be affected by floods. Railroad and access roads crossings would use culverts to channel stormwater under the roads. Lease Area Underground mining activities on the lease area would cause some degree of surface subsidence, and the mine could be designed to minimize this potential subsidence and to protect surface features deemed important. Portions of Big Salt Wash have been mapped with alluvium and a floodplain is assumed. In accordance with federal regulations regarding impacts to alluvial valley floors, the mine plan would be designed so there would be no subsidence impacts to Big Salt Wash. Railroad Railroad construction would result in short term adverse impacts to the floodplains associated with the streams and washes crossed by this linear construction. The railroad would be constructed to minimize impact to the flow of the waterbodies by placing appropriately sized culverts or bridges. Water Pipeline Water pipeline construction would result in short term adverse impacts. Potential long term impacts to floodplains could occur beyond the 5-year construction period. In the unlikely event of pipeline failure during operation, the decreased pressure and flow rate in the pipeline would be detected remotely, and flow would stop. Some short term flooding could occur in topographic lows and drainage channels, resulting in short term adverse impacts to the floodplain. Transmission Line The proposed transmission line would span all floodplains; therefore, there would be no long term impacts. Temporary impacts may occur during construction. Mitigation Measures Temporary impacts from construction could be mitigated through the use of BMPs and other mitigation measures described under Section 4.2.7, Surface Water, as well as following local floodplain management regulations described in this section. No longwall or full extraction mining would occur under Big Salt Wash under the Proposed Action. By implementing specific temporary and long term BMPs for construction activities and long term facility operations, impacts to floodplains and alluvial valley floors would be minimized. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, includes additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to floodplains.

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4.2.9 – Vegetation

CHAPTERFOUR
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
There are no anticipated effects on floodplains from this alternative. Any potential impact due to the crossing of Mack Wash from the construction of this project component would be controlled through BMPs. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices There is no anticipated impact to floodplains from this alternative. Transmission Line Alternative A Impacts during construction would be slightly greater than the Proposed Action due to the line’s partial location in the Big Salt Wash alluvial floodplain. Transmission Line Alternative B Impacts during construction would be slightly greater than the Proposed Action due to the line’s partial location in the Big Salt Wash alluvial floodplain. Transmission Line Alternative C Any impacts would be similar to those described under the Proposed Action.

4.2.9 Vegetation No Action Alternative
Under this alternative, no coal leases would be offered and no new coal mining would occur in the project area. Vegetation resources in the project area would remain in their present condition. As a result, plant community distribution, quantity, and quality within the study area would remain similar to current conditions, and plant species populations would remain similar to existing levels, or continue to change at current or similar rates. Vegetation on federal lands would continue to be subject to low levels of use in the form of recreation and grazing. The vegetation on private lands (i.e., “Residential/Agricultural” lands) would continue to be subject to moderate to intensive management and modification.

Proposed Action Alternative
The development and construction of the Proposed Action (railroad spur, electrical transmission line, access roads for construction and to the mine itself, and the portal road and mine facilities) would create approximately 452 acres of new surface disturbance, representing approximately 0.48 percent of the Study Area (Table 4-9, Vegetation Associations Impacted by Proposed Action).

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CHAPTERFOUR

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Table 4-9 VEGETATION ASSOCIATIONS IMPACTED BY PROPOSED ACTION
Vegetation Association Shrublands Salt Desert Shrub Sagebrush Greasewood Woodlands and Forest Piñon-Juniper Riparian/Wetland Commercial/Residential Other – Talus, Rock Outcrops, Bare Soil TOTAL Area (acres) 293.56 194.25 68.20 31.11 97.95 97.38 0.57 12.99 47.90 452.40 Vegetation Assoc. Disturbed (%)1 0.64 0.62 1.05 0.59 0.37 0.39 0.04 0.07 1.28 0.48

Note: 1 This represents the percent disturbance of the area occupied by this vegetation association as indicated in Table 3-21. % = percent

The greatest amount of disturbance associated with the Proposed Action would be within shrubland vegetation associations, especially salt desert shrub (194.25 acres) and sagebrush (68.2 acres) associations (Table 4-9, Vegetation Associations Impacted by Proposed Action). Within the entire study area, approximately 0.64 percent of the shrublands, 0.37 percent of woodlands and forests, and 1.28 percent of talus, rock outcrops, and bare soil would be directly impacted by construction and development activities. The project is expected to have a generally negative affect on Land Health due to probable difficulties in attaining acceptable reclamation. Disturbed lands are not likely to meet Land Health Standards for at least 10 years following reclamation (Fowler 2007). Mine and Facilities The mine facilities and associated structures combined with roads required for construction of the railroad spur, transmission lines, mine facilities, as well as access roads, waste disposal roads, and portal roads account for approximately 237 acres of habitat disturbance, representing 52.4 percent of the total area to be disturbed. A majority of the total 68.2 acres of the sagebrush association to be disturbed is found within the proposed facility site and would be a long term impact. These sagebrush benches at the base of the Book Cliffs contain an understory of forbs and perennial grasses, especially galleta (Hilaria jamesii) and Salina wildrye (Leymus saliusa), not found in other sagebrush stands in the area. The facility site also includes nearly all of the piñon-juniper vegetation association as well as nearly all of the talus, rock outcrops, and bare soil areas that would be impacted by this project. Railroad The railroad spur crosses both public and private lands and is approximately 14.5 miles in length, disturbing about 213 acres, representing 47.1 percent of the total area to be disturbed. The 4-127

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southern portion of the railroad spur encompasses nearly all of the Residential/Agricultural lands impacted by the project. The northern portion of the railroad spur crosses salt desert shrub, greasewood, and some sagebrush vegetation associations. Water Pipeline The water line also lies within the railroad spur ROW and therefore would not create any additional disturbance. Transmission Line The proposed transmission line crosses 7 miles of private land and 7 miles of public land and would disturb approximately 2.6 acres, representing approximately 0.6 percent of the total area to be disturbed. The greatest amount of disturbance would take place within the salt desert shrub association (1.82 acres). Other vegetation associations that would be disturbed include sagebrush (0.38 acres), greasewood (0.24 acres), piñon-juniper (0.12 acres), bare or rocky ground (0.03 acres) and residential/agricultural lands (0.01 acres). Temporary Impacts Temporary impacts to vegetation and soil biological crusts represent the majority of the disturbance areas associated with the construction of the railroad spur and the transmission line. Assuming a final average bed width of 12 feet, then 192 acres (of a total 213 acres disturbed during construction) represent temporary impacts in Residential/Agricultural lands, salt desert shrub, greasewood, and sagebrush vegetation associations. All access roads and cut-and-fill slopes that are properly reclaimed represent temporary disturbances. The 2.6 acres of disturbance associated with the transmission line represents primarily temporary impacts. If the access roads and work areas are fully reclaimed, the only long term impacts would be the vegetation displaced directly by the poles and anchor points. However, if the access roads are not properly reclaimed, they may become used by recreationists and the impacts would be long term. Long Term Impacts The entire mine facility site of 237 acres would be a long term impact (for at least the life of the mine) as would the 213 acres underlying the completed railroad spur. Mitigation Measures Impacts to vegetation may be reduced by implementing a reclamation plan that includes, among other BMPs, seeding native herbaceous and woody species immediately after the most intense disturbances have been completed. Proposed seed mixes are provided in Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures. They include a mixture of native grasses, forbs, and shrubs that would support grazing and wildlife. Appendix B also includes additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to vegetation. The existing abundance of exotic invasive species throughout much of the study area means that any surface disturbing activity would likely be colonized first by these exotics, absent any measures to reduce this risk. If weed colonization and dominance results, it may reduce the effectiveness of any plan for restoring these disturbed areas to healthy stands of native vegetation. 4-128

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Because of the predominance of weedy species in much of the study area, it is likely that construction equipment would pass through weed infested areas on the way to work sites. In the short term, weeds along any potential access route should be controlled prior to entry of workrelated equipment, and all equipment should be regularly power-washed when moving between sites. For the longer term, the proponent would need to provide a long term Integrated Weed Management plan to address weed issues on both private and federal surfaces. This plan should include periodic inventories, prompt treatment of discovered weeds, and long term maintenance control. The proponent would need to coordinate with the BLM Weed Management Specialist to help develop the plan for federal surfaces within the project area. For project areas on private surface, the mitigation measures such as monitoring and treatment would fall within the jurisdiction of Mesa County. Mesa County suggests that weed-free seed mixes be used to control noxious weeds. Coordination among all three entities would ensure that effective and collaborative weed management took place as a result of implementation of the Proposed Action. The plan would also ensure compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. An aggressive reclamation plan for reestablishing desirable vegetation would help mitigate the establishment of undesirable species. As an example of one component of such a plan, an approved seed mix of desirable species should be applied immediately after an access road has been developed. The verges and center of the access road, as well as any areas of cut-and-fill, should be treated with this seed mix. In this manner, if weather conditions arise that are conducive to seed germination and establishment, there would be seeds of desirable species in place at this time. In addition to promoting establishment of native species, vegetated roadside verges would aid in controlling runoff and erosion. Re-seeding and weed control should be continued as necessary, and at least annually, until the dominant species of each vegetation association in restored areas reaches 80 percent of the pre-disturbance condition of desirable species for the site. Reclamation standards on private surface should conform to the wishes of the landowner. Reclamation may be enhanced by off-site weed control and native species seeding practices prior to any surface disturbing activities. Such practices may further help to reduce the threat of weeds becoming the dominant vegetation within the project development areas. A unique seed mix should be identified for each vegetation association impacted by project activities. In areas with abundant well-developed soil biological crusts (i.e., those dominated by lichens), in particular along the route of the railroad spur north of the Highline Canal, these crusts should be removed, stored, and kept dry prior to any surface disturbing activities. A survey to clearly demarcate these areas should be performed prior to any surface disturbing areas. It is estimated that the area of well-developed crusts comprises not more than 1 acre in total area. As soon as the soils within these identified project areas have been recontoured and stabilized, the salvaged crusts should be redistributed on the affected surfaces, perhaps simultaneously with an appropriate native seed mix. Traditional land recontouring and topsoil redistribution can result in soil homogenization that is not conducive for successful reestablishment of many native species. Thus, reclamation practices that promote soil heterogeneity at the meter-scale should be included in any reclamation plans. Such practices may include small pits, surface armoring, and other types of features that result in localized capture of nutrients and water. 4-129

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The aggressive application of reclamation and weed management plans that include the previously described practices should result in at least partial mitigation of vegetation losses directly caused by the proposed project. Off-site weed control and native plant seeding could result in enhanced native vegetation cover and productivity compared to current vegetation status.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 In this alternative, an overpass for CR M.8 would be constructed over the railroad spur. This would result in additional acres of long term impacts, primarily to Residential/Agricultural lands. (The impact to affected wetland vegetation is discussed in Section 4.2.10, Wetlands and Riparian.) Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices This alternative does not represent any alteration in the total area of ground disturbance, so it is not anticipated that any additional impacts to vegetation would occur from installation of noiseless crossing traffic control devices at railroad crossings. Transmission Line Alternative A Since the area to be disturbed by the proposed transmission line represents only 0.6 percent of the total project disturbance area, these alternatives each result in less than a 2-acre reduction in the total area to be disturbed. Alternative A is similar to the Proposed Action but differs in the route of the electrical transmission line. In Alternative A the transmission line largely follows existing roads north of the canal, resulting in a 1.84 acre decrease in the total disturbance from 2.61 acres to 0.77 acre. Thus, Alternative A results in slightly decreased disturbance, totaling approximately 450.77 acres of habitat. Most of the reduced disturbance is within the salt desert shrub association (1.33 fewer acres disturbed). In large part, the overall impacts to vegetation would be about the same as the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative B Alternative B is similar to the Proposed Action but differs in the route of the electrical transmission line. In Alternative B the transmission line originates on the same route with the Alternative A transmission line but diverges from the Alternative A route after crossing the Highline Canal. From that point it stays to the east of Alternative A, crossing mostly BLM lands, rejoining the route of Alternative A at Coal Gulch. In this alternative, the transmission line largely follows existing roads north of the canal, except where it deviates from the route of Alternative A. This alternative would result in a total of 1.87 acres of disturbance associated with the transmission corridor, 0.74 acre less than the proposed alternative but 1.1 acres more than Alternative A. The total project disturbance associated with Alternative B is approximately 451.87 acres. Compared with the Proposed Action, the reduced disturbance is nearly equally distributed among the salt desert shrub (0.22 acre less disturbance), sagebrush (0.26 acre), and greasewood (0.19 acre) associations. In large part, the overall impacts to vegetation would be about the same as the Proposed Action. 4-130

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Transmission Line Alternative C

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Alternative C is similar to the Proposed Action but differs in the route of the electrical transmission line. Alternative C follows the same route as the Proposed Action until it crosses the Highline Canal where it diverges in a northwesterly direction and merges with the proposed railroad spur route. This alternative would result in a total of 1.73 acres of disturbance associated with the transmission corridor, 0.88 acre less than the Proposed Action, 0.96 acre more than Alternative A, and 0.13 acre more than Alternative B. The total project disturbance associated with Alternative C is approximately 451.73 acres. Compared with the Proposed Action, the reduced disturbance is nearly equally distributed among the salt desert shrub (0.39 acre less disturbance) and sagebrush (0.33 acre) associations. In large part, the overall impacts to vegetation would be about the same as the Proposed Action.

4.2.10 Wetlands and Riparian
For the purposes of this analysis, wetlands and riparian areas are considered to be synonymous terms.

No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, there would be no impacts to wetlands or riparian areas.

Proposed Action Alternative
The Proposed Action has been designed to avoid areas with wetland characteristics wherever possible. The Proposed Action would result in fill of approximately 0.1 acres of USACE jurisdictional wetlands due to the construction of a diversion structure in Mack Wash for the proposed water supply pipeline and would result in fill or alteration of up to 0.88 acres of non-jurisdictional wetland created by irrigation-related hydrology. Riparian areas along Big Salt Wash in the proposed coal lease area would not be impacted as Big Salt Wash would be protected from potential subsidence effects. Since the project does not include any wetland or riparian areas on BLM lands that would be impacted, Land Health standards for these resources would not be affected. Temporary Impacts Temporary impacts to wetlands may occur as a result of soil erosion from construction. Long Term Impacts The project would potentially impact approximately 0.1 acre of USACE jurisdictional wetlands along Mack Wash as a result of installing the water diversion structure. Mitigation Measures Mitigation would be provided in accordance with USACE standards. Temporary impacts would be mitigated by application of standard erosion/sedimentation control measures. Wetland mitigation and monitoring would be performed in accordance with an approved USACE permit, not yet submitted. It is likely that the project would qualify for Nationwide Permit (NWP) 4-131

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No. 12, Utility Line Activities, since fill would be limited to less than the 0.5 acres allowed under NWP No. 12. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, includes additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to wetlands and riparian.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 This alternative would impact an additional 0.33 acre of wetland as compared to the Proposed Action for a total wetland impact of 0.43 acre of jurisdictional wetlands. Additional impact would be related to replacement of the Mack Wash bridge. NWP #12 would be applicable. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices This alternative would have the same amount of wetland impact as the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative A This alternative would have the same amount of wetland impact as the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative B This alternative would have the same amount of wetland impact as the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative C This alternative would have the same amount of wetland impact as the Proposed Action.

4.2.11 Fish and Wildlife No Action Alternative
Under this alternative no coal leases would be offered and no new coal mining would occur in the project area. Wildlife resources in the project area would remain in their present condition. As a result, wildlife habitat distribution, quantity, and quality would remain similar to current conditions, and wildlife populations would remain similar to existing levels. Wildlife habitats would continue to be subject to low levels of use in the form of recreation and grazing.

Proposed Action Alternative
The construction of the railroad spur, transmission line, access roads for construction and to the mine itself, portal road, and mine facilities would create approximately 452 acres of new surface disturbance in currently undisturbed vegetation communities/wildlife habitats, excluding potential subsidence impacts. Impacts from creation of the rail line include direct long term loss of vegetation and wildlife habitat, loss of wildlife due to collisions, and indirect losses of available habitat due to displacement away from the railroad spur due to disturbance. While direct loss of habitat represents less than 0.5 percent of the total surface located within the project area, indirect loss of available habitat due to displacement would also occur but is difficult to measure or predict. Indirect impacts to wildlife would include decreased use by some species in the vicinity of the proposed project, and habitat fragmentation caused by intrusion of 4-132

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human activities into an area that presently has low levels of human activity. Assuming decreased wildlife use within one-eighth mile of the rail facility north of the Highline Canal and aboveground mine facilities, approximately 2,203 acres may have some level of decreased use. Additional displacement may occur from increased road traffic on CR X, which would be used by construction and operations personnel. The railroad may interfere with pronghorn movement and use of adjacent habitats where the railroad has steep cuts or fills. The predominant wildlife habitat affected by construction activities associated with the Proposed Action would be salt desert shrub/greasewood and sagebrush plant communities. Salt desert shrub/greasewood and sagebrush communities both lie within CDOW mapped winter range for deer, elk, and pronghorn (Figure 3-24, Winter & Severe Winter Range). The sagebrush benches at the base of the Book Cliffs contain an understory of forbs and grasses not found in other sagebrush stands in the area, making them important for wintering big game, especially deer. Approximately 68 acres of sagebrush would be disturbed during construction of the mine and associated facilities, including portal benches, waste rock pile, and associated access roads. The salt desert shrub plant community would be impacted by the loss of approximately 194 acres. This represents less than 0.7 percent of the total salt desert shrub/greasewood communities within the project area. Amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals including coyote, gray fox, kit fox, badger, bobcat, spotted skunk, striped skunk, long-tailed weasel, desert cottontail rabbits, and white-tailed prairie dogs could be affected by any significant habitat loss in this plant community. White-tailed prairie dogs would be impacted the most since the railroad spur bisects seven colonies and passes near two additional colonies of the 13 colonies identified during surveys. Two other colonies lie adjacent to the CR X access road. A direct loss of habitat, reduction in useable habitat, and loss of prairie dogs during and after construction could potentially affect prairie dog populations. While there would be a loss of 194 acres of salt desert shrub/greasewood habitat, it is not anticipated that populations of any small mammal, amphibian, or reptile wildlife species in this area would be significantly impacted. Burrowing owls, a State-Listed Threatened Species, inhabit prairie dog towns and have the potential to be affected if the habitat disturbed results in the loss of prairie dog colonies. Disturbance caused by project construction during the breeding season would likely result in failure to produce offspring, impacting the already low population numbers of burrowing owls. Burrowing owls were observed at two prairie dog colonies during the surveys (prairie dog colonies 11 and 12). Current alignment of the rail line would sever prairie dog colony no. 11 and affect the dynamics of the dog town. The railroad spur would also bisect six other prairie dog towns and would result in a permanent loss of prairie dog habitat. The bisected towns would likely continue to be connected through prairie dog movements over the tracks or through culverts under the tracks. More than 100 culverts would be installed along the railroad spur, many of them within prairie dog towns. Raptors that utilize the project area could be affected by project activities that decrease the prey base for raptors, disrupt their hunting activities, or interrupt the breeding cycle. Based on the amount of habitat disturbed and the amount of available habitat, it is unlikely that this project would affect prey base numbers or hunting activity of raptors. Activity resulting from mine operations occurring near active raptor nests would have the potential to disturb nesting birds on cliffs or in piñon-juniper woodlands, and could cause abandonment of the nest and subsequent nest failure. This is especially true for the Golden Eagle nest observed in 2006 in the cliffs near the proposed mine portal. Species in the project area most likely to be affected would be golden 4-133

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eagles and red-tailed hawks. Great-horned owls are generally more tolerant of disturbances and less likely to abandon their nests under disturbances caused by the proposed project. In order to reduce the chances for nest abandonment and subsequent nesting failure, the CDOW recommends NSO within 0.25 mile of active golden eagle nests, and no human disturbance within 0.5 mile of an active golden eagle nest from December 15 to July 15 (CDOW 2008). The CDOW recommends NSO within 0.33 mile of active red-tailed hawk nests, and no human disturbance within 0.5 mile of an active red-tailed hawk nest from February 15 to July 15 (CDOW 2008). The conveyor and haul road would be located less than 0.25 mile from the golden eagle nest, and less than 0.33 mile from the red-tailed hawk nest. Construction activities would be initiated when the nests are inactive, but would not stop if the eagles or hawks subsequently occupy the nests. However, these sites may no longer be used for nesting during the construction period and after the mine portal and associated surface facilities are constructed. The Proposed Action alternative would impact aquatic resources through changes in water quality, water withdrawals, and physical habitat disturbance. Water would be used for exploration, underground and surface dust control, and other mining activities and would result in continuous depletions from Mack Wash. CAM has a 3 cfs absolute water right and estimates a need for 724 acre feet/year for its mine operations. CAM expects to divert water continuously from Mack Wash at a rate of 1 cfs. Historic USGS records indicate monthly mean flow rates ranging from 1.7 to 70 cfs, with lowest average flows (1.7 to 2.7 cfs) occurring November through February, and the highest average flows (46 to 70 cfs) in April, May, September, and October. The lowest monthly mean discharge on record is 1.3 cfs. There is a potential for the Proposed Action to result in little or no flow in Mack Wash during low flow periods. Other water diversions upstream from the Proposed Action diversion would also increase the potential for Mack Wash to contain little or no flow during low flow periods. Water depletion during low flows could impact native fishes by reducing instream habitat in Mack Wash. Withdrawing water during the irrigation season at high flows and storage of water for later use during low flows would reduce water depletion impacts to the fishery. Diversions from Mack Wash would have less impact on Salt Creek downstream of the diversion. The lowest average flows in Salt Creek at Mack occur in January (11.4 cfs) and February (13 cfs), and the 1 cfs diversion would be less than 10 percent of the average monthly flow in all months. Diversions from Mack Wash would have no effect on East Salt Creek. Construction of water diversion structures in Mack Wash could impede fish movement and intake devices could trap fish. Natural spawning of flannel-mouth suckers occurs in Salt Creek (Martin 2007). Activities that could adversely impact the flannel-mouth spawn should be avoided from March 1 to July 31. Increased sediment load to any waterways that are tributary to the Colorado River is a major concern. All construction activities should utilize BMPs to prevent any sediment from entering drainages that enter Mack Mesa, Highline Lake, and Mack Wash. Mine and Facilities The mine facilities and associated structures combined with roads required for construction of the railroad spur, transmission lines, mine facilities, as well as access roads, waste disposal roads, and portal roads account for approximately 237 acres of habitat disturbance, excluding potential subsidence areas. 4-134

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Railroad

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

The railroad spur crosses both public and private lands and is approximately 14.5 miles in length, disturbing about 213 acres. Disturbance varies in width depending on depth of cuts and height of fills. The only year-long stream in the project area which is crossed by the railroad is Mack Wash at the CR M.8 crossing. This drainage is maintained by excess irrigation water flow out of Highline Lake and irrigation return water from adjacent farm land. Mack Wash empties into Salt Creek approximately 1.5 miles from Salt Creek’s confluence with the Colorado River. Water Pipeline The water line also lies within the railroad spur ROW and, therefore, would not create any additional disturbance. Transmission Line In accordance with Table 4-1, there would be approximately 17 acres of permanent disturbance on BLM lands and less than 1 acre on private lands. Temporary Impacts Project activities associated with the construction of the railroad spur and water line, transmission line and access roads would reduce habitat effectiveness due to the presence of personnel and equipment during construction. The presence of activities associated with construction of the railroad spur, transmission line, and associated access roads, decreases useable habitat for many wildlife species. In general, disturbance to aquatic resources from project construction activities would be temporary and considered minor. Bridge construction at Mack Wash and realignment of CR 10 could result in temporary increases in sediment. Sediment increases in localized areas downstream from these sites may cover substrates and reduce macro invertebrate production. An increased sediment load could impact spawning native fishes, including the round-tailed chub (State-Listed Species of Special Concern) and flannel-mouth sucker. Natural spawning of flannel-mouth suckers in East Salt Creek begins in early March and increased sediment loads via Mack Wash would interfere with spawning. Long Term Impacts The physical presence of the railroad spur, transmission line, and associated access roads, decreases useable habitat for many wildlife species. Infrastructure such as the railroad spur, transmission line, and access roads would fragment habitat, further decreasing habitat effectiveness. An increase in traffic from employee vehicles on access roads as well as the new train traffic in the project area would have the potential to cause more big game and other wildlife collisions resulting in the death of animals. The increased traffic from trains and vehicles, combined with the roads and train tracks themselves, would act as barriers to safe movement for wildlife. While movement of wildlife can still occur, loss of wildlife due to collisions would occur as animals attempt to cross the roads while moving from habitat to habitat. A reduction in the amount of useable habitat at the base of the Book Cliffs could impact wintering deer, elk, and pronghorn. Activities in or near the sagebrush benches utilized by 4-135

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wintering deer and elk would result in less useable habitat and could translate to fewer animals wintering in the area. A reduction in habitat effectiveness would most likely have less impact on small mammal populations because of their smaller home range. While the removal of 68 acres of sagebrush habitat would directly reduce the amount of available winter range for big game, habitat effectiveness would be reduced because of construction activities. The projected habitat loss would have a minimal impact to other big game species such as mountain lion and black bear. Mitigation Measures Increased sediment load to any waterways that are tributary to the Colorado River is a major concern. All construction activities should utilize BMPs to prevent any sediment from entering drainages that enter Mack Mesa, Highline Lake, and Mack Wash (see Section 4.2.7, Surface Water). Avoiding construction during the prairie dog breeding season between March 1 and June 15 would reduce impacts to prairie dogs inhabiting railroad spur crossings or adjacent areas. Young and adults would be more mobile after June 15 and able to relocate themselves to avoid construction equipment. The following mitigation measures would be used for nesting raptors. Pre-construction surveys would be conducted to determine whether active nests are present in the vicinity of proposed construction activities if construction would occur during the nesting season (March 1 through July 31). Where active raptors are found, construction would be avoided where feasible within protective buffer zones around the nest, including 0.5 mile for golden eagle and 0.33 mile for red-tailed hawks. Wildlife-vehicle collisions could be reduced by placing speed limits of 35 miles per hour on all access roads and restricting use of roads traversing winter range areas to essential personnel. By implementing proper drainage and sediment control measures, avoiding construction during the spawning and immediate post spawning season (March 1 to July 31), and timing construction activity during the low flow period, the effects on macroinvertebrates and native fishes would be minimized. Construction of water diversion structures that do not impede fish movement and placement of 0.25-inch screens on water intake devices to preclude entrainment of fish would reduce direct impacts to the native fishery. Limiting access to winter range areas between December 1 and March 1 could reduce impacts to wintering deer, elk, and pronghorn. Losses to wildlife habitats could be partially mitigated through the use of effective reclamation of disturbed areas and habitat enhancements. Immediate reclamation of all temporary access roads and staging areas used during construction in sagebrush habitats could help alleviate impacts to existing big game winter range. Habitat enhancements done in adjacent off-site areas could further offset winter range habitat lost during project construction. With adequate reclamation for disturbed areas and off-site habitat enhancement, loss of sagebrush habitat is not likely to affect the total population numbers of wintering deer, elk, and pronghorn in this area. Proposed seed mixes are provided in Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures. 4-136

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They include a mixture of native grasses, forbs, and shrubs suitable for use by wildlife. Appendix B includes additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to fish and wildlife. Pre-construction surveys of the selected transmission line route would be conducted in order to apply mitigations and avoidance on federal lands. Surveys would be conducted for federal listed, BLM sensitive, and CDOW listed species. BLM would require the Applicant to provide signs or construct gates if they are needed to discourage unauthorized travel along the transmission line route. BLM would require raptor perch deterrents on transmission line structures. Earthen berms would be built on each side of the railroad tracks at locations where antelope trails cross the proposed rail line. The berms would have a maximum slope of 10 percent. A water guzzler would be placed between the Mesa/Garfield county line and the waste rock area to mitigate impacts to chukar. Erosion control BMPs such as silt fences, berms, catch basins, seeding, mulching, and erosion control netting would be used during construction. Further details are provided in the soils and surface water sections of this chapter. BLM would stipulate surveys and mitigation for wetland, surface water, and riparian areas as part of the coal lease. Natural spawning of flannel-mouth suckers occurs in Salt Creek (Martin 2007). Activities that could adversely impact the flannel-mouth spawn would be avoided from March 1 to July 31. Wildlife crossings of the conveyor would be created by elevating the conveyor or burying it in a culvert in appropriate locations. Raptor perch deterrents would be installed on all transmission line towers.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 Construction of the grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 could result in temporary increases in sediment and would result in the permanent removal of a small amount of vegetation at the location of the crossing. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Temporary and minor impacts to vegetation would result from the installation of the noiseless crossing traffic control devices. Transmission Line Alternative A Alternative A is similar to the Proposed Action but differs in the route of the transmission line. In Alternative A the transmission line originates at a point north of the Xcel Energy Uintah Substation and parallels the Proposed Action transmission line until it crosses the Highline Canal. There would be approximately 6 acres of disturbance on BLM lands and less than 1 acre of disturbance on private lands (Table 4-1).

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Wildlife habitat disturbance within all plant communities remains the same except for the salt desert shrub/greasewood plant community, which is less affected under this alternative. Overall impacts to wildlife and wildlife habitat would be less than the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative B Alternative B is similar to the Proposed Action but differs in the route of the transmission line. In Alternative B the transmission line originates on the same route with the Alternative A transmission line but diverges from the Alternative A route after crossing the Highline Canal. From that point it stays to the east of Alternative A, crossing mostly BLM lands. Alternative B disturbs approximately 10 acres of habitat on BLM lands and less than 1 acre on private lands. Wildlife habitat disturbance within all plant communities remains the same except for the salt desert shrub/greasewood plant community, which is less affected under this alternative. Overall impacts to wildlife and wildlife habitat would be less than the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative C Alternative C is similar to the Proposed Action but differs in the route of the transmission line. Alternative C follows the same route as the Proposed Action until it crosses the Highline Canal where it diverges in a northwesterly direction and ties into the railroad spur route. There is less new disturbance with this route than any of the other transmission line routes including the Proposed Action since it converges with the railroad spur corridor for 3 miles. Alternative C disturbs approximately 11 acres of habitat on BLM lands and less than 1 acre on private lands. Wildlife habitat disturbance within all plant communities remains the same except for the salt desert shrub/greasewood plant community, which is less affected under this alternative. Overall impacts to wildlife and wildlife habitat would be less than the Proposed Action.

4.2.12 Threatened and Endangered Species No Action Alternative
Under this alternative no coal leases would be offered and no new coal mining would occur in the study area. Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive species (TESS) resources in the study area would remain in their present condition. As a result, wildlife habitat distribution, quantity, and quality for these species would remain similar to current conditions and populations would remain similar to existing levels. TESS habitats on federal surface would continue to be subject to current low levels of use in the form of recreation and grazing. These habitats on private lands would continue to be subject to moderate to intensive management and modification.

Proposed Action Alternative
Federally Listed Threatened and Endangered Species According to the USFWS, species on the Federal Threatened and Endangered Species list that might be affected by the project include four endangered Colorado River fish: Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), bonytail chub (Gila elegans), the razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), and humpback chub (Gila cypha); the threatened Uinta Basin hookless cactus (Sclerocactus glaucus), the candidate DeBeque phacelia (Phacelia submutica); and the endangered black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes). 4-138

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Colorado River Fishes

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

These four endangered Colorado River fishes are not present in the study area, but the required effects analysis area for the fish includes the Salt Creek drainage. Any water depletions brought about by this project are governed by the programmatic biological opinion issued to the BLM for minor water depletions in the Upper Colorado River Basin, #ES/GJ-6-CO-94-F-017 (June 13, 1994). Water depletions in areas tributary to the Colorado River require consultation with USFWS as part of the Recovery Implementation Program for Endangered Fish Species in the Upper Colorado River (Recovery Program). The Recovery Program was established in 1988 to mitigate for water depletion impacts to federally-listed fish species. To ensure the survival and recovery of the listed species, water users may be required to make a payment to the Recovery Program. The payment would be required if any single incremental withdrawal volume exceeds 100 acre-feet (annual average). The project proponent estimates a total water depletion of approximately 724 acre-feet per year. Since the CAM water right has been rarely used in the past, the entire 724 acre feet/year would be considered as new depletion. Additional requirements resulting from ongoing BLM/USFWS consultation would be included as terms of the ROW grant, and the USFWS would be issuing a Biological Opinion. Uinta Basin Hookless Cactus No individuals of this species were observed during field surveys and it is unlikely that habitat suitable for these plants would be disturbed during the construction of the Proposed Action or alternatives. Therefore, this species would likely not be affected by this project. DeBeque Phacelia No individuals of this species were observed during field surveys and it is unlikely that habitat suitable for these plants would be disturbed during the construction of the Proposed Action or alternatives. Therefore, this species would likely not be affected by this project. Black-footed Ferret and White-tailed Prairie Dog Colonies Active prairie dog colonies are an essential element of black-footed ferret habitat. Of the thirteen white-tailed prairie dog colonies observed within the study area, only one (Colony #1; Figure 3-23, Wildlife Observations) met the minimum criteria for potential black-footed ferret habitat. This colony was likely greater than 200 acres in extent and the estimated burrow density was 16/acre. However, it is not known whether this colony was within 4.34 miles of a similar sized colony since areas outside the prescribed study area were not surveyed by WestWater biologists. No black-footed ferrets have been observed in the study area, and based upon the limits of the biological surveys, no potential habitat was observed. Therefore this species would likely not be affected by the loss of prairie dog habitat. BLM Sensitive Species According to the BLM Grand Junction Field Office, the following BLM Sensitive Species might be impacted by the proposed project: bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia), kit fox (Vulpes macrotis), sensitive bats, Botta’s pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae), midget faded rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis concolor), milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum), long-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia 4-139

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wislizenii), Great Basin spadefoot (Spea intermontana), northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens), Colorado round-tailed chub (Gila robusta), Grand buckwheat (Eriogonum contortum), DeBeque milkvetch (Astragalus debequaeus), cliffdweller’s cryptanth (Cryptantha elata), and Grand Junction camissonia (Camissonia eastwoodiae). Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and Burrowing Owl The project area is more than three miles from the nearest known bald eagle nests and is unlikely to have any effect on this species. Similarly, the nearest known peregrine falcon nests are 8 miles away; the project is unlikely to have any adverse effect on peregrine falcon. The project may affect burrowing owls, which are known to occur in the general vicinity. In order to minimize adverse impacts, no human encroachment would occur within 150 feet of nest sites from March 15 to October 31 (CDOW 2008). In addition to potential direct and indirect effects on the burrowing owls, the project would also affect habitat by reducing the number of prairie dog burrows on prairie dog colonies crossed by the rail alignment. Kit Fox No individuals or sign (dens, tracks, scat) of this species were observed during biological surveys. While no known kit fox dens would be affected, the project is within the historic range of this species and could result in some impairment of available habitat for kit fox. The railroad spur would bisect historic range, but includes more than 100 culverts that could potentially be used by kit fox. In addition, kit fox could pass over the tracks in most locations. Recreational use of construction roads after the end of construction could adversely affect kit fox through increased human activity. Sensitive Bats The project would result in the loss of a very small portion of the available foraging habitat for bats in the vicinity of the project. One pond would be eliminated that may provide habitat for sensitive bat species. Botta’s Pocket Gopher Botta’s pocket gopher is present along portions of the rail alignment with deep soils. The proposed project would result in impairment of a small amount of the available habitat for this species and potential loss of individuals directly in the construction area. Midget Faded Rattlesnake and Milk Snake No individuals of these species were observed during biological surveys of the study area; however, potential habitat for these species was observed. None the less, it is unlikely that the proposed project would affect these species. Long-nosed Leopard Lizard A minimum of five individuals were observed during the biological surveys. There is abundant potential habitat for the lizard in this area and the project is unlikely to result in adverse impacts to the overall population and distribution of the species. The project may result in loss of individuals and a minor decrease in the amount of available habitat.

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Great Basin Spadefoot and Northern Leopard Frog No individuals of Great Basin spadefoot were observed during biological surveys of the study area. It is unlikely that the proposed project would affect this species. The proposed project would result in a small decrease in suitable habitat for northern leopard frog due to replacement of irrigation ditches with pipes, and losses of individuals during construction. Colorado Round-tailed Chub The only fish habitat affect by the proposed project would be located at the new water diversion in Mack Wash. Construction of the diversion would have minimal impacts on round-tailed chub. During operation, withdrawals of water from Mack Wash may decrease the amount and quality of available habitat in Mack Wash. Mack Wash exhibits strong seasonal fluctuations in flow associated with the irrigation season, and adverse effects of the diversion would likely be restricted to periods of low flow in winter, when withdrawal of 1 cfs could result in depletion of flow by up to 75 percent of the lowest recorded mean monthly discharge of 1.3 cfs, and up to 60 percent of the lowest monthly average of 1.7 cfs in February. The diversion would have less effect on instream habitat in Salt Creek, for which the lowest average monthly flow is 11.4 cfs in January. Grand Buckwheat This species is abundant within parts of the study area. In a report prepared by WestWater Engineering (WestWater 2007) it was estimated that 36.6 acres of Grand buckwheat habitat (approximately 20 acres of which is currently occupied habitat) within the salt desert shrub vegetation association would be disturbed by activities associated with the proposed project. This would result in the loss of 26,307 Grand buckwheat (with a 95 percent confidence interval of 18,047-34,567) plants extrapolated from an average density within occupied habitat of 0.33 plants per square meter. This loss represents 2.3 percent of the Grand buckwheat population estimated from samples within a 3,064-acre “Search Area.” The area of the proposed project is a small proportion of the overall range of this species and thus the number of Grand buckwheat lost during this project is likely much less than 2.3 percent of the global population. Typically, the loss of 2.3 percent or less of a population that likely consists of over one million individuals would not be likely to be the proximal cause of the type of decline that would require listing in the foreseeable future. However, the loss to the population may be larger than the direct effects of removing 2.3 percent of the individuals during this project. For example, there is a positive relationship between population size and fitness, and this relationship has a tendency to be stronger in rare species (Leimu et al. 2006). Others have found this relationship to be of a similar magnitude in both common and rare species (Honnay and Jacquemyn 2007). Thus, any action that results in a decrease in population size would decrease the overall population fitness. This fitness loss is the consequence of the loss of genetic material from the population. However, it may be necessary to assess the strength of this relationship experimentally for each population. Additionally, the fact that there is a reduction in fitness does not automatically mean that this reduction would result in a significant decline in population abundance. 4-141

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

DeBeque Milkvetch, Cliffdweller’s Cryptanth, and Grand Junction Camissonia No individuals of these species and no areas of suitable habitat were observed during the biological surveys. It is unlikely that the proposed project would affect these species. Mine and Facilities The mine facilities and associated structures combined with roads required for construction of the railroad spur, transmission lines, mine facilities, as well as access roads, waste rock disposal, and portal roads account for approximately 237 acres of habitat disturbance. No habitat or individuals of the above federally listed threatened or endangered species are likely to be affected by this portion of the proposed project. This area does include desert shrub, sagebrush, and piñon-juniper woodland and abundant rabbits, all of which are important components of kit fox habitat. However, no individuals or sign (dens, tracks, scat) were observed during biological surveys and it is unlikely that the proposed project would affect this species. Railroad The railroad spur crosses both public and private lands and is approximately 14.5 miles in length, disturbing about 213 acres. This portion of the proposed project crosses seven white-tailed prairie dog colonies and passes adjacent to two other colonies that could afford habitat for the endangered black-footed ferret. However, as noted above, no black-footed ferrets have been observed in the study area and none of the observed prairie dog colonies meets the minimum requirements for suitable habitat. Therefore this species would likely not be affected by the loss of prairie dog habitat that would result from construction of the railroad spur. This area does include desert shrub, sagebrush, and abundant rabbits, all of which are important components of kit fox habitat. However, no individuals or sign (dens, tracks, scat) were observed during biological surveys and it is unlikely that the proposed project would affect this species. This area includes fairly dense stands of saltbush, greasewood, rabbitbrush, and cheatgrass on clay soils, especially east of Highway 139 to the proposed facility site. A minimum of five longnosed leopard lizards were observed within the study area during the biological surveys. This species could be affected by this portion of the proposed project. However, there exists a large amount of suitable habitat available for this species within the study area, thus it is not anticipated that the disturbance of the proposed project would affect the overall population distribution or abundance. The distribution and abundance of the Grand buckwheat within the study area includes much of the proposed railway alignment north of the Highline Canal. Approximately 36.6 acres of Grand buckwheat habitat (approximately 20 acres of which is currently occupied habitat) within the salt desert shrub vegetation association would be disturbed by activities associated with the proposed project. This would result in the loss of 26,307 Grand buckwheat individuals. This loss represents 2.3 percent of the Grand buckwheat population estimated from samples within a 3,064-acre “Search Area.” The area of the proposed project is a small proportion of the overall range of this species and thus the number of Grand buckwheat lost during this project is likely much less than 2.3 percent of the global population. The loss of 2.3 percent or less of a population that likely consists of over one million individuals is unlikely to cause the type of population decline that would require listing in the foreseeable future. 4-142

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Water Pipeline

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

The water pipeline lies within the railroad spur ROW and therefore would not create any additional disturbance. Transmission Line The proposed transmission line crosses 7 miles of private land and 7 miles of public land and would disturb approximately 2.6 acres. This portion of the proposed project may include habitat for kit fox, long-nosed leopard lizard, and the Grand buckwheat. However, biological surveys have not yet been completed for this potion of the project, so it is necessary to estimate the potential impacts from aerial images of the transmission line alignment. Approximately 70 percent of the alignment (1.82 acres) is within the salt desert shrub community that may include Grand buckwheat habitat. If all of this 1.82 acres is occupied Grand buckwheat habitat, then there would be an estimated 2,430 additional individuals removed during construction of the transmission line (assuming an average density of 0.33 plants per square meter). This high estimate represents a 9 percent increase in the estimated loss of 26,307 Grand buckwheat individuals caused by construction of the railroad alignment. During the Grand buckwheat population estimation study, approximately 55 percent of potential habitat was observed to be occupied. If this holds true in the vicinity of the transmission line, then approximately 0.99 acres of occupied habitat would be disturbed, resulting in an estimated additional 1,322 individuals removed, representing a 5 percent increase in the total Grand buckwheat loss. Temporary Impacts Construction activities associated with the Proposed Action alternative could impact Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive aquatic species through changes in water quality, water withdrawals and physical habitat disturbance. Bridge construction at Mack Wash, installation of a water diversion and intake structure, and realignment of CR 10 could result in temporary increases in sediment. Sediment increases in localized areas downstream from these sites may cover substrates and reduce macro invertebrate production. Any localized increases in sediment would not affect downstream areas of the Colorado River inhabited by the four federally-listed fish species. Water would be used for exploration, underground and surface dust control, and other mining activities and would result in depletions from Mack Wash. CAM has a 3.0 cfs absolute water right with estimated needs of 724 acre-feet per year for its mine operations. CAM expects to divert water continuously from Mack Wash at a rate of 1 cfs. Historic USGS records indicate monthly mean flow rates ranging from 1.7 to 70 cfs. There is a potential for the Proposed Action to result in little or no flow in Mack wash during low flow periods. Such events are also possible due to other water diversions upstream from the Proposed Action diversion addition of this water diversion is likely to increase the potential for little or no flow in Mack Wash.. Water depletion during low flows could impact endangered Colorado River fishes and the state-listed roundtailed chub. Construction of water diversion structure in Mack Wash could impede fish movement and intake devices could trap Colorado River fishes. Water depletion during low flows or during the spawning and immediate post spawning period (March 1 to July 31) could impact native fishes. 4-143

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Long Term Impacts

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Project activities associated with the Proposed Action alternative could have the potential to affect several of the sensitive species identified by the BLM (Section 3.2.13, Threatened and Endangered Species) and State of Colorado Species of Special Concern. Project activities associated with the construction of the railroad spur and water line, transmission line, and access roads would reduce habitat effectiveness due to the presence of personnel and equipment during construction. The physical presence of the railroad spur, transmission line, and associated access roads decreases useable habitat for many wildlife species, including sensitive species. Infrastructure such as the railroad spur, transmission line, and access roads also fragment habitat, further decreasing habitat effectiveness. An increase in traffic from employee vehicles on access roads as well as the new train traffic in the study area would have the potential to cause more wildlife collisions resulting in the death of animals. The increased traffic from trains and vehicles combined with the roads and train tracks themselves would also act as barriers to safe movement for wildlife. While movement of wildlife can still occur, loss of wildlife due to collisions would occur as animals attempt to cross the roads while moving from habitat to habitat. Of the sensitive wildlife species identified by the BLM, only the long-nosed leopard lizard was noted during the surveys. Because of the large amount of suitable habitat present within the study area it is not anticipated that the number of acres disturbed by this project would affect this species. The completion of the railroad may result in the fragmentation of the Grand buckwheat population. Habitat fragmentation has significant effects on reducing effective population size and population genetic diversity (Honnay and Jacquemyn 2007). However, whether the project disturbance would lead to isolation of parts of the population is unknown and depends on certain aspects of Grand buckwheat biology that have not been investigated. One piece of evidence found during the recent study (WestWater 2007) is suggestive that the Grand buckwheat is sensitive to population size. The two smaller areas of occupied habitat both had significantly lower population densities than what was found in the larger areas of occupied habitat. The loss of 2.3 percent or less of a population that likely consists of over 1 million individuals is unlikely to cause the type of population decline that would require listing in the foreseeable future. Mitigation Measures Endangered and Sensitive Fish Species Because the project involves water depletions to the Upper Colorado River system, formal consultation would be required under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act for impacts to the four endangered Colorado River fishes. Mitigation would be governed by the programmatic biological opinion for minor water depletions in the Upper Colorado River Basin, #ES/GJ-6-CO94-F-017 (June 13, 1994) and would involve a one-time payment to the Upper Colorado River Recovery Program. The USFWS would issue a Biological Opinion for this project. BMPs to contain and reduce sediment discharge into Mack Wash and other drainages would minimize impacts to aquatic species. Netting would be placed over open wastewater containment areas to preclude exposure of migratory birds to increased selenium concentrations, as well as any hazardous materials, especially petroleum products. Bridges would be installed to decrease further aquatic and riparian impairment created by stream crossings.

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Construction of water diversion structures that do not impede fish movement and placement of 0.25-inch screens on water intake devices to preclude entrainment of fish would reduce impacts to the native fishery. Withdrawing water during the irrigation season at high flows and storage of water for later use during low flows periods and during fish spawning would reduce water depletion impacts to the fishery. Grand Buckwheat Given the lack of definitive evidence that there would be, or would not be, significant project impacts on Grand buckwheat, a number of practices should be implemented in order to minimize and/or mitigate these potential impacts. These practices include: 1. Collect seeds each fall prior to and during the project, to be stored and used during reclamation and revegetation following project completion. 2. Separate and reserve the top 1 to 3 inches of soil from areas of high Grand buckwheat density at the initiation of ground disturbing activities. This volume of soil would contain the seed bank. Since the longevity and viability of Grand buckwheat seeds is unknown, this practice may result in more useful seeds. Separating and reserving the top 12 inches of soil dilutes the seedbank and thus does not serve as an adequate mitigation practice. 3. Aggressively control weeds in areas of potential habitat. During the baseline study it was found that Grand buckwheat was absent from plots with greater than 50 percent cover of cheatgrass or where two or more weeds each comprised over 3 percent cover. 4. Investigate whether Grand buckwheat individuals tolerate disturbance and regenerate from broken branches as do some other species in the genus. 5. Investigate whether Grand buckwheat individuals can be successfully transplanted by digging up and moving some individuals that are found within the proposed project disturbance area. 6. Perform follow-up monitoring adopting the sampling protocols of the baseline study (WestWater 2007). Those study plots should be relocated and sampled periodically to identify trends in the population numbers. It may be necessary to identify additional plots if an objective is to assess whether trends in abundance in the fragmented areas differs from trends in the larger, intact occupied habitat areas. Other Species Impacts that could affect potential prey base for the black-footed ferret and kit fox could be reduced by avoiding construction during the prairie dog breeding season between March 1 and June 15. This would reduce impacts to prairie dogs inhabiting railroad spur crossings or adjacent areas. Young and adults would be more mobile after June 15 and able to relocate themselves to avoid construction equipment. Raptor perch deterrents would be installed on all transmission line towers to prevent increased predation on kit fox, prairie dogs, and other species, and to protect raptors from electrocution. The project would follow CDOW’s Recommended Survey Protocol and Actions to Protect Nesting Burrowing Owls (CDOW 2007), which includes pre-construction surveys where 4-145

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

construction would occur between March 15 and October 31, and avoidance of construction within 150 feet of active burrowing owl burrows. All construction-related temporary roads and trails would be reclaimed as quickly as possible after construction and BLM would post signs, construct gates, and patrol to discourage use of reclaimed access areas. This mitigation would benefit kit fox, long-nosed leopard lizard, and other species. Pre-construction surveys of the selected transmission line route would be conducted in order to apply mitigations and avoidance on federal lands. Surveys would be conducted for federally listed, BLM sensitive, and CDOW listed species. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, includes additional proposed mitigation measures for impacts to threatened and endangered species.

Alternatives Carried Forward for Further Consideration
Grade-Separated Crossing at CR M.8 In this alternative, an overpass for CR M.8 would be constructed over the railroad spur. This would result in an additional 3.3 acres of long term impacts, including 2.97 acres of Residential/ Agricultural lands and 0.33 acres of wetlands. No additional impacts to TESS are anticipated. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices There would be no additional ground disturbance as a result of this alternative, thus there would be no change in the impacts to threatened and endangered species if this alternative is adopted. Transmission Line Alternative A Alternative A is similar to the Proposed Action alternative but differs in the route of the transmission line. This alternative reduces the amount of salt desert shrub vegetation disturbed by the project by 73 percent to 0.49 acres. Because this represents potential Grand buckwheat habitat, this alternative may result in a decrease in total impacts to this species. Assuming 55 to 100 percent of this vegetation association is occupied habitat (see discussion of this in the Transmission Line section) then 360 to 654 Grand buckwheat individuals may be removed during construction of this alternative. Disturbance of other vegetation associations remains nearly the same for this alternative. Overall, impacts to TESS and their habitats would not differ greatly from the Proposed Action alternative. Transmission Line Alternative B Alternative B is similar to the Proposed Action alternative but differs in the route of the transmission line. This alternative reduces the amount of salt desert shrub vegetation disturbed by the project by 12 percent to 1.6 acres. Because this represents potential Grand buckwheat habitat, this alternative may result in a decrease in total impacts to this species. Assuming 55 to 100 percent of this vegetation association is occupied habitat (see discussion of this in the Transmission Line section) then 1,175 to 2,137 Grand buckwheat individuals may be removed during construction of this alternative.

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Disturbance of other vegetation associations remains nearly the same for this alternative. Overall, impacts to TESS and their habitats would not differ greatly from the Proposed Action alternative. Transmission Line Alternative C Alternative C follows the same route as the Proposed Action alternative until it crosses the Highline canal where it diverges in a northwesterly direction and ties into the railroad spur route. There is less new disturbance with this route than any of the other transmission line routes including the Proposed Action transmission route since it converges with the railroad spur corridor for 3.4 miles. This alternative reduces the amount of salt desert shrub vegetation disturbed by the project by 21 percent to 1.43 acres. Because this represents potential Grand buckwheat habitat, this alternative may result in a decrease in total impacts to this species. Assuming 55 to 100 percent of this vegetation association is occupied habitat (see discussion of this in the Transmission Line section) then 1,050 to 1,910 Grand buckwheat individuals may be removed during construction of this alternative. Disturbance of other vegetation associations remains nearly the same for this alternative. Overall, impacts to TESS and their habitats would not differ greatly from the Proposed Action alternative.

4.3

SHORT TERM USE VS. LONG-TERM PRODUCTIVITY

This section describes the relationship between short term uses of the environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long term productivity (40 CFR 1502.16). Short term uses are impacts to the environment that generally occur on a year-to-year basis during construction and operation of the mine and facilities (e.g., water use). Long term productivity is the ability of the land to provide resources for the future, based on reclamation measures and long term management objectives. The local short term impacts and uses of the resources by the Proposed Action are consistent with the maintenance and enhancement of long term productivity for the project area. Relationships between short term uses of the environment and long term productivity occur in many resource areas. An example is the removal of vegetation from sites within the project area, thus preventing the vegetation from being used for forage by livestock and wildlife. However, after reclamation, the vegetation would re-establish and return to its previous use, and the long term productivity of the vegetation would not be altered. Short term uses of the Proposed Action include: • • Land Ownership and Use – temporary use of land during construction and operation Grazing – temporary removal of vegetation during construction prevents livestock from foraging. Fragmentation of habitat due to the rail corridor may occur but is unknown at this time. Wilderness and Special Designations – during the construction period, part of the North Fruita Desert SRMA would be temporarily disturbed Recreation – during the construction period, several recreational trails within the North Fruita Desert SRMA would be temporarily disturbed 4-147

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•

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Socioeconomics – economic benefits due to project construction and operation, railroad noise, loss of property values along the railroad corridor, loss of rural values due to industrial facilities Transportation – traffic delays at CR M.8 and CR 10 due to railroad crossing; detour at railroad crossing of SH 139 during construction; increased railroad traffic through the valley Utilities – construction and operation of transmission lines, water pipelines, and railroad Visual – visual impacts due to physical alteration of the land (i.e., benches, railroad, waste rock pile) Air Quality – increased air emissions from construction and operation of the mine Geology and Minerals – removal of coal from the lease area Soils – disturbance of soils during construction Groundwater – dewatering of groundwater during mining Surface Water – use of surface water during construction, operation, and maintenance Vegetation – disturbance to vegetation during construction Wetlands and Riparian – temporary impacts to wetlands and riparian areas during construction Fish and Wildlife – removal of water from Mack Wash may impact fish and removal of vegetation may impact wildlife forage and habitat. Disruption of travel corridors and migration routes may occur due to the railroad corridor, the transmission line, and mine facilities Threatened and Endangered Species – water depletion in Mack Wash may affect Colorado River Fishes habitat

• • • • • • • • • • •

•

Productivity of many resources would be restored upon closure of the mine, removal of infrastructure, and after revegetation/reclamation efforts. Long term productivity includes: • • • • • • • • Land Ownership and Use – return of land to previous land use Grazing – areas removed from grazing may be restored after revegetation. A permanent loss of 1 percent of forage would occur. Wilderness and Special Designations – removal of project features would return impacted areas of the North Fruita Desert SRMA to prior use Recreation – removal of project features would allow for impacted trails in the North Fruita Desert SRMA to be re-used Socioeconomics – decrease in local economic stimulation, restoration of property values and rural values upon removal of the railroad corridor Transportation – removal of traffic disturbance due to railroad crossings Air Quality – air emissions would cease Soils – soils would be reclaimed and revegetated 4-148

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• • • • •

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Groundwater – bedrock groundwater would no longer be pumped after mine closure Surface Water – water depletions would cease in Mack Wash Vegetation – vegetative cover would re-establish, thus restoring forage and wildlife habitat Fish and Wildlife – forage and habitat would be restored Threatened and Endangered Species – due to the lack of water depletions in Mack Wash, Colorado River Fishes habitat would not be impacted

Short term uses of resources would irretrievably commit certain resources. This is discussed in more detail in Section 4.4, Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitment of Resources.

4.4

IRREVERSIBLE AND IRRETRIEVABLE COMMITMENT OF RESOURCES

The BLM must consider if the effects of the Proposed Action and alternatives cannot be changed or are permanent (that is, the impacts are irreversible). The BLM must also consider if the impacts on resources would mean that once gone, the resource could not be replaced; in other words, the resource could not be restored, replaced, or otherwise retrieved (NEPA §102(c)(v)). Irreversible resource commitments are those that can not be undone, except perhaps in the extreme long term. This applies primarily to non-renewable resources or those resources that are renewable only over long periods of time. Irretrievable resource commitments are those that are lost for a defined period of time. This applies primarily to resources that would be lost during the 30 year life of mine. The irreversible and irretrievable effects of producing coal from the Red Cliff Mine would be minimal.

4.4.1 Resources Not Requiring Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitment of Resources
The following resources do not require irreversible and irretrievable commitment of resources: recreation, wilderness and special designations, transportation, utilities, noise, hazardous materials, health and safety, air quality, and floodplains.

4.4.2 Irreversible and Irretrievable Resource Commitments Land Ownership and Use
After the project is completed, the mine, facilities, and all utilities associated with the project would be decommissioned and reclaimed, as feasible. Irreversible commitment of resources would arise from construction of benches for the mine facilities, cutting of rock for the railroad corridor, and the waste rock disposal area. Under the Proposed Action, permanent benches would be constructed in the coal leasing area for facilities associated with the mine, existing land would be cut up to 90 feet in some areas, and a waste rock pile of approximately 190 acres would be created. These areas would not return to their current land use upon closure of the mine, as the topography of the land would be permanently altered and the land would not be able to be returned fully to its previous state before construction of the mine. 4-149

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Grazing

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Temporary loss of forage may result during construction and operation of the mine. Less than one percent of the forage in the affected grazing allotments would be permanently lost.

Socioeconomics
After the project is completed, the railroad corridor would be decommissioned and reclaimed. Any decrease in property values along the railroad corridor would be restored to previous values, depending on market conditions. Loss of rural values due to the industrial corridor would be restored upon removal of the railroad.

Visual
Temporary visual impacts may result during the construction phase of the project; once vegetation re-establishes, visual quality would return to its previous state. Benches carved from rock at the mine site, cutting of rock for the railroad corridor, and the waste rock pile would result in irreversible visual impacts. Visual impacts may also result from subsidence.

Cultural Resources
Any disturbance of cultural resource sites could result in an irreversible commitment of resources. However, there are no projected impacts to cultural resources.

Geology and Minerals
The mining of the coal from the lease tract would be an irretrievable use of the coal resource. However, the extraction of the coal would make the resource available for use by society. Care in underground mine planning should be taken in order to avoid an irretrievable loss of possible future coal resources located adjacent to the proposed coal lease. Some gas resources located in the lease area would be lost due to the coal recovery and venting of methane. Depending on the location of the underground disturbance, some gas recovery may be feasible during or following the conclusion of mining. Under the Proposed Action, the methane resource would be lost.

Paleontology
Any disturbance of paleontological resource sites could result in an irreversible commitment of resources. However, if discovered prior to the physical loss, research values could be preserved for use in interpreting the fossil record. There are no projected impacts to paleontological resources.

Soils
Disturbance to soils would occur during construction; topsoil would be retained and temporary construction areas would be reclaimed. 4-150

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Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

The cut areas for railroad and access road construction are disturbed areas that would not be reclaimed.

Groundwater
Bedrock groundwater would be pumped from the mine; upon mine closure, groundwater would not be pumped.

Surface Water
Over the life of the project (30 years), water would be withdrawn from Mack Wash. Upon mine closure, water would no longer be withdrawn.

Vegetation
Disturbance to vegetation would occur during construction. Temporary construction areas would be revegetated and reclaimed.

Wetlands and Riparian
Wetlands and riparian areas would be impacted in the long term as a result of railroad construction and operation. After removal of the railroad and reclamation/revegetation, the wetland and riparian areas would be restored to their original productivity.

Fish and Wildlife
Temporary loss of vegetation may result during construction and operation of the mine, possibly resulting in loss of wildlife habitat and forage. Once vegetation re-establishes, wildlife would be able to use the area.

Threatened and Endangered Species
Temporary water depletions may occur in Mack Wash; this may potentially affect the Colorado River Fishes habitat in Mack Wash. Upon closure of the mine, depletions would not occur in Mack Wash due to this project.

Mine Construction and Operation
Construction and operation of the mine and associated facilities was not addressed previously in the document as a resource, as aspects of construction and operation are addressed within many different resources. In this case, the act of constructing the mine and associated features contains several irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources: • • Commitment of labor and energy during construction, including the consumption of fossil fuels associated with the use of construction equipment. Commitment of labor and energy during operation, including the consumption of fossil fuels associated with the use of mining equipment and facility operations. 4-151

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• • • •

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Use of materials required to construct the project infrastructure, including aggregate, cement, and petroleum products, and metals for the rails. Temporary disturbance to vegetation, soils, and wildlife habitat. Visual impacts. Impacts to gas resources as previously described.

4.5

CUMULATIVE IMPACTS

4.5.1 Methodology
This section provides an analysis of the cumulative impacts of past, present, or reasonably foreseeable projects on various natural and human resources. Cumulative impacts may result when the environmental impacts associated with a proposed project are added to temporary or long term impacts associated with past, present, or reasonably foreseeable future projects. Although the individual impact of each project might not be significant, the additive impacts of multiple projects could be.

4.5.2 Actions Considered for the Cumulative Impact Analyses
Energy development has recently experienced rapid growth in the west due to market conditions and national energy policy. Due to the abundance of natural gas and mineral resources in northwest Colorado, this area has experienced unprecedented growth in resource extraction. Actions considered for this cumulative impact analysis are those actions related to mining and energy development in northwest Colorado, and effects of projected population growth on residential and commercial development and traffic increases. The cumulative impact analysis area is defined as Mesa and Garfield counties, where the mine and facilities would be located unless stated otherwise. The potential cumulative impacts of climate change on the project and the project’s contribution to global climate change are discussed by resource within this section. The assessment of impacts of climate change has not been formalized, and it is not yet possible to quantify the net impact of climate change with confidence, therefore cumulative impacts of climate change would be discussed qualitatively. While impacts of global climate change are likely to be most evident in Polar Regions, the causes of global climate change and the contribution of emissions from fossil fuels to those causes are global in scope. Consequently, mining and energy development activities in northwest Colorado need to be viewed in that context. In 1990, fossil fuel combustion produced 78 percent of all GHG emissions in the state and in 2015 is estimated to produce 87.2 percent of Colorado’s GHG emissions (CDPHE 1998).

Past Projects
Mesa and Garfield counties are historic mining counties. Commodities mined in the past include coal, copper, radium, uranium, vanadium, oil shale, and marble. Several towns in these counties were founded in support of the mining industry.

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Mesa County was Ute Indian Territory until 1881 when the area was opened up for immigrants. Mining has been prevalent in Mesa County since 1882 (Mesa County 1996). There are several boom-and-bust cycles of oil shale development in the history of Mesa County. Oil shale was first discovered in 1917, and the boom faded in 1925. Other booms were short-lived during the 1940s and in 1957. In the 1970s new technology fueled a regional boom that lasted until 1983 (Mesa County 1996). Mesa County has a long history of copper, radium, vanadium, and uranium mining (Mesa County 1996). Copper was mined in the Unaweep area between 1899 and 1902. Radium was recovered from the early 1900s to 1923. Vanadium was mined near Loma and Gateway in the 1940s, and uranium was mined in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Garfield County has a history of coal mining since the late 1800s (Crook and Cullen n.d.). Marble was historically mined near the town of Marble, and coke was produced from coal in coke ovens near Glenwood Springs. Oil shale also saw a boom in the 1970s and early 1980s in Garfield County; Battlement Mesa was founded by Exxon in the early 1980s during the most recent oil shale boom (Crook and Cullen n.d.). Table 4-10, Historical Mine Permits – Mesa and Garfield Counties, Colorado, lists a summary of historical mining permits in Mesa and Garfield counties prior to 1974. Table 4-10 HISTORICAL MINE PERMITS MESA AND GARFIELD COUNTIES, COLORADO
Commodities Mined Mesa County Coal Sand and gravel Gravel Sandstone Quartz Borrow material for construction Uranium Uranium, vanadium Vanadium Garfield County Coal Oil shale Sand and gravel Gravel Borrow material for construction Sandstone
Source: Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety. No date. Note: Data is comprised of expired mining permits prior to 1974.

Permit Acreage 0 1,205.9 56.7 9.0 5.0 78.9 18.5 202,143.8 0.3 0 10,103.0 810.6 19.0 14.0 7.4

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Present and Reasonably Foreseeable Future Projects
Resource extraction continues to be prevalent in Mesa and Garfield counties. Current activities include natural gas extraction; coal mining; oil shale mining; sand and gravel mining; borrow material for construction mining; and minimal mining of gold, quartz, granite, limestone, and uranium. Energy activity within Mesa and Garfield counties has grown significantly, particularly relating to natural gas. Garfield County is currently the third largest producer of natural gas in Colorado (Garfield County 2002). Garfield County has processed the highest number of APDs in 2007, with a total of 2,550 permits processed (40 percent of the total for the state), and Mesa County is sixth in the state, at 293 permits processed (5 percent of the total for the state) (COGCC 2007). Six major Conditional Use Permit requests were reviewed by the Mesa County Board of County Commissioners in 2007 for pipelines, compressor stations, and processing facilities needed to refine and transport natural gas (Mesa County 2007b). It is projected that Garfield County well development would continue forward at a fairly consistent rate of about 1,000 wells per year over the next 10 to 15 years. Given about 3,900 wells at present, the projected total is between 15,000 to 20,000 wells in the county by 2022 (Garfield County 2007). Estimates of surface disturbance associated with oil and gas development approximate the surface disturbance associated with each well pad at 3 acres, and the disturbance associated with the access roads at 4 acres per mile, with an average of 5 miles of access road for each well pad (BLM 2007). Using these estimates, the associated range of disturbance for the projected total is between 345,000 and 460,000 acres of disturbance. Several commodities are currently mined in Mesa and Garfield counties. There are currently four active (not producing) coal permits in Mesa County, and five active (four out of five are not producing) coal permits in Garfield County. To date, four coal mine applications are under review in Mesa County. Table 4-11, 2007 Coal Production in Colorado, lists the current producing coal mines in Colorado and the amount of coal produced from each mine in 2007. The MCM is the only producing mine in the project area; this mine is located approximately 3 miles north of the proposed Red Cliff Mine. Between January and December 2007, over 36 million tons of coal was extracted in Colorado (Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety 2008). Table 4-11 2007 COAL PRODUCTION IN COLORADO
Mine Name Bowie # 2 Mine McClane Canyon Elk Creek Mine West Elk Mine King Coal Mine King II Mine Colowyo Coal Mine Trapper Strip New Horizon Mine County Delta Garfield Gunnison Gunnison La Plata La Plata Moffat Moffat Montrose Production (tons) 5,480,571 247,120 4,823,662 6,893,096 462,736 7,434 5,621,924 2,477,549 406,279

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Table 4-11 2007 COAL PRODUCTION IN COLORADO
Mine Name Deserado Foidel Creek Mine TOTAL
Source: Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety 2008 Note: Total production is from 1/2007 through 12/2007.

County Rio Blanco Routt

Production (tons) 1,424,019 8,290,894 36,135,284

Figure 4-14, Counties with Active Coal Production in Colorado, shows the counties in Colorado that currently contain producing coal mines. With the exception of La Plata County, all of the currently producing coal mines are located in northwest Colorado. The National Mining Association (NMA) expects that, over the long term, coal production and use would frequently set annual records (NMA 2007). It is reasonably foreseeable that coal mining would continue in northwest Colorado. Mesa and Garfield counties have numerous active sand and gravel permits. Both counties have a small number of borrow material for construction and sandstone permits. Mesa County has one active gold permit, one active quartz/granite permit, and one application in review for uranium mining. Garfield County has several active oil shale permits, limestone permits, and one application in review for gravel. See Table 4-12, Active Mine Permits – Mesa and Garfield Counties, Colorado, for acreage totals for all active mine permits in Mesa and Garfield counties. Table 4-12 ACTIVE MINE PERMITS MESA AND GARFIELD COUNTIES, COLORADO
Commodities Mined Mesa County Coal Sand and gravel Gravel Borrow material for construction Sandstone Gold Quartz, granite Garfield County Coal Oil shale Sand and gravel Gravel Borrow material for construction Sandstone Limestone Source: Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety. No date. 3,678.5 6,192.8 2,247.6 86.7 9.8 3.3 68.0 10,114.0 4,216.6 323.5 96.1 8.4 5.0 9.3 Permit Acreage

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It is reasonably foreseeable that energy development activities would continue in Mesa and Garfield counties due to increasing energy prices and the Energy Policy Act’s (2005) objective to increase production of domestic coal reserves. When final figures are calculated, it is predicted that the total number of APDs processed in Colorado in 2007 would be approximately 6,280, which represents a 4 percent increase from the number of APDs approved in 2006 (COGCC 2007). Annual APDs increased by 1,592 percent in Garfield County between 1996 and 2006, and APDs increased by 2,309 percent in Mesa County over the same time period (COGCC 2007) (see Table 4-13, Annual Applications for Permit to Drill). Mining experienced the largest growth in employment in Mesa County between 2004 and 2005, rising 50.1 percent (Colorado Department of Labor and Employment 2006). It is projected that the support activities for mining industry in Mesa County would grow 53.2 percent between 2004 and 2014 (Colorado Department of Labor and Employment 2007 as cited in Mesa County 2007b). Table 4-13 ANNUAL APPLICATIONS FOR PERMIT TO DRILL (APDs)
County Garfield Mesa 1996 APDs 109 11 2006 APDs 1,845 265 Percent Increase 1,592 2,309

Source: Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 2007 Note: APD = Application for Permit to Drill

Other than CAM’s application, there are currently no formal plans or applications for coal leasing before the BLM near the project area. Additional NEPA documentation would be required on any applications submitted. As a result of the energy boom, land use and development is growing in Mesa and Garfield counties. Within the project area in Mesa County, there are approximately 20 active development applications for residential, commercial, and agricultural development as of mid2008 (Mesa County 2008a). There are no major highway projects planned in Mesa County within the project area (Mesa County 2008a). Outside of the project area, there are approximately 125 development applications in Mesa County for small developments, and CDOT is planning minor improvements to I-70 and minor road and bridge improvements within Mesa County. A permit was approved by Mesa County in 2007 to reopen two underground uranium mines near Gateway, approximately 40 miles south of the project area (Mesa County 2008b). Garfield County issued approximately 650 building permits between January 2007 and May 2008, none of which occur in the project area (Edinger 2008). According to CDOT (2008), there are four construction projects planned for Garfield County in 2008, none of which are within the project area.

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WYOMING

NEBRASKA
Sedgwick

Moffat Routt

Jackson

Larimer

Logan Weld Phillips

Project Area

UTAH
Rio Blanco Garfield Mesa Delta Montrose Ouray San Miguel Hinsdale San Juan Dolores Montezuma La Plata

Grand

Boulder Gilpin

Broomfield

Morgan Yuma Adams Washington

Eagle

Clear Creek Summit Jefferson

Denver

Arapahoe

KANSAS

Douglas Pitkin Lake Park Teller Gunnison Chaffee El Paso

Elbert

Kit Carson

Lincoln Cheyenne

Fremont Crowley Saguache Custer Pueblo Bent

Kiowa

Otero Mineral Huerfano Alamosa Las Animas

Prowers

Rio Grande

Baca

Archuleta

Conejos

Costilla

NEW MEXICO
Legend Counties with active coal production Counties with no active coal production

OKLAHOMA
Red Cliff Mine EIS

Figure 4-14 Counties with Active Coal Production in Colorado

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4.5.2.1 Cumulative Impacts by Resource
Resources Not Evaluated for Cumulative Impacts The project area is not located in any areas of critical environmental concern; designated, eligible, or potentially eligible wild and scenic rivers; prime or unique farmlands; or wilderness areas. This project would not significantly contribute to climate change impacts to these areas. There would be no effects on wild horses or burros, health and safety, or hazardous materials. Since any impacts to wetland or riparian areas would be mitigated and there would be no net loss, there would be no contribution to cumulative effects for these resources. Land Ownership and Use Past Land Use Cumulative Impacts Historic Mesa and Garfield counties were largely based on farming, ranching, and mining; this trend continues today. According to the Loma/Mack Area Plan (Mesa County 2004), Loma began as an agricultural center and saw two periods of growth in the 1910s and the 1930s. Mack was established as a company town for railroad and asphalt workers. Western Garfield County, where the project area is located, is largely unpopulated, and historic land use includes farming, ranching, and mining. Present and Future Land Use Cumulative Impacts Much of the land in Garfield County within the project area is public land managed by the BLM; there are few privately owned parcels. Land ownership in Mesa County within the project area is public land managed by the BLM, state, and private ownership. BLM manages lands in and around the project area for livestock grazing, drilling, wells, range management, wildlife habitat, watershed protection, tourism, and recreation. Land use in the project area within Garfield County is largely BLM-managed activities, including livestock grazing, mining, and recreation. There are few private holdings used for farming and ranching. Land in the project area is currently zoned open space and resource lands within Garfield County. Land use within the project area in Mesa County is primarily farming, ranching, recreational, and residential; with residential and commercial in Mack and Loma. Land is zoned agricultural, forestry, transitional district in the project area in Mesa County, with the exception of Mack and Loma, which have various residential, commercial, and industrial zoning districts. The project area outside of Mack and Loma is sparsely populated, and private land is used primarily for agriculture. Highline Lake State Park is within the project area, and is managed by the CSPs for recreation. The project area north of the Highline Canal is largely unpopulated, as the majority of land is managed by BLM. Much of this land is within the North Fruita Desert Area, and is managed for recreation. CR M.8 and SH 139 are the main transportation corridors within the project area. Future land use in the project area includes an increase in recreation and resource extraction. 4-159

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Residents of Loma and Mack desire two distinct community cores with mixed use business and services, and higher-density residential development. As distance from the core increases, residential densities should decrease, and business and commercial services should be restricted or prohibited entirely (Mesa County 2004). Mesa County acknowledges the value of open lands and encourages the preservation of open land, not only for the maintenance of the County’s economy, but also for the assurance of the continued availability of land for food production, the enjoyment of scenic beauty, recreation, and natural resource usage (Mesa County 1996). Mesa County Zoning Regulations regulate mineral extraction as a conditional use in the AFT. Conditional uses are not considered a right by ownership. Conditional uses must meet certain established criteria, including compatibility with surrounding land uses, adequacy of design, and available public services (Mesa County 2000). At present, Mesa County plans to improve road safety by bringing county roads up to standards for ROWs, building road connections when appropriate and feasible, and maintaining the railroad corridor (Mesa County 2004). Mesa County is projected to have a 66 percent increase in mining, a 124.3 percent increase in support activities for mining, and a 137.8 percent increase in oil and gas extraction between 2006 and 2016 (Colorado Department of Labor and Employment 2008). Cumulative land use impacts in Garfield County in the project area in the future may include increased recreation and resource extraction. Most of the population centers are in eastern Garfield County, in Glenwood Springs, Rifle, and Carbondale. Much of eastern Garfield County has become bedroom communities to support the growing ski industry in Aspen (in Pitkin County) (Crook and Cullen n.d.). Garfield County anticipates development of recreational opportunities for summer and winter sports including fishing, hunting, hiking, back country skiing, various forms of shooting sports, and other forms of recreation on both public and private lands (Garfield County 2002). Currently, BLM has no plans for recreational development in Garfield County. A developing trend in western Garfield County is small scale “dude ranches” and private fishing retreats. The proximity of the lower Douglas and Baxter Pass areas to the growing Grand Junction area, coupled with the kinds of up-scale retreats being developed in nearby Eagle and Routt counties as a trend, suggests that there may be pressure in the future to develop scenic bottom lands with water rights into small scale resorts and tourism activity centers (Garfield County 2002). The variety of attractions and geography/geology of the area probably also lends itself to the development of some small eco-tourism and place-based topical field trip opportunities in the future (Garfield County 2002). Informal recreation activity is a growing concern in the area as nearby population pressures increase (Garfield County 2002). Currently, Garfield County acknowledges ROWs, public access, and all-terrain vehicle use on county roads as potential current and future cumulative land use impacts (Garfield County 2002). Future transportation projects include general road maintenance and improvements (Garfield County 2002). Long-range transportation planning issues would include regulatory issues, ROWs, and communication strategies with specialized user groups (Garfield County 2002). Garfield County anticipates an increase in natural gas extraction and other resource extraction. As previously mentioned, Garfield County expects a peak natural gas workforce in 2017 (Garfield County 2007). 4-160

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Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Land Use While this project would not significantly increase CO2 concentrations in Colorado, it may contribute to climate change when combined with other projects in the area. Global climate change may affect land use in the project area and vicinity. The potential effects of global climate change could alter water supply, food security, sea level fluctuations, increasing levels of ultraviolet radiation, and natural variances in the ecosystem (ACIA 2004). This may result in a change to land use if the current natural system changes. For example, if net precipitation levels decrease and soil moisture drops, the consequences to selected Colorado crops and livestock could be moderate to severe, especially along the western slope (CDPHE 1998), and current agricultural lands may no longer be suitable for their current land use. Cumulative Impacts of Land Use on Global Climate Change Previous land use, including energy extraction, mining, and energy development, may have contributed to global climate change. The history of agriculture and rangeland land use in the cumulative impact area may have contributed to global climate change. Agriculture may contribute to global climate change through farm machinery emissions. However, modification to grazing practices, such as rotational grazing, may lead to GHG reductions through soil carbon sequestration and may affect emissions of methane and nitrous oxide (N2O) (EPA 2006). Grazing The cumulative impact area is defined as the project area. Some of the acreage lost to energy development would diminish the amount of available grazing lands. The contribution of this project would result in approximately 452 acres of vegetation disturbance and lost livestock forage within BLM grazing allotments. Since the forage loss is such a small portion (<0.2 percent) of the 9,928 active AUMs available on the allotments, the contribution to overall cumulative loss is insignificant. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Grazing There is potential for global climate change to impact rangelands. The combination of increases in CO2 concentration, in conjunction with changes in rainfall and temperature, were found to be likely to have significant impacts on rangelands, with production decreases in semiarid regions (Easterling et al. 2007). This may result in result in reductions of forage quality and palatability, possibly leading to compounding feed problems (CDPHE 1998). Where low nutritional production from rangelands is already a chronic problem, this effect could be pronounced (CDPHE 1998). In the event that climate change was to lead to upward transition of altitudinal zones in the mountain ranges, growing seasons in the mountains would likely be longer. An earlier growing season in the mountains could make it possible for ranchers to move their livestock into the higher-elevation ranges, while a later fall could allow them to bring their animals out later. The result could be a longer summer grazing season (Wagner 1998). Cumulative Impacts of Grazing on Global Climate Change As stated in Section 4.1.1, Land Ownership and Use, historical rangeland management practices in the cumulative impact area may sequester carbon and other GHGs.

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Recreation

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

The cumulative impact area is defined as the project area. Cumulative impacts to recreation would be minimal, as the amount of land removed from recreation is negligible compared to the total acreage of recreational lands in the project area. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Recreation Many types of outdoor recreation are weather-dependent. Snowpack is the basis for the skiing industry and other winter recreation, while snowmelt and runoff provide water for summer recreational use. Changes in precipitation and temperature regimes may either positively or negatively impact different sectors of the recreation industry. For example, the skiing industry would be negatively affected by a shorter skiing season due to early- and late-season rains. On the contrary, an earlier snowmelt might positively affect the rafting industry, allowing river tours to begin earlier in the year. Wildlife provides the basis for fishing, hunting, and other sectors of the recreation industry. Wildlife-associated recreation attracted over 3.5 million hunters to the Rocky Mountain Region in 1996, an average of 48 percent of our population (USFWS 1997 as cited in Toweill 1998). Cumulative Impacts of Recreation on Global Climate Change Cumulative impacts of recreation on global climate change include automobile emissions of recreationists traveling to recreation areas, and emissions due to OHV and other recreational vehicle use. Socioeconomics The cumulative impact assessment area for socioeconomics includes Mesa and Garfield counties, since most of the new employment and population produced by the Proposed Action would be resident in Mesa County, and because both Mesa and Garfield counties would receive tax and royalty revenue generated by this project. Mesa County’s employment, income, and population have all been growing rapidly in the recent past, largely the result of two factors: the county’s emergence as the regional support and service center for oil and gas development in western Colorado and the popularity of the area for relocating retirees. The county’s population grew at a rate of over 2 percent annually from 2000 to 2005, and that rate is expected to continue. The 2010 population is projected at 144,711; the year 2015 population at 162,268. The potential population increase of 814 attributable to the Proposed Action would represent about 5 percent of the growth that Mesa County is expected to have between 2010 and 2015. The unemployment rate in Mesa County decreased from approximately 6.5 percent in January 2004 to 4.8 percent in January 2006 (Colorado Department of Local Affairs 2007). The unemployment rate in Garfield County decreased from 4.4 percent in 2004 to 2.2 percent in September 2007 (On Board LLC 2008). The total natural gas workforce operating in Garfield County is projected to peak at about 5,300 workers in approximately 2017, and then gradually decline to an ongoing maintenance workforce of less than 2,900 workers (Garfield County 2007). About 50 percent of these workers would be based out of Garfield County, with most of the remainder commuting in from companies based in Mesa County (Garfield County 2007). 4-162

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Federal mineral royalties, state severance tax receipts, and local property tax receipts to jurisdictions in both Mesa and Garfield counties have grown rapidly over the last decade due to the explosive growth of oil and gas development in the area. These revenues should continue into the foreseeable future. The Proposed Action would add to that revenue stream, contributing as much as 5 percent to the total resource-related revenue that Mesa and Garfield counties would receive annually. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Socioeconomics Global climate change could impact socioeconomics within the project area. Changes in climate may affect people’s lifestyles and livelihoods, as discussed throughout Section 4.5, Cumulative Impacts. Economic vulnerability to climate change is generally higher in areas whose economies are closely linked with climate-sensitive resources, such as agricultural industries, water demands, and tourism (Wilbanks et al. 2007). The most substantial economic impacts related to climate change within the project area are discussed in the following text. Decreases in rangeland productivity could result in a decline in the overall contribution of the livestock industry to Colorado’s economy. Because of the sheer size of this component within Colorado’s economy this could detrimentally affect not only the livestock industry but many related industries as well (CDPHE 1998). A change in the precipitation amount and timing due to projected climate-change scenarios would probably necessitate major infrastructural improvements including more dams and reservoirs, water-delivery systems (e.g., culverts, pumps), storm-sewer systems, and/or treatment plants. Energy demand may increase with climate change. Higher summer temperatures may lead to an increase in demand for air conditioning, and colder winter temperatures may lead to an increased demand for heat. In order to satisfy these demands, larger-capacity power plants (or maximizing capacity of existing plants) with the associated increase of fuel consumption and changes in energy-delivery systems to accommodate the additional loads may be required (U.S. National Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Change 1998). As previously mentioned, cumulative impacts to recreation from climate change could negatively or positively affect the recreation industry, manifesting in increased or decreased revenue to different sectors of the recreation industry. Weather inversion patterns related to climate change may be detrimental to public health, as particulate matter would increase during inversion events. This would result in increased economic costs to treat public illness related to this problem, and to treat the problem itself. Current technology has the capability to treat air pollution, and laws are in place to insure that people breathe clean air, but capping air-pollution levels comes at a high cost (U.S. National Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Change 1998). Increased drought and water availability may be side effects of climate change. A lack of water may negatively impact the recreation industry, livestock industry, and agriculture industry in Colorado. Water availability may also negatively affect municipalities and utilities. Cumulative Impacts of Socioeconomics on Global Climate Change Not applicable. 4-163

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Transportation

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

The increase in traffic due to energy development and related growth in Mesa and Garfield counties is expected to have an impact to the transportation system. These impacts could include adding more rural roads to accommodate development, the potential for more vehicle collisions as a result of increased traffic, and more wear and tear on the existing transportation system. The relatively small increase in vehicular traffic as a result of this project would be an insignificant addition to traffic increases in Garfield and Mesa counties. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Transportation The total emissions from the transportation sector represent 27.7 percent of Colorado’s 1990 carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion (CDPHE 1998). However, the proposed use of a railroad to transport 8,000,000 tpy of coal is the most environmentally efficient method of transporting materials. Railroad locomotives currently meet EPA Tier 2 emission standards and would meet (probably earlier than the required dates) the Tier 3 and 4 emission standards that take effect in 2012 and 2015. Each railcar carries the equivalent of 4.5 truck loads of coal. A 120-car train with five locomotives would replace the equivalent of 540 trucks. Transportation systems, including roads, runways, and railroad corridors, could be washed out by flooding due to climate change. See the Floodplains discussion of this section for additional discussion. Cumulative Impacts of Transportation on Global Climate Change Emissions from the railroad and worker vehicles during mine construction and operation may contribute to global climate change. Utilities Cumulative impacts to utilities would be limited to utility upgrades associated with increased residential development to house workers. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Utilities As discussed in the Socioeconomics discussion of this section, change in the precipitation amount and timing due to projected climate-change scenarios would probably necessitate major infrastructural improvements. Current storm-sewer systems may be taxed by weather-pattern changes such as more intense summer storms. The capacity of these systems would likely have to increase in order to offset economic and social effects of flooding (U.S. National Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Change 1998). Cumulative Impacts of Utilities on Global Climate Change Indirect impacts to global climate change may result from emissions during construction of utilities. Direct impacts to global climate change may result from operation and maintenance of utilities and associated facilities. Visual The visual landscape of Mesa and Garfield counties is changing due to industrial, commercial, and residential development. With the addition of gas wells, pipelines, new subdivisions, roads, transmission lines, and commercial establishments, the visible rural character of the landscape is 4-164

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changing on private and BLM lands. This project would add incremental changes to cumulative landscape changes. Due to the widespread nature and areal extent of the foreseeable changes, the contribution is not substantial. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Visual Resources As discussed in subsequent text within this section, climate change may impact amount of surface water, vegetation distribution patterns and amounts, and soil stability. All of these impacts would result in changes to the visual characteristics of the project area. Cumulative Impacts of Visual Resources on Global Climate Change Not applicable. Noise As energy and related development continues in Mesa and Garfield counties, the general background noise levels would rise. Perception of this would depend somewhat on where the noise generators are located. Many of the new wells and associated facilities may be located in areas with few receptors. Other generators such as increased vehicular noise would be located in areas of higher population densities and thus be more perceptible. Currently 11 trains per day (on average) pass through Mack and sound their horns for the at-grade crossings. This project would contribute to the rise in noise levels from barely perceptible (such as at the mine site) to moderate affects. The train horn noise would be the most perceptible and would add to the number of times the residents in the vicinity of Mack and along the UPRR would hear train horns. When considered with the magnitude of the projected regional growth, other project noise would be an insignificant contribution to the background levels. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Noise Global climate change would have no effect on noise. Cumulative Impacts of Noise on Global Climate Change Not applicable. Air Quality The cumulative impact area is based on the areas modeled in Chapter 3. With respect to current activities, past projects, and the currently proposed mine, the air quality impact analysis discussed earlier in this chapter provides a simplified cumulative analysis through the examination of near-field impacts. The near-field analysis, which considered impacts within 1 kilometer of the proposed mine site, is an assessment of air quality with a given “background” pollutant concentration added into the final modeled value. The background values for each modeled pollutant were recommended by CDPHE staff and/or from data collected by the CDPHE. The most recent years of representative data were chosen for background concentrations, in order to better simulate a cumulative air quality impact analysis. The appropriate background concentration was added to all modeled concentrations in the nearfield analysis, and the total concentrations were compared to applicable federal and state air quality standards. Total concentrations for most pollutants were under 50 percent of the applicable standard, indicating that the area has “room to grow” before any cumulative negative impacts occur. Total concentrations of short term (1-hour) carbon monoxide, as well as PM10 4-165

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and PM2.5, were in a range of 40 to 70 percent of the applicable standards, indicating that the area might have less “room to grow” for those pollutants. The far-field analysis does not provide a similar simplified approach to a cumulative analysis. However, the far-field analysis results (for the production/operation phase) show negligible impact to ambient air standards, visibility, and deposition in the Class I and sensitive Class II areas (with an exception for 24-hour PM10 in the Colorado National Monument). Despite the expected growth in the oil and gas and mining sectors in the region, the far-field analysis results indicate that significant growth would be necessary, perhaps more than what is planned now, before a cumulative air quality impact would be observed in the far-field. PSD permitting procedures include thorough cumulative analyses for major facilities before a construction permit is granted, with the idea that cumulative negative impacts at Class I areas should be prevented and controlled through the air quality construction permitting process. Additionally, the CDPHE is required to conduct cumulative modeling analyses periodically throughout the state in order to prevent negative impacts from occurring. The expected oil and gas operations entering this area would be expected to have a minimal impact on CO, VOC, SO2, and particulate matter. Statewide emission regulations for the oil and gas industry require controls on oil and gas equipment for NOx, CO, and VOC emissions, and recently promulgated federal regulations addressing reciprocating engines would require NOx, CO, and VOC emission controls on new or modified equipment used at oil and gas facilities. Sulfur dioxide and particulate matter emissions are generally not a concern with oil and gas operations. Future planned mining operations in northwest Colorado, in conjunction with existing facilities and this proposed mine, could possibly result in future cumulative particulate matter impacts. As noted earlier, the near-field analysis conducted for this proposed mine shows that total PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations (including the background concentrations) are within 40 to 70 percent of the particulate ambient standards. Over time, if extensive mining industry growth continues, a cumulative particulate matter impact could be encountered in west/northwest Colorado. However, both state and federal air quality construction permit processes require modeling assessments for many projects, and these assessments often involve cumulative analyses in order to discover and mitigate cumulative impacts before any construction permits are issued. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Air Quality Localized air-pollution levels (particulate, ozone) may increase due to climate change. Inversion development patterns might change with increased atmospheric moisture. More frequent and longer-lasting inversion events may trap high levels of particulate in the inverted atmosphere; this would have a detrimental effect on the public’s health but would also impose an economic cost on society to treat both the health and pollution problem (U.S. National Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Change 1998). Cumulative Impacts of Air Quality on Global Climate Change The project’s contribution to global climate change is 3,888,242 tons per year of CO2e or an estimated 3 percent increase of total annual CO2e emissions within the state of Colorado (based on statewide emissions during 2005) (CDPHE 2007). This is equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of 0.76 coal-fired power plants and the CO2 emissions from the energy use of 311,332 homes for one year (EPA 2008b). 4-166

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It is not possible within the scope of this analysis to estimate or calculate the effect that GHG emissions from this project would have on global warming. However, a study of global climate change in the Rocky Mountain/Great Basin region was reported in the US National Assessment of the Potential Effects of Climate Change and Variability: Rocky Mountain / Great Basin Region (Wagner et al. 2003). The study concluded that possible climate changes could reduce stresses on the region's water resources due to increased overall precipitation, primarily in the form of rain. However, reduced snowpack and earlier melting could change the timing and availability of water in the region, and could adversely affect winter sports. Climate changes could also alter natural ecosystems. Intensification of extreme events would be expected due to climate change, including more frequent and potentially more intense forest and range fires, drought, and floods. Climate change impacts attributable to the proposed project cannot be quantified due to the extremely complex global circulation modeling effort that would be required. Cultural Resources/Native American Religious Concerns Impacts to cultural resources in Mesa and Garfield counties are increasing due to industrial, commercial, and residential development. With the addition of gas wells, pipelines, new subdivisions, roads, transmission lines, and commercial enterprises, cultural resources are likely being impacted on private and BLM lands. As this project would not directly impact any significant cultural resources, contributions to cumulative impacts would be minimal and insignificant. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Cultural Resources/Native American Religious Concerns Archaeological evidence is preserved in the ground because it has reached a balance with the hydrological, chemical, and biological processes of the soil. Short and long cycles of change to these parameters may result in a poorer level of survival of some sensitive classes of material. And the conditions for conservation of archaeological evidence may be degraded in the context of increasing soil temperature. Climate change may impact the amount of surface water, vegetation distribution patterns and amounts, and soil stability. Climate change may also alter the degree and frequency of severe storm events that could lead to increased erosion. All of these impacts could result in changes to archaeological sites. Cumulative Impacts of Cultural Resources/Native American Religious Concerns on Global Climate Change Not applicable. Geology and Minerals Mining may contribute or aggravate landslide movements and small seismic events. Given the natural geologic instability in the area, this determination is difficult to quantify. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Geology and Minerals Global climate change would have no effect on geology and minerals. Cumulative Impacts of Geology and Minerals on Global Climate Change Not applicable. 4-167

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Paleontological Resources

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Impacts to paleontological resources in Mesa and Garfield counties are increasing due to industrial, commercial, and residential development. With the addition of gas wells, pipelines, new subdivisions, roads, transmission lines, and commercial enterprises, paleontological resources are likely being impacted on private and BLM lands. This project would add incremental changes to cumulative paleontological resources impacts. Due to the widespread nature and areal extent of the foreseeable changes, the contribution is not substantial. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Paleontological Resources Similar to cultural resources, paleontological evidence is preserved in the ground because it has reached a balance with the hydrological, chemical, and biological processes of the soil. Short and long cycles of change to these parameters may result in a poorer level of survival of some sensitive classes of material. Conditions for conservation of some sensitive types of paleontological evidence may be degraded in the context of increasing soil temperature. Climate change may impact the amount of surface water, vegetation distribution patterns and amounts, and soil stability. Climate change may also alter the degree and frequency of severe storm events that could lead to increased erosion. All of these impacts could result in changes to paleontological resources. Cumulative Impacts of Paleontology on Global Climate Change Not applicable. Soils Cumulatively, hundreds of thousands of acres of soil would be impacted in the reasonably foreseeable future. Project impacts of approximately 452 acres would be an insignificant addition to the cumulative total for Mesa and Garfield counties. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Soils Nitrous oxide is produced from natural soil processes and the application of commercial fertilizer to soil. The application of commercial nitrogen fertilizers increases soil’s nitrogen source and thus increases nitrogen oxide emissions. According to the CDPHE (1998), Colorado’s 1990 nitrous oxide emissions from the Fertilizer Use Sector represent 0.8 percent of the state’s total GHG emissions in the baseline year, ranking seventh quantitatively; and in 1990, the sector emitted 2,793 tons of N2O, which equated to 865,963 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. The ability of ecosystems to sequester carbon is likely to be constrained by levels of nitrogen ability and fixation, as well as availability of other key nutrients (Hungate et al. 2003, as cited in Fischlin et al. 2007). Colorado forests contain approximately 40 percent of all soil carbon in the state. Hence, forests and forest soils play a significant role in the carbon cycle as source (e.g., deforestation, and forest degradation) and sinks (e.g., reforestation, afforestation) of carbon (CDPHE 1998). Climate change impacts to vegetation are addressed in subsequent text. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) models suggest a marked decrease in soil moisture over some midcontinental regions during the summer (EPA 1997). Drought is addressed in the surface water discussion of this section.

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Even though Colorado’s forest soils can act as carbon sinks, net carbon storage in Colorado’s forests may not increase because of the associated stimulation of soil organic matter decomposition by soil warming (CDPHE 1998). Increases in net primary productivity could be offset by increased soil respiration due to the warmer temperatures (CDPHE 1998). Therefore, it is possible that net ecosystem productivity may not change or could decrease due to climate change. Cumulative Impacts of Soils on Global Climate Change Previous land use practices in the cumulative analysis area include farming and ranching. Application of fertilizers to soils may contribute to global climate change; deforestation and degradation of soils may contribute to global climate change. However, soils may also sequester carbon. Groundwater The cumulative impact area is defined as the project area boundary. Within the project area, there is alluvial and bedrock groundwater that could be impacted by the mine and/or associated surface facilities. The mine is not expected to impact the flow or quality of alluvial groundwater because it would not encounter alluvial groundwater. Once bedrock groundwater is encountered, the water would be collected and pumped from the mine, which would induce a groundwater flow direction toward the underground workings of the mine. However, the inflow to Red Cliff Mine is not expected to alter the regional bedrock groundwater flow regime substantially other than the area immediately surrounding the mine workings because of the low hydraulic conductivity of the bedrock and coal seam. Of the surface facilities associated with the mine, the waste rock pile has the potential to impact shallow alluvial groundwater. A waste rock pile would be constructed and keyed into natural ground with waste rock being compacted in lifts to provide stability. Proper compaction and collection of runoff would minimize infiltration of water to the underlying alluvial groundwater. Considering the poor baseline water quality, any potential infiltration from the waste pile is not expected to degrade the alluvial groundwater quality substantially beyond current conditions. The proposed project would perform all suitable reclamation activities to meet Colorado Groundwater Quality Standards at compliance well locations, resulting in no cumulative downgradient impacts to the regional groundwater. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Groundwater The lack of historic groundwater data makes quantifying climate change impacts to groundwater infeasible. Historically, non-climatic factors such as irrigation have led to lowering of the groundwater table. Groundwater systems respond more slowly to climate change than surface water systems. However, climate change would affect groundwater recharge rates and groundwater levels due to a shifting of recharge towards winter, earlier runoff, thawing of permafrost, changes in vegetation, and increased magnitude of floods (Kundzewicz et al. 2007). Cumulative changes that impact groundwater recharge (e.g., changes in precipitation, runoff timing, variations in evapotranspiration associated with vegetation changes, or wildfire, etc.) could affect groundwater levels. Climate shifts to hotter, dryer environments would be expected to lead to decreased groundwater levels, which could reduce the presence and volume of springs discharge, baseflow to streams, and available pumping resources.

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Not applicable. Surface Water

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Cumulative Impacts of Groundwater on Global Climate Change

The cumulative impact area is the project area and watershed. Past impacts to water quality have been a result of the naturally occurring high intensity storm events that have caused the selenium-laden soils to erode and wash sediment downstream to the Colorado River. Due to the naturally occurring high concentrations, segments of the Colorado River are impaired for selenium. Cumulative impacts on surface water bodies affected by the Proposed Action would be limited primarily to water bodies that are affected by other projects within the same watershed, such as the construction and long term impacts from other energy development in the area and associated municipal communities growing to meet the population to support the energy development. Direct in-stream impacts associated with construction runoff and increased sediment loads during initial storm events following construction would have the greatest impacts on surface water resources for all activities. Following a short term period of increased erosion potential during construction, there should be little impact to surface-water hydrology due to construction and operation of the Proposed Action. The CDPHE-Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) requires a construction stormwater permit and industrial stormwater permit to minimize the impacts of these activities. With the applicant complying with the CDPHE-WQCD permitting requirements, long term impacts would be minimal, and sediment and selenium contributions to the Colorado River insignificant. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Surface Water According to the EPA (1997) and Kundzewicz et al. (2007), warmer climate would lead to earlier spring snowmelt, resulting in increased streamflows in winter and spring and decreased streamflows in summer and fall. Most of Colorado’s reservoirs are small in relation to total runoff; therefore, earlier snowmelt could reduce the reliability of many water supply systems within the state by limiting the amount stored for use in summer. These effects could be mitigated if summer rainfall increases (EPA 1997). A warmer climate would increase the risk of floods and drought (Wetherald and Manabe 2002, IPCC 2007, as cited in Kundzewicz et al. 2007). Snowmelt is forecasted to occur earlier in the year and less abundant in the melt period, potentially leading to increased risk of drought in snowmelt-fed basins in the summer and fall when water demand is the highest (Barnett et al. 2005, as cited in Kundzewicz et al. 2007). Increased drought in the project area could result in decreased water availability for public consumption and recreation. Drought may also affect vegetation, fisheries, soils, wildlife habitat, and the likelihood of increased occurrence and/or more extensive wildfires. Decreased water availability may result in negative economic impacts to the livestock industry, recreation industry, utilities, and farming/ranching as described in the socioeconomics discussion within this section. Cumulative Impacts of Surface Water on Global Climate Change Not applicable. Floodplains The cumulative impact area is the floodplains within and surrounding the project area. The cumulative impact on the floodplain would be the effect of floodwater storage during storm 4-170

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events. As the floodplains in the region are altered, their ability to provide floodwater storage capacity for the region would be diminished. All of the potentially future developments in the region have the possibility to impact floodplains cumulatively in the regions by either direct construction within the floodplain or by creating impervious surface areas that could increase the volume of water within the floodplains in this region. Because this project would not alter the capacity for floodwater storage, it would not contribute to the cumulative impacts to regional floodplains. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Floodplains Global climate change may lead to temperature increases, which may, in turn, result in earlier spring snowmelt that may lead to flooding. As identified in the U.S. National Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Change (1998), flooding may threaten public works that would require major infrastructural changes. Major highways and side roads could be washed out, inundated, or broken apart by increased frost-heave occurrences. Airport runways and railroad corridors are also subject to similar climate-related damages disrupting other links in the transportation system. These types of disruptions not only require major economic investments in repair or rebuilding, but also could affect individuals’ economic livelihood. Increased commuter time, higher food and other goods transportation costs, increased fuel taxes to cover road-construction costs, were identified as a few of the likely economic and social consequences climate changes may inflict (U.S. National Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Change 1998). Cumulative Impacts of Floodplains on Global Climate Change Not applicable. Vegetation The cumulative impact area is the project area. The greatest amount of disturbance associated with the Proposed Action would be within shrubland vegetation associations, especially salt desert shrub (194 acres) and sagebrush (68 acres) associations (Table 4-9, Vegetation Associations Impacted by Proposed Action). Within the entire study area, approximately 0.64 percent of the shrublands, 0.37 percent of woodlands and forests, and 1.28 percent of talus, rock outcrops, and bare soil would be directly impacted by construction and development activities. Impacts of the Proposed Action would be an insignificant contribution to cumulative impact on vegetation and invasive species that are part of the overall impacts of energy-related vegetative disturbance in Mesa and Garfield counties. Reasonably foreseeable disturbance of native vegetation is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of acres. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Vegetation Vegetation growth is governed by soil moisture, precipitation, temperature, evaporation, solar radiation, and GHG concentrations. Vegetation models have shown that conifer forests would shift northward and that lower-elevation forest ecotones would stay about the same or rise slightly in the Rockies and Colorado Plateau due to climate change (Neilson 1998). As previously mentioned in the soils discussion of this chapter, Colorado forests contain approximately 80 percent of all above ground carbon in vegetation and about 40 percent of all soil carbon and play a significant role in the carbon cycle. In some cases, the forests’ sink role might enhance forest growth due to carbon dioxide fertilization. As a general rule, forest 4-171

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productivity and the diversity of species would increase with temperature, nutrient availability, and precipitation (CDPHE 1998). The frequency and intensity of drought conditions across Colorado could increase as net precipitation levels decrease and soil moisture drops (CDPHE 1998). The consequences to selected Colorado crops and livestock could be moderate to severe, especially along the western slope and eastern plains (CDPHE 1998). In addition, a large fraction of Colorado forests could be lost in response to increased summer droughts resulting from decreased water availability (CDPHE 1998). Additionally, since water shortages during part of the year already impact Colorado forests, this effect could be amplified by intensification of summer soil water deficits. The overall impact could be an increase in the incidence of summer drought and an increase in forest disease, pest outbreaks, and mortality (CDPHE 1998). A direct result of this could be to increase the probability of forest fires and extend the hazard to areas that are not now affected. In areas of the state with large quantities of built up fuel, particularly Colorado’s Front Range forests, the risk of increased forest fires may be exacerbated (CDPHE 1998). Cumulative Impacts of Vegetation on Global Climate Change Historical activities in the project area have included disturbance of vegetation through development and other construction projects, agriculture, and restoration of vegetation. Any cumulative vegetation-disturbing activity may contribute to global climate change through the release of CO2 sequestered in vegetation and soils. Any revegetation efforts would decrease impacts on global climate change due to carbon sequestration. Fish and Wildlife It is estimated that energy development in Mesa and Garfield counties would impact hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat. Habitat effectiveness would also be reduced due to fragmentation and increased access. The loss of 68 acres of sagebrush habitat at the base of the Book Cliffs would contribute to the loss of CDOW mapped winter range for deer, elk, and pronghorn in the project area (see Figure 3-24, Winter & Severe Winter Range). The contribution to the regional loss would be insignificant. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Fish and Wildlife As discussed in the vegetation discussion within this section, climate change models predict that vegetation types would migrate northward due to climate change, thus potentially altering current wildlife habitat. As previously addressed in the recreation discussion within this section, wildlife contributes to the recreation industry, and climate change may negatively affect wildlife, thus impacting the recreation industry. As discussed in Toweill (1998), climate-related changes that might have an impact on wildlife include the following: • • • Water availability and water quality Changes that affect the timing of plant development would affect the availability of food and shelter for many species of wildlife Changes in plant distribution 4-172

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•

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Changes in wildlife habitat distribution and availability.

Changes in migration patterns due to climate change may also negatively affect wildlife. A study done in Colorado found that if animal movements are disrupted by changing snow patterns, increased wildlife mortality may result (Inouye et al. 2000 as cited in Fischlin et al. 2007). Natural disturbances (e.g., avalanches, fire, etc.) are strongly dependent on climate and may prevent recruitment and limit migration responses of wildlife (Fischlin et al. 2007). Cumulative Impacts of Wildlife on Global Climate Change Not applicable. Threatened and Endangered Species Reasonably foreseeable regional development has the potential to impact Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive aquatic species in the Colorado River Basin through changes in water quality, water withdrawals, and physical habitat disturbance. The diversion of up to 3 cfs of water from Mack Wash, combined with other upstream water diversions, may lead to cumulative effects on threatened and endangered aquatic species in Mack Wash. However, the effects of water diversion would be mitigated with payment to the USFWS Recovery Program. This water depletion and potential impacts to Mack Wash would be an insignificant contribution to potential regional impacts. Global Climate Change Cumulative Impacts to Threatened and Endangered Species Global climate change impacts to Threatened and Endangered species would be identical to global climate change cumulative impacts to fish and wildlife. Cumulative Impacts of Threatened and Endangered Species on Global Climate Change Not applicable.

4.5.2.2 Summary of Impacts and Mitigation Measures
Table 4-14, Summary of Impacts of Each Alternative Compared to the Proposed Action, contains a comparison of each alternative to the Proposed Action by each resource discussed within this document. The intent of this table is to help decision-makers and the public understand how the impacts of the grade-separated crossing at CR M.8; noiseless crossing traffic control devices; and Transmission Line Alternatives A, B, and C compare to the Proposed Action. Appendix B, Standard Practices and Mitigation Measures, lists all of the applicable laws, regulations, policies, additional BLM/Cooperating Agency recommended mitigation and enhancements, and operator-proposed features to mitigate impacts by resource.

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Table 4-14 SUMMARY OF IMPACTS OF EACH ALTERNATIVE COMPARED TO THE PROPOSED ACTION
Alternative Resource Land Ownership and Use Grade-separated Crossing at CR M.8 Long term impacts to land use from this alternative would include a permanent change in land use for land acquired to construct the bridge to a utility ROW. Temporary and permanent land use impacts due to the grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 are as follows: • Temporary: A 100-foot bridge would be constructed with a construction ROW of 150 feet for a total temporary disturbance of approximately 0.3 acre Long term: The permanent ROW would decrease to 115 feet, yielding approximately 0.3 acre of permanent disturbance (no substantive difference from temporary) Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative A would cross 4.11 miles of BLM lands within the North Fruita Desert SRMA as compared to 7.09 miles crossed by the Proposed Action. Therefore, impacts of Alternative A would be less than the Proposed Action. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Same as Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative A Additional private lands north of the Highline Canal would be required for construction of the transmission line.

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Transmission Line Alternative B Additional private lands north of the Highline Canal would be required for construction of the transmission line.

Transmission Line Alternative C Same as Proposed Action.

•

Grazing Wilderness and Special Designations

Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative B would cross 5.83 miles of BLM lands within the North Fruita Desert SRMA as compared to 7.09 miles crossed by the Proposed Action. Therefore, impacts of Alternative B would be less than the Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative C would cross 7.69 miles of BLM lands within the North Fruita Desert SRMA as compared to 7.09 miles crossed by the Proposed Action. However, 3.4 miles would parallel the railroad/pipeline corridor; therefore, impacts of Alternative C would be less than the Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative C crosses 5 trails as compared to 6 trails crossed by the Proposed Action. Therefore, impacts to recreation under this alternative would be less than the Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Recreation

Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action.

Transmission Line Alternative A crosses 1 trail as compared to 6 trails crossed by the Proposed Action. Therefore, impacts to recreation under this alternative would be less than the Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Transmission Line Alternative B crosses 1 trail as compared to 6 trails crossed by the Proposed Action. Therefore, impacts to recreation under this alternative would be less than the Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Socioeconomics

The construction employment and expenditures for this crossing could be slightly more than those for the rail spur as proposed. If so, the temporary employment and income effects associated with the construction phase of the project may be marginally greater than those of the Proposed Action. This alternative would lessen some of the social/community concerns regarding traffic safety and noise impacts.

Socioeconomic impacts under this alternative would in general be similar to those of the Proposed Action. This alternative would lessen some of the social/community concerns regarding noise impacts.

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Table 4-14 SUMMARY OF IMPACTS OF EACH ALTERNATIVE COMPARED TO THE PROPOSED ACTION
Alternative Resource Transportation Grade-separated Crossing at CR M.8 Construction of a grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 would lessen transportation impacts as compared to the Proposed Action, as traffic would not be required to stop when a train passes through the intersection. Traffic safety would be better. Same as Proposed Action. A grade-separated railroad crossing at CR M.8 would involve construction of a bridge supported by concrete capped piles. The bridge over Mack Wash and CR M.8 would be approximately 35 feet higher than the existing road grade. This would be highly visible to travelers on CR M.8. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Same as Proposed Action Transmission Line Alternative A Same as Proposed Action.

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Transmission Line Alternative B Same as Proposed Action.

Transmission Line Alternative C Same as Proposed Action.

Utilities Visual

Same as Proposed Action. Noiseless crossing gate systems consist of a series of automatic flashing-light signals and gates where the gates extend across both the approach and departure side of roadway lanes. Unlike two-quadrant gate systems, noiseless crossing gates provide additional visual constraint and inhibit nearly all traffic movements over the crossing after the gates have been lowered (USDOT 2002). These systems are designed to be highly visible for the purpose of increasing safety, especially when a train is approaching and crossing the county roads.

Same as Proposed Action. Transmission line Alternative A is adjacent to 90 parcels of land south of the Highline Canal, crosses 19 parcels of private land north of the Highline Canal, and is adjacent to 1 trail in the North Fruita Desert SRMA. North of the Highline Canal, the line would be parallel with and adjacent to CR 16 for over 5 miles (see Figure 2-12, Proposed Mine Facilities, Map 1 of 5). There are currently no transmission or distribution lines along CR 16 in that location. Visual impacts to residents north of the Highline Canal would be greater than the Proposed Action, as there is currently no transmission line crossing those private land parcels. Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action. Transmission line Alternative B is adjacent to 82 parcels of land south of the Highline Canal, crosses 5 parcels of private land north of the Highline Canal, and crosses 1 trail under construction in the North Fruita Desert SRMA. Visual impacts to residents north of the Highline Canal would be greater than the Proposed Action, as there is currently no transmission line crossing those private land parcels.

Same as Proposed Action. Transmission line Alternative C is adjacent to 96 parcels of land south of the Highline Canal, and crosses 5 trails in the North Fruita Desert SRMA. Over 18,000 feet of the transmission line would parallel the railroad and water pipeline, putting the visual scars in one corridor for that length of line. The transmission line would come within 0.25 mile of SH 139 at its closest point, but is that close for only a short segment (less than 0.5 mile).

Noise

A grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 would reduce noise impacts as compared to the Proposed Action, as the horn would not be sounded at the crossing. Noise impacts would be limited to the passing of the train. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Impacts may be marginally lower than the Proposed Action, as vehicles would not be stopped and idling at the CR M.8 crossing. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

This alternative would eliminate the need for train horns at either or both at grade crossings; substantially lowering the noise impacts.

Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action.

Hazardous Materials Health and Safety Air Quality

Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Cultural Resources Paleontology Geology

Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

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Table 4-14 SUMMARY OF IMPACTS OF EACH ALTERNATIVE COMPARED TO THE PROPOSED ACTION
Alternative Resource Soils Grade-separated Crossing at CR M.8 Impacts to soils from this alternative would include temporary impacts to soils from construction of the bridge over Mack Wash and the railroad grade and raising the grade of CR M.8. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Same as Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative A The majority of impacts to soils would be similar as described for the Proposed Action. Because this alternative follows CR 16 north of the Highline Canal, impacts to soils would be slightly lower than the Proposed Action, as no new access roads would be required. Same as Proposed Action. Impacts during construction would be slightly greater than the Proposed Action due to the line’s location in the Big Salt Wash alluvial floodplain. Impacts during construction would be slightly greater than the Proposed Action due to the line’s location in the Big Salt Wash alluvial floodplain. Alternative A results in slightly decreased disturbance compared to the Proposed Action, with 6 acres of disturbance on BLM lands and less than 1 acre on private lands. Same as Proposed Action.

Environmental Consequences and Mitigation

Transmission Line Alternative B Impacts to soils from this alternative would be slightly less than those described for the Proposed Action, due to reduced acres of disturbance.

Transmission Line Alternative C Impacts to soils from this alternative would be slightly less than those described for the proposed transmission line due to the transmission line following the rail and pipeline corridor for 3.4 miles. This would eliminate the need for additional access for this length of transmission line. Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Groundwater Surface Water

Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action. Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action. Impacts during construction would be slightly greater than the Proposed Action due to the line’s location in the Big Salt Wash alluvial floodplain. Impacts during construction would be slightly greater than the Proposed Action due to the line’s location in the Big Salt Wash alluvial floodplain. Alternative B results in slightly decreased disturbance compared to the Proposed Action, with 10 acres on BLM lands and less than 1 acre on private lands. Same as Proposed Action.

Floodplains

Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action.

Vegetation

Long term impacts to vegetation would result from construction of a gradeseparated crossing at CR M.8. Impacts would be slightly greater due to the larger footprint of the bridge and grade. This alternative would impact an additional 0.33 acres of wetland as compared to the Proposed Action for a total wetland impact of 0.43 acres of jurisdictional wetlands. Additional impact would be related to replacement of the Mack Wash bridge. NWP #12 would be applicable. Construction of the grade-separated crossing at CR M.8 could result in temporary increases in sediment and would result in the permanent removal of a small amount of vegetation at the location of the crossing as compared to the Proposed Action.

Same as Proposed Action.

Alternative C results in slightly decreased disturbance compared to the Proposed Action, with 11 acres on BLM lands and less than 1 acre on private lands. Same as Proposed Action.

Wetlands and Riparian

Same as Proposed Action.

Fish and Wildlife

Same as Proposed Action.

Alternative A results in slightly decreased habitat disturbance compared to the Proposed Action.

Alternative B results in slightly decreased habitat disturbance compared to the Proposed Action.

Alternative C results in slightly decreased habitat disturbance compared to the Proposed Action.

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Table 4-14 SUMMARY OF IMPACTS OF EACH ALTERNATIVE COMPARED TO THE PROPOSED ACTION
Alternative Resource Threatened and Endangered Species Grade-separated Crossing at CR M.8 Same as Proposed Action. Noiseless Crossing Traffic Control Devices Same as Proposed Action. Transmission Line Alternative A This alternative reduces the amount of salt desert shrub vegetation disturbed by the project by 73% to 0.49 acres. Because this represents potential Grand buckwheat habitat, this alternative may result in a decrease