Comments sought on lease of federal coal near Alton

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KANAB — The Bureau of Land Management Kanab Field Office is seeking public comment on the “Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement” for a proposed coal mining project in Kane County. The supplemental draft analyzes potential impacts associated with a proposal to mine federal coal underlying nearly 3,600 acres of public and private land south of Alton.

The Kanab Field Office received an application from Alton Coal Development LLC to lease federal coal near Alton. Alton Coal Development LLC is currently mining coal at the Coal Hollow Mine, which is located on adjacent private lands. The Alton Coal lease tract contains an estimated 49 million tons of recoverable coal.

The BLM released a draft statement for public comment in November 2011. After reviewing the 177,000 comments received expressing concerns with sensitive species (sage-grouse), air quality, wetlands and night sky impacts, the BLM determined that a supplemental statement was necessary. Preparation of the supplemental document began in July 2012.

The BLM worked with federal, state and county partners in developing the supplemental draft to address these concerns and identify additional design features and mitigation measures, such as establishing a lumens cap and requiring off-site mitigation for sage-grouse habitat impacts. The supplemental draft evaluates the impacts of four alternatives: three action alternatives and a no-action alternative, but it does not identify a preferred alternative.

The draft explains the BLM’s determination that the Alton Coal lease tract is unsuitable for surface mining under Coal Unsuitability Criterion 15 (43 CFR 3461.5(o)) based on the presence of sage-grouse leks and priority habitat on and around the proposed lease tract.

The BLM is continuing to evaluate the tract for leasing because Criterion 15 also provides that a lease may be issued if the state and surface management agency determines there will not be a significant long-term impact on the species being protected. The BLM will consider all information received during the upcoming public comment period as it undertakes this evaluation.

The public will have 60 days from June 12 to review and provide written comments on the supplemental draft. During the comment period, public information open houses will be held in Cedar City, Panguitch, Salt Lake City, Kanab and Alton. BLM staff will be available at these open houses to answer questions regarding the proposed project and supplemental draft.

Meetings are scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Cedar City | July 14, 6-8 p.m. | Heritage Center, 105 N. 100 East, Cedar City
  • Kanab | July 21, 6-8 p.m. | BLM Kanab Field Office, 669 S. Highway 89A, Kanab
  • Alton | July 22, 6-8 p.m. | Town Hall, 11 S. 100 West, Alton
  • Panguitch | July 15, 6-8 p.m. | Garfield County Courthouse Chambers, 55 S. Main St., Panguitch
  • Salt Lake City | July 16, 6-8 p.m. | Red Lion Hotel, 161 W. 600 South, Salt Lake City

Written comments will be accepted until Aug. 11. The most useful comments are those that contain new technical or scientific information relevant to the proposed action. Comments should be as specific as possible. Comments that contain only opinions or preferences will not receive a formal response but may be considered in the BLM decision-making process.

Please reference “Alton Coal Lease SDEIS” when submitting comments.

Written comments may be mailed, emailed or faxed to:

Mail

Bureau of Land Management, Kanab Field Office
Attn: Keith Rigtrup
669 S. Highway 89A
Kanab, UT 84741

Email

ut_kanab_altoncoal@blm.gov

Fax

435-644-1299, Attn: Keith Rigtrup

Before including an address, phone number, email address or other personal identifying information in any comments, be aware that the entire comment — including personal identifying information — may be made publicly available at any time. Requests to withhold personal identifying information from public review can be submitted, but the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.

Resources

  • Alton Coal supplemental draft
  • For additional information, contact Keith Rigtrup at 435-865-3063
  • Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339 to leave a message or question with the above individual
  • BLM Twitter @BLMUtah

Submitted by the BLM-Utah

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