BLM Proposes Change to Mining Rules in Montana

May 20, 2024 by Dan McCue
BLM Proposes Change to Mining Rules in Montana
A ghost town in Montana. (Photo by Mike Goad via Pixabay)

MILES CITY, Mont. — Though coal mining will continue for the foreseeable future at two Montana mines, those leases will not be renewed under a plan published by the Bureau of Land Management.

Last week the agency issued a supplemental environmental impact statement and proposed amendment to its Miles City Field Office land use plan that would bar future leasing of land to coal operations in the state.

The release of the two documents started a 30-day public protest period.

Federal coal production is anticipated to continue through 2035 at Spring Creek Mine and through 2060 at Rosebud Mine under existing leases. 

According to the agency, the new plan was drafted in response to a 2022 order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. 

As required by the court’s order, the supplemental analysis evaluates alternatives for federal coal leasing in the Miles City Field Office and includes updated information and analysis regarding the health impacts, both climate and non-climate, of developing fossil fuels in the area.  

In 2022, the two operating mines in the Miles City planning area produced a combined total of 18.5 million short tons of coal, down from more than 28 million short tons in 2007 as older coal-fired electric power plants have closed and generation has shifted to natural gas and renewable energy sources

Both U.S. total coal production and Powder River Basin coal production peaked in 2008 and have since declined steeply, according to the Energy Information Administration.  

Written protests must be received by June 17, 2024.   

To review the proposed resource management plan amendment and associated analysis, visit the BLM National NEPA Register.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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  • Bureau of Land Management
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  • Montana
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