The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a final supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) and proposed amendment to the resource management plans for its field offices in Buffalo, Wyoming, and Miles City, Montana. The proposed amendments would effectively ban new coal leases on BLM-managed land in the Powder River Basin (PRB). Release of the final supplemental EIS and proposed amendment opens a 30-day public protest period.

“At a time of deteriorating grid reliability, soaring electricity demand and ongoing concern about global energy shocks, proposing a plan of no new coal leasing in the PRB is outrageous,” said Rich Nolan, president and CEO, National Mining Association. “This damages American energy security and affordability and is a severe economic blow to mining states and communities. The NMA strongly opposes this political move, not only because it ignores the nation’s continued need for federal coal but because it also fails to acknowledge BLM’s multiple use mandate under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.”

The BLM said it was responding 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 Buffalo and Miles City Field Offices and includes updated information and analysis regarding the health impacts, both climate and non-climate, of developing fossil fuels in the area.

The BLM’s proposed Alternative A would amend the 2015 Buffalo Field Office resource management plan and make BLM-managed coal resources in the planning areas unavailable for future leasing. Alternative D would do the same for the 2015 Miles City Field Office resource management plan.

Federal coal production managed by the Buffalo Field office is anticipated to continue through 2041 under existing leases. The 12 active surface coal mines within the Buffalo Field Office produced approximately 220 million tons of federal coal in 2022. Federal coal production managed by the Miles City Field Office is anticipated to continue through 2035 at the Spring Creek mine and 2060 at the Rosebud mine under existing leases. In 2022, those two mines produced a combined total of 18.5 million tons of coal.

Written protests must be received by June 17, 2024. Please visit the BLM Filing a Plan Protest page for instructions.

To review the proposed resource management plan amendment and associated analysis, visit the BLM National NEPA Register. For more information, contact project manager Tom Bills at 307-684-1133.