Proposed coal mines in the United States

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This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

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Contents

Alabama: Shepherd's Bend Mine

On September 14, 2010, college students from the University of Alabama at Birminghman (UAB) protested against the possibility of UA leasing land for a new coal mine, the Shepherd's Bend Mine. The Birmingham Water Works Board has asked the Alabama Surface Mining Commission to deny the permit application for the proposed mine, saying it would be too close to a drinking water intake on the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River. If it is approved, the mine operator would still need to secure leases from the University of Alabama System which owns some of the property in question. Students gathered on UAB's campus to try and keep that from happening, and those involved with the Green Initiative and the Coalition of Alabama Students for the environment handed more than seven hundred signatures from people opposed to the mine to UA System Spokesperson Kellee Reinhart. In the past the University of Alabama System has reportedly looked into leasing the land.[1]

Alaska: Chuitna River mine

The Chuitna River mine is a proposed coal strip mine 45 miles west of Anchorage on the Cook Inlet. PacRim Coal hopes to extract 300 million tons of coal over 25 years, making the mine Alaska’s largest coal strip mine and the third largest in the United States.[2]

Alaska: Nanushuk coal deposit

The Nanushuk coal deposits are part of the Northern Alaska-Slope coal province and contains over 150 coal beds, including those at Corwin Bluffs, Cape Beaufort, and along the Kukpowruk River. The coal is primarily bituminous and subbituminous. In 2010, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began working on approval for preliminary coal prospecting permits covering 116,000 acres of land within the Nanushuk Group north of the Brooks Range. This was in response to requests from three exploration companies: Beischer and Associates, Xplore LLC, and St. George Ventures Inc.

A site-specific plan was approved in July 2010, but has been appealed and is awaiting adjudication. In February 2011, the Naqsragmiut Tribal Council adopted an official resolution strongly opposing coal exploration the area and sent a letter to the governor outlining their concerns about impacts on the water, air, and subsistence resources of the area.[3]

Alaska: Wishbone Hill Coal Mine

Wishbone Hill Coal Mine is a proposed mine in the Matanuska Valley, approximately 5 miles west of Sutton, AK. It is estimated to contain 14 million tons of bituminous coal. A permit for exploratory drilling at the site was approved by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in July 2010. That permit has been appealed by several local organizations and tribal councils.[4]

According to GroundTruth Trekking, Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. purchased the 8000 acre Wishbone Hill Mine site in 1997 with plans to recover the coal using strip mining techniques. Usibelli Coal began exploration work in this area in the summer of 2010 and has reportedly found a potential buyer for the coal. This area was historically mined for coal as early as 1916 and was most recently mined in the 1980s. The lease area has been the site of a number of coal fires, some burning since the 1960's, and has been the focus of a multi-million dollar effort to supress the fires. West of Wishbone Hill is the site of the successful Moose Creek Salmon Restoration project, created due to previous coal mining and railroad development in the area.[5]

The Usibelli Coal Mine possesses renewable exploration permits for this mine, due to be reviewed in 2011. The company would need to obtain production permits before mining, which could occur by 2012. The mine would receive power from the nearby grid and would transport coal either via truck to Seward, truck to Port MacKenzie or through creation of a new rail spur to the site. In June 2010, the Mat-Su Borough Planning Commission voted against allowing Usibelli to build an access road but later approved conditional access. The nearby Chickaloon Village Traditional Council announced that they planned to oppose all aspects of the mine. In July 2010, Usibelli was granted a permit by the DNR and began exploratory drilling in the area. In August 2010, the Athabascan tribe, the Castle Mountain Coalition, and local residents filed appeals against the July permit decision. Both exploration and creation of a feasibility study are underway.[5]

Colorado: Red Cliff Mine

Red Cliff Mine is a new underground coal mine proposed by Rhino Energy. It is located on federally-managed public lands 11 miles north of the towns of Loma and Mack and 1.5 miles east of State Highway 139, in Mesa County. The mine would produce 8 million tons of coal annually over 30 years, making it one of the largest in Colorado. (In 2006 the mine was proposed by CAM Holdings,[6] which was formed in April 2003 by "entities managed by Wexford Capital."[7] CAM Holdings was the predecessor of Rhino Resource Partners,[7] which became Rhino Energy.[8])

Rhino Energy's proposal includes construction of mine entries, associated roads and facilities on 23,000 acres, construction of 14 mile rail spur, and construction of 14 mile transmission line. Rhino Energy plans to conduct underground mining 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year, using room and pillar and longwall mining techniques. [9]

In 2009, the Bureau of Land Managment decided to revise a draft environmental impact statement on the project, in part because a second company expressed interest and said an expanded study area would make the leasing process more competitive.[10]

Colorado: Sage Creek Mine

Peabody Energy and Twen­tymile Coal Company hope to begin construction on the new underground Sage Creek Mine in West Routt County, CO as early as 2010. The new mine is expected to replace the existing Twentymile Mine sometime in 2013, when the underground longwall mining operation is projected to run out of coal. Twentymile produced 8 million tons of coal in 2008.[11]

Colorado: West Elk Mine

Arch Coal proposed an underground coal mine in Gunnison National Forest; the mine would enable the leasing of 10.1 million tons of coal under 1,700 acres of the Sunset Roadless Area, which would expand Arch’s West Elk coal mine in western Colorado.[12]

In June 2014, U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson ruled that approvals by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the mine expansion violated the federal law requiring that agencies take a “hard look” at environmental impacts, by failing to take into account the social cost of carbon. The Court held that the agencies looked at the benefits to the local economy for the mine, but ignored the global costs of climate change.

Illinois: Bulldog Mine

Bulldog Mine is a planned coal mine of Indiana-based Sunrise Coal for Vermilion County, Illinois. Sunrise Coal leased mineral rights to 19,500 acres in the area, much of it from local farmers. In June 2012 the company applied to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to extract coal from the area.[13]

Illinois: Conemaugh mine

There is a proposal to mine 49 acres of a farm in Conemaugh Township, Illinois. The Dovey family has asked the planning commission to rezone a portion of their 400-acre property to allow PBS Coals Inc. to begin strip mining. More than 300 residents turned out at a meeting in April 2011 in the Conemaugh Township fire hall to give their views. The property, which is located near Carpenters Park, is now zoned for single and multiple family residential, and the family is seeking a change to rural residential, which would allow PBS to bring the application process in summer 2011. If approved, work is expected to begin in the fall of 2012 and be completed in two years. The company plans to take out 10,000 tons of coal each month. Trucks will carry the coal along Miller Picking Road to Route 403, to Route 219 and Route 30 to a coal preparation plant in Central City. About 10 percent of the coal will be for domestic use; the rest will be shipped overseas for the steel industry.[14]

Illinois: Deer Run Mine

Deer Run Mine near Hillsboro in Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois was permitted in 2009 to Hillsboro Energy, LLC, an affiliate of the Cline Group. According to the Cline Group, the mine has the potential to produce roughly 8 to 10 million tons per year when the longwall mining is in full production. The estimated life of the mine is expected to exceed 20 years. The coal reserves at the mine are leased to the mining company Hillsboro Energy.[15]

Illinois: Eagle River Mine

Eagle River No. 1 is a surface mine being developed near Harrisburg in Saline County, Illinois, by Eagle River Coal. Joe Pearson, a retired executive of Arclar Mining in southern Illinois, is among the principals in Eagle River Coal. The mine is expected to be in operation in spring 2011, and dig up about 1 million tons of coal a year.[16]

Illinois: Gallatin County Mine

In December 2011, the U.S. Forest Service said it is seeking public comment on a possible swap of property with American Land Holdings of Illinois, a subsidiary of Peabody Energy. American Land Holdings approached the Shawnee National Forest wanting to exchange three properties it holds in Pope and Jackson county for a federal property in Gallatin County, Illinois, for developing a coal strip mining operation. The Gallatin federal parcel is 384 acres that adjoins the Saline River, two miles west of the Ohio River.[17]

Illinois: Golden Eagle Mine

Knight Hawk Coal of Percy, Illinois, is pursuing a 160-acre strip of land to expand coal mining near Pyramid State Park, Illinois' biggest state park. During their spring session 2011, Illinois lawmakers signed off on a plan for the state to lease the strip at the edge of Pyramid State Park to Knight Hawk, who hope to use the land as a staging ground for a 240-acre strip mine just outside the 20,000-acre park, if a deal can be worked out with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The company also would carve for coal underneath the public area. The measure was delivered in June 2011 to Gov. Pat Quinn.[18] In August 2011, Gov. Quinn approved the new Golden Eagle surface mine.[19]

Illinois: Hawkeye Mine

Hawkeye is a proposed mine by Knight Hawk Coal near Sparta in Randolph County, Illinois. Knight Hawk Coal plans to begin digging at the surface mine in late 2011. Steve Carter, the company’s president, was attempting to wrap up permitting for the mine in early 2011. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued a national pollutant discharge elimination systems (NPDES) permit for the mine, although it is reportedly being reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 5 office in Atlanta, Georgia.[20]

Illinois: Jordan Grove Mine

The Jordan Grove mine is proposed for a site about three miles south of Marissa, Illinois, and would dig up about 100,000 tons of coal a year. The mine is being pursued by Peabody Energy. The mine would also serve as a secondary site to store combustion coal waste from the Prairie State Energy Campus. Peabody already has a permit for a site in southeast St. Clair County to dispose of coal waste from the power plant. The mine would tap the same coal reserves as the former River King No. 6 mine, which was active in the 1970s and early 1980s.[21]

Illinois: Lively Grove Mine

Lively Grove is part of the $4 billion Prairie State Energy Campus near Marissa in Washington County, Illinois. The underground mine would supply about 6 million tons of high-sulfur coal annually to the 1,600-megawatt plant. The first 800-megawatt unit is slated for commercial operation in late 2011, and the second in the summer of 2012. Digging at the mine is expected to commence in 2011.[22] A permit has been issued to Peabody Energy.[23]

Illinois: Mary's River Mine

Marys River Mine is a surface coal mine proposed for Randolph County, Illinois by Peabody Energy's Peabody Midwest Mining. The mine is expected to produce about 1 million tons a year beginning around 2011. It would be 708.7 acres.[24]

Illinois: North Canton Mine

North Canton Strip Mine is a proposed 1,084-acre surface mine by Chicago-based Capital Resource Development Company, and would be located a mile north of Canton Lake in Fulton County, Illinois. Canton Lake is a drinking water source for 20,000 residents, and the mine is being opposed by Canton Area Citizens for Environmental Issues (CACEI).[25]

In June 2011, CACEI asked the city council to rescind the letter of support it approved five years ago for the mine, due to residential growth near the area and the potential for pollution of Copperas Creek and North Canton Lake. The lake, fed by the creek watershed, is one of the city's water supplies. Capital Resources must still obtain its last needed permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.[26]

The Illinois EPA later issued a draft NPDES Water Discharge Permit and Water Quality Certification for the North Canton Mine. The proposed operator, Freeman United Coal Mining Company, is currently targeted in a lawsuit by the state's Attorney General for more than 300 Clean Water Act violations at its nearby Industry Mine.[27]

Illinois: Pyramid State Park Mine

Knight Hawk Coal is pursuing a 160-acre strip of land to expand coal mining near Pyramid State Park, Illinois' largest state park. During their spring session 2011, Illinois lawmakers signed off on a plan for the state to lease the strip at the edge of Pyramid State Park to Knight Hawk, who hope to use the land as a staging ground for a 240-acre strip mine just outside the 20,000-acre park, if a deal can be worked out with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The company also would carve for coal underneath the public area. The measure was delivered in June 2011 to Gov. Pat Quinn, who must make the final decision on the bill.[18]

Illinois: Rhino Energy Christian County mine

In August 2010, Rhino Energy said it plans to build a mine in Christian County, Illinois, whether or not a proposed coal gasification project, the Taylorville Energy Center, succeeds. Rhino plans to build the mine on Illinois 148 between Taylorville and Decatur. Work could begin as early as 2011, if all the permits are obtained. Regulators are completing an analysis on the Taylorville project to be presented to the Illinois General Assembly in September 2010. Rhino Energy said it included Taylorville Energy in its plans, but there is also sufficient demand outside the state.[28]

Illinois: Vermillion Mine

On August 11, 2010, Sunrise Coal, LLC of Terre Haute, Ind., said they were planning a proposed coal mine in southern Vermilion County, IL. The anticipated life expectancy of the mine is 30 years. The company has given notice to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for test drilling in the area and has leased 17,000 Vermilion County acres from landowners for exploratory purposes. The company said it is reviewing quality and rock mechanics and hopes to determine the property as a minable reserve before the end of 2010. If the coal company chooses to move forward, the permit process for the mine would take 18 months to two years to complete.[29]

Illinois: White Oak Mine

White Oak Mine is an underground coal mine in Hamilton County, Illinois that will be operated by White Oak Resources LLC. Governor Pat Quinn announced approval of the mine on October 23, 2010. The company will invest more than $400 million in construction of the mine, which is expected to open in late 2012 or early 2013 with projected annual production of 7.5 million tons of coal. The White Oak Mine #1 is the first of four the company has proposed for the area.[30]

White Oak CEO Mike Tracy said the company is looking to market its coal to “high-volume users” such as Ameren and other large utilities; eventually, the company looks to market its coal overseas, he added.[31]

According to the McLeansboro Times Leader archives, Jim Lindsey of Energy Plus negotiated a deal with Hamilton County in 2006, representing the McLeansboro and North Hamilton County coal associations as a coal broker. Lidsey was able to negotiate a contract with Hamilton County for 7,700 acres in coal reserves it received from Exxon Coal USA in 1992. In early 2008, it was announced that Hamilton County would have two coal mines with a third in the planning stages by White Oak Resources LLC.[32]

Indiana: Bear Run Mine

Peabody Energy plans to open Bear Run Mine south of Dugger in Sullivan County, Indiana. Company officials say they have agreements to supply more than 90 million tons of coal, and they will start surface mining at Bear Run in 2009. Production is expected to be 8 million tons of coal per year. The mine will employ 350 workers. The plant will produce high-BTU, high-sulfur coal for scrubber-equipped generating plants.[33]

Indiana: Gibson South Mine

Gibson South Mine is a proposed mine near the Gibson Mine in Gibson County, Indiana, owned by Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. (ARLP). According to ARLP's website, plans to dig up the coal reserves across the Galatia Channel from the active Gibson Mine (Gibson North) remain open ended and market dependent. Reserve estimates denote 82.7 million tons in the initial reserve field.[34]The website also states that a permit for mining is in process.[35]

Indiana: Liberty Mine

Liberty Mine would be the name if the former Squaw Creek Mine in southern Indiana, owned by Alcoa Co. and Vigo Coal Operating Co., is reopened. The proposed surface mine would be located about 7.5 miles west of Boonville, off of New Harmony Road. Liberty has applied for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification to allow it to place fill into waters of the State of Indiana. According to an Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) notice released in April 2011, Liberty Mine plans to place the debris from the mine in nearby streams, forested and unforested wetlands, and open water. The issue is whether the proposed fill request meets regulations of Indiana under the Indiana Administrative Code (327 IAC 2) and other state laws, as well as the federal Clean Water Act. Affected areas include Squaw Creek and its tributaries as well as forested and unforested wetlands.[36]

Kentucky: High Ridge Mining Announces Plans for Seven New Mines

In May 2013 Bill Smith of High Ridge Mining said he plans to open seven mines in the Big Creek, Johns Creek, and Pond Creek areas of Pike County, KY. Most of the coal will be shipped to China to "help fuel its economy."[37]

Kentucky: Stacy Branch

Stacy Branch is a proposed surface mine in Sassafras, Kentucky, being pursued by Leeco. It would be 849 acres and would include six valley fills that would affect 4.3 miles of stream. State officials have given Leeco permission to mine, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing Leeco's application to dump mining wastes into local streams. Conductivity levels of Stacy Branch already are above the safe limit of 500 micro-Siemens set by the EPA in its conductivity standards. In December 2010, the EPA asked Leeco to make some changes to its permit, to reduce anticipated water quality impacts and monitor stream quality. Leeco refused. At a meeting between the company and agency officials, representatives of U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell to pressure for the mining to take place.[38]

Maryland: Casselman Mine

Casselman Mine is a proposed underground coal mining operation in Casselman, Maryland, that will be owned by Maryland Energy Resources LLC, a subsidiary of the Indiana, Pennsylvia-based Joseph Peles Coal Company. The mine will comprise more than 4,600 acres and include 15 million tons of recoverable coal.[39] For more details, see Casselman Mine.

Mississippi: Kemper County Mine

Kemper County Mine is a proposed surface mine for Kemper County, Mississippi. A permit application was filed by Liberty Fuels Co. LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of North American Coal Corporation. The mine would supply Mississippi Power Company's generating plant in Kemper County, the Kemper Project, expected to be in operation in 2014. It would be the largest coal mine in Mississippi. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing in DeKalb on Oct. 18, 2011 on the application. The application calls for Liberty Fuels to mine 2 million tons of lignite per year during the first five-year permit. Thereafter, it will mine 4.1 million tons per year through 2052. The application provides that mining will be conducted on 31,000 acres over 40 years and will include 2,229 acres within the five-year permit area.[40] On June 12, 2012, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality gave final approval for Liberty Fuels to mine lignite from about 1,000 acres in Kemper County. Liberty Fuels will mine 2 million tons of lignite per year during the first five-year permit. Thereafter, it will mine 4.1 million tons per year through 2052. Mississippi Power will own the mine and equipment, contracting with Liberty Fuels to run it. Documents submitted to the Public Service Commission show that the mine is on track to cost $245 million.[41]

Montana: Crow Reservation

In April 2008, operators of the Absaloka Mine in southeastern Montana proposed to extend the mine 3,660 acres onto the neighboring Crow reservation. Approximately 77 million tons of coal would be recovered and mining would be extended until about 2023. Westmoreland Resources owns the land and the Crow tribe owns the coal. Royalty and coal production taxes bring substantial income to the tribe, for example in 2006, the tribe earned $16.6 million.[42] The mine would serve a proposed $8 billion coal-to-liquids plant.[43]

Montana: Otter Creek

In March 2010 Arch Coal made a successful bid of $85.8 million for the right to mine about 8,300 acres of state-owned minerals in the Otter Creek Tracts in southeastern Montana. The company said the land is a strategic platform for future growth in the Northern Powder River Basin. The company controls about 1.5 billion tons of coal reserves in Montana's Otter Creek area.[44]

The state of Montana Land Board has been looking to lease 616 million tons of coal reserves known as Otter Creek, which it received from the Federal Government at the beginning of the decade. The State Board of Land Commissioners made the initial decision on December 21, 2009. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, a proponent of coal development, sits on the board along with other Montana officials.[45][46]

Montana: Pace Coal Project

The Pace Coal Project is a coal mining project in central Montana that is to be operated by the American Power Corporation.

American Power is a member of the Montana Mining Association, and holds approximately 29,000 acres in Judith Basin County, Montana. The estimated resources in place, based on exploration work conducted by Mobil Oil Co. (now ExxonMobil Corp.), and in several independent studies, range from 172 million up to 410+ million tons of high volatile bituminous B coal.[47]

Montana: Red Lodge

In February 2010, Management Energy Inc., a California coal startup, amassed leases on more than 10 square miles of land to build new coal mines in south-central Montana, near Red Lodge, in partnership with Tennessee coal entrepreneur John Baugues Jr.[43]

North Dakota: South Heart Mine

The South Heart Lignite Mine (SHLM) is a proposed strip mine by South Heart Coal (SHC) of over 7000 acres, about 13 miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Mining would be for low-grade lignite coal, to be used at on-site coal gasification plant, the South Heart Power Project.[48]

According to SHC's 2010 application with the North Dakota Public Service Commission: "The SHLM is being developed by SHC to produce coal for market. The mine plan described in this application has been designed specifically to provide coal to a planned commercial-scale gasification plant that would be located adjacent to the mine. 2014 is currently planned as the year that initial mine development and mining will commence. Ongoing engineering evaluations of the planned commercial-scale gasification plant indicate that a mine production rate of 2.4 million tons of coal per year will be required to fully support the plant. Where there are specific revisions to tonnages, the schedule for mining and reclamation, or any other changes specific to coal delivery that require permit revision, operations revisions to address the changes will be submitted to the PSC for approval." (p. 1)

Pennsylvania: Foundation Mine

Foundation Mining has proposed a longwall coal mine for Greene County, Pennsylvania, over nearly 1,900 acres. It is the first new longwall mine proposed in Pennsylvania in more than 20 years. As of February 12, 2012, Foundation Mining has applied for a permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.[49]

Pennsylvania: Penn Ridge Mine

Penn Ridge Mine is a coal reserve located in Southwestern Pennsylvania near the Tunnel Ridge Mine operation, owned by Alliance Resource Partners. As of April 2011, ARP says it is initiating the permitting process to mine the reserve. It has an estimated reserve of 56.7 million tons, as of December 2009.[50]

Texas: Dos Republicas Mine

The Mexico-based owners of the Dos Republicas strip mine in Maverick County, Texas, want to re-open the mine after a 20-year hiatus and ship the coal to Mexico to burn in power plants outside the City of Piedras Negras, along the US-Mexico border. Texas citizen groups have formed the Maverick County Environmental and Public Health Association to fight the mine.

A public hearing on the Dos Republicas mine is scheduled for April of 2012. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has signed off on the necessary water permits, and Dos Republicas has applied for permits from the Texas Railroad Commission, which handles the state's natural resources. The mine owners argue that the end destination of the coal should not be a consideration for the granting of the permits, while opponents argue that the Railroad Commission has regulatory authority to deny the mine’s permits, pointing to a section of the state’s Natural Resources Code that says the state should strike a balance between environmental protection and the need for energy.

The Dos Republicas mine could therefore set a precedent in how Texas chooses to regulate or not regulate its exports of coal. US coal exports to Mexico nearly doubled from 2009 to 2010, and grew by another 23 percent in 2011.[51]

Texas: Eagle Pass Mine

The Eagle Pass Mine is currently in planning and development, with estimated production of 2.7 million tons per year. The mine would be operated by Camino Real Fuels, LLC.[52] The mine would produce sub-bituminous coal. It is located five miles northeast of the City of Eagle Pass, in Maverick County. It has been opposed by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, whose reservation is located 12 miles from the proposed mine but which rents agricultural lands in the vicinity of the mine and would be affected by water discharges. Others concerned about the impact of the mine include Maverick County, which is concerned about potential health problems, including adverse impacts on children attending local schools. A number of private citizens also registered concerns.[53][54]

Utah: Coal Hollow Mine, (Alton Coal Development)

In August 2010, the Utah Board of Oil, Gas & Mining gave its approval for this strip mine near the tiny town of Alton, Utah. Barring a legal challenge, only a multi-million dollar reclamation bond stands in the way of the mine's opening. The mine would be 10 miles from the Bryce Canyon National Park. The mine is expected to produce about 2 million tons of coal a year, with coal trucks rolling steadily through the tiny town of Panguitch just west of Bryce Canyon. According to an Associated Press story about the ruling, the company had contributed $10,000 to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's election campaign prior to the board's consideration of the matter and voiced frustration with how long the approval process was taking.[55]Coal Hollow Mine is a proposed coal mine in Kane County, Utah, approximately three miles south of the town of Alton. Alton Coal Development, LLC proposes to surface mine about 2,000,000 tons of fee coal annually for approximately three years.[56] The permit was approved by the State of Utah on November 11, 2009.[57] The mine would operate 6 days per week, 24 hours per day. Coal would be transported from the loadout via 43-ton coal trucks. Trucks would travel from Alton to Highway 89, north to US 20, east to I-15, south on I-15 to Cedar City and from Cedar City west 10 miles to a proposed rail loadout. Approximately 190 truck trips per day, 5 days per week would be required to handle the 2,000,000 tons of annual coal production.[56] In November 2009 the State of Utah, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, under Director John Baza, released an application approval with conditions for Alton Coal Development to mine 2,000,000 tons of coal per year for approximately three years from the Coal Hollow Mine. The state approval is separate from any applications to mine on public lands nearby, which is going through a separate federal approval process.[57] The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining says Alton Coal will get an operating permit as soon as it posts a $6 million reclamation bond, and that the Coal Hollow Mine will exhaust the private reserves in three to five years, when the company hopes to mine adjacent federal lands.[58] In October 2010, a Garfield County official and the city manager in Panguitch said they're among supporters of the coal mine. Garfield County Commissioner Maloy Dodds told an audience at a public hearing that he expects the Alton Coal project will "create less dust than a farmer plowing a field." Panguitch City Manager Allen Henrie says the mine would bring needed jobs to the area. Plans call for 30 pits to be dug, with each exposed pit covered and re-seeded as a new one is opened.[59] Residents of southern Utah have expressed opposition to the project due to the constant traffic (up to 153 round trips a day) and the accompanying congestion and pollution, posing a risk to local businesses and public health. In addition residents are concerned about the environmental and health effects of strip mining, including water pollution from chemically treating coal, deforestation, and risks from coal waste and coal slurry dams.[60] According to an op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune, during a public hearing held in Panguitch on Oct. 6, 2010, the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ) admitted it would not install air-monitoring stations at the mining site to check air quality and visibility, due to lack of funds. However, Alton Coal “volunteered” to put in two air-monitoring stations. When DAQ was asked who would be checking these stations and reporting the findings to DAQ, it admitted the coal company would be doing the monitoring. The op-ed also said particulate matter (PM10) emissions from this mine will be 100 tons a year, and the Utah Division of Air Quality is not addressing PM 2.5, a more toxic air pollutant because of its small size. Pollution and fine coal dust (PM 2.5) will be emitted from the coal trucks, but no air-quality monitoring will be done along the transportation route. According to the author, Alton Coal Development handed Gov. Gary Herbert a $10,000 campaign check shortly before a permit for this mine was authorized.[61]

Washington: Centralia coal mine

West Virginia: Buffalo Mountain Mine

In 2009, Governor Manchin asked the EPA to approve a permit for a CONSOL Energy mountaintop removal mine - the Buffalo Mountain Mine - tied to construction of the King Coal Highway in Mingo County, West Virginia. The proposed mine site, spanning 2,308 acres on Buffalo Mountain in Delbarton, is considered another step towards completion of the King Coal Highway, designed to be 95 miles from Bluefield to Williamson, eventually joining a new interstate highway connecting Michigan to Myrtle Beach. To build the highway, state officials are allowing coal companies to use mountaintop removal to prepare the roadbed.

The EPA has signaled it has concerns with the project: On the day President Obama was inaugurated, the EPA sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, stating that the EPA believes that the "proposal will contribute to a violation of the State’s water quality standards downstream and that the direct and cumulative impacts from this and future mines and possible development associated with the King Coal Highway will be persistent and permanent.” The letter went on to say that the damage “cannot be sufficiently or effectively compensated through the proposed mitigation, therefore EPA must recommend denial of the permit as proposed.” Federal officials have also noted that the mine will bury nearly 10 miles of streams.[62]

West Virginia: Hampton Mine

In June 2011, AP reported that International Coal Group Inc. and its Wolf Run Mining Co. are seeking permits for the Hampton Mine in Buckhannon, a new 1,800-acre underground coal mine that would run below Buckhannon-Upshur High School and the proposed site of a new middle school in West Virginia. Application documents show ICG expects it to produce 1 million tons of coal a year for eight years. The Department of Environmental Protection says the school board wants a conference on the project, so a public hearing will eventually be scheduled.[63]

West Virginia: Mason Dixon Mine

As of January 2012, CONSOL Energy subsidiary Wolfpen Knob Development Company is seeking permits for a proposed 3,200 acre longwall mine - the Mason Dixon Mining Complex - just west of Wadestown in Monongalia County, West Virginia. According to the West Virginia State Journal: "Property owners and coal miners in the Wadestown area have been hearing about [the proposed mine] for years. They've seen the company's purchases of property and its demolition of houses."

The complex would consist of a deep mine, a processing plant, a large coal ash disposal area, a water coal slurry impoundment, and a 6-mile rail line. CONSOL would add the operation to its nearby Blacksville 2 Mine, Loveridge 22 Mine, and Robinson Run 95 Mine. Under a 2011 settlement agreement, CONSOL is building a $200 million treatment system to manage discharges from Blacksville, Loveridge and Robinson Run. At a January 2012 permit hearing, local residents asked why CONSOL wanted to establish a new mine that will not feed into the new treatment system, and if the newly proposed Mason Dixon system would add new water pollution concerns.[64]

West Virginia: Open Fork 2

The proposed Open Fork No. 2 by Frasure Creek Mining is 4 miles from Fayetteville, WV, near the boundaries of the New River Gorge National River and the Gauley River National Recreation Area. The 221-acre site was mined sometime before federal surface mining laws were passed in 1977, and Frasure Creek plans to reclaim six miles of high wall created by the operations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved water quality permits for the project, and Frasure Creek has several permit applications either in review or already approved. Critics say that, together, the permits threaten to disturb some 3,662 acres in an area that has spent two decades reinventing itself from coal mining to tourism.

Opponents call the proposed mine a mountaintop removal operation, but Frasure said the permit is for contour mining, and Frasure Creek's permit would not create valley fills or mine through streams.

On July 12, 2011, the Mountain Health & Heritage Association organized a protest, with speakers including a doctor worried about health effects and a leader of Coal River Mountain Watch, a group long opposed to mountaintop removal. About 50 gathered at the headquarters of the state Department of Environmental Protection in Charleston to oppose Frasure Creek Mining's plan for a surface mine. The Surface Mine Board has set aside July 12 and 13 to hear an appeal on a permit the DEP issued in January 2011 for the project.

A public service district (PSD) that supplies water to 2,000 people also raised concerns about well heads within a half-mile of the mine site: "We had a big role in putting that water system in place," Commission President Matthew Wender said. "Given that it is taxpayer money, we have a responsibility to protect that investment." The PSD said Frasure Creek offered to make a $10,000 donation for any permit it receives. The PSD said it asked for $10 million but was turned down.[65]

West Virginia: Reylas Mine

Reylas is a proposed surface mine in Logan County, West Virginia being pursued by Highland Mining Company, a unit of Massey Energy. On March 8, 2011, Highland received a permit from the United States Army Corps of Engineers to begin operating in West Virginia. The mine is expected to produce about one million tons of coal per year over six years. Highland first applied for the Corps permit in August 2007. It received a surface mining permit from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in 2008.[66]

West Virginia: Spring Branch 3 Mine

Spring Branch 3 Mine is a proposed surface coal mine by CONSOL Energy for Mingo County, West Virginia.[67] In February 2011, CONSOL Energy reached a deal with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit covering the company’s proposed mine.[68]

West Virginia: Spruce 1 Mine

Spruce No. 1 Mine is an existing surface coal mining operation in Logan County, West Virginia, operated by Mingo Logan Coal and owned by Arch Coal. A proposed expansion of the Spruce No. 1 Mine would make the mine one of the largest in Appalachia; this expansion has been the subject of extensive controversy for over a decade.

West Virginia: Tucker Run Mine

The Tucker Run Mine is being planned by Shelby Run Mining Company and Arch Coal. The proposed mine is located two miles north of Pruntytown, West Virginia. The company expects to begin construction in 2014 and to begin coal production in 2015. The mine is projected to produce 500,000 to 600,000 tons annually from the Lower Kittanning seam. It will be a room-and-pillar mine.[69]

West Virginia: Tunnel Ridge Mine

Tunnel Ridge Mine is a proposed longwall mine owned by Alliance Resource Partners. The Tunnel Ridge reserve area covers approximately 9,400 acres of coal under land located in Ohio County, West Virginia, and Washington County, Pennsylvania, with reserves of an estimated 70.5 million tons of high-sulfur coal. Operation is expected to begin in early 2012. When Alliance announced the mine in 2008, the company said it is expected to produce up to 6 million tons annually starting in 2012.[70]

Wyoming: Brook Mine

Brook Mine is a proposed coal mine on 14,500 acres of private and state-owned land between Sheridan and Ranchester, Wyoming. The proponent is Kentucky-based Ramaco LLC. The mine features 9,100-Btu coal, slightly higher in quality than the 8,800-Btu coal that is typically mined elsewhere of the Powder River Basin. The proposed capacity of the mine is eight million tons per year. According to the Star Tribune, "Ramaco is an arm of the New York private equity firm Yorktown Partners LLC and specializes in acquisitions and development. The company purchased the land from Brink's Co., formerly known as the Pittston Co., in 2011."[71]

Wyoming: Buckskin Mine

Buckskin Mine is a surface coal mining operation in Campbell County, Wyoming, operated by Kiewit Mining Group and owned by Kiewit Peter Sons. As of May 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is considering issuing a coal lease to Kiewit Mining to extend the life of the mine. The consideration is the result of a March 24, 2006, application made by Kiewit Mining Properties, Inc. to lease the Federal coal in the Hay Creek II Tract, northwest of the Buckskin Mine and approximately 12 miles north of Gillette, Wyoming. The Hay Creek II Tract contains 419.04 acres, and Kiewit estimates that the current tract includes approximately 54.1 million tons of recoverable coal.[72]

Wyoming: North Porcupine (North Antelope Rochelle Mine extension)

North Porcupine is a proposed 6,300 acre coal lease of 721 million tons in the Powder River Basin near Wright, Wyoming, designed to increase the life of Peabody Energy's existing North Antelope Rochelle Mine. The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is scheduled to hold an auction in June 2012 for the coal. The lease was drawn up by Peabody itself, in what is known as a “lease by application,” and Peabody will also offer its own price.[73] The final bid was $1.10 per ton.[74]

Wyoming: South Porcupine (North Antelope Rochelle Mine extension)

South Porcupine is a proposed coal lease in the Powder River Basin near Wright, Wyoming, designed to increase the life of Peabody Energy's existing North Antelope Rochelle Mine. Peabody’s initial offer of $0.90 per ton was rejected as too low by the BLM, which held another auction a few weeks later and accepted Peabody’s offer of $1.11 per ton. In both auctions Peabody was the only bidder.[75]

Wyoming: Young's Creek Mine

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