WNF analyzing lease of coal

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NELSONVILLE — The Wayne National Forest (WNF) has completed analysis of a proposed project to consent to lease seven noncontiguous parcels totaling to approximately 433 acres of federally-owned coal underlying WNF in Perry and Morgan counties. The project is titled “BLM Federal Coal Lease Project (OHES 57390)”. The environmental assessment (EA) is available at this time for public review and comments.

The purpose of this project is to respond to a request made to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) by a private company to lease the coal. This is termed a Lease By Application. Federal laws and policies direct the BLM to offer federal minerals for lease.

These include the Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired Lands of 1947 and the BLM’s Leasing by Application Regulations, at 43 Code of Federal Regulations 3425. BLM is required to have the consent of the WNF before offering the lands for coal leasing. BLM has responsibility for the leasing process. The WNF and BLM entered in to a memorandum of understanding to develop the environmental document.

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This project does not include mining; however, if the coal were leased, it could be mined in the future.

The coal would be removed by room and pillar mining, whereby pillars of coal remain after mining is completed to prevent mine collapse. Potential for subsidence, stream capture and other impacts to water quality and global climate change have been assessed and deemed unlikely.

Additional analysis considered if there may be impacts to wildlife, plants, heritage resources and recreational opportunities. Resource specialists concluded there would be no impacts to these resources if the lands were leased and subsequently mined by underground mining methods. If mining were to occur, there would be no surface activities or disturbance on the 433 acres.

The 30-day public comment period is initiated by a legal notice in the Athens Messenger. The timing of this legal notice is the exclusive means the public should use for calculating the end of the comment period. If the 30th day falls on a federal holiday or weekend, the next federal working day marks the closing of the comment period.

Following the 30-day public comment period, Forest Supervisor Anne Carey will make a decision on whether and how to implement the project.