Coal lease decision upheld on appeal
A U.S. Department of Interior board today upheld a Bureau of Land Management decision to lease 786 acres of federal coal for development in the Elk Creek Mine near Somerset.
The BLM decided last year to hold a lease sale in response to an application submitted by Oxbow Mining LLC, the mine’s owner. WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club had challenged the decision. The Interior Board of Land Appeals today affirmed the adequacy of the BLM’s environmental analysis, the BLM said in a news release.
The BLM estimates the acreage contains 3.96 million tons of recoverable federal coal. That would result in $6.3 million royalties, half of which would go to the state of Colorado.
The Elk Creek Mine employs 325 people and produced 3 million tons of coal last year. Earlier this month, the BLM approved a coal lease modification adding about 159 acres to the mine’s existing operations. Those acres hold an estimated 555,000 recoverable tons of coal.