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Surface coal mine permit application for successful reclamation, semi-arid shortgrass prairie (Wyoming, USA)

Authors
  • Krzyszowska Waitkus, Anna1
  • 1 Environmental Consulting, 80 Eagle Nest, Laramie, WY, 82070, USA , Laramie (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
International Journal of Coal Science & Technology
Publisher
Springer Singapore
Publication Date
Nov 27, 2017
Volume
5
Issue
1
Pages
8–17
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s40789-017-0187-9
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Approximately 40% of USA coal originates in an ecologically sensitive area of semi-arid shortgrass prairie in Wyoming. Before a surface coal mine can begin operation in the USA, it must secure a mining permit and comply with regulations and performance standards under the USA Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), other federal environmental acts, and state programs. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ)/Land Quality Division (LQD) administers Wyoming’s coal regulatory program. The permit application and bonding process for the largest surface coal mine permit in the USA, North Antelope Rochelle Mine (NARM) located in short grassland prairie in the northeast Wyoming, is discussed. The permit application process begins with the collection of baseline environmental data that characterizes premining conditions of the permit area. The permit application includes adjudication information, baseline information, mine and operation plans, and reclamation plans. Fulfillment of permit commitments and requirements of rules and regulations are inspected monthly by the LQD’s representative in the field. Before a mine permit is issued, the mine operator must submit a reclamation bond to secure the performance of reclamation obligations that is later revised annually. In Wyoming, four reclamation bond release phases indicate the completion of various stages of the reclamatikon process. NARM’s specific bond release verification cirteria, performance standards, and field verificatoins of bond release phases are discussed. The Bond Release Geodatabase (a GIS/GPS approach) was developed for this mine to monitor progress in meeting criteria and performance standards for incremental bond release. The Bond Release Geodatabase significantly reduces the time needed to track bond release progress, reach agreement between operator and regulator, and improve the state inspector’s ability to assess reclamation adequacy and progress.

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