Federal agency agrees with DEQ determination on Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mine permits and reclamation plans.

Federal agency agrees with DEQ determination on Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mine permits and reclamation plans.

On September 20, 2019, the United States Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) responded to a recent citizen complaint filed by the Powder River Basin Resource Council (PRBRC). In OSMRE’s response, the federal oversight agency agreed with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) assessment that the Belle Ary and Eagle Butte mines are in good standing with their mine permits and reclamation plans.

In the letter, OSMRE stated: “After carefully reviewing the complaint, supporting documentation, and Wyoming’s response, OSMRE has no reason to believe there is a violation of the approved Wyoming program, the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), or the implementing regulations. OSMRE finds that Wyoming has good cause for not taking enforcement action, because no violation exists. Because OSMRE has no reason to believe a violation exists, there is no need for OSMRE to conduct a federal inspection.”

“The LQD promptly investigated the PRBRC citizens complaint. The results of the investigation resulted in no violations or enforcement action by the agency. OSMRE agreed with DEQ’s determination and this is a good example of how cooperative federalism should work, ” said Kyle Wendtland, Land Quality Division Administrator. 

PRBRC submitted a Citizen Complaint on August 26, 2019. In the complaint, the organization asserted the permits issued to Contura Coal West (Contura) for operations at the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines were in violation of the Environmental Quality Act and/or DEQ’s Land Quality­ Coal Rules.

DEQ responded after conducting a complete investigation and concluded that no violations existed.

In the response letter, DEQ stated: “The Division has completed its investigation into the two alleged violations. The investigation concluded that no violations exist in relation to TCO (Temporary Cessation of Operations) or the approved mine and reclamation plans for the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte permits under Wyoming’s approved program.”

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