Utah Granted Intervention in Coal Leasing Case

A Utah District Court granted the State of Utah’s motion to intervene in a lawsuit involving a coal lease application in Sanpete County. The lease, which will allow mining in the Flat Canyon tract, an adjacent property to Skyline Mine, was approved by the Bureau of Land Management in 2015 and later challenged by WildEarth Guardians and Grand Canyon Trust.  While the merits of the case have yet to be determined, District Court Judge David Nuffer concluded that Utah’s interest in the outcome was sufficient to grant the state intervener status.

Skyline Mine employs approximately 240 people, and in 2015 contributed approximately $4.75 million in revenue for Utah

The ultimate ruling in the case will have serious implications for the state. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, Skyline Mine employs approximately 240 people, and in 2015 contributed approximately $4.75 million in revenue for Utah. The Flat Canyon Lease would extend the life of the mine and therefore provide a continued source of revenue and jobs. Based on the significance of this information the Court concluded, “Utah’s expected revenue from the Skyline Mine’s expansion into the Flat Canyon lease is an economic interest meriting intervener status”.

In addition to the economic stakes, the Court also acknowledged Utah’s sovereign regulatory responsibility. The State has an independent interest in making sure coal mining is conducted in an environmentally responsible way. State approval, which may include an independent environmental analysis, is therefore a pre-requisite to federal approval of all coal mining leases. Because, as Judge Nuffer explained, the federal and state roles in granting coal leasing permits are “intertwined,” the state must be able to speak for itself in defending this particular lease in Flat Canyon tract.

As an intervener, Utah will have standing to coordinate with the Federal Defendants in making official filings in the case. The Court placed no other limitations on its intervener status.

Grazing Working Group

Uncertainty Plain

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Richfield-Sevier Valley Center at Snow College

800 West 200 South, Richfield, UT 84701

The Grazing Rights Conference hosted by the Utah Farm Bureau Federation is being held Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 9:00 AM. The conference is being held at the Richfield-Sevier Valley Center at Snow College in Richfield. There will be multiple panel discussion by both Utah’s Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office and Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Download Handouts

 

Change Coming for Coal Combustion Residuals, Leasing Prices on Public Lands

Two changes in federal environmental management and land regulation are on the horizon.

On December 19, 2014, the EPA signed the Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities final rule.

“EPA finalized national regulations to provide a comprehensive set of requirements for the safe disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs), commonly known as coal ash, from coal-fired power plants . . . The rule establishes technical requirements for CCR landfills and surface impoundments under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the nation’s primary law of regulating solid waste.”

EPA Website, 2014 Final Rule: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities

 
The rule has not yet been published in the Federal Register. To see the pre-publication version of the final rule, click here.

Next month, federal land managers will release proposed rules to change the pricing structure for oil, natural gas, and coal leases on public lands.

“The proposed rules are the key part of an effort the Interior Department has taken in recent years to better ensure that it is getting fair prices for federal energy resources. Current oil and gas valuation rules are more than two decades old and coal rules are a decade old, Interior said Friday. The coal rules would also apply to American Indian land.”

The Hill | Regulators Want to Change Energy Pricing Rules for Federal Land

 
For more on this proposed rule, click here.