Hoeven helps nail down federal approval for Coyote Creek Mine plan

John Hoeven

In another successful effort to secure coal’s continued role in the nation’s energy mix and provide certainty for North Dakota’s coal producers, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) on March 18 announced the approval of a new federal mine plan for the state’s Coyote Creek Mine.

The approved plan will allow for the development of two tracts of federal coal located under private surface acreage, according to Sen. Hoeven’s staff.

“This regulatory approval is key to the future operations of Coyote Creek Mine and Coyote Creek Station,” Sen. Hoeven said on Monday.

The Bureau of Land Management in 2020 awarded the federal coal lease following completion of an environmental assessment (EA) over the tracts proposed for leasing, according to information provided by the senator’s staff, but the Biden administration in 2022 determined that a supplemental EA was required before a mine plan could be issued, delaying the mine’s operations.

Sen. Hoeven, who sits on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, began working to expedite the EA process and secure approval of the federal mine plan by raising its priority with U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) officials.

On March 14, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) approved the federal mine plan for Coyote Creek Mining Company LLC in Zap, N.D. 

“The stability of the electrical grid depends on affordable and reliable baseload power sources, like coal, and regulatory delays were undermining our ability to continue utilizing this critical energy resource,” said Sen. Hoeven. “That’s why we continue working to press the Biden administration on the fact that our nation’s vast coal resources remain critical to rural electrification, and securing this federal mine plan approval for Coyote Creek is an important part of these efforts.”

The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) regulates surface coal mining operations on private, state, and federal lands within the state and enforces performance standards and permit requirements. The OSMRE retains oversight of the PSC and is the agency responsible for making a recommendation to the DOI to approve, disapprove, or approve with conditions any proposed mining plan required by the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920.