GILLETTE, Wyo. — Due to the delay in the release of a draft environmental impact study for a resource management plan involving coal, the Bureau of Land Management’s postponing a meeting it had scheduled in Gillette, an official said today.
The draft supplemental environmental impact statement or draft resource management plan amendment is supposed to address an August 2022 U.S. District Court of Montana order. In Western Organization of Resource Councils, et al. v. BLM, the plaintiffs said the BLM’s approval of the Miles City and Buffalo resource management plans violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedure Act. The State of Wyoming intervened as a defendant.
The court decided that BLM has until Aug. 3 to complete new coal screening and NEPA analysis. New coal, oil and gas leases in the Buffalo and Miles City areas have to satisfy environmental analyses and meet requirements of the court, NEPA and the APA.
“BLM shall consider no coal leasing and limited coal leasing alternatives and must disclose the public health impacts, both climate and non-climate, of burning fossil fuels from the planning areas,” the court said.
On March 10, the BLM Field Office said in an online planning platform that BLM headquarters and the Department of the Interior need more time to review and understand the Buffalo Resource Management Plan supplemental environmental impact statement.
The public meeting was initially set for April 4 in George Amos Memorial Building’s Cottonwood Room, 412 S. Gillette Ave., Gillette, during the original 90-day comment period.
“The Supplemental Draft EIS did not publish on March 3 as scheduled to allow BLM and the Department additional time to review the document, given the time and complexity associated with reviewing two EISs,” High Plains District Public Affairs Specialist Tyson Finnicum said.
Finnicum said he doesn’t yet have an updated timeline for when the draft document will be issued, but once they know when the draft EIS will be published, they’ll reschedule the meeting and notify the public.