HOT SPRINGS, Ark.—December 26, 2023—The USDA Forest Service today issued a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register announcing its preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for the Heavener Coal Leasing Project.
The Heavener Coal Leasing Project responds to a federal coal lease application submitted to the Bureau of Land Management from Emera Corporation on behalf of Ouro Mining, Inc. Under federal law, the Bureau of Land Management is the responsible agency for leasing access to coal on federal lands.
The proposal seeks approval to access and recover federal metallurgical coal on about 3,077 acres that underlie lands on the Ouachita National Forest. The project is in Scott and Sebastian counties in Arkansas. Metallurgical (aka ‘coking’) coal is a grade of coal that is used to produce coke – which in turn is used in the steelmaking process.
Related to the coal lease application is an application received from Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative. The Cooperative proposes to construct and maintain approximately three miles of electric power line and up to two miles of access road on the Ouachita National Forest for the purpose of providing electricity to the coal lease site. About six miles of power line would be located on private lands.
The decision from this Environmental Impact Statement would ultimately determine whether a metallurgical coal lease will be conveyed. The decision would not authorize any mining development activity. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement would review the analysis and decisions made by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and conduct a separate analysis that considers approval of mining activity.
The Notice of Intent initiates scoping for the Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act, provides information about the project, and invites participation in the impact statement process. Comments will be accepted for 30 days.
The Bureau of Land Management and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement will provide technical assistance as cooperating agencies to this environmental review.
For more information on this Notice of Intent or the project, visit the project website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/ouachita/?project=64897.