Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Rasmussen Valley Mine and Reclamation Plan, Caribou County, ID, 11259-11261 [2011-4535]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 1, 2011 / Notices at 307–775–6258, and 307–775–6487, respectively. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This coal lease sale is being held in response to a lease by application (LBA) filed by Antelope Coal LLC, Gillette, Wyoming. The coal resource to be offered consists of all reserves recoverable by surface mining methods in the following described lands located north of the Campbell/Converse county line approximately 2–5 miles east of State Highway 59 and adjacent to the western and northern lease boundary of the Antelope Mine. jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES T. 41 N., R. 71 W., 6th Principal Meridian, Sec. 9, lots 9 through 16 inclusive; Sec. 10, lots 11 through 16 inclusive; Sec. 11, lot 13; Sec. 14, lots 3 and 4; Sec. 15, lots 1 through 5 inclusive, and lots 12 and 13; Sec. 20, lots 14 through 16 inclusive; Sec. 21, lots 1 through 16 inclusive; Sec. 22, lots 2, 7, 8, and lots 14 through 16 inclusive; Sec. 27, lots 6 through 11 inclusive; Sec. 28, lots 1 through 8 inclusive; and Sec. 29, lots 1 through 3 inclusive, and lots 6 through 8 inclusive. Containing 2,837.63 acres, more or less in Campbell County, Wyoming. The tract is adjacent to Federal leases to the east and south and surrounds a State of Wyoming lease, all controlled by the Antelope Mine. It is adjacent to additional unleased Federal coal to the west and north. All of the acreage offered has been determined to be suitable for mining except for the mainline railroad right-ofway in the far northeast portion of the tract. Features such as utilities and pipelines can be moved to permit coal recovery. A possible alluvial valley floor crosses the tract along Horse Creek, but is unlikely to be significant for farming and so will be available for mining with appropriate reclamation. In addition, numerous producing coal bed natural gas wells have been drilled on the LBA tract. The estimate of the bonus value of the coal lease will include consideration of the future production from these wells. An economic analysis of the future income stream from coal mining will consider reasonable compensation for lost production of coal bed natural gas when the wells are bought out by the coal lessee. Mining will eliminate the gas reservoir. The surface estate of the tract is owned by Antelope Coal Company or private individuals and other entities. The tract contains surface mineable coal reserves in the Wyodak-Anderson coal zone currently being recovered in the adjacent, existing mine. On the LBA tract, there are generally two recoverable VerDate Mar<15>2010 20:54 Feb 28, 2011 Jkt 223001 seams, the shallower Anderson and the deeper Canyon. On the LBA tract, both seams are generally continuous although a thin split off the bottom of the Anderson occasionally occurs. This split can usually be recovered with the main Anderson seam. The Anderson seam varies from 35 to 42 feet thick while the Canyon seam varies from 32 to 36 feet thick. The interburden varies significantly and can be as thin as 12 feet to as thick as 95 feet but is usually in the 65 to 75 foot thick range. Overburden depths to the Anderson seam range from about 250 to 440 feet thick on the LBA tract. The tract contains an estimated 350,263,000 tons of mineable coal. This estimate of mineable reserves includes both of the main seams and the thin split mentioned above, but does not include any tonnage from localized seams or splits where the coal is less than 5 feet thick. It does not include the coal in the State of Wyoming coal lease, although these reserves are expected to be recovered in conjunction with the LBA tract. It also excludes coal within and along the railroad right-of-way since this coal cannot be recovered using typical mining practices. The total mineable stripping ratio of the coal in bank cubic yards per ton is approximately 4.6:1. Potential bidders for the LBA tract should consider the recovery rate expected from thick seam and multiple seam mining. The West Antelope II North LBA coal is ranked as subbituminous C. The overall average quality on an as-received basis is 8,967 British Thermal Units per pound containing approximately 0.23 percent sulfur. The average quality of these coal reserves are equal to some of the best quality coal currently being mined in the Wyoming portion of the Powder River Basin. The tract in this lease offering contains split estate lands. There are qualified surface owners as defined in the regulations at 43 CFR 3400.0–5. Consent granted by the qualified surface owners has been filed with and verified by the BLM. The LBA tract lands included in the consent documents are: T. 41 N., R. 71 W., 6th P.M., Sec. 9, lots 9 through 16 inclusive; Sec. 10, lots 11 through 16 inclusive; Sec. 14, lots 3 and 4; Sec. 15, lots 1 through 4 inclusive; and Sec. 21, lots 1through 8 inclusive. Containing 1147.43 acres, more or less, in Campbell County, Wyoming. The purchase price of the consent is $10,097,500. The tract will be leased to the qualified bidder of the highest cash amount provided that the high bid PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 11259 meets or exceeds the BLM’s estimate of the fair market value of the tract. The minimum bid for the tract is $100 per acre or fraction thereof. No bid that is less than $100 per acre, or fraction thereof, will be considered. The bids should be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, or be hand delivered. The BLM Wyoming State Office Cashier will issue a receipt for each handdelivered bid. Bids received after 4 p.m. local time, on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, will not be considered. The minimum bid is not intended to represent fair market value. The fair market value of the tract will be determined by the Authorized Officer after the sale. The lease issued as a result of this offering will provide for payment of an annual rental of $3.00 per acre, or fraction thereof, and a royalty payment to the United States of 12.5 percent of the value of coal produced by surface mining methods and 8 percent of the value of the coal produced by underground mining methods. The value of the coal will be determined in accordance with 30 CFR 206.250. Bidding instructions for the LBA tract offered and the terms and conditions of the proposed coal lease are available from the BLM Wyoming State Office at the address above. Case file documents, WYW163340, are available for inspection at the BLM Wyoming State Office. Donald A. Simpson, State Director. [FR Doc. 2011–4364 Filed 2–28–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–22–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLIDI02000.L71220000.EO0000. LVTFD0977370] DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Rasmussen Valley Mine and Reclamation Plan, Caribou County, ID Bureau of Land Management, Interior. U.S. Forest Service, Agriculture. ACTION: Notice of Intent. AGENCIES: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, and the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as amended, notice is hereby given that the SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\01MRN1.SGM 01MRN1 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES 11260 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 1, 2011 / Notices Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Pocatello Field Office, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (USFS), Caribou-Targhee National Forest, will jointly prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to determine and analyze the effects of a proposed phosphate mine and reclamation plan. The EIS will also consider the effects of modifying the lease to increase its size. DATES: To ensure that comments will be considered, the BLM must receive written comments on the scope of the analysis described in this notice by March 31, 2011. The BLM will announce future meetings or hearings and any other public involvement activities at least 15 days in advance through public notices, media news releases, and/or mailings. Scoping Procedure: The scoping procedure to be used for this EIS will involve notification in the Federal Register; a mailing to interested and potentially affected individuals, groups, Federal, State, and local government entities requesting comments, issues and concerns; news releases or legal notices; and public scoping meetings. Please note that public comments and information submitted, including names, street addresses, and e-mail addresses of respondents, will be available for public review and disclosure at the address listed below during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), Monday through Friday, except holidays. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. The BLM and the USFS are seeking information and written comments from Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies, individuals and organizations interested in, or affected by the Proposed Action or Alternatives. To assist the BLM and the USFS in identifying issues and concerns related to the Proposed Action, scoping comments should be as specific as possible. ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: Rasmussen Valley Mine EIS, Bureau of Land Management, Pocatello Field Office, 4350 Cliffs Drive, Pocatello, Idaho 83204. E-mail: Rasmussen_Valley_EIS@blm.gov. VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:42 Feb 28, 2011 Jkt 223001 Bill Volk, Bureau of Land Management, Pocatello Field Office, 4350 Cliffs Drive, Pocatello, Idaho 83204, phone (208) 236–7503. Information is also available at: http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/fo/ pocatello/planning/ rasmussen_valley_mine.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The BLM will serve as the lead agency and the USFS as the co-lead agency. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is a cooperating agency. The mining and reclamation plans have been developed and submitted for agency review of proposed open pit mining operations at the Rasmussen Valley Phosphate Federal Mineral Lease I–05975, in Caribou County, Idaho, by Nu-West Industries, Inc., doing business as Agrium Conda Phosphate Operations (Agrium). The Rasmussen Valley Phosphate Lease Area is located about 18 miles northeast of Soda Springs, Idaho. The proposed new mining operations at the Rasmussen Valley Phosphate Lease area lie on lands where the surface estate is administered by the BLM, the USFS, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and private owners. The Federal mineral estate is administered by the BLM. The portion where the surface estate is administered by the USFS lies within the Soda Springs Ranger District of the CaribouTarghee National Forest. The lease was originally issued in 1955. Subsequent lease transactions resulted in the transfer of the lease to Agrium in 2004. These leases grant the lessee, Agrium in this case, exclusive rights to mine and otherwise dispose of the federally owned phosphate deposit at the site. Through development of this EIS, the BLM and the USFS will analyze environmental impacts of the proposed mining operations and reasonable alternatives to the proposed action. Appropriate mitigation measures will also be formulated. Agency Decisions: The BLM Idaho State Director or delegated official will make a decision regarding approval of the proposed mine and reclamation plan, a proposed lease modification or grant of a fringe acreage lease (enlargement of leased areas), and appropriate land use authorizations on leased lands. Decisions will be based on the EIS and any recommendations the USFS may have regarding surface management of leased National Forest System lands. The USFS CaribouTarghee National Forest Supervisor makes: (1) Recommendations to the BLM concerning surface management and SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 mitigation on leased lands within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest; and (2) Decisions on mine related activities that occur off-lease within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Special use authorizations from the USFS would be necessary for any support structures and facilities for the mine located off-lease within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The Army Corps of Engineers may also make decisions related to permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Background: Agrium has operated the existing North Rasmussen Ridge and Dry Valley Mines since 2003. Agrium has indicated that they will eventually complete mining of these currently permitted reserves, requiring the proposed mining of the Rasmussen Valley phosphate lease if mining is to continue in the immediate area. Because of the significant construction time associated with the infrastructure needed for the proposed mine (new haul road and mine infrastructure), this proposal is being analyzed in advance of depleting the currently permitted ore reserves at Agrium’s North Rasmussen Ridge and Dry Valley Mines. The proposed Rasmussen Valley Mine project would include an open pit phosphate mine and associated features including growth media stockpiles, temporary and permanent external overburden storage areas, storm water retention ponds and mine pit backfill areas, a haul road, an equipment staging area, and re-routing of an existing county road and power line. The lease currently contains 511.4 acres of which approximately 311.4 acres are on National Forest System Lands, 40 acres are on BLM public lands, and 160 acres are on lands managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). The lessee has proposed a lease modification (enlargement) of the Federal Phosphate Lease I–05975 in three areas totaling 170 acres to allow optimum recovery of existing ore currently contiguous to Lease I–05975. This proposed modification will be analyzed in the EIS. Approximately 420.4 acres are proposed for disturbance both on-lease and off-lease by the mining project, of which 198.5 acres would be on National Forest System Lands, 28.7 acres on BLM public lands, 134.9 acres on the IDFG Blackfoot Wildlife Management Area, 0.4 acres on Idaho Department of Lands, and 57.9 acres on private land. Of the total proposed 420.4 acres of disturbance, approximately 310.3 acres are on-lease for the mine pit, backfill areas, temporary and permanent external overburden disposal areas, an E:\FR\FM\01MRN1.SGM 01MRN1 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 1, 2011 / Notices equipment staging area and haul roads, and approximately 110.1 acres of disturbance are off-lease for haul roads, a county road re-route, growth media stockpiles and storm water retention ponds. Of the 110.1 total acres of off-lease disturbance, 31.3 acres are proposed to be disturbed on private land, and 13.6 acres are proposed to be disturbed on National Forest System Lands within the 170-acre proposed lease modification. Off-lease disturbance on National Forest System Lands of approximately 30.8 acres for the haul road, storm water retention ponds, and growth media stockpiles is proposed to be permitted by a 71-acre Special Use Permit (SUP) rather than a lease modification. Off-lease disturbance of approximately 7.4 acres is proposed by Agrium on the Idaho Fish and Game’s Blackfoot Wildlife Management Area, primarily for storm water retention ponds and the county road realignment. Approximately 26.6 acres of disturbance off-lease on private land, but not within the lease modification, is proposed for the haul road, storm water retention ponds, and growth media stockpiles. Approximately 0.4 acres of proposed off-lease disturbance for the haul road is on land managed by the Idaho Department of Lands. Mining is proposed to begin at the southern end of the Rasmussen Valley Mine deposit, continuing northwest through the deposit to the extent of the lease. Initially, overburden from the pit would be placed in an external overburden storage area located on-lease directly to the west of the pit. As mining progresses northwest, overburden would be placed either back in the mined-out portion of the pit, or in additional external overburden storage areas located onlease to the west of the pit. Agrium has proposed management practices in its mine and reclamation plan to reduce environmental impacts. Reclamation would be conducted concurrently with mining. Agrium’s plan emphasizes the backfill of mine pits and limiting the amount of overburden placed in permanent external storage areas. To reduce the potential for contaminant release to water or uptake into reclamation vegetation, Agrium is proposing to limit the amount of time that seleniferous overburden is exposed to the elements, to return all seleniferous overburden material to the mine pits, and to cap overburden with low-seleniferous material consisting of approximately 3 feet of cherty material, overlain by 2 feet of growth media. Agrium has proposed to build associated new facilities including an VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:42 Feb 28, 2011 Jkt 223001 ore stockpile and groundwater supply well(s). To assist personnel needs and mobile equipment operation, a small support staging facility would be constructed at the active mining site immediately west of the pit. This facility provides electrical power, fuel and grease storage within secondary containment, communication, safety structures, and a temporary shift change building. Off-lease facilities would include haul roads and storm water control features, and growth media stockpiles. Trucks would be used to transport ore to the Wooley Valley rail head and overburden to a permanent disposal area. Potential impacts to surface resources and water quality include erosion, an increase in stream sediment load, and contamination from dissolved metals and selenium. Agrium has proposed to implement practices designed to reduce, eliminate, or mitigate these impacts. Suitable growth media would be salvaged from disturbed areas for use in reclamation. Mine reclamation would include removal of facilities and equipment, backfilling pits as mining progresses, grading slopes, capping overburden disposal areas and pit backfill, restoring drainages, spreading growth media, stabilizing surfaces, revegetation, and testing and treatment for any remaining contaminants. Environmental monitoring will be performed to ensure impacts do not exceed those authorized. Issues initially identified for the proposed mining of the Rasmussen Valley phosphate lease include potential effects on groundwater and surface water quantity and quality; vegetation, soil and mineral resources; air quality; wildlife and their habitats (including fisheries); livestock grazing; wetlands and riparian habitat; recreation; and socio-economics such as employment and the continued operation of a fertilizer plant and support businesses; Native American rights, treaties, and land uses; visual resources; and cumulative effects. The EIS will analyze the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative. Other alternatives may be considered that could provide mitigation of potential impacts. The tentative EIS project schedule is as follows: • Begin public scoping period and meetings: Winter 2011. • Estimated date for draft EIS and associated comment period: Spring 2013. • Final EIS publication: Winter 2014. • Record of Decision: Winter 2014. At least three ‘‘open-house’’ style public scoping meetings will be held which PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 11261 will include displays explaining the project and providing a forum for commenting on the project. Meetings are planned to be held in Pocatello, Fort Hall, and Soda Springs, Idaho. The dates, times, and locations of the public scoping meetings will be announced in mailings and public notices issued by the BLM (see DATES above). Authorities: 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; 40 CFR parts 1500–1508; 43 CFR part 46; 43 U.S.C. 1701; and 43 CFR part 3590. Joe Kraayenbrink, District Manager, Idaho Falls District, Bureau of Land Management. Brent Larson, Forest Supervisor, Caribou-Targhee National Forest. [FR Doc. 2011–4535 Filed 2–28–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–GG–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLMT926000–11–L19100000–BJ0000– LRCME0R04763] Notice of Filing of Plats of Survey; Montana Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice of filing of plats of survey. AGENCY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will file the plat of survey of the lands described below in the BLM Montana State Office, Billings, Montana, on March 31, 2011. DATES: Protests of the survey must be filed before March 31, 2011 to be considered. SUMMARY: Protests of the survey should be sent to Branch of Cadastral Survey, Bureau of Land Management, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, Montana 59101–4669. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Toth, Cadastral Surveyor, Branch of Cadastral Survey, Bureau of Land Management, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, Montana 59101–4669, telephone (406) 896–5121 or (406) 896– 5009. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This survey was executed at the request of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Rocky Mountain Region, Billings, Montana, and was necessary to determine individual and tribal trust lands. The lands we surveyed are: ADDRESSES: Principal Meridian, Montana T. 27 N., R. 48 E. E:\FR\FM\01MRN1.SGM 01MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 40 (Tuesday, March 1, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 11259-11261]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-4535]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Land Management

[LLIDI02000.L71220000.EO0000. LVTFD0977370]

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Proposed Rasmussen Valley Mine and Reclamation Plan, Caribou 
County, ID

AGENCIES:  Bureau of Land Management, Interior. U.S. Forest Service, 
Agriculture.

ACTION: Notice of Intent.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, and the 
Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as amended, notice is hereby given that 
the

[[Page 11260]]

Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Pocatello 
Field Office, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service 
(USFS), Caribou-Targhee National Forest, will jointly prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to determine and analyze the 
effects of a proposed phosphate mine and reclamation plan. The EIS will 
also consider the effects of modifying the lease to increase its size.

DATES: To ensure that comments will be considered, the BLM must receive 
written comments on the scope of the analysis described in this notice 
by March 31, 2011. The BLM will announce future meetings or hearings 
and any other public involvement activities at least 15 days in advance 
through public notices, media news releases, and/or mailings.
    Scoping Procedure: The scoping procedure to be used for this EIS 
will involve notification in the Federal Register; a mailing to 
interested and potentially affected individuals, groups, Federal, 
State, and local government entities requesting comments, issues and 
concerns; news releases or legal notices; and public scoping meetings.
    Please note that public comments and information submitted, 
including names, street addresses, and e-mail addresses of respondents, 
will be available for public review and disclosure at the address 
listed below during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), Monday 
through Friday, except holidays.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    The BLM and the USFS are seeking information and written comments 
from Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies, individuals and 
organizations interested in, or affected by the Proposed Action or 
Alternatives. To assist the BLM and the USFS in identifying issues and 
concerns related to the Proposed Action, scoping comments should be as 
specific as possible.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: Rasmussen Valley Mine EIS, Bureau 
of Land Management, Pocatello Field Office, 4350 Cliffs Drive, 
Pocatello, Idaho 83204. E-mail: Rasmussen_Valley_EIS@blm.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Volk, Bureau of Land Management, 
Pocatello Field Office, 4350 Cliffs Drive, Pocatello, Idaho 83204, 
phone (208) 236-7503. Information is also available at: http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/fo/pocatello/planning/rasmussen_valley_mine.html.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The BLM will serve as the lead agency and 
the USFS as the co-lead agency. The Idaho Department of Environmental 
Quality is a cooperating agency. The mining and reclamation plans have 
been developed and submitted for agency review of proposed open pit 
mining operations at the Rasmussen Valley Phosphate Federal Mineral 
Lease I-05975, in Caribou County, Idaho, by Nu-West Industries, Inc., 
doing business as Agrium Conda Phosphate Operations (Agrium). The 
Rasmussen Valley Phosphate Lease Area is located about 18 miles 
northeast of Soda Springs, Idaho.
    The proposed new mining operations at the Rasmussen Valley 
Phosphate Lease area lie on lands where the surface estate is 
administered by the BLM, the USFS, the Idaho Department of Fish and 
Game, and private owners. The Federal mineral estate is administered by 
the BLM. The portion where the surface estate is administered by the 
USFS lies within the Soda Springs Ranger District of the Caribou-
Targhee National Forest. The lease was originally issued in 1955. 
Subsequent lease transactions resulted in the transfer of the lease to 
Agrium in 2004. These leases grant the lessee, Agrium in this case, 
exclusive rights to mine and otherwise dispose of the federally owned 
phosphate deposit at the site. Through development of this EIS, the BLM 
and the USFS will analyze environmental impacts of the proposed mining 
operations and reasonable alternatives to the proposed action. 
Appropriate mitigation measures will also be formulated.
    Agency Decisions: The BLM Idaho State Director or delegated 
official will make a decision regarding approval of the proposed mine 
and reclamation plan, a proposed lease modification or grant of a 
fringe acreage lease (enlargement of leased areas), and appropriate 
land use authorizations on leased lands. Decisions will be based on the 
EIS and any recommendations the USFS may have regarding surface 
management of leased National Forest System lands. The USFS Caribou-
Targhee National Forest Supervisor makes:
    (1) Recommendations to the BLM concerning surface management and 
mitigation on leased lands within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest; 
and
    (2) Decisions on mine related activities that occur off-lease 
within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Special use authorizations 
from the USFS would be necessary for any support structures and 
facilities for the mine located off-lease within the Caribou-Targhee 
National Forest.
    The Army Corps of Engineers may also make decisions related to 
permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
    Background: Agrium has operated the existing North Rasmussen Ridge 
and Dry Valley Mines since 2003. Agrium has indicated that they will 
eventually complete mining of these currently permitted reserves, 
requiring the proposed mining of the Rasmussen Valley phosphate lease 
if mining is to continue in the immediate area. Because of the 
significant construction time associated with the infrastructure needed 
for the proposed mine (new haul road and mine infrastructure), this 
proposal is being analyzed in advance of depleting the currently 
permitted ore reserves at Agrium's North Rasmussen Ridge and Dry Valley 
Mines. The proposed Rasmussen Valley Mine project would include an open 
pit phosphate mine and associated features including growth media 
stockpiles, temporary and permanent external overburden storage areas, 
storm water retention ponds and mine pit backfill areas, a haul road, 
an equipment staging area, and re-routing of an existing county road 
and power line.
    The lease currently contains 511.4 acres of which approximately 
311.4 acres are on National Forest System Lands, 40 acres are on BLM 
public lands, and 160 acres are on lands managed by the Idaho 
Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). The lessee has proposed a lease 
modification (enlargement) of the Federal Phosphate Lease I-05975 in 
three areas totaling 170 acres to allow optimum recovery of existing 
ore currently contiguous to Lease I-05975. This proposed modification 
will be analyzed in the EIS. Approximately 420.4 acres are proposed for 
disturbance both on-lease and off-lease by the mining project, of which 
198.5 acres would be on National Forest System Lands, 28.7 acres on BLM 
public lands, 134.9 acres on the IDFG Blackfoot Wildlife Management 
Area, 0.4 acres on Idaho Department of Lands, and 57.9 acres on private 
land.
    Of the total proposed 420.4 acres of disturbance, approximately 
310.3 acres are on-lease for the mine pit, backfill areas, temporary 
and permanent external overburden disposal areas, an

[[Page 11261]]

equipment staging area and haul roads, and approximately 110.1 acres of 
disturbance are off-lease for haul roads, a county road re-route, 
growth media stockpiles and storm water retention ponds.
    Of the 110.1 total acres of off-lease disturbance, 31.3 acres are 
proposed to be disturbed on private land, and 13.6 acres are proposed 
to be disturbed on National Forest System Lands within the 170-acre 
proposed lease modification. Off-lease disturbance on National Forest 
System Lands of approximately 30.8 acres for the haul road, storm water 
retention ponds, and growth media stockpiles is proposed to be 
permitted by a 71-acre Special Use Permit (SUP) rather than a lease 
modification. Off-lease disturbance of approximately 7.4 acres is 
proposed by Agrium on the Idaho Fish and Game's Blackfoot Wildlife 
Management Area, primarily for storm water retention ponds and the 
county road re-alignment. Approximately 26.6 acres of disturbance off-
lease on private land, but not within the lease modification, is 
proposed for the haul road, storm water retention ponds, and growth 
media stockpiles. Approximately 0.4 acres of proposed off-lease 
disturbance for the haul road is on land managed by the Idaho 
Department of Lands. Mining is proposed to begin at the southern end of 
the Rasmussen Valley Mine deposit, continuing northwest through the 
deposit to the extent of the lease. Initially, overburden from the pit 
would be placed in an external overburden storage area located on-lease 
directly to the west of the pit. As mining progresses northwest, 
overburden would be placed either back in the mined-out portion of the 
pit, or in additional external overburden storage areas located on-
lease to the west of the pit.
    Agrium has proposed management practices in its mine and 
reclamation plan to reduce environmental impacts. Reclamation would be 
conducted concurrently with mining. Agrium's plan emphasizes the 
backfill of mine pits and limiting the amount of overburden placed in 
permanent external storage areas. To reduce the potential for 
contaminant release to water or uptake into reclamation vegetation, 
Agrium is proposing to limit the amount of time that seleniferous 
overburden is exposed to the elements, to return all seleniferous 
overburden material to the mine pits, and to cap overburden with low-
seleniferous material consisting of approximately 3 feet of cherty 
material, overlain by 2 feet of growth media.
    Agrium has proposed to build associated new facilities including an 
ore stockpile and groundwater supply well(s). To assist personnel needs 
and mobile equipment operation, a small support staging facility would 
be constructed at the active mining site immediately west of the pit. 
This facility provides electrical power, fuel and grease storage within 
secondary containment, communication, safety structures, and a 
temporary shift change building.
    Off-lease facilities would include haul roads and storm water 
control features, and growth media stockpiles. Trucks would be used to 
transport ore to the Wooley Valley rail head and overburden to a 
permanent disposal area.
    Potential impacts to surface resources and water quality include 
erosion, an increase in stream sediment load, and contamination from 
dissolved metals and selenium. Agrium has proposed to implement 
practices designed to reduce, eliminate, or mitigate these impacts. 
Suitable growth media would be salvaged from disturbed areas for use in 
reclamation. Mine reclamation would include removal of facilities and 
equipment, backfilling pits as mining progresses, grading slopes, 
capping overburden disposal areas and pit backfill, restoring 
drainages, spreading growth media, stabilizing surfaces, revegetation, 
and testing and treatment for any remaining contaminants. Environmental 
monitoring will be performed to ensure impacts do not exceed those 
authorized.
    Issues initially identified for the proposed mining of the 
Rasmussen Valley phosphate lease include potential effects on 
groundwater and surface water quantity and quality; vegetation, soil 
and mineral resources; air quality; wildlife and their habitats 
(including fisheries); livestock grazing; wetlands and riparian 
habitat; recreation; and socio-economics such as employment and the 
continued operation of a fertilizer plant and support businesses; 
Native American rights, treaties, and land uses; visual resources; and 
cumulative effects.
    The EIS will analyze the Proposed Action and the No Action 
Alternative. Other alternatives may be considered that could provide 
mitigation of potential impacts.
    The tentative EIS project schedule is as follows:
     Begin public scoping period and meetings: Winter 2011.
     Estimated date for draft EIS and associated comment 
period: Spring 2013.
     Final EIS publication: Winter 2014.
     Record of Decision: Winter 2014.

At least three ``open-house'' style public scoping meetings will be 
held which will include displays explaining the project and providing a 
forum for commenting on the project.
    Meetings are planned to be held in Pocatello, Fort Hall, and Soda 
Springs, Idaho. The dates, times, and locations of the public scoping 
meetings will be announced in mailings and public notices issued by the 
BLM (see DATES above).

    Authorities:  42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; 40 CFR parts 1500-1508; 43 
CFR part 46; 43 U.S.C. 1701; and 43 CFR part 3590.

Joe Kraayenbrink,
District Manager, Idaho Falls District, Bureau of Land Management.
Brent Larson,
Forest Supervisor, Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
[FR Doc. 2011-4535 Filed 2-28-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-GG-P