The U.S. Forest Service has provided a Project Schedule for the Bear Lodge EIS.  That schedule indicates the following major events and timing:

  • Draft EIS available for public distribution                                      Suspended
  • Public meetings on Draft EIS                                                        Pending
  • Publication of the Final EIS and draft Record of Decision             Pending
  • Final Record of Decision                                                               Pending

Please visit the US Forest Service's webpage for the Bear Lodge EIS at:  

 www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=37875

Public Comments

Public comments can be submitted to the USFS in writing via email at comments-rocky-mountains-black-hills-bearlodge@fs.fed.us or directly to:

Bear Lodge Project EIS
c/o Steve Kozel, District Ranger
Bearlodge Ranger District
PO Box 680
Sundance, WY  82729-0680

The USFS held initial public scoping meetings on 4/14/14 in Sundance, WY and on 4/15/14 in Upton, WY. The initial public comment period closed on April 30, 2014.

 

Bear Lodge EIS

March 20, 2014 - The US Forest Service (USFS) distributed scoping documents and published notice in the Federal Register:
Bear Lodge Scoping Letter
Bear Lodge Project Description 
Summary of Public Comments

NEPA Process & the EIS at Bear Lodge

What is NEPA?
NEPA stands for The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended.   NEPA requires federal agencies to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on major actions, such as issuance of a permit or approval for a project, that significantly affect the quality of the human environment.   It requires that the proposed federal action and project alternatives be assessed and mitigation measures be evaluated to reduce project impacts.  NEPA also requires public input and involvement throughout the EIS process including the decision-making process.

What is an EIS?
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) assesses the impacts of the proposed action and project alternatives and recommends mitigation measures to reduce action/project impacts. EISs are generally prepared for actions/projects viewed by the lead agency (for the Bear Lodge Project the lead agency is the US Forest Service (USFS)) as having significant potential impacts on the human environment. The EIS should provide a discussion of significant environmental impacts and reasonable alternatives (including a No Action Alternative), which would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or enhance the quality of the human environment. The public, other federal agencies and outside parties, including state and local governing bodies, are encouraged to provide input in the preparation and approval of the EIS.  After a final EIS is prepared and at the time of its decision, the lead federal agency will prepare a public Record of Decision (ROD) addressing how the findings of the EIS, including consideration of alternatives, were incorporated into the agency's decision-making process.

How long do you expect the NEPA process to take for the Bear Lodge Project, and what are the different steps?
In a schedule distributed by the USFS in early 2015, they indicated that the Bear Lodge Project’s final Record of Decision (ROD) would be available in August 2016. 

Completed Steps in the NEPA Process

  • Draft EIS available for public comment                                                  Suspended
  • Baseline Data Collection – initial results provided to EIS Team             Ongoing as needed
  • Submittal of Plan of Operations to USFS                                               November 2012 
  • Acceptance of Plan of Operations by USFS                                          May 2013 
  • Signing of Memorandum of Understanding for Preparation of EIS         September 2013
  • Selection of USFS Project Manager and Prime Contractor for EIS        December 2013     
  • Kick off Meeting of EIS Teams                                                               January 2014  
  • Submittal of updated to 2013 accepted Plan of Operations                   February 2014
  • Published Notice in the Federal Register                                               February 2014
  • Public Scoping Period Closed on April 30, 2014                                    April 2014
  • Summary of Public Comments                                                               June 2014

Next Steps in the NEPA Process   

  • Public Comment Period
  • Comment Analysis
  • Final EIS review and draft Record of Decision
  • Final Record of Decision allowing for Project implementation


What agencies are involved in the Bear Lodge EIS and permitting?
The approval to construct the Bear Lodge Project on public lands must be obtained from the USFS, Bearlodge Ranger District, Black Hills National Forest.  The appropriate state and local government agencies will also be involved in the EIS process as cooperating agencies.  Jeanette Timm, a 25-year Forest Service professional, has been chosen as the EIS Project Manager. 

While not a cooperating agency on the EIS, the US Environmental Protection Agency will be required to review and comment on the EIS.  The permit to mine will come from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) – Land Quality Division.  This application was filed in the second quarter of 2015.  Additionally, the Company will need permits or approvals from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (license to possess source materials), WDEQ – Water Quality Division, WDEQ – Air Quality Division, WDEQ – Industrial Siting Division, the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office,  Wyoming Department of Transportation, the Wyoming State Engineer's Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) as well as certain local agencies.

What is the public's role in the NEPA process?
The public’s role in the NEPA process is to provide input on what issues should be reviewed in the EIS, particularly during the scoping process, and in commenting on the findings in the NEPA documents. The public can participate in the NEPA process by attending NEPA-related hearings or public meetings and by submitting comments directly to the Forest Service.  

With regard to the Bear Lodge EIS, broad notice will be provided when the Public Involvement Plan has been developed and the scoping schedule, announcing public meeting dates, has been set.

Additional information on the NEPA process can be found at:
http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nepa/
https://www.fedcenter.gov/programs/nepa/

Contact Information

For questions regarding the NEPA process or to sign up to receive EIS notices, please contact: 

Steve Kozel, District Ranger 
US Forest Service, Bearlodge Ranger District
Phone:  307.283.1361
Email:  jmtimm@fs.fed.us   
Bear Lodge NEPA related website:   www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=37875
 
For general questions regarding the Bear Lodge Project, please contact:

Randall Scott, CFO
Rare Element Resources (Denver Office)
Phone: 720.278.2460