Press Editorial: PSC deserves credit for thorough reviewIt’s hard to wrap a finger around the ins and outs of a permit procedure for a proposed South Heart Coal Plant.
It’s hard to wrap a finger around the ins and outs of a permit procedure for a proposed South Heart Coal Plant.
The company is interested in extracting about 2.5 million tons of coal per year near South Heart by 2016.
Plans, rezones and oodles of amendments have been discussed, cause for raised eyebrows and studied intensely before, after and during dozens of meetings for many years. Here we go again but it’s a good thing.
The North Dakota Public Service Commission sent a letter to South Heart Coal, which is jointly owned by Great Northern Project Development and Allied Syngas Corp., on April 28, citing 37 deficiencies in a surface coal mining permit application.
The company also filed an application in the fall of 2008, which the PSC returned with about 60 deficiencies. The company later withdrew the application because of assumptions about its relation to a proposed GTL Energy USA coal beneficiation plant.
Some of the problems with the ‘08 application are similar to the deficiencies this time around. The problems include availability of information regarding surface water, post-mining land use and reclamation and operation plans.
The PSC, to its credit, is not rubber stamping such an important project that will have such grand impact. There is no doubt the company needs to address these trouble spots the PSC is pointing out.
Coal is a necessity and no one wants a plant in their backyard. Those heading the project say South Heart is a prime location with rail and other necessary facilities nearby. They also say it will improve the quality of coal, making it burn cleaner.
If the $1 billion-plus facility is going to be here it will bring jobs and economic benefits to the area. However, make sure the rules are followed.
Though the PSC has its rules, Stark County needs to make sure it takes care of its own and listens to the people.
Most mining permits are issued for five years and South Heart Coal requests a permit good from July 2014 through July 2043. Hopefully, permit conditions will be followed and the plant operates as it should. Five years is a fair amount of time to look back over procedures to determine if changes need to be made.
Driver’s licenses, passports and much simpler permits don’t last for 30 years; neither should a permit for such a major undertaking.
“Exploratory” steps that need to take place on the land to attain permits will be allowed, such as testing, Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning said during an April meeting.
We expect South Heart Coal to come back with details requested by the PSC and the PSC will review these to see where the permit process stands.
After applications go through a completeness review, they are put to a technical review and deficiencies may not stop the permit’s issuance, a PSC official says. If not, what’s the point? We expect the PSC will halt a permit unless it’s a very rare circumstance.
If South Heart Coal really wants to get this up and running, take care of the provisions that need to be taken care of.
— The Dickinson Press Editorial Board meets weekly to discuss issues of importance to the community.