Since 2011, TVA has conducted several environmental reviews of proposals to mine TVA-owned coal reserves underlying areas of Franklin and Hamilton counties, Illinois by Sugar Camp Energy LLC, with whom TVA has executed a lease to mine its coal reserves. TVA’s reviews have considered expansions of underground mining operations of the Sugar Camp Energy Mine No. 1 (Illinois Mine Permit No. 382) into areas of TVA-owned coal reserves. The State of Illinois must approve operations and expansions of Mine No. 1; mining of TVA-owned coal reserves by Sugar Camp Energy requires approval by TVA.
In 2011, TVA approved Sugar Camp Energy’s plan for Mine No. 1 to mine coal from approximately 2,600-acres of TVA holdings in Hamilton County, Illinois. In 2013, TVA approved a mine expansion to allow Sugar Camp Energy to mine additional coal reserves underlying an 880.3-acre area. In 2018, TVA approved another mine expansion into the Viking District #2 area, encompassing almost 2,250 acres in Franklin and Hamilton counties. Operations to extract TVA-owned coal reserves are conducted primarily underground, although the 2013 and 2018 expansions required the construction of bleeder shafts and associated surface infrastructure.
On May 9, 2019, TVA completed a Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) to review an additional expansion of Mine No. 1 and issued a finding of no significant impact. The expanded mining operations would extract approximately 85 acres of TVA-owned coal reserves within an area known as the Viking District #3. There would be no surface disturbance resulting from this expansion. The SEA supplements the analysis completed by TVA in November 2018 that addresses mining of the adjacent Viking District #2 area. The expansions for Viking Districts #2 and #3 were included in the approval granted by the State of Illinois in November 2017 to expand Sugar Camp Mine No. 1.
On August 12, 2019, TVA issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Sugar Camp Energy LLC Mine Expansion (Revision 6). TVA will consider whether to approve the company’s application to mine approximately 12,125 acres of TVA-owned coal reserves in Illinois, as part of the Sugar Camp Mine No. 1 expansion.
TVA has identified two alternatives for consideration in the EIS: TVA’s approval of Sugar Camp’s application to mine 12,125 acres of TVA-owned coal reserves within the expansion area (36,972 acres) of Sugar Camp Mine No. 1, as approved by the State of Illinois; and the No Action Alternative. TVA is soliciting comments on whether there are other alternatives that should be assessed in the EIS.
Under the proposal, surface and underground disturbance would occur. Surface activities to support the underground mining would be limited to the construction of bleeder shafts and installation of associated utilities to operate the bleeder shafts to
support the extraction of TVA-owned coal. The exact location of these surface activities is unknown at this time, but they would occur within the project area. Other activities to support the underground mining of TVA-owned coal would be located outside
of the project area and include operation of the coal preparation plant (approximately 3.5 miles southwest of Macedonia, Illinois).
Underground mining would be performed using two techniques. Coal would be extracted using room and pillar and continuous mining techniques during a development period, followed by longwall mining and associated planned subsidence. Subsidence would only occur under a portion of the project area. Sugar Camp would utilize its existing Mine No. 1 facilities to process and ship extracted coal.
The draft EIS was submitted for public review in April 2020 for a 45-day comment period. TVA received comments from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Sierra Club and one private citizen. Some of the comments warranted changes in the Final EIS.
The Notice of Availability (NOA) for the final EIS can be found in the October 9, 2020 Federal Register.
More information on this environmental review can be obtained from: