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TVA prepping environmental assessment of Foresight coal expansion in Illinois

The Tennessee Valley Authority is preparing an environmental impact statement on a proposed expansion of mining operations by Foresight Energy LP subsidiary Sugar Camp Energy LLC.

The TVA, a federal corporation, is considering Sugar Camp's application to mine about 12,125 acres of TVA-owned coal reserves, part of a 37,971-acre expansion of Foresight's underground longwall mining operations at its Sugar Camp operations. The coal mining company extracts TVA-owned coal reserves in Hamilton and Franklin counties in Illinois, according to a Federal Register notice published Aug. 12.

The TVA executed an agreement allowing Sugar Camp to mine its Illinois Basin coal reserves in 2002. Sugar Camp obtained approval of the expansion from the state of Illinois in November 2017.

The TVA completed a series of land and coal mineral acquisitions decades ago as part of a diversified energy strategy. The federal corporation owns coal reserves underlying about 65,000 acres of land containing about 1.35 billion tons of coal in the Illinois No. 5 and No. 6 seams. In 2018, the Sugar Camp complex produced 23.4 million tons of coal and was the third most productive underground coal mine in the U.S. on the basis of tons produced per man-hour, according to an annual report filed by Foresight.

The public is invited to comment on the scope of the TVA's planned environmental impact statement before Sept. 11.