Environmental impact statement commenced on Rare Element Resources’ Bear Lodge project
Rare Element Resources Ltd., a mineral resources company advancing development of the Bear Lodge Critical Rare Earth Project, announced that members of the U.S. Forest Service, Tetra Tech, the prime contractor, and the company met in early February and officially commenced preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Bear Lodge Project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The meeting was led by Jeanette Timm, the Forest Service’s project manager for the EIS, and included an introduction of the Forest Service’s inter-disciplinary resource team, Tetra Tech’s resource and technical specialists, and the lead contacts for Rare Element Resources.
The first step in the NEPA process will be the publication in the Federal Register of a Notice of Intent to prepare the EIS and the announcement of public scoping meetings. Scoping is the mechanism by which the public becomes involved with the EIS at the onset of the NEPA process. The purpose of scoping is to identify the significant environmental issues that are then used to develop the alternatives to be analyzed in the EIS.
“The team the Forest Service has assembled for the preparation of the Bear Lodge EIS includes an impressive collection of technical experts covering many disciplines that will ensure the completion of a document that carefully and sufficiently considers and addresses the impacts of our proposed operations,” stated Jaye T. Pickarts, Rare Element’s chief operating officer. “We believe the Bear Lodge Project is an important component of America’s expressed desire to re-establish a secure, domestic source of critical rare earths, and we are committed to developing a project that meets the highest standards of environmental stewardship. We look forward to working with the Forest Service and Tetra Tech to advance the EIS process as efficiently and timely as possible while ensuring completion of a thorough assessment.”
Critical rare earth elements were identified by the U.S. Department of Energy in a report published in late 2011 entitled “Critical Material Strategy” and include neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium – all elements present at the Bear Lodge Project. The study evaluated the role of these rare earths in the green energy economy and identified them as “critical” due to the supply risk associated with their lack of availability outside of China.