Be good to the land, it'll return the favor. It's a simple idea that Basin Electric has fiercely defended throughout its history.
Basin Electric was the first utility in the nation to require that strip-mined land be returned to rolling countryside. That requirement was written into Basin Electric's first coal contract long before rules and regulations on mined land reclamation were enacted.
Our concern for the environment has been a guiding principle for many years. In the Statement of Ideals and Objectives adopted in 1967, Basin Electric's members held that "a clean and healthy environment which we all need and enjoy must be maintained and that the energy industry must do all that is feasible to minimize the negative impacts on the environment."
In the mid-1960s, Basin Electric proposed model laws to the North Dakota Legislature to protect the air, water and land. We advocated legislation requiring mined land reclamation and prohibiting dumping fly ash and other industrial wastes into the rivers. Today, Basin Electric continues its tradition of commitment to a clean environment and the communities impacted by energy production.
Basin Electric owns Dakota Gasification Company, and these values follow throughout the cooperative family.
Partnering with living things for reclamation
Commitment to the environment can be shown in a variety of ways. Following are a few ways Basin Electric keeps nature in mind in its reclamation practices.
The reclamation process includes resurfacing spoil piles, seeding the land, and maintaining wetlands for wildlife.
Freedom Mine Reclamation
Basin Electric has always kept nature in mind. One place where that can be seen firsthand is at the Freedom Mine.
The Freedom Mine minimizes disturbance to land, vegetation, water, air, natural habitat, and surrounding communities. They partner with customers to responsibly permit, mine, and reclaim the land. Affected lands are restored to agricultural use and wildlife habitat, using the latest conservation techniques at a productivity level that meets or exceeds that which existed prior to mining. Freedom Mine employees incorporate the highest degree of environmental standards to achieve excellence in land reclamation, often beyond what is required by state and federal environmental laws.
- Approximately 700 acres of land are mined and reclaimed each year.
- Local farmers and ranchers utilize over 16,000 acres of reclaimed land by grazing cattle on grasslands and raising cash crops on cropland.
- Over 4,000 acres of mined land has been removed from the permit area through the bond release process, proving our reclaimed land meets or exceeds pre-mine productivity.
Backer Bees is one of three beekeepers who keep their bees at the Glenharold Mine, a reclaimed coal mine that used to supply coal to Leland Olds Station, Basin Electric's first coal-based power plant located near Stanton, North Dakota. Dusty Backer, owner of Backer Bees, keeps 1,800-2,500 hives in North Dakota.
"There is such a variety of flowers. Alfalfa, clover, canola, sunflowers, a lot of wildflowers," Backer says. "This area is one of the best in the nation to raise bees, a really healthy place to raise bees. Anywhere within a 30-mile radius of this spot (Glenharold Mine) is awesome bee country."
The North Dakota prairie is known for a couple of things: there are hardly any trees, and there is a lot of wind. Both of those truths meet in this story. Per North Dakota Public Service Commission policy, replacement trees and shrubs must be replaced on a two-for-one-basis when performing reclamation on a project with Public Service Commission oversight.
Unseen to most of us, millions of little helpers are doing damage control on reclaimed coal mine land. Beetles are spread at the Glenharold Mine to control the noxious weed, leafy spurge.