The Mineral Basin Solar Project’s permitting plan is related to potential environmental and cultural factors that will be considered during its development and construction. The Project is, or may be, subject to permit application review and approval by:
The proposed Mineral Basin Solar Project is a permitted use in both Goshen and Girard Townships. Specific requirements and criteria are established in each township’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO) as it relates to land development, such as front, side and rear yard setbacks and stormwater.
The SALDO review process is a three-stage process: sketch plan, preliminary plan, and final land development plan. All three stages have been completed and the Project’s Land Development Plan was approved by Goshen and Girard Townships on February 8, 2023, and by the Clearfield County Planning Commission on November 14, 2023. The final approved plan was recorded with the County of Clearfield on February 22, 2023. The public was provided opportunity to review the Land Development Plans and provide formal comment at each of the Township meetings on August 10, 2022, November 9, 2022, and February 8, 2023.
In accordance with the requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), project representatives completed a consultation with the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program’s Conservation Explorer on March 9, 2023. In a response, it was determined that no state-listed species are documented within the project area. There are federally listed species known to occur under the jurisdiction of both the PA Game Commission and USFWS; however, none of the state agencies require additional consultation. Consultation is ongoing with USFWS for federally listed bat species. If it is determined that project construction and operation will result to impacts from occupied habitat, Swift Current will avoid, minimize and/or mitigate potential impacts in consultation and approval from USFWS.
The site is comprised of a variety of land uses/land covers, the majority of which are active mine, reclaimed coal mine, and/or timber harvest areas. Many of the areas of reclaimed mines contain immature forest which were planted to complete Stage 3 mine reclamation activities. Due to the rocky, infertile soils, many of the woody vegetation species in these areas are stunted. All forest clearing during project construction will be limited to the minimum extent necessary, consistent with Chapter 102 requirements. Due to current and historic land uses within the Project Area, substantive impacts to core forest blocks are not anticipated.
Based on National Land Cover Data (NLCD), recent satellite imagery, and field surveys, many of the recently reclaimed mine and timber harvested areas could be classified as grassland habitat. However, this habitat exhibits sparse coverage of grasses and forbs due to the poor soil conditions of the mine reclamation and recent timber harvesting activities. It is not anticipated that these areas support many wildlife species. Based on this, and recent consultation on threatened and endangered species, the Facility would not have an impact on PA threatened or endangered grassland species. However, the Applicant will design the Facility as required to be consistent with 30 Pa.C.S. §§102, 2502, 2504, and 2506; 34 Pa.C.S. §§ 102, 925, 2164-67, and 2924; 32 P.S. §§ 5301-5314; and the 17 Pa. Code § 45.1-91.
Any impacts to jurisdictional wetlands or water resources associated with the construction of the Mineral Basin Solar Project will require coordination with and a permit from the appropriate permitting agencies such as USACE Baltimore District, the PADEP and/or the Clearfield County Conservation District (CCCD). A PADEP Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Chapter 102 Individual Permit, as well as any supplemental, applicable Chapter 105 permits will be obtained from the PADEP and CCCD, respectively, prior to the commencement of construction.
Construction of the proposed Facility will include ground disturbing activities that may have the potential to impact archaeological resources in areas located outside of previous mining and mine reclamation areas. Areas where there is a potential for substantial ground disturbance include areas outside of previous disturbance where grading and excavation are anticipated and tree removal involving grubbing and stump removal are proposed. The proposed Facility is not anticipated to introduce indirect (visual) impacts to historic resources; however, if the SHPO determines there is potential impact, the Applicant will conduct the necessary studies and provide visual screenings as appropriate. Additionally, if requested, the Applicant will provide additional information to the SHPO for review and comment on the proposed research design and field methodology for subsequent cultural resources investigations, as applicable.
The Applicant will study potential impacts, consult with appropriate local historic preservation groups, federal/state-recognized Nations, and prepare plans to avoid impacts to archeological/cultural resources within the Facility’s area of potential impact as required by the PA SHPO.
There are no state parks or state forests within the Facility Site, which is mainly comprised of reclaimed or active coal mines. The closest state parks are S.B. Elliot State Park, Parker Dam State Park, and Black Moshannon State Park, all of which are located more than 5 miles from the Facility Site (see Figure 5). The closest state forest is Moshannon State Forest which is located roughly 1 mile north of the Facility Site. The Quehanna Wild Area, and State Game Lands Numbers 90 and 94 are all located within 10 miles of the Facility Site; however, the construction and operation of the Facility is not anticipated to have any adverse effects on these areas.
The removal of vegetation and soil disturbance associated with most large-scale construction projects can result in sedimentation and erosion, leading to stormwater runoff-related impacts. To avoid and minimize these impacts, the Applicant has prepared and will implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and erosion and sediment control plan that complies with the requirements outlined in the Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Chapter 102 Permit Program administered by the Clearfield County Conservation District and PADEP for stormwater discharges during construction. The Applicant also will implement a post-construction stormwater management plan which includes best management practices such as detention/retention basins, dry swales, vegetative filters, and level spreaders to comply with the requirements to treat stormwater runoff quantity and quality during facility operation.