Jewell adds meeting on Colowyo coal mine to her Colorado visit
The Colorado Statesman
June 15, 2015
Those gripes about Interior Secretary Sally Jewell making time for whitewater rafting and hobnobbing in Aspen — but not the Colowyo coal mine — appear to have paid off.
Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid said Wednesday that Jewell has added a meeting with northwest Colorado county commissioners to her itinerary Friday following her speech at the Aspen Institute.
“We look forward to meeting Secretary Jewell this Friday evening,” Kinkaid said. “I hope that she will be able to give us some assurances that our miners can keep working.”
He said he expected the meeting to include commissioners from Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, whose communities would bear the brunt of a mine closure. The meeting will take place in Glenwood Springs.
Jewell had come under pressure to visit the area after it was announced that she would deliver remarks Friday at the Aspen Institute, about a three-hour drive from Craig, where residents are alarmed about the future of the mine.
The criticism intensified Wednesday when a public-relations firm sent out a press release saying that Jewell would participate in a rafting trip in Browns Canyon during her Colorado trip.
The Franklin Center’s Watchdog.org website ran a story Wednesday under a photo of whitewater rafters with the headline, “Interior Sec. Jewell all play and no work during Colorado visit.”
Interior spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw said Wednesday that Jewell’s schedule had not yet been finalized.
“Secretary Jewell made the right choice to meet with commissioners, even better would be for her to meet with members of the community who have everything to lose if the mine gets shut down,” said conservative pressure group Advancing Colorado’s Jonathan Lockwood in a statement.
The Interior Department declined last week to appeal a federal judge’s decision ordering a redo of an eight-year-old expansion permit at the mine in response to a lawsuit from WildEarth Guardians. The mine could be closed if the Office of Surface Mining is unable to finish the permit by Sept. 6.
“The families in Craig and the people who depend on the energy produced by the Colowyo mine deserve to be heard and their lives should take priority over a special interest group from Santa Fe,” Lockwood said.