Jewell came under pressure this week when it was learned that she would be traveling to Colorado to speak at the Aspen Institute’s Hurst lecture series on Friday, but had no plans to visit Craig, a three-hour drive from Aspen.
Jewell was encouraged to visit the region by Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton.
“I think it is important that she still comes up (to Moffat and Rio Blanco counties) and if nothing else, tours the mine or visits with our constituents here in both counties,” Kinkaid said. “As far as Friday’s meeting, it’s a step in the right direction. I think having open lines of communication between Northwest Colorado and the secretary’s office are crucial.”
Jewell’s office has not responded to the Daily Press to confirm Friday’s meeting.
Advancing Colorado — a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization committed to “holding government accountable and preventing… unnecessary regulations,” according to its website — criticized Jewell Wednesday for not taking time to visit Craig.
Though her office has issued statements, Jewell herself has not publicly addressed the issues facing Colowyo Mine since the May 8 ruling that found the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation didn’t follow federal law when it approved mining plans at Colowyo Mine’s South Taylor Pit in 2007.
“Secretary Jewell needs a cold splash of reality and needs to make the visit to the Colowyo mine because she doesn’t seem to understand the dangerous impacts of the Santa Fe-based WildEarth Guardians’ lawsuit, nor does she seem to take seriously the fact this lawsuit will economically capsize an entire community,” Advancing Colorado Executive Director Jonathan Lockwood said in a statement.
Kinkaid and Comstock received invitations by phone Wednesday to meet with Jewell on Friday.
“I would like some assurances as much as she can give them to us that this process will be completed in a timely manner,” Kinkaid said. “I just want some assurance that our miners can keep going to work.”
Jewell’s office opted not to appeal the ruling against the Office of Surface Mining, stating that her agency was on track to meet the 120-day environmental assessment required by the courts in order to not shut down Colowyo mine.