OSMRE completes Colowyo assessment, militant WildEarth promises more lawsuits
DENVER— Federal regulators have recommended that a northwestern Colorado coal mine threatened with closure remain open. Yesterday, the Craig Daily Press reported the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) completed its environmental assessment of the Colowyo coal mine and issued, “a Finding of No Significant Impact.” The Daily Press reported the OSMRE will issue a mining plan recommendation to the Secretary of the Interior’s Office. The Interior Department still must decide whether to accept the recommendation to ensure the mine’s future.
Advancing Colorado Executive Director Jonathan Lockwood released the following statement:
“WildEarth Guardians is a callous, deceitful and self-righteous group of militants who seek not sound environmental responsibility, but rather destructive economic control. While everyone is thankful the assessment was done within the timeframe ordered by the court, WildEarth is promising their dangerous crusade will go on. As long as groups like WildEarth are attacking innocent people and killing communities’ economies we need to be armed with the facts and fight back against this radical movement that seeks to strangle American energy production and independence.”
Spokesman Lee Boughey for the Westminster, Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which owns the Colowyo Mine, said:
“Colowyo Mine and our 220 employees are grateful for the diligence and hard work of the OSM to complete the environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact with in the timeframe ordered by the judge.”
On May 8, Sen. Michael Bennet-backed Federal District Judge R. Brooke Jackson ordered OSMRE to redo its environmental assessment for Colowyo mine’s “South Taylor Pit within 120 days.” The order came as a result of a New Mexico-based anti-coal group WildEarth Guardians-triggered lawsuit.
WildEarth Guardians’ spokesperson said their group would continue to aggressively pursue their anti-coal agenda, and keep alive their reputation for “courtooms being their natural habitat,” stating:
“I think we’re going to get to a point where we will ask a judge to shut down a coal mine — without a doubt, that situation will happen.”
WildEarth Guardians came under fire for their callous “tough sh**” remarks to the people of Craig depending on the mine for their livelihoods and community’s economy and for misleading the public on its supporters. WildEarth faced massive public backlash for the lawsuit and its behavior throughout the unfolding situation in Craig.
In August, Steamboat Today explained “what happens next” writing:
“Next, the Secretary of the Interior’s office will review the assessment and approve or dismiss the mining plan. The court will also be notified that the judge’s order has been met.
If the new assessment gets the green light, then the threat of vacatur at Colowyo no longer exists, said Samantha Ruscavage-Barz, attorney for WildEarth Guardians.
The new environmental assessment could still be challenged in the courts. Since the 120-day deadline lands on a Sunday and Labor Day is on Sept. 7, the courts and government will most likely look at the statements on Tuesday, Sept. 8, according to mine officials.”
The deadline for the assessment was Sept. 6. KDVR-Fox 31 covered the story recently detailing the history of Craig and the economic benefits the coal mine provides the community.