The 1,700-acre mine expansion in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest would have set the stage for Arch Coal company to build as many as 48 well pads and 6.5 miles of road into pristine roadless lands dotted with clear lakes and ponds, aspen stands, and beaver lodges.
In addition, the decision would have resulted in continued uncontrolled methane pollution from Arch’s West Elk coal mine, one of the state’s single largest carbon emitters. St. Louis-based Arch Coal is the nation’s second largest coal producer.
Cleared pad for coal development near Colorado’s West Elk Wilderness area (Photo by WildEarth Guardians)
On Tuesday, the Forest Service decided that the GMUG National Forest failed to explain why it had weakened protections for lynx and bald eagles, and also weakened measures meant to prevent landslides. That failure violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the regional office concluded, and required vacating the approval.
“This is a win for Colorado’s forests and wildlife, streams and clean air,” said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy director for WildEarth Guardians, one of the groups that challenged the decision. “The Forest Service should protect these roadless lands and habitat by putting this damaging mine expansion plan to bed permanently.”
READ ENTIRE ARTICLE FROM Environment News Service