Trapper coal mine has until April to complete environmental assessment | CraigDailyPress.com

Trapper coal mine has until April to complete environmental assessment

Patrick Kelly

OSMRE will have until April 30, 2016, to complete a new mining plan for Trapper Mine after WildEarth Guardians successfully challenged the mine's operations in federal court.

A joint proposal providing a remedy to Trapper Mine's legal problem has been filed with the federal district court.

Trapper Mining Inc., WildEarth Guardians and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement have reached an agreement that would give OSMRE until April 30, 2016, to complete a remedial environment analysis for Trapper Mine, said Bill Ray, public information officer for Trapper.

According to a press release from Trapper, "The proposal, which must be approved by Judge Jackson, would guide how OSM conducts a new and enhanced environmental assessment of Trapper's federal coal leases and OSM's 2009 mine-plan modification approval. The proposal also calls on Trapper to limit mining activities to certain areas until the OSM's process is complete."

Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid said he thinks the agreement is fair.

"As long as our miners can keep going to work and providing coal to Craig Station, I think it's an awesome settlement," he said.

Trapper's President and General Manager Jim Mattern said the agreement represents a good faith effort from the three parties to meet Judge Jackson's May 8 ruling while keeping employees on the job.

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"I am proud of our employees and Trapper's proven track record for environmental stewardship. We are hopeful the court will promptly approve this proposal and allow OSM to move forward to complete its enhanced environmental review," Mattern said.

Originally spared in Judge Jackson's ruling, Trapper Mining Inc. filed a notice of correction statement with the district court on July 1, withdrawing its argument for mootness in a claim brought by WildEarth Guardians.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources also weighed in on the topic.

“We’re pleased the parties have agreed to a timeframe for environmental reviews at the Trapper Mine that will prevent interruption of mining authorized under state permits. We will help OSM to complete that analysis in whatever way we can, including participation as a cooperating agency,” DNR Executive Director Mike King said in a statement.

Jackson ruled in favor of Guardians in May, stating that OSMRE failed to facilitate adequate public comment and take into account the indirect impacts of mining coal when it recommended approval of mining plans at Trapper and Colowyo Mine.

OSMRE was given 120 days to complete a new environmental analysis for Colowyo — a process that was successfully completed Sept. 2, satisfying the judges order and allowing the mine to remain open.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

Trapper by the numbers:

$21.8 million in wages and benefits paid to Trapper’s 175 employees in 2013

Between 2 and 2 1/2 million tons of coal mined in one year on 10,382 acres of land

Began mining in 1977

Source: Forrest Luke, Trapper Mine

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