Trapper Mine continues to update court | CraigDailyPress.com

Trapper Mine continues to update court

Patrick Kelly

A backhoe dumps coal into a haul truck at Trapper Mine. The coal is taken to a crusher behind Craig Station to begin the process of turning it into energy. The Craig Daily Press is pleased to present The Energy Blend to readers. The special section is inserted inside today's newspaper.

Attorneys for Trapper Mining Inc. provided an update to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado July 24, stating the mine would provide the court with a map of pending mining activities sometime this week.

Trapper's mining plan for federal coal was successfully contested by environmental advocacy group WildEarth Guardians, but federal District Judge R. Brooke Jackson's ruling spared the mine from an immediate reassessment, unlike Colowyo mine.

In the case of Trapper, Jackson determined the majority of the federal coal in question had been mined. However, attorneys for Trapper recently filed a corrective disclosure document with the court explaining that they were mistaken and the mine is seeking access to coal affected by Jackson's ruling.

Currently, Trapper, WildEarth Guardians and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement are working to reach a solution as an alternative to returning to litigation.

Paul Seby, counsel for Trapper, said the next update will be provided to the court Friday, and the focus is on keeping the mine open.

"That's a pretty straightforward concept," he said, adding that negotiations with invested parties have yet to be productive.

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Samantha Ruscavage-Barz, attorney for Guardians, said the group is working with Trapper to find a resolution that fits Jackson's original ruling.

"Guardians is willing to talk about a remedy that is fair to Trapper and that doesn't result in shutting down ongoing work, but also the balance has to be there," she said, adding Guardians should see relief because of the success of their claim.

Trapper Mining Inc. filed a notice of correction statement with the district court July 1 withdrawing its argument for mootness in a mine plan challenge brought by Guardians.

Jackson ruled in favor of Guardians in May, stating the 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.

Before the ruling, both mines contested that Guardians' arguments were irrelevant because the coal in question already had been mined. In the case of Trapper Mine, Jackson agreed and did not enter an order for a new environmental assessment such as the one at Colowyo.

However, attorneys for Trapper have come to realize that the OSMRE plan at issue covers additional federal coal.

Located in Moffat County, Trapper Mine employs 185 people and has provided coal to Craig Station in Northwest Colorado since 1977.

Trapper's corrective disclosure with the court does not affect their appeal of Jackson's ruling.

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

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