Community convenes for Colowyo

Patrick Kelly
Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe thanks attendees at Thursday's meeting on Colowyo Coal Mine and the continuing public comment period for the mine's court-ordered environmental assessment.
Patrick Kelly

Craig community leaders hosted a meeting Thursday at Moffat County High School to provide a brief update on the situation at Colowyo Coal Mine, answer questions and facilitate public comment on the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s environmental assessment.

Ray Beck, Craig mayor, opened the gathering by telling the audience about the economic significance of Colowyo mine’s 220 jobs to Craig and Northwest Colorado.

“This is not the time to slow down,” Beck said, emphasizing the importance of community feedback on the development of the mine’s new environmental assessment.

When the OMSRE’s recommendation to approve mining plans for Colowyo’s South Taylor Pit was successfully challenged in federal court, the presiding judge determined that public comment was not adequately sought — this time around Colowyo officials, Craig community leaders and OSMRE are trying to ensure sufficiency of the assessment’s public comment is uncontestable.

“Look at this room and how many people showed up on very short notice to be a part of this,” said Christina Oxley, Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director to the approximately 100 people gathered in MCHS’ auditorium. “Any organization with an ounce of common sense would rethink attacking the industry and livelihoods of people who can and will band together to fight.”

Oxley said the Chamber would host a series of informal community meetings where any interested individual can ask questions provide their comment to OMSRE.

Future community meetings will be available from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 4 at J.W. Snack’s Bar & Grill, 210 E. Victory Way; Aug. 6 at Carelli’s Pizzeria & Pasta, 465 Yampa Ave.; Aug. 10 at Hampton Inn and Suites, 377 Cedar Ct.; and Aug. 12 at Downtown Books, 543 Yampa Ave.

Drew Kramer, public affairs manager for Tri-State Generation Transmission Association, the company that owns Colowyo, said Tri-State appreciates the community’s support and serious consideration of the issue.

This week, OSMRE released a draft Finding of No Significant Impact statement for Colowyo’s South Taylor Pit. The FONSI, if authorized, would prevent the mine and OSMRE from being required to conduct a more thorough Environmental Impact Statement.

The assessment is available at the following locations:

• Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way, Natural Resources Department

• Moffat County Library, 570 Green St.

• Bureau of Land Management Little Snake Field Office, 455 Emerson St.

• Meeker County Courthouse, 555 Main St., Meeker

• BLM White River Field Office, 220 E. Market St., Meeker

The assessment will also be available online on OMSRE’s website.

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

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