Proposed air permit for Colowyo mine expansion open for public comment |

Proposed air permit for Colowyo mine expansion open for public comment

Colowyo Coal Company is moving one step closer to opening its new Collom pit with the release of a proposed air permit for public comment last week.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment posted the permit to its website, seeking public comment through Jan. 28.

“It’s a stringent permit, but it’s appropriate to protect air quality and we support it,” said spokesperson Lee Boughey with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc, which owns and operates Colowyo. “We think the state has done a very good job to ensure air quality and health are protected.”

Boughey estimated that mining could begin in the Collom development towards the end of 2018 or early 2019, pending completion of the permitting process. The project received federal approval a year ago in January 2017.

The expansion will add 28 acres to current federal coal leases and will give the mine access to another 79 million tons of federal coal. In turn, it helps secure Colowyo’s 220 jobs for at least another two decades.

“The current reserves in the South Taylor pit could be exhausted by 2020 so we want to make sure we are able to mine and keep that supply of coal available,” Boughey said.

Colowyo supplies coal to Craig Station power plant, partially owned and operated by Tri-State.

The air quality permit addresses emissions from vehicles operating at the mine and dust generated by the mining process, including from dirt roads, Boughey said. The permit summary notes the project includes adding two crushers for coal and haul road construction materials.

“I know they’ve done everything to work within the regulations that the state has, especially watering the roads and making sure all the fugitive dust is a kept to a minimum. Same as Trapper Mine,” said Chuck Grobe, member of Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission and former Moffat County commissioner.

Colowyo provides a $200 million impact to the regional economy and $12 million in local, state and federal tax revenues, according a press release from Tri-State.

CDPHE’s notice states that “the Division has determined that public comment is warranted because there has been significant public interest in the project requesting to be permitted,” but states in the summary that the source of emissions is “considered a minor source” according to regulations.

“It’s important that the community’s voices continue to be heard,” said Colowyo Mine Manager Chris McCourt in a statement.