GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service is backing the expansion of Colorado’s largest coal mine over the objections of environmentalists.
The Daily Sentinel reports that Forest Supervisor Scott Armentrout announced Thursday that that the benefits of expanding the West Elk Mine near Somerset outweighed the potential environmental threat.
The mine got initial consent to expand under a 2012 state-federal compromise for managing roadless areas but environmentalists sued, saying officials didn’t take the full environmental impact, including climate change, into account. A federal judge threw out the consent but the Forest Service took a first step toward re-allowing the expansion last year under the Obama administration by proposing that Arch Coal be allowed to build roads to facilitate the expansion.
The Forest Service will accept comments on its latest decision for 45 days.