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Hickenlooper backs North Fork coal mining

Posted at 11:27 AM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-19 13:27:52-05

Gov. John Hickenlooper's administration is urging the U.S. Forest Service to reinstate an exemption that would allow underground coal mining in Gunnison County.

The Forest Service previously agreed to carve out nearly 20,000 acres from conservation protections to allow Arch Coal to build the methane vents needed to safely mine coal there but last year a judge threw that out because the agency didn't consider the climate change impacts.

The agency now says mining could cause millions of dollars of damage from coal and methane emissions but it has proposed allowing it because it says North Fork Valley coal is among the cleanest available and mining is an important part of the local economy.

The Daily Sentinel reports conservation groups say allowing it will undercut Colorado's work to reduce methane and carbon emissions.