12.17.15

Gardner, Bennet, Hickenlooper, Tipton Send Letter To Secretary Jewell in Support of Trapper Mine

Washington – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), along with Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) today sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell urging DOI to complete the court-ordered Environmental Assessment (EA) for Trapper Mine in Craig, Colorado prior to April 30, 2016. Trapper Mine’s permit was covered under the same environmental review that the U.S. District Court in Colorado deemed deficient for Coloywo Mine, but Trapper Mine was initially believed to be unaffected. Further review led to a negotiation with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) that requires a new environmental assessment in order to keep Trapper Mine operational.

“Trapper employs more than 180 employees with wages and benefits totaling $22 million annually, making it one of the largest employers in Northwest Colorado and a strong component of the local economy,” the letter says. "The mine generated in excess of $10 million in tax and royalty revenues in 2014; funds which are vital for community infrastructure and education. Further, the Trapper Mine contributes approximately 50% of the total fuel for the Craig Power Generating Station, which is another significant employer in the area, and a critical facility for regional electricity production and transmission. The mine also has a track record of developing its resources in a safe and environmentally sound manner,” the lawmakers wrote. "We are confident that your Department fully understands the importance of completing the environmental review in a timely manner, and we commend OSMRE efforts thus far on the Environmental Assessment." 

The letter reads in full:

We write to support the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (OSMRE) work regarding the court-ordered Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Trapper Mine in Craig, Colorado, and urge you to complete the assessment as quickly as possible. Trapper Mine’s permit was covered under the same EA that the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado deemed deficient for the Colowyo Mine. Trapper Mine’s permit was mistakenly believed to be unaffected as it was thought that the coal resources in question had already been mined. A subsequent review determined that the decision affected significant coal resources. Trapper Mine has since negotiated a remedy with OSMRE and the plaintiffs, under which a new EA must be completed by April 30, 2016.

We appreciate OSMRE for their previous efforts regarding the Colowyo Mine. The negotiated agreement represents an opportunity to resolve this litigation without creating further uncertainty for the Trapper Mine.

Trapper employs more than 180 employees with wages and benefits totaling $22 million annually, making it one of the largest employers in Northwest Colorado and a strong component of the local economy. The mine generated in excess of $10 million in tax and royalty revenues in 2014; funds which are vital for community infrastructure and education. Further, the Trapper Mine contributes approximately 50% of the total fuel for the Craig Power Generating Station, which is another significant employer in the area, and a critical facility for regional electricity production and transmission. The mine also has a track record of developing its resources in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

We are confident that your Department fully understands the importance of completing the environmental review in a timely manner, and we commend OSMRE efforts thus far on the Environmental Assessment. We ask that you provide OSMRE with the necessary resources to meet the deadline and keep our offices informed as the process moves forward.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.