Local input needed by Friday on new proposal at Colowyo

RBC I Rio Blanco County officials are urging residents to submit public comments on the draft environmental assessment (EA) for the Collom Area Development Project at Colowyo Mine in Northwestern Colorado near Craig.
Representatives from Rio Blanco County, the Town of Meeker, Meeker Chamber of Commerce, White River Electric Association and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. will be in Meeker on Friday to provide project information, answer questions and collect public comments.

Citizens can attend several events to participate; 3 to 5 p.m. at Meeker Public Library, 490 Main St., and at local businesses throughout Meeker; from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Meeker High School wrestling dual; and from 6 to 8 p.m. at Holliday’s, 364 7th St., for free live music and appetizers.
“Colowyo and Tri-State are terrific community partners for Rio Blanco and Moffat Counties, and their economic impact can be seen throughout the region,” Rio Blanco County Commissioner Jeff Eskelson said. “They provide a very responsible environmental approach to coal production, and citizens providing public comment on the EA is one way to ensure their production continues in Northwestern Colorado.”
Colowyo Coal Co. proposes to revise its current mining plan to continue the development of Colowyo Mine coal reserves leased from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 1982 and 2007. The Colorado Division of Reclamation and Mine Safety (CDRMS) permitted mining operations and reclamation for the Collom project in 2013.
“It’s important that the public review the draft environmental assessment and provide comments to the Office of Surface Mining,” said Lee Boughey, Sr., the manager for corporate communications for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., which owns Colowyo Coal Co. “We believe the project will have no significant impact on the environment and the revised mining plan should be approved.”
The EA is as comprehensive as most environmental impact statements and includes assessments of air quality impacts from mining and from combustion of the coal at Craig Station. Colowyo Mine currently delivers coal used at Tri-State’s Craig Station power plant.
The EA also includes assessments of water quality impacts and impacts to all wildlife including Greater Sage Grouse. The Collom project is located on federal, state and private lands in Moffat County, Colo. adjacent to existing mining and reclamation operations.
The project will sustain 220 mine jobs and operations that annually have a $200 million-plus impact to the regional economy and that make an estimated annual contribution of $12 million in local, state and federal tax revenue.
Information on the EA, including the draft document and public comment process, can be found at the OSMRE website at www.wrcc.osmre.gov/initiatives/colowyo.shtm. Communities and organizations in Northwest Colorado have recently launched an effort to educate the public on the value of coal mining in the region and encourage participation in the public comment period for Colowyo EA.
More information can be found online at SupportNorthwestColorado.com.