Colorado senators, Republican Cory Gardner and Democrat Michael Bennet, joined Republican Rep. Scott Tipton last week in writing a letter to the Department of the Interior to express their frustration that it did not appeal the lawsuit WildEarth Guardians v. Office of Surface Mining by a July 7 deadline.
Colorado Independent readers have been hotly divided over this climate-change motivated procedural lawsuit that has residents of Rio Blanco and Moffat counties fearing their communities will lose more than 200 jobs if the mines are forced to shut down. Many anti-coal climate-change activists are happy to have the federal government and media spotlighting their message: Coal is not the future.
“The detrimental effects of shutting down this mine go far beyond the jobs and livelihoods lost,” Tipton, Gardner and Bennet stated in their letter. “The mine forms a critical part of western Colorado’s energy supply, providing reliable and affordable electricity in much of the western half of the state.”
“My initial response is tough shit,” said Jeremy Nichols of Wildearth Guardians. “They (the Department of the Interior) didn’t appeal and there is nothing they can do about it now.”
Initially, Bennet did not support the Department of the Interior asking for an appeal and did not want to interfere with the legal proceedings. So, why did he pen a letter with Gardner and Tipton?
“There is a limited window here. We want to make sure that the Interior Department is going to meet that window,” said the senator’s communications director Adam Bozzi.
Nichols was disappointed with Bennet’s decision to unite with Republicans who have been outspoken critics of the lawsuit.
“I think he wants to show that he’s listening to his constituents. Fair enough. He’s not writing anybody off. That’s part of the calculus here. I wish he would step up and show a little bit of leadership here instead of joining the knee-jerk reaction with Gardner,” Nichols said.
Gardner’s office did not respond to messages left by The Colorado Independent.
Photo credit: Duncan Harris, Creative Commons, Flickr.