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The United States Forest Service (USFS) Tuesday gave the green light to a 1,700-acre expansion of the West Elk coal mine 10 miles east of Paonia on Colorado’s Western Slope. West Elk owner Arch Coal, based in St. Louis, Mo., praised the decision for its job-saving potential. Environmental groups blasted the USFS ruling for its possible industrialization of the pristine Sunset Trail roadless area adjacent to the West Elk Wilderness Area.
An environmental attorney who argued in favor of the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule before a federal appeals court says there are only two legal options left for opponents of the Clinton-era rule and backers of state-specific rules like Colorado’s – and both are long-shots.
The Pew Environment Group today came out in opposition to a bill introduced last spring by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., that would open up a “Wyoming-sized” chunk of national forest and Bureau of Land Management land to resource extraction, road building and motorized vehicle traffic.
Even as Gov. Bill Ritter Thursday thanked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for allowing road building around a coal mine in relatively unmolested Colorado forestland near Paonia, environmental groups and sportsmen harshly condemned the decision for exposing forest but also for flying in the face of smart business efforts to combat global warming.