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Colorado: Forest Service challenged anew over approval of a coal mine expansion in roadless area

Beaver ponds in the Sunset roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

Showdown over West Elk coal mine could be a test for Colorado roadless rule

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A long-running battle over a coal mine expansion in a national forest roadless area continues, as conservation groups this week challenged U.S. Forest Service approval of a coal mine expansion 10 miles east of Paonia.

According to Earthjustice, the mine project could ultimately result in construction more than six miles of roads, along with 48 natural gas drilling pads within the Sunset roadless area, one of the areas exempted from a road-building ban under a newly adopted roadless rule for national forest lands in Colorado.

“The Sunset Roadless Area is real gem, a beautiful forest of aspen and giant spruce, beaver lodges and meadows, a home for elk and bear,” said Ted Zukoski, staff attorney for Earthjustice, the public interest environmental law firm representing the groups.  “This is a place the Forest Service should be protecting for all Coloradoans, not sacrificing to appease special interests.” Continue reading

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