Roadless Rule ‘Exception’ at Center of Coal Mine Expansion Controversy

Colorado courts, mining companies, and local advocates are debating over how quick a 'just transition' to renewable energy should be.
The West Elk Mine is located just east of Paonia, Colorado. It covers about 20 square miles in the Gunnison National Forest. (Chad Reich/KVNF)

by | Dec 9, 2020 | Environment, News

This past June, the West Elk Mine punched a mile of road and two drilling pads for methane venting into lands that conservation groups say should be roadless, according to federal policy. Mine operators, however, say their leases for a planned and approved expansion sit underneath the surface of the roadless lands and are not subject to the state’s roadless rule. Chad Reich for KVNF in Paonia, Colorado, reports on the struggle taking place in the Gunnison National Forest.

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KHOL is part of a new collaboration reporting on the impacts of fossil fuels in the West coordinated by the Rocky Mountain Community Radio Coalition. This piece is the third in a series of 18 stories airing over two months.

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About Chad Reich

Chad is a regular contributor to KVNF in Paonia, Colorado, and was previously the News Director of KBUT in Crested Butte, Colorado.

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