Bipartisan letters sent to Jewell concerning Trapper coal mine in Moffat County |

Bipartisan letters sent to Jewell concerning Trapper coal mine in Moffat County

Craig Daily Press Staff Report

A Trapper Mine haul truck prepares to dump a load of coal near Craig Station.

Two U.S. Senators from Colorado sent letters to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on Wednesday, urging her to finalize the environmental assessment for Trapper coal mine in Moffat County before the April 30 deadline.

Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, and Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, asked the secretary to consider approving the assessment that's been underway for the past several months.

"We write today to urge a timely review and approval," Gardner's letter states. "Coal fills a vital role in Colorado's electric generation portfolio, currently accounting for 60 percent of the state's total generation. Trapper Mine specifically provides about 50 percent of the total fuel for the Craig Power Generating Station, which is a critical regional electric generation unit."

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement found no significant impact for operations at Trapper Mine in January, and the coal mine is awaiting approval from Jewell's office.

The new assessment, which was the result of a legal challenge to OSMRE's 2009 mining plan approval for Trapper, would allow the mine to access 19.1 million tons of federal coal if approved by Jewell.

The comment period for the assessment ended Feb. 19.

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"The recommended course of action from the (OSMRE) is a Finding of No Significant Impact," the letter states. "We believe a thoughtful and detailed analysis of the Trapper Mine and its impacts has occurred through this EA process and urge you to finalize the EA on or before the deadline of April 30, 2016."