US Forest Service Approves Expansion of Arch Coal Operations in Colorado Wilderness

Let this serve as a striking example running counter to the notion that the Obama administration is hostile to the coal industry.

The US Forest Service has rejected an appeal by conservation groups challenging the expansion of an Arch Coal mining project in the Colorado wilderness in the Sunset Roadless Area near the town of Paonia.

The approval allows Arch Coal to extend roads 6.5 miles and increase operations across 1,700 acres of land, expanding its West Elk mineā€”an underground coal mine, intended to be expanded with 48 natural gas drilling pads.

Ted Zukoski, staff attorney for Earthjustice, one of groups backing the court action against Arch Coal, says:

Smokey Bear has turned his back on Colorado's natural, roadless lands. Instead, the Forest Service has literally paved the way for a coal mega-corporation to destroy real bear habitat. The Sunset Roadless Area is a beautiful forest of aspen and giant spruce, beaver lodges and meadows, home for elk and hawks. This a place the Forest Service should be protecting for all Coloradans, not sacrificing to appease special interests.

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