Press release: Court rules on Spring Creek mine reclamation and public participation – Jan. 22, 2016

January 22, 2016

Categories: Coal, Courts, News, Northern Plains Resource Council

By Western Organization of Resource Councils

BILLINGS, Mont. — U.S. District Judge Susan Watters affirmed yesterday an earlier ruling that the Department of Interior (DOI) improperly granted Cloud Peak Energy a permit to expand its Spring Creek mine in southeast Montana because the company had failed to reclaim existing mined land. The latest ruling also affirmed that DOI failed to adequately assess air quality and coal combustion impacts, and that the agency did not notify the public before letting the mine expand.

Billings-based Northern Plains Resource Council, the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), and WildEarth Guardians sued the DOI, claiming the department did not adequately include the public in the mine permitting process. The groups also asserted that the government failed to require reclamation at the now 35-year-old open pit mine and to adequately evaluate air quality impacts.

Bob LeResche of Sheridan, Wyo., who leads WORC’s coal team, issued the following statement on behalf of WORC, a regional network, based in Billings, of conservationists and family farmers and ranchers in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

“Our bottom line objective is ensuring that regulatory agencies begin to take seriously the obvious lack of reclamation at this mine. This order is designed to help close the growing gap between mined land and fully reclaimed land that has met the standards required for final bond release.”

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