June 24, 2015 by RealEstateRama 

This morning, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) joined Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, calling on her to take immediate action and protect the Colowyo Mine from unnecessary closure. This site helps provide energy resources for the electric needs of Nebraska’s Panhandle. Recently, a federal court ruled against the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining, stating that their plan for the Colowyo Mine failed to comply with a provision of the National Environmental Policy Act. This decision threatens the continued operation of the mine, even though Colowyo has obtained and complied with all necessary permits and regulations.

The Colowyo Mine is one of the principal sources of coal for Tri-State’s power plant in Craig, Colorado. Tri-State provides power to the Chimney Rock Public Power District in Bayard, Midwest Cooperative Corporation in Grant, Northwest Rural Public Power District in Hay Springs, Panhandle Rural Electric Membership Association in Alliance, Roosevelt Public Power District in Scottsbluff, and Wheat Belt Public Power District in Sidney. Without coal resources from the Colowyo Mine, production costs will skyrocket. These costs will be passed onto Nebraska families who rely on this electricity through rural electric cooperatives and public power districts in the Nebraska Panhandle. The full text of the senators’ letter is below:

June 23, 2015

The Honorable Sally Jewell Secretary of the Interior Department of the Interior

1849 C Street NW Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Jewell,

We write to encourage you to visit and hold a community meeting in northwest Colorado regarding the potential closure of the Colowyo Coal Mine. The Federal District Court for the District of Colorado issued an order on May 8, 2015, determining that the Office of Surface Mining’s (“OSM”) plan for the Colowyo Mine failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act in 2007. The Court stated that if OSM does not meet compliance within 120 days, they will vacate the mine plan, and shut down the mine.

We are very appreciative of your willingness to consider all options to keep Colowyo operational and grateful for agency officials’ attention to this pressing matter. While these actions have been helpful, northwest Coloradans are, understandably, still very concerned. An estimated 800 participants attended a town hall on June 3, 2015, held by Moffat County and Rio Blanco County representatives. These community members voiced their concern with the decision and their doubts with whether OSM will be able to meet requirements with the Court deadline quickly looming.

Colowyo is vital to the regional economy, employing over 200 people at the mine and is providing coal for electricity generation to our states. These employees, the surrounding communities, and businesses should be made aware of the agency’s plans and whether or not OSM will appeal the decision alongside Colowyo. As such, we encourage you to hold a community meeting in the region to start a discourse and ensure concerns are addressed.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation for your actions thus far and request that you will appeal the Court’s decision. Thank you for your time and attention, and we look forward to hearing back whether you will hold a community meeting in this region.

Sincerely,

Cory Gardner

John Barrasso

Mike Enzi

Deb Fischer 

See more at: http://nebraska.realestaterama.com/2015/06/24/fischer-joins-effort-to-protect-panhandle-electric-power-ID0156.html#sthash.Ykbmr26r.dpuf