Arch Coal considers appeal of federal court ruling to halt expansion
Arch Coal’s plans for an expansion of its West Elk Mine in Colorado were halted by a federal judge who ruled that government land managers failed to fully consider the environmental impacts when approving the expansion.
U.S. District Court Judge Brooke Jackson's ruling deems federal and state agencies' decisions on environmental impact flawed — holding up bulldozer and drilling work that was set to begin this month, the Denver Post reported.
It is another court ruling requiring public land managers to factor in climate change before approving projects.
"We are disappointed in the court's ruling," Arch Coal spokeswoman Kim Link told the Denver Post.
Mine operations won't change for now, Link said. Arch's West Elk mine, located in western Colorado near Paonia, employs about 300 people.
But planned expansion into a 1,700-acre area within the 5,800-acre Sunset Roadless Area cannot begin until the federal Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service conduct a full analysis of the environmental impact.
"Coal mining requires complex, long-term planning, and this ruling complicates our efforts in that regard. We are still analyzing parts of the ruling and evaluating our options," Link said.
Three groups — WildEarth Guardians, the Sierra Club and High Country Conservation Advocates — last year launched a legal challenge of government decisions to allow the coal mine expansion.