Trapper Mining Inc. Friday welcomed the final approval of its Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The completed EA, developed by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) in response to a lawsuit brought by WildEarth Guardians, allows Trapper to continue operating based on its existing permits for surface coal mining.
“On behalf of Trapper’s board, employees and families, and our entire community, I want to thank the Department of Interior and the professional team at OSMRE for working together to keep this important effort on track. The approach to the assessment has been thoughtful and thorough and has provided the opportunity for robust public involvement,” said Jim Mattern, Trapper Mining’s president and general manager.
Trapper’s commitment to environmental stewardship was an essential part of completing the EA. Since the mine opened in 1977, Trapper has been repeatedly recognized for its industry-leading reclamation program, including OSMRE’s Bronze Medal for serving as one of the best three examples of mine reclamation in the United States in the modern coal-mining era.
“The Department of Interior’s assessment confirmed that Trapper has no significant impact on air or water quality. And once reclamation is complete, Trapper has virtually no lasting effect on the surface area in and around the mine—and in many cases actually improves the habitat for wildlife,” Mattern said.
The successful EA process including two public comment periods, an OSMRE open house and a joint community meeting with the Colowyo mine. Throughout the entire process, the northwest Colorado community was engaged and showed its clear support for Trapper and its employees. Bipartisan elected officials—including Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, Governor John Hickenlooper and state and local leaders—made clear their support to the Department of Interior and Secretary Sally Jewell.
“We greatly appreciate the strong support from federal, state and local elected officials, regional community and business leaders, and community members. Through public comments and vocal support of Trapper, they clearly made their voices heard on behalf of our employees, environmental stewardship and economic impact,” Mattern concluded.
We are hopeful that the environmental community also recognizes and accepts the good work done by OSMRE and supported by the northwest Colorado community. With OSMRE’s informed assessment, the public should understand and agree that the approval of the Trapper Mine Plan will have no significant impact on the environment. More legal challenges against OSMRE cannot replace the constructive relationship Trapper wishes to maintain with all interested in its operations.