Wyoming regulators approve coal mine construction, permit

Associated Press

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Environmental regulators have approved a construction of a coal mine in northern Wyoming, the state’s first new coal mine in almost half a century.

The Department of Environmental Quality announced Tuesday that it will issue a permit to Brook Mining Company LLC that will allow the firm to mine for coal near Sheridan, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Casper, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

“This permit is consistent with applicable federal and state laws and regulations and protects Wyoming’s interests while allowing responsible development,” department director Todd Parfitt said in a statement.

Brook Mining’s parent company Ramaco Carbon has fought for a mining site in the state for almost a decade to supply its future research facilities, but has faced opposition from nearby landowners.

The permit includes restrictions on blasting and ground vibration, additional monitoring requirements to protect wildlife and water quality and requires the company to post a $1.4 million bond for future cleanup before it can start mining, officials said.

“By awarding this permit, the state has acknowledged our efforts to be good stewards of this area’s high quality of life and environment,” Ramaco Carbon CEO Randall Atkins said in a statement. “It has also recognized our investment in the Sheridan area since 2011 and in the future of this state. This project has all been privately funded, without Wyoming State involvement.”

The company expects to bring up to 40 jobs to the mine once it is open and help spur economic growth amid a downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re disappointed that the permit has been issued, but we hope that the numerous conditions will protect our health, water, safety, and property,” said Anton Bocek, the nearest landowner to the mine boundary. “We also hope that Ramaco is going to be a good neighbor, that they listen to and respect the neighboring landowners.”

Landowner group Powder River Basin Resource Council has argued that placing conditions on the permit was an indication that it was “inadequate and incomplete” and vowed to review the additions to make sure “the permit will protect the health and safety of the Tongue River Valley and its inhabitants.”

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