Description: Challenge to federal approvals of underground coal mine expansion.
High Country Conservation Advocates v. U.S. Forest Service
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 12/15/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Conservation Groups Filed New Lawsuit Challenging Federal Approvals of Coal Mine’s Expansion. On December 15, 2017, five conservation groups filed a complaint in the federal district court for the District of Colorado alleging that the U.S. Forest Service and BLM violated NEPA when they issued approvals authorizing expansion of an underground coal mine in the Sunset Roadless Area in Colorado. In 2014, a Colorado federal court vacated earlier approvals of the mine’s expansion on the ground that the agencies had failed to take a hard look at greenhouse gas impacts. In the December 2017 complaint, the conservation groups said that, “despite having the benefit of a second opportunity to fully account for the mine expansions’ harms, the agencies have, among other errors, again underestimated or obscured the climate pollution impacts of the expansion while improperly boosting the purported economic benefits.” The groups alleged the following NEPA violations related to the agencies’ assessment of greenhouse gas impacts: failure to acknowledge and account for the environmental impacts of the increased demand for coal that the mine’s expansion would induce; failure to disclose climate impacts using scientifically valid and available tools such as the social cost of carbon or to provide an explanation for why such an approach was not appropriate (as required by the 2014 decision); and failure to consider a reasonable alternative aimed at mitigating methane pollution.