CRAIG, Colo. (CBS4) – Residents in northwestern Colorado are worried one of the region’s largest economic engines will be shut down.
Federal officials want to know more about the environmental impact from the Colowyo Mine south of Craig and uncertainty about the mine’s future is already creating problems in Moffat County.
The Colowyo Mine employs about 220 people who are responsible for mining the active site that provides enough coal to provide power for more than one million people in the West.
“Losing 220 high-paying jobs would be catastrophic to this area,” said Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe.
Grobe said he hasn’t slept well the last few weeks knowing one of the county’s most important employers may be forced to close their doors.
“Impact of that would be immense. In the case of Colowyo, that’s a $200 million economic driver that would be missing from our community,” Grobe said.
The threat of a closure stems from a federal court order to the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. They now have less than 120 days to complete a brand new environmental study on the Colowyo Mine. It’s something the judge ruled was not done property when the permit was handed out back in 2006.
If the assessment is not completed, the judge may force the mine to cease operations.
“As soon as it was mentioned two, three weeks ago, that’s all people are talking about … a couple projects have already been put on hold,” Grobe said.
In recent days local, state and federal politicians, including Sen. Cory Gardner and Gov. John Hickenlooper have come out in support of keeping the mine open.
Mine officials have scheduled a meeting at 6 p.m. June 3 at Moffat County High School to talk about the lawsuit and what the future holds.