Commissioners seek speedy federal review

By Hank Lohmeyer

The board of county commissioners is pushing for a speedy review of the Colorado Roadless Rule Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Shaun Donovan, director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, has delayed final approval of the U.S. Forest Service Supplemental EIS calling it "a significant regulatory action."

The commissioners told Donovan in a letter, "Delta County specifically requests that the Office of Management and Budget expedite the additional review of the Colorado Roadless Rule Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement . . . The delay has significant impact on our Western Colorado economy. We urge that this additional review occur before the November election."

A U.S. judge's overturning of the rule in Denver federal court in 2014 has delayed expansion of the West Elk mine and is impacting the local economy, say the commissioners in their letter.

The letter further explains the county's concern:

"Mining in Delta County historically employed 1,200 families and supported thousands more by those employed in the service and supply businesses within the county.

"There are approximately 7,800 households in Delta County, therefore mining represented 15 percent of the families in the county prior to 2012.

"Since 2012, Delta County has lost over 1,000 mining jobs and three supporting businesses. The direct mining jobs alone represent a 42 percent decrease in jobs."