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The Forest Service Still Doesn’t Care (An Update and Lament)

I wrote last week about the Forest Service’s less than friendly response to public comments over a proposal to expand coal mining into western Colorado’s Sunset Trail Roadless Area.

As an update, the Forest Service did post an “edited” version of its response to comments on its website.  Amazingly though, many of the same snarky responses are still there (see p. 160, for example, where the Forest Service still tells the hunter to go take a hike).

As far as an apology, however, it appears as if the public shouldn’t expect the Forest Service to offer that any time soon.  Although the agency was kind enough to apologize for the “confusion,” they only described their nasty responses as “regrettable,” but apparently not worthy of an apology.

So it goes for an agency that seems hellbent on catering to big coal companies throughout the American West.  Not only is the Forest Service bending over backward to sacrifice undeveloped National Forest lands in western Colorado for more coal mining, but now they’re also signing off on coal strip mining in the Thunder Basin National Grassland of Wyoming.

That’s why WildEarth Guardians, with the help of students at the the University of Colorado Law School Natural Resources Clinic, today filed suit against the Forest Service, challenging the “South Porcupine” coal lease.  This lease would facilitate the expansion of Peabody Energy’s North Antelope Rochelle Mine, one of the largest coal mines in the world, in turn sacrificing 2,000 acres of the Thunder Basin National Grassland and leading to more than 500 million tons of carbon dioxide.

That’s on top of the more than 11.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide threatened by pending coal leases in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, which is where the Thunder Basin National Grassland is located.

And this from an agency that’s charged first and foremost with protecting public lands, not developing coal.

Insulting comments from the Forest Service are discouraging, but what’s more discouraging is an agency that puts the interests of coal companies ahead of our climate and our public lands.

100_3250Bear claw scratches on aspen in the Sunset Trail Roadless Area of Western Colorado.  Click here for more pictures of Sunset Trail.

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