The U.S. Forest Service says allowing expanded underground coal mining in Gunnison County could cause millions of dollars of damage globally from coal and methane emissions over nearly 40 years.
The Daily Sentinel reports that the agency's analysis, released Thursday, also says North Fork Valley coal is among the cleanest available and mining is an important part of the local economy.
The Forest Service previously agreed to carve out an exemption to conservation protections to allow mining there but last year a federal judge threw out that permission because the agency didn't consider the climate change impacts.
Under an average production scenario of 10 million tons of coal being mined a year, the Forest Service estimates the climate change damage from emissions at between $800 million and $3.4 billion.
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