The leader of a western Colorado community that relies on tourism is vowing to do everything he can to stop the proposed expansion of a nearby limestone quarry.
Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes called the proposal by RMR Industrial a “regional threat” in announcing the city’s campaign against it Friday, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. He said the city is committing $1.25 million to fight the expansion but promised to provide any other needed resources.
The Bureau of Land Management is starting an environmental review of the proposal to expand the quarry from 23 to 321 acres and remove millions of tons of rock a year.
“The idea that an out-of-state mining company can set up shop on federal land close to a small community without the say of local authorities should be concerning to everyone in the region,” Godes said.
Municipalities from Aspen to Rifle have passed resolutions opposing the expansion out of concern that it could hurt tourism and become a health and safety hazard. Opponents fear it could hurt water flow to the hot springs that give the city its name.
RMR didn’t respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment on the city’s campaign and its offices were closed Saturday. The company previously issued a statement the quarry is a “healthy commercial alternative” that will employ 100 people in an area lacking economic diversity.
“Currently, many Glenwood Springs’ employers are unable or unwilling to provide their employees adequate wages to afford the town’s high cost of living, including affordable housing for teachers and developing professionals,” it said.
However, Godes said the region stands to lose about 2,000 jobs if the expansion is approved.
The company has hired the Denver-based law firm where Interior Secretary David Bernhardt used to work to lobby on its behalf in Washington. In June, an Interior spokeswoman said Bernhardt would not participate in any matters in which Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck represents a party.