Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration is supporting a plan to open some roadless areas near Paonia to coal mining - a move opposed by environmentalists.
Back in 2012, the Forest Service agreed to carve out nearly 20,000 acres from conservation protections to allow Arch Coal to build the methane vents needed to safely mine coal there. But last year, a judge threw out the plan because the agency didn't consider the climate change impacts.
A new analysis by Forest Service officials now says mining could cause millions of dollars of damage from coal and methane emissions.
But the agency supports mining in the area because it says North Fork Valley coal is among the cleanest available—adding that mining is an important part of the local economy. Hickenlooper’s administration also supports that analysis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.