Mine cleanup plan raises ire
Originally published 2013-11-07
The approval of a plan by state regulators for remediation and reclamation on Mt. Emmons has become cause for concern among some mine opponents.
Mining company U.S. Energy, Crested Butte Town Council and leaders from High Country Citizens’ Alliance and the Red Lady Coalition (RLC) announced last year that talks had begun on a possible land swap that would end, once and for all, the prospect of a molybdenum mine near Crested Butte.
In recent months, HCCA and RLC have not been privy to those talks between council and U.S. Energy — a cause for criticism leading up to this fall’s Town Council election.
Then, it was learned late last week that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) had approved a Voluntary Clean-up Plan (VCUP) submitted by U.S. Energy. The plan would, in essence, replace the existing water treatment plant on Mt. Emmons.
Because of the mining company’s action, Town Councilors felt compelled to address some of the content of recent discussions with the mining company during Monday’s regular meeting — a subject for which both sides have been mute to this point, citing an informal agreement stipulating confidentiality.
Newly re-elected Town Councilor Jim Schmidt told the Times Wednesday that council had been informed by U.S. Energy about interest in pursuing a VCUP, but was caught off guard by the company’s application — let alone approval — for the plan.
However, Jeremy Rubingh, a former HCCA board president and mayoral candidate who was defeated in Tuesday’s election by incumbent Aaron Huckstep, wasn’t satisfied with what he heard from council.
“It’s apparent that they were not actually freely talking about several aspects of this,” he said.
In a letter this week addressed to Gov. John Hickenlooper, HCCA Executive Director Greg Dyson urged the governor’s “involvement in getting the state approval for this VCUP withdrawn. ...”
Among the reasons, the letter cites the abrupt nature of the decision — specifically, state officials approving the VCUP “without even communicating to us that the process was underway.”
However, Crested Butte Town Manager Todd Crossett indicated that CDPHE officials informed the town Monday that the VCUP’s approval had been at least temporarily reversed in recognition of the need for further analysis.
(Will Shoemaker can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or email@example.com)