Lawsuit filed to stop expansion of mine feeding power plant

An environmental organization filed a lawsuit Friday to halt the planned expansion of a Rio Blanco County coal mine and to prevent the continued operation of an electricity generating station.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Denver by WildEarth Guardians would halt the expansion of the Deserado Mine in Rio Blanco County.

The mine sends about 2 million tons of coal a year to the Bonanza Power Plant in Utah.

The Bureau of Land Management last year leased 21.3 million tons of coal below 3,000 acres of federal lands to Blue Mountain Energy, a subsidiary of Deseret Generation and Transmission Cooperative, which is owned by six member systems in Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. It operates the mine through a subsidiary, Blue Mountain Energy.

Officials with Deseret didn’t return phone calls.

The suit claims the Bureau of Land Management and Office of Surface Mining failed to address air quality impacts of the Bonanza power plant, as well as monitoring data showing that the region is violating ozone standards.

The lease would allow the power plant to continue operations until 2032. It had been set to be decommissioned in 2016.

Deseret last year paid a $295,000 settlement to resolve alleged violations at the plant, which is on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation.


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