Target: Brian Ferebee, Deputy Regional Forester, Rocky Mountain Region
Goal: Reject a rule exemption that would open up thousands of acres of publicly-owned forests for coal mining
“To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations” is the mission of the United States Forest Service (USFS). Guided by this noble philosophy, millions of acres of Colorado’s national forests have been protected by what’s known as the Colorado Roadless Rule. Coal companies eager to ravage these public lands have fought for access. Sadly, the very agency tasked with protecting and preserving these forests has given the coal industry exactly what it wants.
According to a USFS memo roughly 19,000 acres in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests have been dubbed the North Fork Coal Mining Area and will be opened up for “temporary road construction for coal related activities.” An earlier appeal by Arch Coal was rejected by the District Court because the company’s environmental impact statement ignored the harm caused by mining and coal burning. Under the newly approved exemption millions of tons of coal could be pulled from the pristine, roadless forests, significantly contributing to climate change.
Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity harshly criticized the move. “This plan shows the dangerous disconnect between Obama’s climate rhetoric and his plans to open more public land to the fossil fuel industry,” said McKinnon. “This coal can’t be burned if we’re going to keep our planet livable.”
Allowing coal mining in this wild area is irresponsible, shortsighted, and directly contradicts the USFS mission. Demand that the agency reject exemptions to the Colorado Roadless Rule that would allow coal activities on these precious public lands.
Dear Mr. Ferebee,
Arch Coal and others have lobbied aggressively for access to public lands like the Sunset Roadless Area, prized by recreationalists for its beauty and remoteness. The exemption granted to the Colorado Roadless Rule would allow energy companies to build roads and mine millions of tons of coal from the the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests. Not only would this damage the health and diversity of the forests, for present and future generations, but it would significantly contribute to climate change.
This is a step in precisely the wrong direction. America’s national forests are among the country’s greatest treasures. Their sustained health should never be sacrificed just to help companies like Arch Coal make a quick buck. I must insist that the USFS reject the North Fork Coal Mining Area exemption to the Colorado Roadless Rule.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Nelson Guda via Earthjustice