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unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

EPA Dings Forest Service on Roadless Plan for Colorado


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21 July 2011, 12:11 PM
Agency notes inadequate protection of roadless areas
A road and well pad bulldozed into roadless lands for a coal mine in Colorado. Ted Zukoski photo.

The Environmental Protection Agency found much room for improvement when it weighed in on the Forest's Service environmental impact statement that analyzes a proposed rule to weaken protection for roadless lands in Colorado. 

Among the EPA's concerns: the Forest Service proposed to grant the highest level of protection to about one-seventh of Colorado's 4 million acres of roadless lands. Not enough, said the EPA in its July 18 letter.

Further, the EPA said the proposal would allow three coal mines to bulldoze roads through roadless lands to get hundreds of millions of tons of additional coal.

But despite this windfall for one of America's worst greenhouse gas-producing sources of energy - made even worse by the millions of cubic feet of methane that the mines must remove to operate - the Forest Service didn't bother to analyze the proposal's climate change impacts.  Nor did the Forest Service look at ways to reduce methane pollution.

EPA dinged the Forest Service for these omissions, telling the agency to take a harder look at climate change.  EPA also recommended that the Forest Service "require implementation of reasonable mitigation measures that would reduce or eliminate project-related [greenhouse gas] emissions from future coal development," something the Forest Service has blown off for years.

Nice work, EPA.  Forest Service, the ball's in your court.

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