- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

CRAIG, Colo. (AP) - A Moffat County commissioner said Wednesday that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has agreed to meet with him and his colleagues who want to discuss the fate of a coal mine that could close because of a recent court ruling.

Commissioner John Kinkaid said Jewell is set to meet with the group in Glenwood Springs on Friday following her appearance at a lecture series in Aspen.

Residents of Craig, which is about three hours from Aspen, have been waiting for a visit from Jewell ever since a federal judge ruled in May against the Interior Department and threatened to stop work at the Colowyo coal mine.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton have also encouraged Jewell to visit Craig.

Department of the Interior spokeswoman Emily Beyer told the Craig Daily Press (http://bit.ly/1DgBUTa ) that Jewell’s schedule will be released later this week.

In Aspen, Jewell, the former president and CEO of REI, is scheduled to speak with Aspen Institute senior fellow Mike Boots about her work conserving public lands and building connections between the nation’s youth and the outdoors.

Officials with the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management will return to the region next month for a series of public meetings on the U.S. government’s coal program, following criticism that corporations have profited off publicly owned reserves of the fuel at the expense of taxpayers. They will attend a meeting on the coal program on Aug. 11 in Billings, Montana, followed by ones in Gillette, Wyoming, on Aug. 13 and Denver on Aug. 18.

In May, U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson ruled an Interior Department agency must re-do an environmental review of the Colowyo mine that takes into account the eventual climate change impacts of the coal to be mined. He said he would shut down the mine unless the review was completed by early September. The Interior Department has said it expects to meet the deadline.

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This story has been corrected to show that BLM officials, not Jewell, are scheduled to attend public meetings on the federal coal program.

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Information from: Craig Daily Press, http://www.craigdailypress.com

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