- Associated Press - Monday, May 22, 2017

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A state environmental regulatory council is holding hearings this week on whether to approve what would be Wyoming’s first major new coal mine in decades.

Lexington, Kentucky-based Ramaco wants to open the Brook Mine north of Sheridan in northern Wyoming.

But the proposed mine on the banks of the Tongue River is contested by a handful of local landowners and another coal company, Big Horn Coal, which operated in the region until the mid-1980s.

The Wyoming Environmental Quality Council has set aside the whole week for the hearing, which began Monday in Sheridan.

Ramaco’s plans have pleased local politicians and many residents who see an opportunity for increased local revenue and jobs, the Casper Star-Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/2q9U5Kz). Though the original mine plan described a relatively small operation, Ramaco has since announced that it would like to build an associated facility that would use the mined coal for research or to manufacture coal-based products.

Sinkholes and burning coal seams are not uncommon in the area, local residents say. Opponents say Ramaco has not provided enough information about how it would mitigate potential damage to the surrounding community.

Additionally, mining close to the Tongue River makes water contamination a strong possibility and Ramaco’s plans overlap with Big Horn’s permitted area, according to Big Horn Coal.

Ramaco’s representatives have said that they have studied the issues raised by the local landowners and maintain that each has been addressed by their experts. They also disagree that the mine overlaps Big Horn’s acreage.

State environmental regulators have said that they are holding Ramaco accountable every step of the way in the process and the company must comply with permitting rules.

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

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