Wyoming Coal Firm Appealed to Governor Over Mine Permit
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A coal company that was denied a mining permit in Wyoming last year unsuccessfully sought the help of top state officials to get the permit issued.
Randall Atkins, CEO of Ramaco Carbon, sent a letter to Gov. Matt Mead and Todd Parfitt, head of the Department of Environmental Quality, soon after a review board denied the company a permit for the Brook mine in Sheridan County.
The company, which can still make changes and resubmit its mining plan, is appealing the decision in state district court.
In the letter, Atkins proposed an "elegant solution" that involved imposing additional mining restrictions on Ramaco while allowing the permit to be issued.
"We can live with these new conditions if we are able to have a permit issued now by the DEQ and move on," Atkins wrote on Oct 2. "We do not want the delay and cost of starting the permit process all over again after years of work and review."
However, 10 days later, the state environmental agency upheld the board's decision to deny the permit.
The letter to Mead was obtained through a public records request by the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a group of landowner advocates in Sheridan County who oppose the permit for Ramaco.
A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment because of the active court case.
The situation prompted an effort during the legislative session to defund the budget of the Environmental Quality Council.
Rep. Donald Burkhart, R-Rawlins, and Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, said the board was giving Wyoming an anti-business reputation and that the council appeared to be acting out the parameters of its intended role.
However, the defunding idea was rejected amid assertions that the council had done what it is expected to do by statute and that withholding funding would be retaliation against an independent body.
Michelle Panos, a policy adviser for the governor, said Mead believes the state's environmental review process is "effective as it is."