Gov. John Hickenlooper’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ignores Colorado’s number one source of methane pollution ― the West Elk coal mine in Gunnison County. The governor’s Colorado Climate Plan is open for public comment through November 3, and High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) urges you to tell the governor to stop allowing the West Elk Mine to undercut our climate!
The West Elk Mine spewed more methane into the air from 2011 through 2016 than any other human-made source in Colorado, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency. Methane at the West Elk Mine is vented directly into the atmosphere. In 2016 the mine vented more than 16,000 tons of the heat-trapping methane gas — the equivalent of more than 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Mines can reduce methane pollution significantly by flaring the gas, putting it in a pipeline for household use, or using it to generate power. But Arch Coal, which operates the mine on the Gunnison National Forest, refuses to implement these measures.
The draft Colorado Climate Plan, released to the public in early October, identifies financial subsidies to encourage methane capture or flaring, but fails to recommend any limits on coal mine pollution. That doesn’t cut it.
It’s long past time for state and federal regulators to stop giving dirty coal mines a free pass to pollute. If the Colorado Climate Plan is going to be successful, it has to set forth the steps that will halt our home-grown climate pollution, including from the West Elk Mine.