SHERIDAN — A coal company hoping to begin a mine north of Sheridan has filed an appeal of the state’s decision to require additional work on the permit application.
Brook Mining Company, LLC, filed the appeal Friday in First Judicial District Court in Cheyenne.
The application for the mine, proposed by Kentucky-based Ramaco, was denied by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality director in mid-October after the Environmental Quality Council ruled in September that Ramaco’s plans for the mine didn’t offer enough environmental protections.
Neighbors, the Powder River Basin Resource Council and Big Horn Coal Company have expressed concerns about Ramaco’s plans throughout the permitting process. Concerns included water, blasting, traffic and reclamation issues. Major points of disparity included the completeness of the water and subsidence studies.
Ramaco CEO and chairman Randall Atkins said the appeal is “simply procedurally necessary, due to the judicial process.”
“We will address all of the alleged deficiencies raised by the EQC in a manner that the state of Wyoming wants,” Atkins said in an emailed statement. “With that said, Ramaco also looks forward to working with the Wyoming DEQ in its continuing process of review, and hopeful issuance, of our Brook Mine permit.”
In the appeal, Brook Mining Company lawyers outline a number of procedural errors leading up to and following the EQC’s decision. The company, among other complaints, contends that the EQC erred when it determined that the application was deficient in areas of blasting, subsidence and hydrology because it failed to apply the correct definition of “deficiency” set forth in state statutes.
The filing also contends that the DEQ director erred when he denied the permit because he based his decision on the EQC’s order, which the company claims misinterpreted statutes and misapplied its authority.
Area landowners said the appeal dismisses the issues brought forward in the EQC hearing held earlier this year.
“Ramaco/Brook Mine has elected to engage in legal maneuvering and gamesmanship through its lawyers rather than address the serious concerns of state officials and Wyomingites about the risk for permanent harm to water supplies and the danger of uncontrolled subsidence posed by its current mine plan,” said David and Mary Fisher, landowners in the Tongue River Valley.
The Powder River Basin Resource Council also criticized the appeal filed by the mining company.
“Instead of tilting at legal windmills, it would benefit everyone more if Ramaco put its time and resources into actually fixing the serious deficiencies in its coal mine permit application,” Powder River Basin Resource Council chair Bob LeResche said in an emailed statement.
“This appeal tells the residents of the Tongue River Valley and the rest of us in Sheridan County that the company isn’t concerned with protecting the important water resources and quality of life of the valley, but instead just wants to push forward with its deficient plan for a coal mine, regardless of the consequences to local citizens,” he added.
The company has said that its project — which includes the coal mine, a research facility and manufacturing facility to turn that coal into carbon-based products — will create jobs for the community. Some local residents and landowners, though, have questioned whether such a project is realistic. Others have said the DEQ and EQC decisions discourage industry investment in the area.