Eleven more years of mining after 2022?

The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) held a series of meetings in New Mexico and Colorado over the past week, ostensibly to allow the public to weigh in on the future of the San Juan coal mine. Instead, the meetings highlighted OSM’s refusal to acknowledge the mine’s eventual demise and the need to transition away from coal.

The San Juan coal mine feeds the San Juan Generating Station, the largest coal-powered generating station in New Mexico. The San Juan Generating Station’s owner, Public Service Co. New Mexico (PNM), has announced its intent to retire the plant by 2022. The owner of the San Juan coal mine, Westmoreland Coal, is likewise planning to shut down its mine by 2022. But OSM’s analysis proposes to extend mining operations 11 years past this proposed shutdown.

In its inability to consider a future beyond coal mining, OSM’s proposal is not only woefully insufficient, but also downright dangerous: continued burning of coal from the San Juan coal complex would unleash the emissions equivalent of 1.3 million cars driving on the road for a year and would cause health problems in those forced to breathe in the plant’s airborne toxins. Community members and groups, including Tribal communities, have been clear in their calls for health protections and a just transition away from coal—so when will OSM listen?

Read the press release.


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