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Roadless Court Battle Takes Latest Twist

KUNC file photo

The Colorado Mining Association has joined the state of Wyoming in asking a federal appeals court for a re-hearing following a recent decision upholding a 2001 ban on road-building on more than fifty million acres of National Forest lands. 

In October, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver threw out a lower court ruling that a 2001 Clinton-era Roadless ban violated federal law. Now a joint petition asking for a re-hearing before the full court of appeals says the US Forest Service used outdated maps in 2001 and created de-facto wilderness areas where mining has long occurred.

Stuart Sanderson, president of the Colorado Mining Association, says this includes the North Fork Valley on the western slope. 

"It impacts about 20,000 acres of land in Colorado that are essential to mining operations in the state," Sanderson says. "More than a thousand jobs hang in the balance."

Sanderson’s group is instead backing the state of Colorado’s proposed rule which allows exemptions for coal mine expansions.  It’s not yet clear whether the tenth circuit will grant a rehearing. 

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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