January: BLM decision-makers were “in a holding pattern” as they waited for results of a mineral examination of the 320-acre limestone deposit that RMI seeks to mine. “We are hoping to have a draft report ready by mid-2022,” said Larry Sandoval, field manager for BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office in Silt, on Jan. 25, 2022.
February: Cave expert Richard Rhinehart wrote an excellent post for our website on the many reasons to protect the karst limestone formations, seen at right, in the greater Flat Tops area. “Water flowing through this soluble limestone strata drains south, dropping to great depths when it reaches the West Glenwood Fault … This fault acts as a collector, capturing water flow descending from the plateau flank, and funneling it down to the groundwater below Glenwood Springs. This water in turn helps feed the famous hot springs that have flowed for millennia.” Read the full post here.
May: GSCA and the Hotel Colorado presented a free talk on May 18 by author Paul Andersen about his new book, “The Town that Said ‘Hell, No!’: Crested Butte Fights a Mine to Save its Soul.” It tells how Crested Butte banded together to protect nearby Mount Emmons, known affectionately as the Red Lady, against a devastating molybdenum mining proposal.
June: GSCA members and supporters marched in the Strawberry Days Parade on June 18, and hosted a booth in Two Rivers Park June 17-19.
August: BLM issued a Notice of Noncompliance and a Noncompliance Order to RMI on Aug. 30. The agency cited four problem areas in RMI’s current limestone quarry operations involving mining outside permit boundaries (see aerial view at right; mine area not overlaid with red cross-hatching is outside permit boundaries), grading, and stormwater drainage. BLM told RMI to submit a modified plan of operations or face a shut-down order. (See Sept. 1 blog post.)
October: RMI submits a new plan of operations on Oct. 7 in response to BLM’s notice and order. BLM starts a 30-day review for completeness.
October: U.S. District Judge Charlotte N. Sweeney heard oral arguments on Oct. 26 in GSCA’s lawsuit against BLM over its lax regulation of RMI quarry operations. (Attorneys Roger Flynn and Jeffrey Parsons of Western Mining Action Project, left, represent the GSCA.) Garfield County joined the case on the side of GSCA shortly after it was filed in 2020. At issue in the hearing was a motion to dismiss that had been filed in 2021 by the U.S. Department of Justice, representing BLM. (See Oct. 27 blog post.)
November: Judge Sweeney ruled on Nov. 8 that because BLM “has unreasonably delayed” in completing a mineral examination of the limestone deposit, GSCA’s suit should continue. The U.S. Department of Justice was then compelled to produce an administrative record within 60 days. (See Nov. 29 blog post.)
November: After reviewing RMI’s proposed plan of operations, BLM deems the submission incomplete. On Nov. 9, BLM sent a pointed letter to RMI with specific instructions for revising the proposal, with a 45-day deadline. (See Nov. 29 blog post.)