About the Permitting Process
Permits for the project must be approved by federal, state and local governments.
The lead permitting agency is the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), since the existing quarry and the proposed expansion is on public land managed by BLM.
RMR must seek permits for mining reclamation, air quality, water quality and highway access permits from various agencies within Colorado state government. Permits will also be required from Garfield County and the City of Glenwood Springs.
If all permits are approved, quarry expansion operations would start about 18 months later.
What is the BLM permit review process?
BLM has committed to reviewing the limestone mine expansion proposal through a formal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review process. Because the EIS process is now limited to a one-year time period, BLM is first conducting several advance studies that will provide essential information needed for the EIS process to begin.
Advance Studies: Spring 2019 to Spring 2020
EIS Review: Early Summer 2020 to Summer 2021
BLM Final Decision: Summer / Fall 2021
- Mineral Examination
- Hydrologic and Groundwater Study
- Cave and Karst Study
- Ethnographic Study
- Standard Biological and Cultural Surveys
1. Mineral Examination
Prior to conducting a permit review, BLM is conducting a mineral exam. This study will determine whether the limestone deposit meets 1872 Mining Law standards as a “locatable” mineral, or is of a common variety and thus is considered as a “saleable” mineral.
Under the 1872 Mining Law, a deposit that meets “locatable” standards is subject to a very limited BLM permit review process, and mined material is exempt from royalty payments.
A deposit that does not meet “1872” standards and is determined to be “saleable” is subject to a complete environmental review, and royalty payments are due on mined material.
The mineral exam is expected to be complete by spring or early summer of 2020.
2. Hydrologic and Groundwater Study
In September 2019, RMR proposed drilling five water monitoring wells an estimated 125 to 250 feet down through the Leadville Limestone Formation, which is known to hold groundwater aquifers. RMR proposes using the existing Transfer Trail roadway to access the well sites.
BLM accepted scoping comments from the public through Oct. 24, 2019. The purpose of scoping comments is to raise issues for BLM to consider prior to issuing a permit for the drilling.
The Citizens' Alliance filed extensive technical comments raising many issues of concern over the proposed drilling. BLM received about 250 comments during the scoping period.
While BLM positioned itself to quickly approve the drilling request through a categorical exclusion, comments filed by GSCA, the City of Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Iron Mountain Hot Springs all called on the BLM to conduct further study under an Environmental Assessment.
On Dec. 5, 3rd District Congressman Scott Tipton sent a letter to BLM urging the agency to "operate under an abundance of caution," and formally requested that BLM carry out an Environmental Assessment.
We continue to await BLM's decision on how it will respond to RMR's drilling proposal.
3. Cave and Karst Study: BLM has not yet released information about this study.
4. Ethnographic Study: BLM has not yet released information about this study.
5. Standard Biological and Cultural Surveys: BLM has not yet released information about these surveys.