Quarry owner, Garfield County court battles take shape
Garfield County and RMR Industrials, the operator of the controversial Mid-Continent quarry north of Glenwood Springs, are battling permit compliance issues in both federal and Colorado courts.
Attorneys for Garfield County want the federal case dismissed, since the Colorado court case contains essentially the same issues and seeks similar remedies.
“The parties and issues in both cases are duplicative, [and] trying both cases at the same time would, at best, be inefficient, and at worst, create inconsistent and conflicting results,” attorneys representing the Board of County Commissioners wrote in a motion to dismiss the case filed Monday.
Both of RMR’s lawsuits are related to the county’s “notice of violation” against the quarry, which required RMR to come under compliance with five areas of the county’s permit by June 1.
RMR filed the state lawsuit May 17, and filed a complaint in federal court May 21.
In both cases, RMR said the county “acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner” in saying the quarry had to stop operations. “RMR is adversely affected and stands to lose significant revenue if it is forced to cease or limit its operations,” the company’s attorneys wrote in their complaint in Colorado civil court.
RMR also argued that the county has no authority to enforce its permit when it conflicts with regulations or permits from the Department of Reclamation, Mining and Safety or the Bureau of Land Management.
“The court should declare that the DRMS permits control over the county permits, and the BLM permits and authorizations control over both of them,” RMR said in its state filing.
In arguing to dismiss the lawsuit, Garfield County said, “Federal mining law explicitly permits local and state governments to implement and enforce reasonable environmental regulations for mining on federal lands.”
Attorneys for RMR and Garfield County are scheduled for a September status conference in the federal case.
RMR is currently seeking permission from the BLM to significantly expand their operations just north of Glenwood Springs. The company submitted a draft plan of operations modification to the BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office July 11.
The proposed modification would expand quarry operations from about 21 acres to 320 acres and operate seven days a week year-round, with the aim of removing 5 million tons of rock each year.
The proposal has drawn opposition from Glenwood Springs City Council and prompted formation of the Glenwood Springs Citizens Alliance to fight it.
It’s unclear whether the BLM will find that proposal complete. RMR and the BLM have been going back and forth on the plan for months.
But the BLM does anticipate scheduling public hearings on the proposed expansion, part of the environmental review process, for late spring or summer 2020.
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Construction for the South Midland project is on schedule, though crews will continue to work on weekends to keep the course.