RMR hires lobbyists for quarry expansion
RMR Industrials has hired Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s former law firm to lobby around the expansion of the quarry near Glenwood Springs.
In a recent report to the U.S. Congress, the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck lists RMR as a client as of April 30 to lobby on “Issues related to a potential mine expansion project in Colorado.”
Bernhardt worked as a lawyer for BHFS before being confirmed as deputy secretary at the Department of the Interior in 2017.
A spokesperson for the Interior said Bernhardt “will not participate in any particular matter involving specific parties in which his former law firm represents a party. This is clearly stated in his recusal.”
The spokesperson also said Bernhardt has not met with anyone representing RMR or discussed the potential quarry expansion.
The individual lobbyists listed on the disclosure include Jon Hrobsky, who previously was deputy director of the U.S. Minerals Management Services, and prior to that was deputy director in the Department of the Interior.
Luke Johnson, a former deputy director of BLM policy and programs, is also listed as a lobbyist for RMR.
RMR declined to answer questions about hiring lobbyists, but defended their current operations and said a larger quarry would benefit the people of Western Colorado.
“[RMR] is the most intentional, thoughtful and focused owner and operator of the Mid-Continent limestone quarry in decades,” the statement reads.
Before acquiring the quarry from Mid Continent in 2016, it was “operationally and financially neglected,” but is “now one of the safest and most thoughtful operations in the region.”
The statement also said the community should welcome economic diversity offered by the quarry.
“RMR believes a community should embrace opportunities to improve the lives of its constituents, not just those who can afford to influence local politics,” the statement reads.
RMR is in the process of applying for approval to expand quarry, currently operating on about 20 acres, to 320 acres. The BLM has returned two applications as incomplete.
Local governments and community groups continue to push back against RMR’s plan to expand the quarry over concerns that it would damage the regions tourism economy and become a health and safety hazard.
Representatives for the city of Glenwood Springs traveled to Washington, D.C., in May to express their concerns to congressional leaders.
In April, the Garfield County commissioners found RMR in violation of the county’s permit and gave the company until June to come under compliance. Instead, RMR filed a lawsuit May 22 against the county asking for an injunction against the notice of violation.
RMR claims the county has no authority to enforce its permit when it conflicts with BLM permission.
“Rocky Mountain Resources (“RMR”) is the most intentional, thoughtful and focused owner and operator of the Mid-Continent limestone quarry in decades.
The Mid-Continent Limestone Quarry is a source of an uncommon and locatable mineral. Due to its high purity and our strategic positioning, the asset is poised to become one of the most important quarry’s benefitting the people of Western Colorado.
“We are proud to have the ability to produce chemical grade limestone products capable of providing a wide range of beneficial uses for society. These include food manufacturing additives, flue gas desulphurization, acid mine drainage remediation, wastewater treatment, and soil conditioning and stabilization. Limestone products often are the key ingredient or sole product enabling the cleanup of spills or removal of dangerous chemicals from the environment.
“In 2016, we acquired the quarry and immediately began making improvements. Under prior regimes, Mid Con was operationally and financially neglected. Prior ownerships inattention was equally noticeable with their lack of local community engagement. We discovered after the acquisition, prior ownership operated with inconsistencies and RMR immediately began self-reporting them to requisite agencies. We have taken a collaborative approach toward long term solutions. RMR’s intentional efforts has created a professional environment with high standards of safety and environmental responsibility. We believe the quarry, under RMR’s ownership, is now one of the safest and most thoughtful operations in the region.
“Currently, many Glenwood Springs’ employers are unable or unwilling to provide their employees adequate wages to afford the town’s high cost of living, including affordable housing for teachers and developing professionals. RMR believes a community should embrace opportunities to improve the lives of its constituents, not just those who can afford to influence local politics. In combination with RMR’s investment plan, Mid-Con will employ 100 professionals, making it one of the larger employers in Garfield County. In a locale lacking economic diversity, RMR represents a healthy commercial alternative, and is developing plans with prospective commercial owners in Glenwood to work in concert with tourism. Our investment will drive local commerce to the benefit of all surrounding communities and provide the entire State of Colorado continued infrastructure support.”
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State department of transportation crews are well on their way to clearing Highway 82 to Independence Pass, which should open on schedule May 27 at noon.