Sheep Mountain Alliance v. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
In early 2011, the CDPHE issued a Radioactive Materials License to Energy Fuels Resources Corporation for construction of the $150 million Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill in the Paradox Valley of Montrose County, Colo., as a result of Colorado being an “Agreement State” under the federal Atomic Energy Act. Shortly after it was issued, the licensing decision by CDPHE was challenged by the Telluride-based environmental group Sheep Mountain Alliance, followed by the towns of Telluride and Ophir, Colo.
CDPHE’s deeply flawed licensing process failed to provide the towns or the public any meaningful role, contrary to the requirements of federal law. The many potential negative impacts to public health and the environment were given little or no consideration by the state in its review process.
In a February 2012 letter to the CDPHE, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission chided the state agency for holding a proper public hearing before granting the license.
A Denver district court in June 2012 agreed with Public Justice that the state agency failed to follow state and federal rules requiring public participation at an adjudicatory hearing. The court rescinded Energy Fuels’ license and ordered the CDPHE to follow lawful procedure.
The public hearing — a courtroom-style setting presided over by a Boulder County judge — finally took place in November 2012. A decision is expected in April 2013.
Power-Cotchett Attorney Richard Webster is lead counsel for the towns. Staff Attorney Matt Wessler is co-counsel.
- Richard Webster