A local coal mine could be closed in a few months when the Cameo Power Plant goes off line.
Now, they are looking to the Bureau of Land Management to help keep them alive.
"This coal has been providing our electricity here," said Kathy Hall with the McClane Canyon Mine.
The mine's only client, the Cameo Coal Plant, is set to close at the end of the year. And with the Cameo contract over in December, miners know, if they don't get the expansion they need it could be the end of coal mining at McClane.
"It's all about keeping jobs in Mesa County. We've lost a lot of jobs," Hall said.
So to keep the mine running, the owner company, CAM-Colorado, has applied for a lease modification and expansion.
The proposal was sent to the BLM.
"We have a very experienced workforce out there, a very efficient workforce and it's important to continue to operate that mine," Hall added.
The expansion would allow them to develop an addition 320 underground acres of coal-- millions of tons. It would also nearly double production to 500,000 tons of coal per year.
Under the plan, CAM would ship the coal out east by rail.
To meet specifications, they're proposing to construct a cleaning plant, which would provide upgraded coal. The cleaning plant would consist of a crushing and screening plant, an air jig plant, a bag house, and numerous conveyors.
The workers at the McClane Canyon Mine, though, would be laid off for 6 months while the cleaning plant is built.
Not everyone is happy with the proposal.
"It's disappointing," said Jeremy Nichols with WildEarth Guardians, an environmental group in Denver. "It seems to be not the wisest course of action as far as providing for our energy future."
Nichols says renewable energies are the future, and that this is the wrong move.
"It locks us into another decade or more of dirty energy development," he added.
He says okaying the expansion would send the wrong message to the energy industry in Colorado. "Coal mining is not going away tomorrow-- there's going to be coal mining jobs-- but what we need to have is a path forward to transition, and train our workforce for clean energy future."
Right now the BLM is seeking your input on the proposal to expand.
Written comments and questions should be directed to the BLM Grand Junction Field Office at 2815 H Road, Grand Junction, CO 81506. Comments may also be submitted via email at email@example.com. All comments are due by July 30, 2010.
Copies of CAM?s proposal and request for lease modification are available for review at the BLM Grand Junction Field Office, 2815 H Road, in Grand Junction.