Energy policy — nuclear: Sheep Mountain Alliance files lawsuit against Montrose County Commissioners over Piñon Ridge uranium mill special use permit

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From The Telluride Watch (Karen James):

In a complaint filed in District Court last week local conservation group Sheep Mountain Alliance alleged that the Montrose County Commissioners violated county zoning rules and abused their discretion when in September they unanimously approved a special use permit allowing the construction and operation of a uranium mill on 880 acres in Paradox Valley zoned for agricultural use. “Our main point is the industrial use in an agricultural zone,” said plaintiff’s attorney Travis Stills of the Durango-based Energy Minerals Law Center describing the grounds for the lawsuit against Chairman David White, Vice Chairman Gary Ellis, and Commissioner Ron Henderson…

The suit also charged that Montrose County Planning and Development Director Steve White abused his discretion and acted beyond his authority when making decisions regarding the special use permit application filed in July 2008 by Energy Fuels Resources Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toronto-based Energy Fuels Inc…

Finally the complaint alleges that a meeting took place in March 2008 between EFRC representatives, the BOCC, three Montrose County employees, a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment employee, and one member of the public in violation of state open meetings laws. At that meeting transportation, water, use of uranium, jobs and salaries, and the contents of the special use permit application were discussed, according to the complaint. The Colorado Sunshine Law states that, “All meetings of a quorum or three or more members of any local public body, whichever is fewer, at which any public business is discussed or at which any formal action may be taken are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times.” Although no minutes were taken nor a recording made, the BOCC made several decisions regarding the proposed mill at that meeting including one to seek a special use permit for the agricultural district as a means to approve the EFRC proposal, according to the complaint. “As best as we can tell the decisions were arrived at outside the public process,” said Stills, who wrote in the court filing that “These decisions predetermined the outcome of the challenged [special use permit] proceedings and constitute an abuse of discretion and actions in exceedance of authority.”

Meanwhile, nuclear power plant developer Alternate Energy Holdings is shopping a combination nuclear/solar plant to state lawmakers, according to The Durango Telegraph. From the article:

The company has spotlighted Colorado because of its commitment to clean energy and replacing aging coal plants. Alternate Energy Holdings CEO Don Gillispie told Colorado Energy News, said the company was encouraged by the support from businessmen, labor leaders, politicians and members of the state’s administration. “They clearly understand that nuclear plants not only create clean power necessary to help with environmental challenges, but low-cost, reliable energy to stabilize the electric grid while creating thousands of high-paying jobs,” he said.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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