From the Telluride Daily Planet (Katie Klingsporn):
In early February, Telluride environmental organization Sheep Mountain Alliance filed suit against the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in the wake of the agency’s decision to grant a radioactive materials permit to Canadian company Energy Fuels. The suit argued that Colorado regulators violated federal and state laws and ignored dangers to Colorado’s air and water when they issued the permit to Energy Fuels, which plans to build and operate a uranium mill in the stark and remote Paradox Valley. The CDPHE and Energy Fuels have responded — both have filed motions urging the court to dismiss SMA’s suit. The CDPHE filed a motion to dismiss in late February, and last week, Energy Fuels filed its own salvo.
The CDPHE motion, filed by Attorney General John Suthers, argues that SMA lacks the standing to file its lawsuit. “In reality, it is a broad but vague and ill-defined attempt by SMA to interject itself, through this court, into the Department’s day-to-day administration of its radiation control program,” the motion reads. “The Department disputes the vast majority of SMA’s allegations, many of which are misstatement of fact and law, irrelevant, exaggerations and mischaracterizations.” The motion goes on to argue that the court itself can’t restrain an executive branch agency from performing its duties nor does it have jurisdiction to interfere with the department’s exercise of its enforcement discretion.
Energy Fuels’ motion buttresses the CDPHE’s arguments, defends the manner in which the licensing process unfolded and requests that the court hold a hearing on the motions to dismiss as soon as possible following the closing of briefing on April 11. “CDPHE and Energy Fuels held at least 8 public meetings — 6 more than required by statute — regarding Energy Fuels proposed license and provided multiple opportunities for the public to comment on the proposed license,” the motion reads.
Travis Stills, an attorney with Energy Minerals Law Center in Durango, is representing Sheep Mountain Alliance. The position taken in these motions, he said, is that only the applicant for a uranium mill is able to participate in any formal process, whether it be administrative or judicial. “I find that to be an astonishing public policy statement for the CDPHE to make,” Stills said. “They are taking the position basically that it’s nobody’s business but theirs and the industry’s, and that everyone else … should take their three minutes and go away.”