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[REGIONAL NEWS] Colorado mine’s ties to Interior secretary unsettle tourist town

Posted by   /  June 11, 2019  /  No Comments

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The mine’s array of powerful allies is inspiring deep unease among leaders in Glenwood Springs

By Ben Lefebvre | POLITICO

The Mid-Continent quarry has sat for decades in the hills of western Colorado, where kayakers paddle the Roaring Fork River and tourists soak in the natural hot springs. But now a proposed expansion of the 16-acre limestone mine has kicked off a battle that stretches to the office of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, whose former employer is lobbying for the project.

The mine’s owner, Rocky Mountain Resources, is led by CEO Chad Brownstein, whose father chairs the major lobbying firm where Bernhardt worked for a decade. Bernhardt’s old firm is pushing the mining proposal on two fronts, according to interviews and POLITICO’s review of public records — pressing local government leaders to endorse the project, while meeting in D.C. with Interior staff who could decide the expansion’s fate.

Bernhardt promised nearly two years ago to recuse himself from decisions involving his former firm’s clients. But that ethics pledge expires in August, freeing him to work on those issues. An Interior spokesperson would only refer to that pledge when asked whether he’d recused himself from the mine’s proposal, and declined to say what action he may take when the pledge expires.

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