A Message from the President: January 2024

    Happy New Year to all our CMA members! 2024 has had an eventful kickoff with our Legislative Reception on January 11 at the Brown Palace Hotel. The event had an excellent turnout with over 30 legislators in attendance, including members of leadership from both parties, as well as dozens of CMA members and other industry representatives. The reception provided a unique opportunity to come together as an industry and have productive conversations with lawmakers regarding important issues facing the industry that will be determined in the upcoming legislative session.

    Thank you to all who were able to make it to the event and contribute to its continued role as one of the best industry receptions of the year. I want to offer a special thanks to our generous sponsors for helping to make the event possible: Newmont Corporation, Trapper Mining, JHL Constructors, Climax Molybdenum/Freeport McMoRan, Energy Fuels, Mountain Coal Company/Arch Resources, Wagner Equipment, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Capitol Success Group, and Barr Engineering. We hope to see you all again next year!

    The 2024 legislative session is underway with several pieces of legislation under consideration that will impact mining operations across Colorado. Among these are two different proposals for the regulation of dredge and fill activities by the state following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2023 decision in Sackett v. EPA, 566 U.S. 120 (2023) which determined that “waters” under the Clean Water Act encompass only those that have a continuous surface connection to lakes and rivers that affect interstate commerce. This decision left a substantial portion of water bodies in Colorado unregulated by the Clean Water Act, prompting the Governor’s Office as well as Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer to begin development of legislative proposals to cover “gap waters” left uncovered by Sackett. Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office is pursuing legislation to significantly expand its authority by providing for injunctions for perceived violations of statute or regulation resulting in imminent endangerment to public health, water quality, or the environment.

    CMA also anticipates regulatory changes for both water quality control fees from the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission and air contaminants reporting requirements from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, both of which have the potential to significantly affect the mining operations and associated facilities in Colorado.

    Finally, CMA saw a significant victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Stone et al v. High Mountain Mining Company, LLC et al. (D. Colo. 2022) where the Court of Appeals reversed the lower District Court’s decision which had held High Mountain Mining Company liable for violating the Clean Water Act due to unpermitted discharges into groundwater that impacted surface water. In reversing the District Court’s decision, the Court of Appeals appeared influenced in part by the Colorado Mining Association’s concerns about interfering with the regulation of mining in Colorado as well as the relationship between Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, outlined in CMA’s amicus brief filed jointly with the Colorado Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association. High Mountain is the first decision of its kind in the country on this issue and could serve to limit the reach of regulatory action for groundwater discharges not only in Colorado, but throughout the country if adopted in other circuits.

    We will continue to cover CMA’s engagement on these issues and more in the coming weeks and months in our regular committee meetings.

    Adam Eckman
    President & CEO
    Colorado Mining Association