The Environmental Quality Council, or EQC, will not accept a permit for the proposed Brook Mine. The independent review board is made up of five council members. In a four to one vote, the EQC decided the permit application was incomplete.
The council brought up several deficiencies with the permit application including lack of information on subsidence, the costs of land reclamation, and effects on hydrology. All members agreed Brook Mine LLC should have held sessions for public input before it submitted a permit application.
Department of Environmental Quality's Keith Guille said the public was given an opportunity to comment thirty days after the application was deemed technically accurate late last year. Guille also says the EQC hearing itself was an opportunity for a public response.
After the DEQ's decision, many still had concerns over the permit's deficiencies. Over a seven-day regulatory hearing in May and June, three groups outlined those issues. The Powder River Basin Resource Council was one of those groups.
Jill Morrison, Director of the PRBRC, said, "We’re really elated, this is the decision we were hoping for the landowners and the citizens, we knew the permit was seriously deficient… hopefully going forward the company will be more engaged with citizens and landowners, this is a very special area.”
The one councilman opposing the decisions said the company’s application was technically accurate — that a public hearing wasn’t legally required to obtain a permit. The review board will give its recommendations to the DEQ, which will ultimately approve or deny the application.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of the story noted the DEQ approved the permit in 2016, when in fact the department deemed the application technically complete and open for comment during a 30-day period.