The recent filing of objections to the permit request for Croell Redi-Mix to operate a gravel mine near Shell Creek Road raised the question of what it takes to get a permit in the first place.
According to DEQ's website, mining activities are considered to be a potential point source of water pollution. Because of that, they are more carefully regulated than a nonpoint source such as grazing or logging. All mine operators most obtain either a small or a large mine permit from the Wyoming DEQ Division of Land Quality. A specific permit from the Division of Water Quality is also required for most mines.
The permitting process requires operators to develop numerous site-specific pollution control practices. After filing the permits with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), they must look at the application, check compliance with air, land, and water quality standards and dust abatement plans. If the permit meets the requirements, it is then sent to a public comment period.
Once the permits are filed, they are advertised and a public comment/objection period follows. If no objections are filed and the permits are in order, the mine can be given the permit to operate. However, if there are objections, a public hearing is held to determine if the objections are warranted.
At that point, the Environmental Quality Council has options. They can: (1) approve the permit; (2) deny the permit; (3) require changes to the permit based on the comments from the objections.
In the case of the Croell Shell Creek Pit, enough objections were filed to require a public hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. However, according to the DEQ's website, one must be advertised and held on or before July 2.
Jim Ruby, Executive Secretery with the Environmental Quality Council, said, “Traditionally, the council has tried to see these have as minimal impact as possible, but still have industry. They have tried to balance industry and quality of life.”