DURANGO — The public now can comment on an environmental analysis that looks to evaluate the potential impacts of expanding operations of a Colorado coal mine.

The Durango Herald reports GCC Energy, which has operated the King II coal mine near Hesperus since 2007, asked the Bureau of Land Management in 2018 for a lease to expand the mine by 3.85 square miles.

The company has said if expansions were not approved, the mine would run out of coal and be forced to shut down, laying off 100 employees and cutting local tax revenue.

Before approving the proposed expansion for at least another 20 years, the Bureau of Land Management must first conduct an analysis to look at the potential impacts it would have on the environment.

Comments regarding the expansion will be accepted until March 11.

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