Information Network for Responsible Mining, Earthworks, and Sheep Mountain Alliance, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board, Defendant-Appellee.
and County of Denver District Court No. 17CV33475 Honorable
Michael A. Martinez, Judge
Stills, Durango, Colorado; Roger Flynn, Jeffrey C. Parsons,
Lyons, Colorado, for Plaintiffs-Appellants
J. Weiser, Attorney General, Charles J. Kooyman, Senior
Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for
1 Information Network for Responsible Mining, Earthworks, and
Sheep Mountain Alliance (collectively, the objectors) appeal
the district court's judgment, affirming the Colorado
Mined Land Reclamation Board (the Board) order granting the
request of Piñon Ridge Mining, LLC for approval of a
second period of temporary cessation. We reverse.
2 In November 1999, Piñon Ridge Mining was issued a
permit for a uranium mining operation known as the Van 4
Shaft (the site), releasing the company's predecessor
from its permit. The site last produced ore in 1989. In March
2014, the Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety (the
Division) approved an initial period of temporary cessation
for the site, with an effective date of June 13, 2012.
3 In May 2017, the Division received a request for approval
of a second period of temporary cessation for the site. The
objectors filed objections to this request. The Board held a
hearing on the matter. During the hearing, a representative
of Piñon Ridge Mining testified that minerals had not
been extracted since it had taken over the site because the
depressed market price of uranium made production
unprofitable. The representative also testified that the
operator had explored one other avenue for extraction.
4 The Board ultimately granted the request for approval of a
second period of temporary cessation. The district court
affirmed the Board's order. The objectors now appeal the
5 The objectors assert that the district court erred in
affirming the Board's order, which, the objectors argue,
ignored the plain language of the Colorado Mined Land
Reclamation Act (MLRA) when approving a second period of
temporary cessation. We agree.
Standard of Review
6 The Board is a state agency governed by the State
Administrative Procedure Act, sections 24-4-101 to -108,
C.R.S. 2018. In reviewing the Board's actions, we stand
in the same position as the district court. See Haney v.
Colo. Dep't of Revenue, 2015 COA 125, ¶ 14. We
must set aside an agency action that is
(I) Arbitrary or capricious;
(II) A denial of statutory right;
(III) Contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege, or
(IV) In excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority,
purposes, or limitations;
(V) Not in accord with the procedures or procedural
limitations of this article 4 or as otherwise ...