Who saw this coming?

We did.

We saw national environmental groups begging members to sign off on Astroturf letters to the U.S. Forest Service opposing Arch Coal’s extension of the West Elk Mine.

And lo and behold, Gary Harmon of The Daily Sentinel reports the fix was most certainly in, and 150,000 “public” comments poured in to oppose the project.

Colorado Mining Association President Stuart Sanderson was unimpressed, noting that comments frequently appear in the form of form letters.

“Typical attempt by anti-coal groups to stuff the ballot box,” Sanderson said.

Sanderson is right. The form letter we linked to on Jan. 7 predicting that such a ballot stuffing was afoot, asked members of Earthjustice to object to building a dirt road to the mine site, because climate change.

From Harmon:

The issue, however, touched a nerve in several environmental organizations, according to Earthjustice, 50,000 of whose supporters commented on the proposal. Others included 50,000 from the Sierra Club, 33,000 from Friends of the Earth, 12,000 from the Climate Reality Project, 6,000 from WildEarth Guardians and 1,000 from the Center for Biological Diversity.

Since Somerset only has a population of 228, we’re guessing these environmentalists aren’t locals.

The Forest Service will make a decision based on these bogus letters sometime this summer.