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BLM to expand coal mine near Bryce Canyon National Park

Steel News - Published on Fri, 18 Nov 2011

A year after Utah\'s only coal strip mine opened near Bryce Canyon National Park, the US Bureau of Land Management is considering a proposal to greatly expand the operation to more than 3,500 acres.

The release of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement laying out the proposal quickly drew reaction from environmental and conservation groups concerned about how it might impact the national park.

One group organized an on line petition drive opposing the expansion. It had been signed by more than 21,000 individuals.

Tourism is a USD 6.2 billion industry in Utah, and the state\'s five national parks are a prime driver. From 2009 through 2010 visits to the national parks rose to more than 6 million and another 4.8 million visited the seven national monuments, two national recreation areas, and one national historic site.

According to the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, coal mining, comparatively, had a direct financial impact of USD 196 million in 2007, the year with the most detailed information.

But the state does have some rich coal reserves that attract interest from mining companies. Since at least 1965 companies have been eyeing the coal reserves in the Alton coal field of southern Utah. Late last year Alton Coal Development LLC, and its partner, Kane Mining, began to chew into those reserves with their Coal Hollow Mine.

The companies had a permit from the state of Utah to haul away upwards of 2 million tonnes a year from a 635 acre private reserve located just 3 miles from sleepy Alton, less than 10 miles from the national park and its geologic wonders, and about 5 miles from the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

According to the BLM, though the life of the operation was estimated at just three years, the companies now are vying for a 25 year lease that would give them a total of 3,576 acres with estimated recoverable coal reserves of 44.9 to 49.1 million tonnes. Operations could involve both strip mining and deep mining.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement said that \"Archaeological sites eligible for the National Register would be adversely impacted from the implementation of either action alternative due to surface disturbing activities associated with mining operations.\"

The narrative continues that \"Underground mining may impact unidentified archaeological sites. Native American traditionally cultural properties would be subject to adverse effects for the life of the mine under either action alternative. The Panguitch Historic District and Utah Heritage Highway 89 per Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area would be subject to adverse effects for the life of the mine under either action alternative.\"

(Sourced from www.nationalparkstraveler.com)

Posted By : admin on Fri, 18 Nov 2011
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