Amy Joi O’Donoghue – Deseret News
The Bureau of Land Management is once again reaching out to the public for comment on a proposal to expand Utah’s only surface coal mining operation — a controversial pitch because of potential impacts to sage grouse, nearby national parks and monuments and air quality.
At the same time Alton Coal wants to boost its operation by more than 3,500 acres, the federal agency acknowledges that difficult mining conditions and depleted reserves in Utah’s chief coal beds in Carbon and Emery counties are forcing mining operators to look elsewhere in the state to meet future coal demands.
At Alton, operators want to tap into nearly 45 million tons of recoverable coal and pull 2 million tons of coal out of the ground over 25 years. Alton’s current operation is about 700 acres. A separate application to expand the operation to 300 acres on private land is pending before the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, which is readying for its own public comment period to begin later this month.
The BLM’s comment period runs until Aug. 11 and also includes informational open houses planned for tonight at the Red Lion Hotel in Salt Lake City, July 21 in Kanab at the BLM’s field offices on U.S. 89 and on July 22 at Alton Town Hall. Both events are from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The public can also comment via mail to the BLM, attention Keith Rigtrup, Kanab Field Office, 669 S. Highway 89A, Kanab, Utah, 84741, or email at ut_kanab_atoncoal@BLM.gov (…)