Utah coal: A story of families, jobs and America’s future
Amy Joi O'Donoghue - Deseret News
A few years ago, Riley Anderson was a long-distance parent and husband, compelled to take care of home life over a phone, imagining kisses and hugs from his little girl and wondering when he'd see his family again.
Days stretched into weeks while he worked out-of-town construction jobs or chased the pipeline, working on the installation of a natural gas line across much of Utah.
He now lives in the town where he grew up, has since moved his family to Orderville and can wave at his father from the kitchen window. It's where he graduated from high school and punched cows and now where he takes Andee, 7, to the local riding arena and teaches her to handle her big dun horse alternately nicknamed Elvis and Thunder.
A job opening at the local coal mine put Anderson's family back together again.
"As long as there is work here, this is a good place to raise a family," he said. "This mine has been a good opportunity for a lot of people to be able to stay here, make a living."
His wife, Hanna, said she no longer feels like a single mom in a married relationship.
"We would have never been able to come here and survive if not for the mine," she said. "Without it, we would still be sitting in Mesquite, struggling."
Anderson was hired to work for Alton Coal Development and is the surface mining superintendent at the site, which has plans for a 3,500-acre expansion to mine coal on federal land. Another expansion to private land is also planned, pending before state regulators. (...)
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