BLM Releases Report on Controversial Strip Mine Expansion

(KCPW News) The Bureau of Land Management is taking public comments on a proposed coal strip mine expansion outside of Bryce Canyon National Park. The BLM released a draft environmental impact statement on Friday considering the impact of leasing about 3,500 acres of federal land in Kane County, expanding current mining operations from private lands to public. Keith Rigtrup with the BLM’s Kanab field office says expanding the mine, which is operated by Alton Coal Development, has many advantages.

“When the federal government leases coal there’s royalties and funds that come into the treasury and some of those are split with the state of Utah and they distribute those back to communities that are impacted by the mining. There are several benefits there to the local economy as far as jobs.”

But Rigtrup adds the BLM is considering the environmental impacts of the expansion and hopes Utahns will weigh in on the report.

Mark Clemens, Manager of the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, hopes the public will chime in as well…to convince the BLM the expansion will intensify the negative impacts of the current strip mine.

“This is right in the middle of one of the most important deer herds in the whole United States and we’ve also got very serious concerns about this contributing to pollution at Bryce Canyon National Park as well as light pollution and the possibility of causing problems with the aquifers.”

The BLM will hold five public meetings on the environmental impact statement, including one at the Salt Lake City Main Library on December 7th.