The Trump administration has released a final environmental impact statement (EIS) endorsing the expansion of an open pit coal mine near Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks that environmentalists have opposed since 2004.
Alton Coal Development, LLC, which has operated the Coal Hollow strip-mine since 2009, has a history of violations.
Under the expansion proposal, the Alton Coal Tract would strip about 3,581 surface acres and produce an estimated 44.9 million tons of coal over the lifespan of the mine.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, burning one ton of coal generates about 5,720 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), the greenhouse gas that is driving global climate change.
The EIS states that it is “necessary” for the coal industry to expand into new coal fields even though demand for Utah coal has sharply decreased due to cheap natural gas.
A final decision will be announced after August 12, but a letter from the BLM Kanab Field Office quotes Kane County Commissioners gloating about their expectations of jobs and mineral lease royalties. The wholesale destruction of Utah’s landscape is expected to provide about 100 mining jobs.