Environmentalists are reminding the Bureau of Land Management that public opposition to expanding a coal strip mine in Kane County hasn’t gone away.
The Sierra Club and other groups went to the BLM office in Salt Lake City to deliver more than 45-thousand public comments opposing the expansion of the coal mine. The mine currently operates on private land near the town of Alton. The agency is about to issue a supplemental environmental impact statement on the plan that could allow it to expand onto public land in the same area.
The BLM got more than 170-thousand public comments on the draft environmental impact statement last year. Tim Wagner with the Sierra Club says the petition it’s delivering to the agency this week is just a reminder that people are still watching to see what happens.
But Wagner says a depressed market for coal might make as much difference to the future of the mine as environmental concerns.
“What’s really changed," Wagner tells KUER, " is that the coal markets have just dropped off precipitously around the country to the point that stocks are dropping from some of the major coal companies.”
Last month, a BLM auction of coal mining parcels in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming drew no bids at all.
The BLM says the supplemental E-I-S for the Alton coal project will probably come out around the first of November.