SUWA files petition against coal mine
Proposal would hurt wildlife, water, and wilderness

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance late Tuesday petitioned for hearing before the Utah Board of Oil, Gas and Mining over a proposal to mine coal near Lila Canyon. SUWA attorneys want the board to rescind its July approval of a plan to allow Utah American Energy Inc. to build a road and begin mining coal near the canyon at a site located south of Price, Utah. Kathleen Clarke, President Bush's nomination for the Bureau of Land Management, oversees Utah's Division of Oil, Gas and Minerals.

SUWA late last year filed an appeal and request for stay before the Interior Board of Land Appeals in Washington over the Bureau Of Land Management's authorization of the proposal. The mine is located on federal lands. That appeal is pending.

SUWA is concerned that Utah American Energy Inc. and the Division failed to adequately assess, among other things, the impacts the mine will have on water and wildlife resource values when the division gave the plan its approval.

Lila Canyon is a narrow, steep canyon on the western Book Cliff Range, an oasis of seeps and springs creating critical wildlife habitat. The area of the proposed mine has been identified as having wilderness characteristics by the BLM and is currently listed as proposed wilderness in America's Redrock Wilderness Act.

If allowed to develop, the mine will require construction of a 4.7 mile road to the mine site. At the peak of mining operation, coal haul trucks will take 550 round trips daily from the mine north to a drop off point near the town of Wellington.

"The BLM and the Division of Oil Gas and Mining failed to assess the overwhelming impacts this operation will have on the natural resources in the area, not to mention the enhanced truck traffic on an already dangerous section of Highway 6," said SUWA Attorney Herb McHarg.

Currently, the board has set a hearing date for September 26, 2001.

 

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