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Another win for the climate: Federal court rejects expansion of coal mine in Utah

Posted by Jeff on Mar 31, 2021 @ 6:59 am in Conservation | 0 comments | Last change: March 30, 2021

A federal judge turned down expansion of the southern Utah coal mine, ruling that the Trump administration had illegally ignored the climate cost of allowing more mining on Bryce Canyon National Park’s doorstep.

First proposed in 2011, the Alton coal lease would have opened the door to strip mining on 2,114 acres in southern Utah and allowed the Alton Coal Company to extract more than 30 million tons of coal from the Coal Hollow mine. The mining was finally approved by the Trump administration in 2018. Shortly thereafter, WildEarth Guardians, Doctors for a Healthy Environment in Utah, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), and the Grand Canyon Trust filed a lawsuit.

The lawsuit challenged the permit on the grounds that the US Bureau of Land Management did not fully disclose and analyze the mine’s impact on climate change and mercury pollution, as required by law.

In the ruling, the court found that the Bureau of Land Management violated the law by touting the alleged economic benefits of the mine without including a discussion of the economic costs associated with climate change in the same discussion.

The court also agreed with plaintiffs that the Bureau of Land Management had failed to adequately account for the mine’s cumulative climate impact when viewed along with other fossil fuel projects that contribute to climate change, including pollution from transportation and incineration of coal at the nearly Intermountain Power coal-fired power station in southern Utah.

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