Our comments for the Federal Coal Review are due this Thursday, July 28, 2016. (The original deadline of July 23 was changed to July 28.)
This is our last best chance to let Sally Jewell, the Department of the Interior, and the BLM know how we feel about continuing to rely on coal as a source of energy in the U.S. – and specifically to let them know our views on the Alton Coal Mine and the devastating harm it could do to wildlife and wild land if it is allowed to expand on to 3,000 acres of public land near Alton, Utah. We do not want to see this happen, so this is our chance to speak up.
The key points below were compiled by Jim Shelton, of Wild Kane County. Surely, any one of these points would be enough in itself to mean that the Alton Coal Mine should never be allowed to do strip mining on our public land, that the three-year moratorium on new coal on U.S. public lands should be made permanent – and that we as a country must make a swift transition to clean energy.
Please feel free to use any of the key points below in your comment. It will be most effective if you include your own thoughts and if you rephrase any of the key points you use in your own words. However, it is okay to copy them verbatim if you need to do that. Any comment you send will be really helpful!
Proposed Alton Coal Mine – Key Points
By Jim Shelton, Wild Kane County
One – Dust Containment
Dust containment is nearly impossible. Covering coal can trap gasses, risking explosion. Dust from processing – mining through burning – contaminates the environment.
Two – Water Use
Coal processing uses enormous quantities of water; the Alton Coal Mine would use hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per year. Kane County is in a drought region. Alton is among our limited high altitude water sources.
Three – Water Pollution
Coal processing is highly polluting to water. 72% of America’s water pollution comes from coal plants. Processed water from a coal mine is contaminated and not easily disposed of without polluting the aquifer. We are all downhill/downstream from this aquifer. It is the source of half of our drinking water.
Four – Mercury Contamination
Alton Coal has high mercury content. Mercury is highly toxic to life forms. Mercury disperses during coal processing into water and through dust released into the air. Later, mercury is released into the air during combustion, when used for power or heating.
Five – Fly Ash
Coal burning creates 140 million tons of fly ash in the US annually. A portion of the fly ash ends up in our water, air, and soil. Fly ash contains not only mercury, but several other carcinogenic toxins.
Six – Strip Mining
Strip mining is not allowed on most public lands, being too destructive to the environment. The ability to fully rehabilitate the landscape has not proved effective. Often naturally occurring heavy metals and other toxins lie under a thin layer of topsoil – particularly in mountain areas – releasing into surrounding soil and water during strip mining.
Seven – Subsidies
Coal subsidies in the US exceed $100 million dollars annually. Subsidizing a process, which adds to the CO2 imbalance in the atmosphere, global warming, and pollutes land, air, and water, is the wrong direction for our future.
Eight – Clean, Non-Combustible Energy Alternatives
To ensure a sustainable future, we need to look to sun, wind, and geothermal alternatives. Kane County has sites on private, state & federal land with great potential for these energy resources.
Nine – Exports
The US has deemed this coal unmarketable for domestic use, due to high sulfur and mercury content. Ethically, we should not export this product and spread the pollutants to other continents. Toxins move into the ocean and atmosphere of the planet we share.
Ten – Conserving Special Places
The mountains near Alton, UT are nearly pristine, a rare treasure in our world. They represent a small percentage of land area, but provide a large outlay of clean air, water, and a haven for wildlife. Strip mining coal to export to Asia seems a poor reason to destroy such habitat in our backyard. These resources are irreplaceable.
Please send your comment now to
This Thursday, July 28, is the deadline.
Thank you so much for helping save our wildlife and wild lands!
Wild Kane County
Photos: Sharon St Joan / Taken near the Alton coal Mine. The top photo is key sage grouse habitat that will be destroyed if the Alton Coal Mine is allowed to expand on to public land. The second photo is a nearby stream, used by wildlife, which may already be polluted.