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2Gary KalpakoffCoyoteDeathValleyB&W8264

 

Please send this on Saturday or Sunday, before Monday morning, August 22, when the Kane County Commissioners will meet to consider a proposed ordinance to allow nighttime spotlight hunting of coyotes and other wildlife in Kane County, Utah.

 

Please change the wording so that it will be appropriate for you and where you live.

 

If you live outside Kane County and you would be less likely to visit if there were gunshots at night, please include that. You may also send it as it is.

 

Please see the instructions at the end.

 

 

SAMPLE EMAIL:

 

 

Dear Chairman Clayson, Commissioner Smith, and Commissioner Matson,

 

I am very concerned about the proposed ordinance that would allow nighttime spotlight hunting of coyotes, jack rabbits, red foxes, and striped skunks in Kane County.

 

Kanab is such a peaceful town that draws tourists and visitors from all over the world. The local economy depends on these visitors.

 

I’m afraid that if people hear that shooting is allowed at night on public lands all around Kanab, and near Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, that far fewer tourists would come to Kane County. Many Americans and nearly all foreign visitors would be very alarmed by spotlights and gunshots at night. They would stay away, and this loss of tourist dollars would be a big blow to all local businesses and would mean loss of jobs too. Even worse, people, or their pets, could be hit by stray bullets. Fatal injuries could lead to lawsuits and very expensive liability issues for Kane county.

 

Many people really love coyotes. They are seen as a symbol of the American west. It is my understanding that they are a part of nature just like any other wild animal, and they are beneficial – they keep all of nature in balance.

 

Shooting at night would frighten all wildlife, causing animals to run out on to the roads, resulting in car crashes and human injuries or deaths. It would kill many more deer, and so many are already being killed on the roads. Spotlights would startle birds out of their nests, causing deaths to their young, and would seriously impact a number of sensitive or endangered species – California condors, bald eagles, sage grouse, and ferruginous hawks. Kit foxes who are just hanging on at the edge of extinction could be mistaken for coyotes and killed.

 

Nighttime spotlight hunting is just a really terrible idea – extremely dangerous for humans, and it would cause chaos on wild lands at night. Nights are meant to be peaceful in this very beautiful part of the world.

 

Thank you so much for considering this.

 

Sincerely,

 

(Your name, and your city, state, and country.)

 

 

How to help

 

STEP ONE – If you are in Kane County, please attend the Kane County Commissioners meeting on Monday morning, 10 am, August 22, at the Kane County Courthouse building, 76, N. Main Street, Kanab.

 

STEP TWO – Wherever you live, please email your comments on nighttime coyote spotlight hunting by going to this email form. It’s very easy to fill out and send. You can cut and paste the email above or you can write your own. If you send this one, changing some of the wording will make it more effective.

 

Link to Email Form: http://www.kane.utah.gov/contact.cfm?deptID=1

 

 

Thank you for helping coyotes, jack rabbits, and other innocent wild animals by opposing this really dangerous ordinance!

 

Photo: Gary Kalpakoff

 

To join our future efforts to protect wildlife and wild lands, email Wild Kane County, wild-kane-county@googlegroups.com.

 

 

 

 

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 croppedGry KalpakoffDSC_8150

 

On Monday, August 22, 2016, Kane County Commissioners will be voting on an ordinance to allow nighttime spotlight hunting of coyotes, red foxes, striped skunks, and jack rabbits.

 

They will meet to vote on this ordinance on Monday, August 22, at 10 am, at the Kane County Courthouse building in Kanab, Utah.

 

If you will be in Kanab, Utah, on August 22, please attend this meeting if you can.

 

Please send an email to oppose this ordinance – see below for details.

 

Nighttime hunting of coyotes is a really terrible idea. First, it would cause enormous suffering to coyotes and other wildlife, but, in expressing our opposition, it’s important for us to present reasons that will be meaningful to a wide range of people. Here are some reasons that will resonate with everyone.

 

One) Human safety – Nighttime shooting is shooting in the dark. The hunter cannot see beyond, or to the side of, the handheld spotlight he carries. Bullets that miss their target may be life-threatening to campers and their children, to people walking their dogs at night, and to anyone out after dark, even to horses or goats in a field. It would mean that all Kane County lands would be unsafe after dark. A bullet can travel for three miles, putting human beings, pets, and wildlife within range of being hit.

 

Two) Economic harm to Kane County. The driving engine of Kane County’s economy is tourism – and dangerous gunfire at night may make people think twice about visiting. Right now, millions of tourists from all over the world visit Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, and our other beautiful wild canyonlands. According to the Deseret News, out-of-state tourists spend $8 billion a year in Utah, with one billion of that going to state and local revenue. If our peaceful nights are disrupted with flashing lights, loud gunshots, and a slew of gun accidents, Kane County’s reputation as one of the most spectacular tourist destinations in the country would be tarnished. If visitors were to stay away, this would harm local businesses, would cost jobs, and would be a real blow to the local economy.

 

Three) Liability for Kane County. It would be a very great tragedy if a human being were harmed or killed by nighttime shooting. It could also lead to lawsuits and could potentially be a very expensive liability for Kane County.

 

Four) Extra work and expense for law enforcement. Nighttime hunters would need to notify the Sheriff of their plans. Even with this requirement, frightening gunshots would lead to more 911 calls. There would be extra work and extra expense for the Sheriff and his deputies who would have to respond to these calls. Too many calls could lead to a delay in responding to an emergency.

 

Five) Increased risk of poaching. With people out shooting in the dark, it would be very hard for law enforcement to monitor who is shooting what. A dead deer on a truck would be less visible, and there could well be an increase in poaching.

 

Six) Road accidents. Gunshots, which are alarming to all animals, cause deer and other wildlife to panic and run. Nighttime shooting, occurring for ten months out of the year, would cause increased car crashes on roads, with a big spike in injuries and fatalities, not only among deer, but also human beings.

 

Seven) Unnecessary killing of wildlife. Coyotes are already being trapped and hunted in massive numbers during the daytime. Our Utah tax dollars are being used to pay a $50 bounty for every coyote killed. Yet they, and other predators, are known to self-regulate their own population and do not need to be killed. Coyotes are nature’s way of keeping a balance among the species, and we need them. When there are too few coyotes, nature is out of balance, then rabbits proliferate – along with more mice and pack rats that cause damage to our homes and car engines and may carry the deadly Hantavirus. Rodenticides and pesticides are not only cruel, they are toxic to birds of prey, to other wildlife, to our pets – and potentially to children. Coyotes, as top predators, do naturally keep the populations of these animals in check. Coyotes also keep deer and elk herds moving along so they do not stand grazing near streams, destroying young plants and saplings. Coyotes rejuvenate the wilderness, allowing the re-growth of healthy habitat and the return of small mammals, fish, and flocks of native birds. They are beneficial, and they enrich all of nature.

 

Eight) Spotlights cause bird deaths. In the spring, spotlights shining in the trees would startle native songbirds out of their nests. Songbirds cannot see in the dark and would not be able to return to their nests to keep their nestlings warm during the rest of the night. This would cause deaths among baby birds.

 

Nine) Not ethical hunting. Nighttime hunting with spotlights has nothing to do with traditional hunting. Spotlighting is banned in Utah, except where it is allowed by individual counties. There is no fair chase. Coyotes and other small animals are trapped in blinding lights. Both non-hunters and hunters can agree that this is not ethical hunting. No purpose at all is served by causing suffering and death to these animals. The repercussions to other wildlife and to people’s pets, are potentially enormous.

 

Ten) Harm to endangered and sensitive species. In addition, with this kind of unethical hunting, the carcasses, especially of jack rabbits, are just left in the field – which means that eagles, ravens, and other scavengers are at risk of being poisoned by the lead bullets used. This is an especially serious concern in the case of the critically endangered California condor that is a resident of Kane County. Lead poisoning is the primary source of fatalities among condors. Many Kane county birds and mammals are listed on the 2015 Utah sensitive species list, and all would be put at greater risk from shooting in the night. As well as bald eagles and condors, the sensitive species found in Kane county include short-eared owls, burrowing owls, ferruginous hawks, greater sage grouse, Lewis’s woodpeckers, long-billed curlew, Allen’s big-eared bats, fringed myotis bats, and the kit fox – a delicate animal who is the smallest fox in the Americas – and who, in the night, could easily be mistaken for a coyote. Some of these species are barely hanging on by a thread.

 

Eleven) Disturbance of the peace. Kanab is a small, peaceful, rural town, surrounded by public lands. These wild lands are an oasis of beauty, graced by the presence of magnificent cliffs and endearing wildlife. Nighttime shooting would be disruptive and frightening. Such activity would destroy the unique, tranquil character of this town and county.

 

Twelve) Nighttime coyote hunting would be very dangerous. It would be harmful to Kane County residents, visitors, and to all of nature. It would threaten human beings, as well as the beautiful wildlife and wild lands that surround us.

 

 

How to help

 

STEP ONE – If you are in Kane County, please attend the Kane County Commissioners meeting on Monday morning, 10 am, August 22, at the Kane County Courthouse building, 76, N. Main Street, Kanab.

 

STEP TWO – Wherever you live, please email your comments on nighttime coyote spotlight hunting by going to this email form. It’s very easy to fill out and send. Please state your city, state, and country. Address Commission Chairman Clayson, Commissioner Smith, and Commissioner Matson:

Link to Email Form: http://www.kane.utah.gov/contact.cfm?deptID=1

 

What to write in your email: Put one or two of the points above into your own words. If you feel you may be less likely to visit Kane County if there are gunshots at night, please state that, and that when you visit, you would love to see coyotes in the wild. Anything you write – it can be very brief – will be a huge help!

 

STEP THREE – You may also call and leave a message for

Chairman Clayson  435-644-4902

Commissioner Smith 435-644-4903

Commissioner Matson 435-644-4904

Calls re Public Lands 435-644-4901

 

Thank you for helping coyotes, jack rabbits, and other innocent wild animals by opposing this really dangerous ordinance!

 

For more information, email Wild Kane County, wild-kane-county@googlegroups.com.

 

Photo: Gary Kalpakoff 

 

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A bobcat in California.

 

This is Part Two of a comment sent to the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management.

 

By Sharon St Joan

 

To read Part One first, click here.  

 

Destruction of wildlife corridors and wilderness

 

Furthermore, these public lands being considered for new coal expansion are right on a wildlife corridor that runs up through the Grand Canyon, through the Kaibab forest, through Kane County, Utah, and farther north on up to Canada. This is a key wildlife corridor for the annual mule deer migration, along with the animals that travel with them – including cougars and coyotes.

 

The western U.S. is one of the last remaining unspoiled areas on our planet. Even though in recent years, it has been heavily impacted and many areas have been damaged, destroyed and overrun by human activity, there do still remain some of the most extraordinarily beautiful natural lands anywhere on the planet.

 

Within a short drive of Kanab, Utah, there are several national parks, including Zion’s and Bryce Canyon. These giant towering red cliffs and amazing wilderness areas team with wildlife. They are places of wonder and great beauty, unmatched anywhere else on earth.

 

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Red rock formations at Zion’s National Park.

 

Yet these unique, unparalleled wild places are being threatened by coal pollution and other fossil fuel extraction. The mysterious “hoodoo” rock formations of Bryce Canyon lie just ten miles from the site, near Alton, being proposed for more coal mining. Visitors to Bryce Canyon would no longer be able to look out over a clear vista of hills stretching all the way to the horizon, but instead would see heavy machinery at work destroying the lands below them.

 

 Effects on our economy

 

These wild areas are also the most important resource for our local economy. In the state of Utah, tourism brings in far more revenue and creates far more jobs that does the coal industry.

 

If we preserve the natural environment, these areas will continue to be places of beauty for tourists and visitors who are drawn here from all over the world, on into the future. If these areas are ruined and destroyed, as is now happening, this will simply lead us to a dead-end, with no future.

 

If we rely on a death-dealing industry, such as coal, instead of a life–sustaining industry such as tourism, then when the coal is gone, and when the coal companies have all gone bankrupt, as is already beginning to happen, we will be left with nothing. There will then be no jobs, no income, and no wild lands either.

 

The places of spectacular, unimaginable beauty will be gone, the wildlife, the trees, the lakes, and the streams will be gone – and nature, once it is demolished and eradicated, cannot truly be brought back – not for millions of years.

 

No fair return for nature’s destruction

 

I have read very carefully the entire text in the Federal Register of the requests for public comments, and I have understood that you are looking for specific kinds of comments. For example, you wish to know if we as taxpayers are receiving a fair return for the coal that is extracted from public lands.

 

I am not able to write the kind of comment you are looking for because, in my view, there can be no fair return for the destruction of the natural world. The earth, the forests, the rivers, the wildlife corridors, the canyon lands, and especially this incredibly magnificent area in southern Utah are priceless, invaluable treasures. No level of destruction of them should be allowed now or ever in the future, and no compensation could ever possibly be adequate.

 

We need clean energy

 

I would ask that you do whatever is in your power to make a just and speedy transition to clean energy. This will be possible by eliminating the hidden subsidies to the fossil fuel energy and by requiring existing coal and other fossil fuel companies to pay their fair share of taxes. With these hidden subsidies, estimated at around 19 billion dollars a year, eliminated, it will be possible to make significant investments in clean energy (also to bring about the technical innovations required for solar power to eliminate toxicity and, in the case of wind, to construct wind mills that do not cause bird deaths).

 

It will also be possible to provide programs and re-training for coal and other fossil fuel workers to join the new economy. These workers have worked hard to provide energy for us to heat and cool our homes and for us to have electricity, and they deserve a just transition. But coal is the energy of the past. Now it is time to move on.

 

If we wait and do nothing, the end of coal when it arrives will come with a jolt – like falling off a cliff. We will all — coal workers and all the rest of us — suffer greatly if we are caught off guard and are unprepared for this change. The time to move towards clean energy is now.

 

Other countries are already taking the lead in this. Saudi Arabia recently set aside two trillion dollars to move towards a new economy. Perhaps they are seeing something we haven’t yet looked at.

 

Clean energy is already, despite an uphill battle, making huge strides all over the world. It is now practical, feasible, and up and running in many countries.

 

It is time to value, protect, and care for the earth that we live on, to welcome new clean energy, and to move forward to a brighter, more stable and enduring, healthier future. That will be best for us as humans – and for all the innocent, amazing creatures with whom we share the planet.

 

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Sage brush growing on BLM land near the Alton Coal Mine. Natural Sage Grouse habitat like this will be threatened if new coal leasing is allowed on public lands.

 

Thank you for accepting our comments and for considering the future of our western wild lands over the decades to come – for the well-being of our country, all people, the earth, and the animals.

 

Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sharon St Joan

Kanab, Utah

Sharon.stjoan@yahoo.com

 

Photos:

 

Top photo: “No machine-readable author provided.” / Wikimedia Commons / “I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.” / A bobcat in California.

 

Second photo: Sharon St Joan / Red rock formations at Zion’s National Park.

 

Third photo: Sharon St Joan / Sage brush growing on BLM land near the Alton Coal Mine. Natural Sage Grouse habitat like this will be subject to destruction if new coal leasing is allowed on public lands.

 

To submit your own comment:

 

Email: BLM_WO_Coal_Program_PEIS_Comments@blm.gov.

 

Or send in this message, which you may personalize, on the WildEarth Guardians website.

 

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A natural stream in the Uinta Wilderness, in an area where there is no sheep grazing.

 

The Uintas Mountains run through northern Utah, south of the Wyoming border. In the center is the High Uintas Wilderness, where the highest peaks rise.

 

The Ashley Forest and the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache Forest are being severely damaged by the grazing of domestic sheep. The Forest Service is now thinking about allowing sheep grazing to continue in these Wildnerness areas.

 

Unlike Bighorn sheep, domestic sheep are not native; they are farm animals. They do not belong on this Wilderness land, which is meant to be wild. The grazing of thousands of domestic sheep destroys the habitat for wolves, cougars, bears, and wolverines – and the rest of the eco-system. The plant life is harmed along with streams and rivers, and trees disappear. The Wilderness then is no longer wilderness in any true sense of the word.

 

These wild forest areas need to be restored and renewed, and this can only happen if the grazing of sheep in these forests is halted. Please send an email before April 23 asking the Forest Service to end the grazing of domestic sheep on these beautiful, sensitive wild lands. There is a sample email below. – Editor

 

Domestic sheep grazing threatens Utah Wilderness

 

By Dr. John Carter,

Manager,

Yellowstone to Uintas Connection

High Uintas Domestic Sheep Grazing – In May, 2014, the Forest Service released a scoping letter to reauthorize grazing by 12,850 ewe/lamb pairs of domestic sheep on ten allotments covering 156,950 acres of the Wilderness, closer to 170,000 acres if the adjacent West Fork Black’s Fork allotment were to be included, which we have requested, since it is also used as a sheep driveway.

This means that between 25,700 and 38,550 sheep actually are permitted to graze, depending on the number of ewes with single or twin lambs. We submitted initial scoping comments in June, detailed comments in July followed by supplemental comments addressing wilderness issues. Important issues we are addressing include bighorn sheep, Canada lynx, cutthroat trout, watershed health and recreational impacts. Bighorn sheep historically occupied the Uintas, but are killed by disease, particularly pneumonia, transmitted from domestic sheep.

 

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A Uintas Wilderness stream damaged by sheep grazing.

 

Canada lynx historically occupied the Uintas and have been documented recently as radio collared lynx from reintroductions in Colorado moved into the Uintas and north, following the historic corridor we address (see below).

 

Much of Utah’s water supply also depends on the watersheds in the Uinta Mountains, which are heavily degraded and losing their storage capacity due to loss of ground covering vegetation from sheep grazing. Sediment from eroding watersheds impairs spawning habitat for cutthroat trout and is accelerating the filling in of the lakes in these areas.

 

We, with the assistance of our akitas – who carried food, camp gear and equipment, spent many years documenting the damage to wilderness values here. A powerpoint presentation of some of that effort is available for viewing or download. We prepared and submitted a report to the Forest Service with data, analysis and photo-documentation of the damage.  The Forest Service has been unable or unwilling to acknowledge the damage as they move monitoring locations to avoid those most damaged while blaming gophers and other causes for the barren soil and erosion.

 

We have organized a coalition of concerned organizations and individuals and have met with the Regional Forester’s Office, the Forest Supervisor for the Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest and the Supervisor of the Ashley National Forest to discuss our concerns and obtain their Bighorn Sheep Risk Analysis, which has become a political hot potato due to allotment closures in the Payette National Forest. We are obtaining agency data for analysis and further comment as we press for removal of domestic sheep from the wilderness. Most recently we submitted additional scoping comments to meet a December 2015 deadline.  The Forest Service has again opened a scoping period and those scoping comments are due on April 23. The Gallatin Wildlife Association has submitted its comments for this scoping period and those were excellent comments.

 

John Carter, Manager

Yellowstone to Uintas Connection

PO Box 62

Paris, Idaho 83261

435-881-5404

Y2uconn@hughes.net

www.yellowstoneuintas.org

 

Sample email re sheep-grazing in Uintas

Comments are due April 23, 2016.   Please send an email or letter to the Forest Service expressing your opposition to continued domestic sheep grazing in the Wilderness.  Here is a sample email, which you may send as is, or you may add your own thoughts. Many thanks!

 

Dave Whittekiend, Supervisor

dwhittekiend@fs.fed.us

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

857 West South Jordan Parkway

South Jordan, UT 84095

 

Re:  Uintas Domestic Sheep

 

Dear Supervisor Whittekiend:

 

Please issue a decision discontinuing domestic sheep grazing in the Uinta Wilderness.  In addition to the 10 allotments named in your February 16, 2016 scoping letter, we urge you to issue a decision also closing the West Fork Black’s Fork to continued grazing. Domestic sheep are impairing our watersheds and water supply, creating accelerated erosion, degrading fish and wildlife habitat and are a threat to bighorn sheep, and other wildlife who historically depended on this area. People who travel to this area to experience the wilderness are met with tens of thousands of sheep, smells of sheep, their noise and threatening guard dogs. You can end this conflict by retiring these allotments.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

 

Your signature.

 

Photos: Dr. John Carter / Grazed and ungrazed streams in the Uintas Wilderness.

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Marian Hussenbux,

Animal Interfaith Alliance,

www.animal-interfaith-alliance.com

Faiths Working Together for Animals,

based in the U.K.,

has sent this email to Senator Okerland, at rokerlund@le.utah.gov.

Dear Senator Ralph Okerlund,

I write on behalf of The Animal Interfaith Alliance, an international alliance of faith groups founded in Britain concerned about the welfare of animals. Our member organisations and individual members include Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs. We are all united by our common concern for animals, based on our various faiths.

Though we are of course not constituents of yours, we are writing in support of American campaigners to ask you to vote against SB0246 and to oppose the building of, and any funding for, a coal port in Oakland, California – and any related infrastructure.

We agree with local residents concerned about this proposal that a California port to export Utah coal, fossil fuels, minerals, or other products extracted from the ground is not in the best interest of Utah residents and taxpayers.

The coal industry is clearly proven to be a cause of great pollution – to the air, to streams and lakes, and adversely affecting animals, plants, and human beings.

To sum up, coal and fossil fuel industrialization is profoundly destructive to the environment and long term interests of all who inhabit the planet.

We are told by state residents that Utah is one of the few last remaining places on earth where one may find pristine, wild natural lands. No other place surpasses the majestic beauty of your national parks and monuments, and your public lands.

Surely you have an obligation to protect these precious lands far into the future.

The tourism and recreation industries are the backbone of your economy. Unlike coal, they are not short-term investments which leave behind unattractive wastelands dead to all life.

Please reflect on the unique and irreplaceable beauty of Utah’s wild lands and vote against SB0246.

Kindest regards,

Marian.

 

Photo: Sharon St Joan

For more information about SB246 and the Oakland coal port, click here.

 

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Utah bill SB246, introduced in the final days of the legislative session, would provide $53 million, from Utah funds, to go toward the building of a coal port, along with accompanying infrastructure, in Oakland, California, so that Utah coal, other fossil fuels, and other products can be shipped to California, then on to foreign markets. This would help prop up Utah’s struggling coal industry, but would lead to more irreparable damage to Utah’s wild lands and eco-systems.

 

Many thanks to Lindsay Beebe – the Organizing Representative, in Salt Lake City, of the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign for sending their Fact Sheet on SB246, as well as this link to their on-line message to send to your Utah representative.

 

To sign and send the Sierra Club’s message opposing the SB246 bill, click here.

 

The Sierra Club Fact Sheet on SB246:

SB 246: GAMBLING WITH TAXPAYER MONEY ON A RISKY BET

  1. Because the coal export market is disappearing, SB 246 is a bad gamble for Utah taxpayers.
  • This $53 million loan is a bad investment that instead of producing good jobs for the people of Utah, could end up leaving taxpayers holding the bag as the bankruptcies and the contraction of the international coal market continue. A July 2013 analysis by Goldman Sachs specifically labeled coal export terminals “a bad investment.”
  • A Goldman Sachs 2015 analysis said, “Peak coal is here.” The analysis predicted a continuing decline in coal prices and that they will never recover. “The industry does not require new investment given the ability of existing assets to satisfy flat demand, so prices will remain under pressure as the deflationary cycle continues.”
  • More recently, Andy Roberts, a mining engineer and an expert on the economics of coal, released an analysis February 10 (aimed primarily at port projects in Washington state) concluding that U.S. coal ports have gone from “vital to irrelevant” given the precipitous drop in demand from Asia. Western coal producers can’t compete with Indonesian producers on price in what is a disappearing market.
  • The U.S. Energy Information Agency recently reported that U.S. coal exports fell 22% in the first three quarters of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.
  • China announced last week that it is closing more than 1,000 coal mines due to a “price-sapping supply glut” and the government has suspended the approval of new coal mines to clean up dangerous air pollution across the country. Given the supply glut, Chinese imports are likely to continue their steep decline.
  • The American coal industry is in deep trouble. Among the companies declaring bankruptcy are Arch Coal, the nation’s second largest coal company, and 50 other coal-mining companies. Any state that is counting on coal for future jobs and a strong economy is making a risky gamble. Bowie Resources, which owns a coal mine whose potential exports SB 246 is intended to subsidize, recently idled its Colorado mine due to “deteriorating market conditions.”
  • Although Governor Herbert has been quoted as saying “This is an investment …. You invest $50 million and you’re going to get back three or four times your investment,” such a rosy outcome is extremely unlikely. If this loan would guarantee 300% to 400% return, coal companies or private capital would be lined up to invest in the terminal. The lack of private investment suggests that this project is highly risky, and one that only could be accomplished by tapping taxpayers’ wallets. Tapping public funds to support a private development that can’t attract private funding is simply a subsidy, not the “free market” at work.
  • Coal export facilities are generally a speculative and risky gamble. In recent decades, coal export terminals have gone bust in Los Angeles and Portland, leaving taxpayers and investors on the hook for tens of millions of dollars.
  • Governor Herbert’s own strategic plan for energy concluded in 2014 that there Utah had only 10 years of proven coal reserves at current production rates.

 

  1. SB 246 will likely not cure the illegal transfer of funds from the Community Impact Board for an out-of-state construction project.
  • The purpose of the bill is to move $53 million from the CIB, and spend $53 million on the coal terminal in California. This is a transparent ploy to launder CIB funds to pay for a construction project in California that has nothing to do with mitigating the impacts of fossil fuel development in impacted counties in Utah. As such, this bill has likely violated the same federal laws as the CIB’s April 2015 loan approval that has been stalled for months as it is reviewed by Utah’s attorney general. Those laws require CIB funds to be spent in Utah counties on public projects that mitigate the impacts of federal fossil fuel leasing. Subsidizing construction of an export facility in California, however those funds are laundered, violates those laws.
  • If the Attorney General’s review concluded that the April 2015 CIB loan is legal, why is this bill necessary? The Attorney General should release his review before this bill is considered so the public can understand whether the loan is illegal.

 

  1. Opposition in California means there is significant political risk to any Utah loan.
  • The Oakland City Council is considering legislation restricting coal exports through Oakland. There is likely to be a vote on that legislation this Spring. Such an outcome could render worthless Utah’s investment.
  • The California legislature also has before it four bills that would restrict coal exports through Oakland and California, further raising the political risk that Utah will see no return on any investment in the terminal.
  • 76 percent of Oakland voters oppose building the coal terminal at the port.
  • Beyond environmental groups and public health organizations, even some faith groups have united to oppose construction of the port project.
  • The Port of Oakland rejected a proposal for a coal terminal in 2014; concerns about the terminal have only increased since then.

 

  1. The public deserves a chance to fully consider this complex proposal, rather than have it rammed through at the end of the legislative session with little consideration.
  • The introduction of this bill so late in the session gives the public little or no opportunity to raise legitimate questions on the appropriateness of giving a $53 million loan of taxpayers’ money to an ill-considered California project. It appears to be an attempt to sneak through a controversial scheme at the last minute.
  • Additional consideration of the bill is warranted because its convoluted funding mechanism makes it difficult to tell how it will impact transportation and other funding across the state.

 

3/2/2016

 

 

Photo: Sharon St Joan

 

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This email was sent by Sharon St Joan to Utah Senator Ralph Okerland, at 

rokerlund@le.utah.gov.   For more on this bill and sending an email, see below.

 

Dear Senator Okerlund,

 

I am writing to ask you to vote against SB0246 and to oppose the building of, and any funding for, a coal port in Oakland, California – and any related infrastructure.

 

A California port to export Utah coal, fossil fuels, minerals, or other products extracted from the ground is not in the best interest of Utah residents and taxpayers.

 

No one denies that the coal industry is a polluting industry – causing harm to the air that we breathe, to streams and lakes, to animals, plants, and human beings.

 

Coal and fossil fuel industrialization is profoundly destructive to our environment, our health, our economy, and to the long-term interests of all of us.

 

Utah is one of the few last remaining places on earth where one may find pristine, wild natural lands. No other place surpasses the majestic beauty of our national parks and monuments, and all our public lands. We have an obligation to protect these lands far into the future. They are also the foundation of the near and long-term economic prosperity of Utah.

 

Tourists do not come from around the world to visit coal mines, and the tourism and recreation industries are the backbone our economy. Unlike coal, they are not short-term, dying investments which leave behind unattractive wastelands.

 

The proposed California coal port and the infrastructure that would accompany it threaten everything that Utah stands for  — our western wilderness heritage, our prosperity, our long-term well-being, and the unique, unsurpassed and irreplaceable beauty of Utah’s wild lands.  Please vote against it.

 

Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sharon St Joan

Kanab, Utah resident

 

For more on the issue of SB246 that would use Utah funding to construct an Oakland California coal port, click here.

The bill was introduced just days ago, giving almost no time for comments. The legislative session ends this Thursday, March 10, 2016.

If you wish to send an email, you may send this one, as is, or with any changes you wish to make. Many thanks!

Photo: Sharon St Joan