On October 19, 2009, without explanation or analysis and completely contrary to the detailed testimony of the accomplished scientists who identified serious defects in the plans for the Alton mine, the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining approved a surface mining permit for the first coal operation in Utah.

The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Parks Conservation Association all appealed the Division’s decision, arguing that plans for the strip mine fail to adequately account for potential harmful impacts on the area’s water, air, wildlife and cultural resources. The Division affirmed the mining permit after ruling against the groups on every issue and uniformly rejecting—without explanation or analysis—the detailed testimony of the accomplished scientists who identified serious defects in the plans for the Alton mine.

Now, Alton Coal is seeking to massively expand the size of the mine by nearly 4,000 additional acres. Since the expansion would be on public land, Alton needs to receive approval from the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM is preparing to release a Draft Environmental Impact Statement in the summer of 2011 for the mining proposal, and will accept public comments once the DEIS is released.

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