The Trump administration approved a measure Thursday that would open a large tract of public land in Utah to coal production as President Donald Trump works toward fulfilling campaign promises.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a decision granting approval for the Alton Coal Tract Lease on lands near Alton, Utah. The decision allows for the competitive lease sale of roughly 2,114 acres, where an estimated 30.8 million tons of coal would be recoverable.
BLM’s decision could potentially create more than 100 jobs at the mine and indirectly add 480 jobs around the area, including fuel providers, and positions in maintenance, grocery stores and retail stores. The agency will publish a notice of the proposed sale in the Federal Register and in newspapers. Republican lawmakers praised the move.
“Today, after more than a decade of rigorous environmental studies, I was happy to hear that the Trump administration took a stand for commonsense energy production in Utah,” Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said in a press statement. “Alton Coal has proven that responsible development and environmental stewardship can meaningfully coincide.”
Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican, mirrored his colleague’s sentiments. “I commend the Bureau of Land Management for its work to approve the Alton Coal lease,” he noted in a statement. “This action not only advances the Trump administration’s energy dominance agenda, it will also provide stability to local economies in Kane and Garfield Counties.”
The move comes less than a week after Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke scraped a proposal to sell 1,600 acres of federal land in Utah. (RELATED: Zinke Caves On Plans To Sell Off 1,600 Acres Of Federal Land In Utah)
BLM released draft management plans for two smaller national monuments created within the old borders of GSENM on Aug. 18. One of the draft plans, which was posted for public comment at the time, etches out 2.5 square miles of federal land for sale to private interests.
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