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Coal mine near Bryce Canyon?

December 9, 2010 | 11:46 am

BryceEnvironmental groups have filed a lawsuit with the Utah Supreme Court in a last-ditch attempt to stop the opening of a 440-acre coal mine near Bryce Canyon National Park.

Utah's Board of Oil, Gas and Mining approved the mine in late November. Officials there said that Alton Coal Development, which first applied in 2006, followed the correct environmental procedures to obtain permission to mine the state land outside the southern end of the national park.

Opponents contend that 300 trucks will rumble through the tiny gateway town of Panguitch daily to ship the coal, and that the strip-mining and air pollution will degrade the majestic canyon. "The board's ruling needlessly puts one of Utah's treasured landscapes, Bryce National Park, at risk,” said Karen Hevel-Mingo of the National Parks Conservation Assn.  “Thousands of visitors come to Bryce each year to marvel at the pristine night skies and beautiful vistas. Bryce National Park is also an important contributor to local economies."

The plaintiffs include the Sierra Club, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Parks Assn.

-- Nicholas Riccardi

[For the record, 1:05 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled the town name of Panguitch.]

Photo: The Queen's Garden in Bryce Canyon National Park. Credit: Thomas Viek

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