Trump Administration Ignores Environmental Impacts of Mining 30 Million Tons of Coal near Bryce Canyon National Park

Lawsuit Seeks Improved Pollution and Climate Analysis of the Alton Coal Mine Expansion in Utah

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – A lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s approval of Alton Coal’s mine

expansion near Bryce Canyon National Park was filed today by Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense

Council (NRDC), the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Grand Canyon Trust, Utah

Physicians for a Healthy Environment and WildEarth Guardians. The organizations filed a National

Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) challenge to the recent approval of the expanded mine, which would

extract millions of tons of coal and exacerbate climate change impacts including air pollution and other


In August of 2018, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved an environmental report that allows

Alton to expand its mine onto 2,114 acres of public land to extract more than 30 million tons of coal. The

complaint argues that BLM failed to analyze the impacts of mercury pollution from burning coal, did not

consider the enormous social costs of increased carbon emissions, and refused to take a broader, more

cumulative look at the climate impacts of this project as is required under NEPA.

In addition to these pollution and climate impacts (

/trump-administration-ignores-environmental-impacts-mining-30-million-tons-0), the coal mine

expansion threatens natural resources and animals, including North America’s southernmost population of

Greater Sage Grouse. Expanding the coal mine onto publicly owned land threatens to negatively impact the

visitor experience at nearby Bryce Canyon National Park and will infringe upon numerous activities that

thousands of people enjoy in Utah.

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“The expansion of the strip mine operation near Bryce Canyon National Park is the latest in a series of

actions by BLM focused on degrading our public lands in the interest of short-term gains from energy

extraction,” according to Cory MacNulty, Associate Director of the Southwest Region at the National

Parks Conservation Association. “Expansive views across the colorful hoodoos, clean clear air, natural

quiet and dark, starry night skies are integral to the national park experience at Bryce Canyon–yet all are at

risk from expansion of the Alton coal mine.”

“The country surrounding the mine is so spectacular that it’s hard to imagine any reckoning that could

justify strip-mining coal there,” said Aaron Paul, a staff attorney for the Grand Canyon Trust. “But the

least our government should do before auctioning off our public-lands inheritance to run coal-fired power

plants is tell us roughly how much the resulting climate debt will impoverish us all.”

“The medical research on air pollution is well established–there is no safe level of air pollution exposure.

Even levels far below the EPA’s national standards precipitate a long list of human diseases, acceleration of

the aging process and premature death. The pollution from the mine itself and the transportation and

burning of the coal represents a multi-stage health hazard to people throughout Southern Utah and beyond.

The BLM pretended that was not an issue,” said Jonny Vasic, Executive Director for Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

See map of the site and expansion here: