Coal over water

A popular northern Utah fishing reservoir is being drained to facilitate a coal mine expansion. The reservoir is 1,000 feet above the underground coal seam being mined. “The need to drain Boulger illustrates how mining deep underground can affect the surface, especially on the Wasatch Plateau where collapses are common, sometimes with tragic resultsthe Salt Lake Tribune writes

Skyline Mine produces more than three million tons of coal a year. 

Expanding coal mines is the opposite of what we should be doing to address the climate crisis, and is a source of pollution for local residents. Making matters worse, coal mining uses a lot of water, a resource we can’t afford to spare, especially on fossil fuel extraction. Coal mining may require water for cooling, equipment maintenance, dust and hazard mitigation, and transportation. 

The Salt Lake Tribune article discusses Skyline Mine’s “complicated relationship with water,” saying water is continuously flooding, and being pumped out of the mine. The location of the mine has also raised concerns surrounding water rights. 

“This topographical quirk has led to serious concerns that mining under Flat Canyon would allow surface and groundwater that belong in the San Rafael basin to flow into the Price basin, depriving irrigators and power plant operators who rely on water from Huntington Creek.

To resolve the issue, Skyline agreed to implement a more robust groundwater monitoring program that would detect problems sooner, according to the irrigation company’s lawyer, Craig Smith,” who said that concern is still there, despite the monitoring program. 

In short, we shouldn’t be prioritizing a coal mine over water conservation.

Read the Tribune article here.