‘War on coal’ is over, Trump team trumpets, as it approves two Utah mining projects

(Photo courtesy of Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance) Utah's Coal Hollow strip mine near Alton will be able to increase its coal output eightfold under a federal lease announced this week by the Interior Department. Trump administration officials hailed the award as an end to "the war on coal."

Proclaiming an end to the “war on coal,” federal land managers delivered a Valentine’s Day gift to Utah’s coal country, announcing the award of a long-awaited lease to Alton Coal Development Co., which needs a 3,581-acre tract to keep operations going at its strip mine west of Bryce Canyon National Park. The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

“American coal jobs matter,” acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a news release. “Coal production on federal lands provides nearly 40 percent of our nation’s coal. By approving these projects today, we will ensure that these mines are operational for years to come, providing well-paying jobs and affordable energy to the people of Utah.”

The release, which highlighted decisions that were actually made months ago, was unusual for its political messaging that leveraged rather routine lease approvals into a celebration of the U.S. coal industry. Coal mining has a storied history in Utah, but this industry produces a fossil fuel that releases a disproportionate load of greenhouse gases and toxic pollution and has put hundreds of miners into early graves.

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