“The People’s Hearing” for the Alton Coal Strip Mine

Last night, Alton Coal Trust and the BLM held a public hearing for Salt Lake County residents at the downtown public library — except… there was no hearing! Actually, the only way for the public to comment was on small pieces of paper that were then to be placed in an Alton Coal Trust comment box.  The proposed strip mine that would go into public lands near Bryce Canyon and other pristine Southern Utah wilderness has been largely opposed and upon arriving to a hearing that left no room for public opinion, people were ready to respond.

The existing coal mine. Source: http://bit.ly/tRTL4v

When I arrived a little late, I came into a swarm of people talking about the mic-check that Peaceful Uprising  had conducted against Alton Coal Trust just minutes before in the small conference room. (To note, this was the second mic-check of the day — the first being at the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) hearing earlier that afternoon!)  Still upset at the bogus hearing, Cori Redstone was sending around a sign-up sheet to get people together who were willing to put together an actual hearing about this mine, its consequences, and our public lands.

As I searched for the new sign-up sheet, Pat Shea announced to the group that, as the Former Director of the BLM, he would be willing to hold a hearing right then, even if his former employer would not.  A whistle silenced the room and Pat introduced himself as the former Director of the BLM and said that we were going to be having a hearing and he would be sending the public comments to the BLM.  (comments posted below).  Even though representatives from Alton Coal tried to push the meeting out into the hallway, it went forward.  Pat closed the hearing by saying, “I respect the BLM.  But there is no danger in letting people express themselves.  The danger lays behind closed doors with secret deals when .001% decide what the 99.9% will live with.”

Fox 13 News Coverage: http://www.fox13now.com/news/local/kstu-bryce-canyon-strip-mine-strip-mine-near-utahs-bryce-canyon-set-to-expand-20111207,0,6908335.story


Public Library

Pat Shea invites speakers to share their public views as former Director of the BLM.

Hans Ehrbar – Economics Professor from the University of Utah

Why pollute pristine wilderness in the name of the quality of life?  We need to switch to renewable energy.  We don’t need to sacrifice our quality of life.  We have to leave coal in the ground.

Ashley Edgette – Student at the University of Utah

[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96C_Hye1a1A” width=”150″ height=”300″]

I oppose this coal mine going into public lands. I have a friend from Panguitch who told me that 70% of Garfield County’s economy is tourism-based – how will the coal mine effect the population of Panguitch and the surrounding counties? How will the coal mine effect all of us?

Isaac Hoppe – Activist with Occupy Salt Lake City

[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGVMDskpEqI” width=”150″ height=”300″]

The BLM has been given authority to decide what happens to our public land. They say we give them permission, but I don’t agree with us using our public land this way.

Carmen Smith – Orem, UT

[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QLuH2ywtzU” width=”150″ height=”300″]

I’m originally from near Bryce, Utah.  These BLM lands are marginal and fragile.  There’s not enough water in this area and the coal mine will be using gallons and gallons of water.  People will have to give up their water – and who makes that choice of who goes without water?  Not the people.  These are our lands and we have to say no.  We need to stand up or these lands will be gone forever.    A strip mine going into these lands is ridiculous – and for what?  Dirty Coal.

Jason Hardy – Alton, Utah.

The people I know and I myself believe that the public trust land considers the law and what that means to the people and to future generations.  We may mine coal in Bryce Canyon, Navajo lands etc.  And what does that mean? Energy for future generations.

Greg Madsen –

[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTjNezx4Mpc” width=”150″ height=”300″]

I am legitimately in favor of this mine as it’s a part of my business.  After the hearing last night where they told us that they polled all 50 of Alton’s homes and every home but 1 was for the mine because it’s high paying, steady jobs.  One other thing, the reality of dirty coal is that it’s the cheapest form of energy.  Forbes states that Utah is one of the best places to live because our energy costs are low due to the abundance of coal here.  That attracts businesses that will employ my children.  The ones most heard are at the bottom of the economic scale.  While Solar/Wind will cost .21 (almost 4 times more than the price of coal).  We can go renewable if you’re willing to pay 4 times more for your energy.

Joan Gregory – Mother, Salt Lake City Utah

[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOvYIXM-F2s” width=”150″ height=”300″]

Those costs that Greg talked about do not factor in the cancer, lung disease and the lives of our children.  People in this room want the opportunity to grow old and many will not have that chance.

Pat Shea – Former Director of the BLM

[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu95fIOrPds” width=”150″ height=”300″]

I do appreciate the BLM.  They are having ever more jobs to perform in the face of budget cuts.  This strikes me as a teacher of administrative law and there’s a certain inertia there.  I wanted to allow people to express themselves tonight as there’s no danger in hearing peoples opinions, the danger lies in secret deals.  When .001% decide what the 99.9% are going to live with.