BLM Advances Utah Coal Mine Expansion Near National Parks

The Bureau of Land Management in late April opened a public comment period for a proposed 5,500-acre expansion of the Lila Canyon coal mine in southern Utah. Environmental activists have hotly contested the proposal, given the mine’s proximity to the Canyonlands and Arches national park and the coal industry’s current decline as well as the fact that Murray Coal, which owns the local company operating the mine, is in bankruptcy proceedings. In early April, environmental groups began raising concerns about a lease fire sale in the region, after oil and gas firms submitted proposals for extraction on 150,000 acres on public lands surrounding parks. The BLM told the Salt Lake Tribune that many of the filings were incomplete and not under consideration. Status: BLM posted the proposal on April 23, 2020. Public comment closed May 25, 2020.

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Amy Westervelt is the editor-in-chief of Drilled News, creator and host of the Drilled podcast, and founder of the Critical Frequency podcast network, named AdWeek's Podcast Network of the Year in 2019. An award-winning print and audio journalist, Amy has contributed to The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as KQED, The California Report, Capital Public Radio, and many other outlets. She is the 2015 winner of the Rachel Carson award for "women greening journalism," and a 2016 winner of an Edward R. Murrow award for her series on the impacts of the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. In 2019, the Drilled podcast won the Online News Association's "Excellence in Audio Storytelling" award.

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Emily J. Gertz is senior editor of Drilled News. A longtime environmental reporter and editor, her work has appeared in HuffPost, Reveal, Arctic Today, The Guardian, Popular Science, Scientific American, Sierra, and more.