Federal officials have finalized a 55 million-ton coal lease in a deal that ensures continued operations of Utah's oldest and most productive coal mine, a move heralded as a sign of the Trump administration's pro-energy policies to come.
The owner of the Sufco mine in Sanpete and Sevier counties delivered the winning bid of nearly $23 million last January in a process billed as competitive even though no other bids were submitted on the 6,175-acre Greens Hollow tract under the Fishlake and Manti-La Sal national forests.
"The United States has more coal than any other nation on Earth, and we are lucky to be at a time in our history that we have the technology available to responsibly mine coal and return our land to equal or better quality after," Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement. "For many communities and tribes in Utah, Montana, New Mexico and other states across the West, coal on public lands has been both a boon and a missed opportunity. With the potential for thousands of jobs and millions in economic opportunity, the Interior Department is committed to balancing the development and conservation of these resources."