Coal lease back on track, economy and jobs should benefit

Coal lease back on track, economy and jobs should benefit

By Robert Stevens

Managing editor



SALT LAKE CITY — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has announced that the coal lease sale for the Green Hollows Tract is back on track.

The opening of the sealed bids for the lease sale will take place at the Salt Lake City Public Library, 210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, Utah at 1 p.m. on Jan. 4.

The sale was originally scheduled for September but was delayed by an appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals from a group of environmental activists. According to Ryan Sutherland, BLM public affairs specialist, the appeal was denied in October when the Interior Board of Land Appeals decided the plaintiffs had been unable to show potential for immediate and irreparable harm.

The Green Hollows Coal Tract is located roughly 10.5 miles west of Emery on lands managed by the Manti-La Sal and Fishlake National Forests. Its boundaries are within the Wasatch Plateau Known Recoverable Coal Resource Area, according to Sutherland.

The tract is 6,175 acres and, according to BLM data, contains roughly 55.7 million tons of recoverable coal. It is also adjacent to the existing SUFCO mine, which is operated by Canyon Fuels, LLC, a subsidiary of Bowie Resource Partners, LLC, the same company that had a different subsidiary set the wheels in motion on the coal lease sale in the first place, according to BLM public affairs specialist Kimberly Finch.

Bowie is the main contender for the bidding, having announced its intention to buy the tract lease last year. The tract is a major component in a plan envisioned by Bowie, Central Utah county commissioners and economic development officials—the latter two groups coordinating to raise $53 million in funding from the Permanent Community Impact Board (CIB).

The CIB funding was meant to allow county officials from Sanpete, Sevier, Carbon and Emery counties to buy in on the project. They think the project, which includes a proposed rail line that would connect their communities with the east-west Pacific Union Railroad, could boost jobs and the economy through the export of coal, potash and other goods.

Although a Bowie subsidiary may have filed the application to initiate the coal tract’s lease sale, Sutherland said the BLM intends to offer the tract to the highest qualified bidder in a competitive sale. Sealed bids will be taken and the highest bidder will get the rights to mine the tract.

The lease sale is only possible because of its pre-existing approval dating back to before the federal government set a moratorium on new coal leases, said Sutherland.

He said sealed bids must be sent by certified mail to the Collections Officer, BLM Utah State Office, 440 West 200 South, Suite 500, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84101, return receipt requested.

Sealed bids may also be hand-delivered to the BLM Utah State Office on or before 10 a.m. on Jan. 4. Any bid received after will not be considered and will be returned.

Sutherland said the outside of the sealed envelope containing the bid must clearly state that the envelope contains a bid for Coal Lease Sale UTU-84102 and is not to be opened before the date and hour of the sale.

For more information or to obtain further bidding instructions, please contact Jeff McKenzie at (801) 539-4038.