By Jessica Goad
The Center for American Progress and the Sierra Club are unveiling three documentary videos in a series called “Public Lands, Private Profits.” One of the videos follows residents of Panguitch, Utah, a small town near Bryce Canyon National Park that has been thrust in the middle of an age-old fight between tourism and natural resource extraction.
At issue is a proposed mine on public lands adjacent to an operating mine on private lands owned by the Alton Coal Company (who declined requests for comment). The new mine would effectively quintuple the area under development. Some residents and local business owners fear that the increased truck traffic on Panguitch’s main street will negatively impact tourism, which the county relies on for economic development more than any other county in the state.
The National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and other government agencies criticized the U.S. government’s initial study and approval of the project, which failed to address its impacts on climate change. While the mine won’t be seen from Bryce Canyon National Park itself, it is close enough that the park might feel the impacts of pollution from the dust kicked up by the mine, which could negatively impact its famous night skies.
Others in Panguitch, including nearly all of its elected officials, are stalwart in their support of the mine because of the promise of more jobs.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management still has time to get it right in the next round of environmental reviews that it is undertaking. Just today, the agency announced that it will start a supplemental environmental analysis of the proposed new mine. To find out more about this issue or to take action, visit the Sierra Club’s website.
Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.