Bookcliff coal could be gold for economy

There’s much information yet to be gathered and evaluated regarding a proposed new coal mine planned for the Bookcliffs north of Mack.

But the prospect of a new business that could create more than 200 jobs for its own operations and at least that many indirect jobs is certainly welcome, especially when both the national and regional economies are shedding jobs at alarming rates.

Most jobs at the Red Cliff Mine wouldn’t be available for at least four years. The mine is just in the permitting process now. And, although Rhino Energy has leased some 6,000 acres for the coal mine in the Bookcliffs, another 14,000 acres in the same seam have yet to be leased by the Bureau of Land Management.

Rhino already owns the nearby McClane Canyon Mine, which ships coal by truck to the Cameo Generating Plant in De Beque Canyon. If the Red Cliff Mine is approved, Rhino will build a rail spur south to the Union Pacific Railroad line north of Interstate 70 near Mack. Coal from the new mine will be shipped to power plants in other regions.

The trains won’t thrill some people who own land along the spur route. But using rail to ship 100 or more rail cars of coal a day — as is forecast for when the Red Cliff Mine is in operation — is definitely preferable to shipping that much coal by truck.

This newspaper has long argued that because coal is among the most abundant and efficient energy sources in this country, we must continue to develop both coal and clean-coal technology. Alternative sources such as wind and solar cannot meet anything close to the growing demand for electricity in this nation.

We hope Rhino Energy continues to keep people in this area apprised of its plans and progress with the Red Cliff Mine, which could become very important to this region’s economy a few years down the road.


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