Promise of mine jobs worth embracing

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It shouldn’t take 5 years to lease and open a coal operation.

Friday’s optimistic Sentinel editorial – “Promise of mine jobs worth embracing” – aptly chronicles the prospect of eventually (in five years) adding 224 high-paying jobs to our ever-diversifying economy via the proposed Book Cliff Mine project.

Consequently, every aspiring local politico should understandably endorse that prospect – even if with differing degrees of enthusiasm, given the many remaining uncertainties.

However, as the Sentinel implies – citing the Grand Junction Economic Partnership’s hopeful assessment that the project “would provide a big economic boost to the region, and present little in the way of negative impacts” – there may be “devils in the details”.

Moreover, because the Sentinel properly opines that “sooner would be better than later”, it is never too soon to consider what those minimal “negative impacts” might be.

Thus, while the underground mine itself will be far below the leased area, some surface disturbance is unavoidable – with truck and/or rail traffic raising clouds of dust—which could increase the concentration of “particulates” already in the Grand Valley’s air-shed (particularly during ever-more-frequent “inversions”), and could (at least temporarily) exacerbate local non-attainment of air quality standards and accelerate the imposition of mandatory compliance measures under the Clean Air Act and/or Colorado’s recently adopted stricter air pollution regulations.

Likewise, dust clouds could impair the statutorily protected view-sheds of the Colorado National Monument (or “Park”) and/or the quality of Colorado River water.

Similarly, just as the oil and gas industry is now required to capture 95% of its emitted methane, so too should the mine be subject to similar permit conditions – since methane gas emissions are inherent in coal mining.

Finally, consistent with the Sentinel’s (and President Obama’s) advocacy of “an all of the above strategy”, scoping might also consider the feasibility of co-locating a solar array and/or wind turbine “farm” on the surface above the mine.

Oh, yes, Mesa County parents, waste no time in sending your children off to grab these wonderful, promising mining jobs! Just pay no attention to the toll mining deaths in this country. A partial list:

April, 2010 - Upper Big Branch Mine, gas explosion, Performance Coal Company, Raleigh County, VA - 29 dead

August, 2007 - Crandall Canyon Mine, Emery County, Utah, falls, 6 deaths

May, 2006 - Darby Mine No. 1, Harlan County, Kentucky, explosion, 5 dead

Jan., 2006 - Sago Mine, West VA, explosion, 12 dead

Sept. 2001- No. 5 Mine, Jim Walter Resources, explosion, 13 killed

1992 - No. 3 Mine, Southmountain Coal Co. Wise Co., VA Explosion, 8 killed

1989 - William Station No. 9 Mine, Pyro Mining Col. Wheatcroft, KY, explosion, 10 dead

Feb. 1986 - Loveridge No. 22, Consolidation Coal Co., Marion County, WVA, 5 dead from suffocation

Dec., 1984 - Wilberg Mine, Emery County, Utah, 27 burned to death in a fire..

Many more at

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