US Forest Service's proposal to sell underground coal resources in Utah is facing opposition from groups concerned with safeguarding public lands, endangered species and the climate.
An administrative objection has been filed by WildEarth Guardians, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity to block the proposal, which would auction coal excavated from forests in central parts of the state.
WildEarth Guardians climate and energy programme director Jeremy Nichols said: "Selling more coal portends disaster for our public lands, our climate and our clean energy future.
"While President Obama is calling for action to combat climate change, his administration seems to be doing everything they can to appease the coal industry and open the door for more carbon pollution."
Sixty 60 millions of tonnes (Mt) of coal derived from more than 6,000 acres of national forest lands is expected to extend the life of the state's SUFCO underground coal mine by another ten years.
Offered to Bowie Resources under the Greens Hollow coal lease, the mineral will be exported internationally through ports and sold to nearby power generating facilities.
In addition to releasing more than 120Mt of carbon into the air each year, the coal mine has also had a significant impact on the local public lands, fish and wildlife, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Utah forests programme director for Grand Canyon Trust Mary O'Brien said: "The Forest Service has been willing to name short-term dollar profits from digging up more coal from under the national forest, but has been unwilling to use existing equipment and tools to describe the considerable social and ecological downsides of that digging, as required by law and as essential for candid decision-making."
The sale proposal for the Greens Hollow coal lease by the Bureau of Land Management cannot proceed without the approval of US Forest Service.
Image: 60Mt of coal will be taken from national forest lands to support the SUFCO coal mine. Photo: courtesy of SOMMAI/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.