Utah Granted Intervention in Coal Leasing Case

A Utah District Court granted the State of Utah’s motion to intervene in a lawsuit involving a coal lease application in Sanpete County. The lease, which will allow mining in the Flat Canyon tract, an adjacent property to Skyline Mine, was approved by the Bureau of Land Management in 2015 and later challenged by WildEarth Guardians and Grand Canyon Trust.  While the merits of the case have yet to be determined, District Court Judge David Nuffer concluded that Utah’s interest in the outcome was sufficient to grant the state intervener status.

Skyline Mine employs approximately 240 people, and in 2015 contributed approximately $4.75 million in revenue for Utah

The ultimate ruling in the case will have serious implications for the state. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, Skyline Mine employs approximately 240 people, and in 2015 contributed approximately $4.75 million in revenue for Utah. The Flat Canyon Lease would extend the life of the mine and therefore provide a continued source of revenue and jobs. Based on the significance of this information the Court concluded, “Utah’s expected revenue from the Skyline Mine’s expansion into the Flat Canyon lease is an economic interest meriting intervener status”.

In addition to the economic stakes, the Court also acknowledged Utah’s sovereign regulatory responsibility. The State has an independent interest in making sure coal mining is conducted in an environmentally responsible way. State approval, which may include an independent environmental analysis, is therefore a pre-requisite to federal approval of all coal mining leases. Because, as Judge Nuffer explained, the federal and state roles in granting coal leasing permits are “intertwined,” the state must be able to speak for itself in defending this particular lease in Flat Canyon tract.

As an intervener, Utah will have standing to coordinate with the Federal Defendants in making official filings in the case. The Court placed no other limitations on its intervener status.

Grazing Working Group

Uncertainty Plain

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Richfield-Sevier Valley Center at Snow College

800 West 200 South, Richfield, UT 84701

The Grazing Rights Conference hosted by the Utah Farm Bureau Federation is being held Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 9:00 AM. The conference is being held at the Richfield-Sevier Valley Center at Snow College in Richfield. There will be multiple panel discussion by both Utah’s Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office and Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Download Handouts


Judge Finds Deficiencies in Richfield RMP

Brian Maffly | Salt Lake Tribune

“A federal judge has ordered the Bureau of Land Management to document that its designation of a 4,377-mile network of motorized routes in central Utah will not harm wildlife and archaeological resources.

The order that U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball issued Friday spells out the “remedy” needed to address deficiencies he found in the BLM’s Richfield resource management plan (RMP) in 2013. The agency has three years to conduct new analyses of the routes in its travel plan, a component of the larger document.

BLM’s Richfield RMP covers 2.1 million acres in Sevier, Garfield, Wayne and Piute counties — a scenic area bounded by Capitol Reef and Canyonlands national parks, extending north up the Sevier Valley and encompassing the Henry Mountains, Factory Butte, the Dirty Devil River and Muddy Creek, among other notable landscapes.”

To read more of this article, click here.

To read Judge Kimball’s decision, click here.


PLPCO Director Testifies Before House Committee on Natural Resources

Clarke testimony

PLPCO Director Kathleen Clarke testifying before the House Committee on Natural Resources Photo Credit: Utah Governor’s Office

On May 19, 2015, PLPCO Director Kathleen Clarke testified to the House Committee on Natural Resources that “the relentless efforts to force more standardized and irrelevant mandates on the use of the land not only threatens the conservation of the species, but unnecessarily imposes hardship on the hard-working citizens of the West”. Ms. Clarke testified along with Dustin Miller, Administrator, Idaho Office of Species Conservation; John Swartout, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado; and Ed Arnett, Senior Scientist, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. All of their expert testimonies were offered as part of an oversight hearing titled: “Empowering State Management of Greater Sage Grouse”. Western states have been frustrated with federal efforts that exclude the states and local governments. “Instead of helping cut through the red tape, federal agencies are focusing most of their effort on finding new ways to regulate human activity,” said Director Clarke.

While Mr. Arnett favored both state and federal plans to manage sage grouse, other experts advocated for state and local control. Mr. Miller said, “[t]he State of Idaho holds to the notion that local collaboration, local ideas, and local efforts garner the greatest results.” Ms. Clarke agreed by saying “[t]he state of Utah is committed to the long-term conservation of greater sage-grouse. Over $50 million has been invested over the last 10 years on sage-grouse conservation in Utah.”

Representative Lummis of Wyoming seemed to agree with the experts by stating: “[t]he Administration has spurned this committee’s efforts to improve the law, all while defending a deeply flawed system. Simply trusting that the Administration will fix these problems on its own seems like allowing the fox to guard the hen house.” Representative Bishop from Utah also agreed that states need more influence and authority in managing their resources. “States are using resources wisely to recover species and keep them off the list. We should do more to encourage them” according to Bishop.

To listen to the archived hearing webcast, click here.