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Zinke: Interior Department in the 'energy business'

March 17, 2017View for printing

"Let me make one thing clear, the Interior Department is in the energy business, and Mike is an energy guy who understands the balance we must strike when developing resources and creating jobs on our public lands. It is my hope that working together he will help identify areas where we can expand responsible mineral development while still conserving habitat and wildlife."

Jeremy Nichols with WildEarth Guardians -- one of the environmental groups that fought the Greens Hollow lease -- called Zinke's decision a "travesty."

Newly confirmed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke approved a $22 million coal lease for central Utah on Wednesday and made it clear his agency is in the "energy business."

The move by Zinke -- his first official action impacting Utah's natural resources on federal lands -- unlocks 56 million tons of recoverable coal in Sevier and Sanpete counties long sought by Bowie Resources to prolong the life of SUFCO, Utah's largest coal mine locally operated by Bowie's subsidiary, Canyon Fuel Co.

In other action that Zinke says signals a new focus on energy development on public lands where "appropriate," he appointed Mike Nedd as acting director of the national BLM.

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue@amyjoi16

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