Hatch and Noel blindly advocate for coal development, regardless of facts and figures showing declining coal production and consumption. As the country transitions toward natural gas and renewable resources, coal is becoming obsolete. A 2017 Utah Foundation study shows our state following the national trend, regardless of Utah’s high dependence on coal. These economic trends are further reflected in other areas where coal is king, as in Appalachia. Cheaper energy has forced the coal industry to shift toward automation, making the process more efficient and cheaper than human labor. Given the decline in coal production and shift to automation, accessing coal on the Kaiparowits would not guarantee jobs.
Attempting to bring back coal neglects to recognize the economic benefits towns reap due to their proximity to protected lands. An oft-quoted, and recently updated, Headwaters study examined 17 communities located near national monuments in the West, including Grand Staircase. Following monument designation, jobs, incomes and property values in these communities increased. It is difficult to directly connect monument designation with such increases, yet it is clear the presence of monuments is not harming communities.