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MINE CRITIC GIVES TRUTH THE SHAFT

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Ken Rait of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance questions whether taxpayers, teachers and parents should support Andalex's proposal for an underground coal mine in southern Utah (Forum, May 3). Unfortunately, Rait attempts to prop up his arguments by misrepresenting facts and succeeds only in further eroding his own credibility. The Utah Arizona Action Team has studied the Andalex proposal in depth and strongly supports the project. As such, we feel compelled to shed some light of truth on Rait's claim.

Contrary to his statement, the governor's Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) report does not conclude that "the mine would require taxpayer subsidies to the tune of more than $110 million." In fact, the report concludes exactly the opposite, that the operation would generate a net positive revenue to state and local governments of nearly $120 million over the 30-year life of the mine even with all road costs and other infrastructure factored in. The OPB report concludes that for every $1 of infrastructure costs associated with the mine, the operation would return $1.72 to the state coffers in the form of taxes, royalties and other direct revenues.Next, Rait questions whether the teachers of Utah should support the mine. The answer may be found in the fact that the Utah Public Education Coalition is on record in firm support of the Andalex proposal. This coalition is a veritable who's who of Utah's education community, including the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), Utah Education Association (UEA), Utah State Board of Education, Utah School Boards Association, Utah State Office of Education, Utah School Superintendents Association, Utah Association of Elementary School Principals, Utah Association of Secondary School Principals and Utah School Employees Association.

Lastly, Rait questions whether parents should support the mine proposal. Consider the fact that the typical set of parents in southern Utah and northern Arizona support and average 2.4 children in the family. Consider, also, that the mining operation at full production would result in stable employment for nearly 900 families. This equates to a lot of parents who could put food on the table and toys under the Christmas tree.

Peter Solie

Director of Economic Development

Utah Arizona Action Team