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MINE WOULD GOUGE TAXPAYERS

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Recent letters to the editor have attacked allegations by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance regarding potential taxpayer liabilities for the proposed Andalex coal mine on southern Utah's Kaiparowits plateau. These attacks have amounted to little more than a misdirected effort to "kill the messenger."

There is no doubt that the Andalex project will cost us dearly as taxpayers. According to the governor's Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) report, the heavy-truck traffic generated by the coal project would cost taxpayers about $40 million initially, plus the costs of bridge repair and replacement, passing lanes and acceleration lanes.The bypass around Hurricane, according to the Southern Corridor Task Force, will cost $40 million. The mine access road from Big Water will cost around $15 million. A bypass around Cedar City will probably cost us several more million. Thus, the total taxpayer tally just for road costs would be over $100 million.

On top of all this, local expenditures for the project are expected to exceed $13 million. Unfortunately for all of us, the OPB study does not outline the full range of public costs, including public facilities and potential dislocation of work force from central Utah mines.

This project is a turkey and the taxpayers are likely to get basted. If the blind proponents of the Andalex project can figure out a way for Dutch-owned Andalex to make money by trucking coal 240 miles, and then shipping by rail and boat to Japan, then maybe taxpayers will get something back for our $120 million-plus subsidy.

Or maybe we'll just have to pay their bills for the 150 million gallons of diesel fuel their trucks will require over the life of the project. Talk about a waste of scarce public funds.

Shelley Sullivan

Salt Lake City