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Letter: Utahns, how sustainable is 905.5 billion pounds of coal?

FILE - In this April 4, 2013, file photo, a mechanized shovel loads a haul truck with coal at the Spring Creek coal mine near Decker, Mont.
Matthew Brown, Associated Press

A recent article in the Deseret News (“Some surprise takeaways from Utah’s mining industry,” Nov. 28) stated this:

“The Minerals Education Coalition says every U.S. citizen born will need more than 3.19 million pounds of minerals, metals and fuels over their lifetime, including 950 pounds of copper, 282,444 pounds of coal and 2,692 pounds of aluminum.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Utah’s estimated population is 3,205,958. Accordingly, Utah citizens would need 905,503,601,652 pounds of coal if every person in Utah used 282,444 pounds of coal throughout their lives.

These numbers, if true, are cause for concern and pause. Is this the best way forward? Is this sustainable? Is this healthy? Will this give the Wasatch Front clean air? Will this ensure quality snowpack and clean water?

Our quality of life — which includes access to year-round recreational activities on public lands, mental and physical health, long lasting snowpack and clean water and air — are all in the balance. Is it truly essential to the state of Utah that enough fossil fuels are extracted so that each person can have 282,444 pounds of coal? Would you personally rather have a quarter million-pound pile of coal or clean air and water? You cannot have both.

Tyler Rice

Holladay