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Letter to the Editor: Nothing to do with Lila Canyon

By JOHN BAZA
Director, DOGM

Editor:

While Mr. Bob Murray, president and chief executive officer of Murray Energy Corporation, would like to portray the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining as the "bad guy" in recent layoffs of personnel at the Tower, West Ridge and Crandall Canyon mines, his recent statement to the Sun Advocate (Dec. 19, 2006) could not be further from the truth.

UtahAmerican Energy Inc.'s (UEI) press release blames the layoffs on increasing levels of methane gas at the Tower Mine. Yet, Murray claims, "We would not have to lay these people off if we could have gotten our permits from the Department (sic) of Oil, Gas and Mining for the Lila Canyon." Murray is referring to a permit request currently with the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining to open new facilities at that location.

The operating conditions at Tower Mine and the decision by UEI to layoff employees are independent of this division's processing of a coal mining application for Lila Canyon. Until the recent purchase of Andalex holdings by Mr. Murray, there was no previous business-related tie between the Tower Mine and the Lila Canyon coal mine application.

It is the mission of the division to facilitate development of Utah's natural resources in an environmentally responsible manner. The fact of the matter is UtahAmerican Energy has been slow to provide this division with information related to the Lila Canyon permit application, and only recently (Dec. 1) submitted documents in an attempt to address all of the technical deficiencies raised by the division in its review of that application.

To add insult to injury, at the request of UEI, staff members at the division did set aside work earlier this fall on the Lila Canyon permit to rush approval for projects to help alleviate the methane gas problem at the Tower Mine, and those approvals were issued several weeks ago.

We regret the recently announced layoffs, and we have great sympathy for the welfare of the laid off miners and their families, but sole responsibility for this business decision lies squarely at the feet of UEI.





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