US Bureau of Land Management Proposes Limestone Quarry Expansion

Willow Walden

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    The large dirt colored indent in the side of the mountain just next to the Glenwood Caverns has been so stagnant for the past decades that most inhabitants of the town don’t even recognize it for what it is; a neglected Limestone quarry established in the early 2000s. It has finally sparked some real interest, however, that of the United States Bureau of Land Management, who have officially proposed to expand the acreage and extend production by 1,150 to 1,650 percent, from 20 dump truck loads a day to possibly 250 to 350 per day. The quarry will provide 40-50 jobs, and great financial benefit to our local economy, but such a massive increase in activity would mean that every day, at least 200 trucks would drive through Transfer Trail and lower Traver Trail roads, then across U.S. 6 & 24 to Devereux Road, and to a rail loadout along the Union Pacific rail line, a roughly 150 mile endeavour. Given that 19.64 pounds of Carbon Dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere per gallon of gas burned, this would present great environmental consequence. Given that the average semi-truck drives at 7 to 8 miles per gallon in mountainous areas, the collective fleet would cause a minimum emission of 16,497,600 pounds of carbon dioxide into the local atmosphere per day.

    This projection has raised a great deal of local concern, which the bureau has attempted to subdue with the implication that the operations would be completed with the use of electric trucks.

    While this suggestion has comforted many concerned locals, it also raises some serious questions as to its validity. According to Tesla’s projected baseline price for their upcoming electric semi-truck (the only electric vehicle company currently planning to produce electric-semis) the price range for a fleet of 200 electric trucks would cost $36,000,000-$49,100,000. Compared to a fleet of 200 class 8 diesel trucks, going electric would cost $12,000,000-$25,100,000 more. That does not confront the issue that electric semi-trucks are actually not currently in production anywhere in the world, and are still in the development phase.

    According to Tesla Motors founder, Elon Musk, commercial production of the semi will not begin until after the release of their electric car known as Model Y, which is projected to be released in 2020. According to this statement, the production of electric trucks will most likely not begin until roughly 2021-2022. The question these figures present is whether or not the U.S. Bureau of Land Management would realistically be willing to invest such an extraordinary amount of money, not to mention withhold any development within the quarry for three to four years at minimum- for the sake of more environmentally friendly commercial vehicles.

     Unfortunately, even if the Bureau stays true to their proposal and replaces their fleet with all-electric vehicles, under the assumption that the money saved on gas and the yield of our local limestone quarry will compensate for this cost, environmental dangers would still be presented, as the disturbance of the rock foundation along the quarry that heavy mining would cause would adversely affect the structural integrity of the mountainside. This causes an array of problems, including increased chance of rock and mudslides along with natural habitat loss, and particulate matter such as limestone dust reducing the area’s air quality and safety.

Questions or concerns? Email me at [email protected]

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