- Associated Press - Thursday, March 16, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Federal officials have given the go-ahead for the sale of a big coal lease in central Utah, despite concern from conservation groups who say the move will hurt the environment.

The U.S. Interior Department announced on Wednesday that they had finalized a $22 million Greens Hollow coal lease, which was awarded to the owner of Sufco mine.

Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management postponed the sale after conservation groups filed an appeal aimed at protecting sage grouse habitat.

The Greens Hollow lease covers more than 9 square miles in Sanpete and Sevier counties. The BLM estimates the land contains more than 55 million tons of recoverable coal.

The Interior Department imposed a moratorium on new coal sales last year. This lease was grandfathered in because work on the sale was already far enough along when the moratorium was imposed.

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This story has been clarified to show that the lease was grandfathered in.

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