Utah Coal Country Strike Team, a New Approach to Helping Rural Communities
By: Dejan Eskic
Driving along the Main Streets of Carbon and Emery County you get a sense of a rich mining history and a nostalgia of 1960’s Americana. The area has a rich Native American history and is painted with beautiful red rocks and recreation areas. From early Spanish explorers, to Pioneer settlers, Carbon and Emery County is a bridge to our state’s past.
Utah’s Coal Country took off in the early 20th century as coal mining became the driving force of America’s economy. This brought worker from the likes of Asia, Greece, and Croatia to the area.
Fast forward to today, you get a sense that growth stopped here a while ago and everyone that can, leaves. While Utah’s economy is the envy of other states and has enjoyed record growth, Coal Country is in a silent recession, with its economy contracting nine of the past 10 years. As we’ve shifted away from coal in combatting climate change, we have done so on the backs of coal communities across the country. Utah coal production declined by 41 percent since 2001. This has led to an outmigration of young talent and increasing poverty.
The economic outlook for the region does not look good. The area will take a double hit because the economy depends on both coal mines and two coal-fired power plants — Hunter and Huntington. Both power plants are scheduled to close in 10-15 years from now.
So what do we do?
As Price City Mayor Mike Kourianos put it ”our economy must diversify if we are to survive”.
Read more in the next issue of UTAH PLANNER
Join us at APAUT Spring Conference in Price to learn more and discuss the efforts of the Utah Coal Country Strike Team.
Judi A. Pickell
American Planning Association
PO Box 1264
American Fork, UT 84003
phone – 801.450.2659