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The Sierra Club on Thursday delivered more than 67,000 petitions to the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., demanding that Alton Coal's proposed strip mine expansion near Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park be stopped.

The Sierra Club labeled the mine a dirty and dangerous project.

According to the environmental organization, the mining company's proposed 3,500-acre expansion of an existing surface mine will threaten local businesses and the experience of tourists who visit the national park.

"More than a million Americans visit Bryce Canyon every year to experience spectacular scenery, clean ai, and beautiful views of the night sky — not coal dust, bulldozers and destruction," said Bill Corcoran, the Sierra Club's western regional campaign director in a prepared statement. "But that's exactly what they'd get if this dangerous strip-mine expansion goes forward."

Bureau of Land Management officials, in evaluating the proposed mine operation, said in preliminary findings that the effects to Bryce Canyon would be negligible, and other resources could be restored after mining.

The 24-hour operations would involve lights, they acknowledged, but they doubted anyone stargazing at the park would notice.

The National Park Service and Environmental Protection Agency have raised concerns about the project.

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