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No new coal leases on federal land

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World Coal,

The US Interior Department is to launch a comprehensive review that aims to identify and evaluate potential reforms to the federal coal programme according to concerns from the Government Accountability Office, the Interior Department’s Inspector General, Members of Congress and the public.

“We haven’t undertaken a comprehensive review of the programme in more than 30 years,” said Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. “We have an obligation to current and future generations to ensure the federal coal programme delivers a fair return to American taxpayers and takes into account its impacts on climate change.”

While this review is underway, there will be a three-year pause on new coal mining leases on federal land.

“Given serious concerns raised about the federal coal programme, we’re taking the prudent step to hit pause on approving significant new leases so that decisions about those leases can benefit from the recommendations that come out of the review,” explained Secretary Jewell.

But this plan to halt coal mine leases was met with criticism from the coal industry with Colin Marshall, CEO of coal miner, Cloud Peak Energy, saying he was “disappointed” with the decision and accusing the government of pandering to “special interest groups whose stated goal is to shut down the US coal industry”.

According to Marshall, the moratorium was aimed at delaying leases, making it difficult for coal to be mined – potentially aiming to stop mining it altogether – and “denying its economic benefits to the nation.”

Marshall’s comments were echoed by President and CEO of the US National Mining Association, Hal Quinn, who said the idea that a moratorium was needed, “defies credulity”.

“Every federal coal lease sale and subsequent mining project must pass multiple levels and sequences of both federal and state evaluation,” Quinn said. “It is stunning that the administration believes a process that already pushes the development of coal projects beyond a decade needs more red tape and delays.”

Republican politicians were also critical of the decision with Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, calling the move “just the latest front in an ideological war on coal.”

“At a time when Americans are calling on the Obama Administration to protect our nation and strengthen the Middle Class, the Administration is again making clear that its priorities are elsewhere,” McConnel said. “No wonder more than 70% of Americans want to see the next President take a different approach from the current one. Americans want this Administration to focus on building opportunity for them, not advancing some regressive war that attacks Middle Class jobs and punishes the poor.”

Edited from various sources by Harleigh Hobbs

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