30+ U.S. coal projects could be scrapped under moratorium

At least 3o new coal projects in the United States will be affected by the government’s new review of coal sales from public lands, announced Jan. 15 by President Obama.

The revelation comes via Associated Press, which obtained a Bureau of Land Management list of of affected sites. According to AP, some of the largest projects are in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana; applications for mines in Utah, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and North Dakota will also be affected.

The Obama administration has placed a three-year moratorium on new leases for coal mined from federal lands as part of a sweeping review on the government’s management of vast amounts of taxpayer-owned coal throughout the country.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell unveiled the temporary halt, saying it was time for a re-examination of the decades-old coal-leasing program, from health and environmental impacts to whether US citizens are getting a fair return for the hundreds of millions of tons of government-owned coal that is mined and sold each year.

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

The Interior Department also said it would review coal’s public health impacts.

While the U.S. coal industry is decrying the measure as just another nail in its coffin, AP notes that it has effectively pushed for its own moratorium in the Powder River Basin.

“Several companies, including Alpha Natural Resources, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year, have asked the government to delay action on coal tracts previously nominated for leasing. No federal coal reserves in Wyoming or Montana have been leased since 2012.”