Biden closes in on new leases in top US coal region: NPR

A giant truck hauls coal into a mine in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

Stephanie Joyce/Wyoming Public Media

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Stephanie Joyce/Wyoming Public Media

A giant truck hauls coal into a mine in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

Stephanie Joyce/Wyoming Public Media

In a pair of controversial environmental decisions, the Biden administration is moving to end all new coal leases in Wyoming and Montana’s Powder River Basin, the nation’s largest coal-producing region.

The announcement by the federal Bureau of Land Management on Thursday is in response to a lawsuit by environmental groups and is expected to face opposition from industrial and coal-producing states, including Wyoming. In the agency Final environmental assessmentThe BLM’s Buffalo, Wyoming field office ruled that the new coal lease would have significant impacts on human health and the climate because of the coal burned in the power plants.

Environmentalists hailed the decision as a victory, estimating it would keep six billion tons “The Most Polluting Coal on Earth.”

“The BLM released a common sense proposal that reflects the reality of today’s coal markets,” Mark Fix of the Montana-based Northern Plains Resources Council said in a statement.

The new rule won’t shut down the coal industry in the region because companies can still move to develop federal leases that have already been awarded. But it comes at a time when Wyoming’s coal industry is struggling to find new markets, as many West Coast cities have banned coal-based power generation.

Wyoming is the nation’s top producer of coal 41% of the country’s total supply. West Virginia is second with 14%.

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A ReportWyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso accused the Biden administration of waging “war on Wyoming’s coal communities and families.”

“It will kill jobs and cost Wyoming hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for public schools, roads and other essential services,” he said.

Thursday’s decision followed a court ruling that overturned a broad Obama-era ban on new coal leases.

Meanwhile, in Wyoming, groups have thirty days to file formal objections to recent BLM Powder River Basin decisions.

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