Federal Appeals Court Overturns Obama-Era Ban on Coal Leasing

(TargetDailyNews.com) – Coal mining on leased federal lands may be about to make a comeback after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit threw out a ruling from a lower court on February 21st.

The ruling pertained to a moratorium on new agreements and leases to coal mining companies who wanted to extract coal from federal land. The court’s recent ruling threw out an earlier ruling from the U.S. District of Montana. That earlier ruling had reinstated the moratorium on coal leases. Thus, the recent ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allows coal leases on federal land to begin again.

The issue began in 2016 when Sally Jewell, then the Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI), enacted a moratorium on new federal land coal leases for the first time in history. But in 2017, Jewell’s replacement, then-DOI-Secretary Ryan Zinke, reversed Jewell’s moratorium. He said the ban on new coal leases was not “in the public interest.”

Then in 2021, the next DOI Secretary, Deb Haaland, terminated or reversed the actions of her predecessor Zinke, but many believed her actions did not reinstate the moratorium. The status of new coal leases became confused, with environmental organizations continuing to legally challenge former Secretary Zinke’s reinstatement of coal leases.

Then, in 2022, the court in the U.S. District of Montana ruled that the moratorium must stay in place. Finally, today in 2024, the 9th Circuit threw out that earlier ruling, which means that coal mining leases on federal land may continue.

The National Mining Association (NMA) praised the 9th Circuit ruling, calling it a win for the production of American energy. NMA president Rich Nolan said the earlier court ban was an “irreparably flawed ruling.” Now, Nolan said, new energy projects can go forward that will deliver affordable and “reliable” power to the nation’s electrical grid.

Environmental advocacy groups, of course, see it differently. Many have spoken out against the recent ruling, including the Montana Environmental Information Center, the Sierra Club, and Earthjustice. A spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity said the ruling allows more fossil fuel extraction at a time the country should be “rapidly transitioning” to what environmental groups call “clean energy.”

They are asking the Biden administration to immediately ban coal leases on federal land.

Copyright 2024, TargetDailyNews.com