Obama administration pauses new coal leases on federal lands

The Obama administration, citing the need to review fossil fuel resource management as the US moves to a "clean energy economy," on Friday announced a pause on new coal mining leases on federal lands.

The review will consider the environmental and health impacts of coal mining as well as whether US taxpayers were being fairly compensated for the use of the land.

"Even as our nation transitions to cleaner energy sources, building on smart policies and progress already under way, we know that coal will continue to be an important domestic energy source in the years ahead,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.

The programme of issuing coal leases has not been reviewed in three decades, Jewell said.

In addition, she said the administration had an obligation "to ensure the federal coal programme delivers a fair return to American taxpayers and takes into account its impacts on climate change.”

Jewell didn't say how long the pause in issuing new leases would be in effect.

Companies already holding leases on federal land can continue to extract coal. Millions of tons of coal are mined from federal lands each year.

As of 2014, there were 308 coal leases on approximately 475,000 acres of federal land, primarily in the western states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, according to the US Bureau of Land Management.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25


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