By Tsvetana Paraskova
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management launched on Thursday a review of the federal coal leasing program and the climate impact of coal production, transportation, and use, in line with the Biden Administration’s environmental goals.
“BLM is beginning a new review of the Federal coal leasing program and seeks comments on whether the current regulatory framework should be changed to provide better mechanisms to decide which coal resources should be made available and how the leasing process should work, including when and where to lease,” the Bureau of Land Management said, adding that it is also seeking comments on “how best to measure and assess the climate impacts of continued Federal coal production, transportation, and combustion.”
The Interior Department will be taking public comment on the review until September 20.
Despite the fact that coal-fired electricity in the U.S. has declined in recent years, coal use in the power sector still accounts for a fifth of electricity generation and for a large part of the carbon emissions in the sector.
As part of his ambition to promote green energy, President Joe Biden has already paused the oil and gas federal leasing program pending a review. But the temporary ban on new leasing brought lawsuits from oil states to have the ban revoked. In June, a Louisiana federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that effectively removed the ban. The Biden administration appealed that ruling earlier this week.
Environmentalists have sought a stop to the coal leasing program, too.
Commenting on the start of BLM’s review, Taylor McKinnon, a senior campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, said today:
“A scientific review will show that the federal coal leasing program must end. The Biden administration can’t claim to care about the climate emergency and land conservation while auctioning off more public land for filthy coal mines.”
Ashley Burke at the National Mining Association, said, as carried by The Associated Press:
“Our public lands are intended for multiple uses, including the production of affordable, reliable energy for all Americans, and we look forward to providing comment throughout the government’s review.”