By Zack Budryk, The Hill
The Biden administration in a Friday court filing defended a Trump-era policy that advocates say disregarded a court order to consider coal alternatives in the Powder River Basin.
In a 2018 decision, the U.S. Federal District Court in Montana ordered the Trump Bureau of Land Management to revise its resource management plans (RMPs) for its field offices in Miles City and Buffalo.
The RMPs outline the amount of coal that is to be sold to companies, mined and burned. The Powder River Basin, an area in Montana and Wyoming that includes Miles City, accounts for more than 40 percent of all coal produced nationwide.
In the decision, the court found that the Bureau of Land Management did not properly consider alternatives that restricted the amount of coal available for strip mining. It also ordered the agency to disclose environmental effects associated with downstream burning of fossil fuels as well as the effects of methane emissions on climate in the short term.
Two years later, while former President Trump was still in office, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) responded to the order but did not consider the costs of alternatives the earlier ruling had required.
In its filing Friday, the agency argued it had properly considered alternatives in compliance with the order.