By The Cheyenne Post
Federal court cites human health, climate costs in rejecting massive Wyoming, Montana coal mining plan
A federal judge late yesterday struck down two U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) resource management plans that failed to address the public health consequences of allowing massive amounts of coal, oil, and gas production from public lands and minerals in the Powder River Basin, including approximately 6 billion tons of low-grade, highly polluting coal over 20 years.
The Biden administration had defended the Trump-era resource management plans (RMPs) in the court proceedings. The court ordered the BLM to redo its analysis a second time.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled that BLM failed to comply with a previous court order directing the agency to account for the environmental and human health impacts of burning publicly owned coal. The judge also held that BLM failed to consider alternatives that would limit or end new coal leasing in the Powder River Basin—the largest coal-producing region in the U.S.—in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.
“The Bureau of Land Management is singularly focused on propping up the dying coal industry at the expense of its legal obligations to consider public health and the climate,” said Melissa Hornbein, a senior attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center. “That a federal judge ordered the Bureau to consider a no-leasing alternative and disclose to the public how many people will be sickened and die as a result of the combustion of federal coal is groundbreaking. The courts recognize the seriousness of the climate crisis and the impacts of fossil-fuel pollution. The BLM must now do likewise.”