Environmentalists celebrated Thursday after a federal court rejected a pair of U.S. Bureau of Land Management coal mining plans that were drawn up during the Trump presidency and defended in legal proceedings by the Biden administration.
“This ruling is a shameful confirmation that the Biden administration has no real interest in defending public lands or the climate,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program director for WildEarth Guardians. “Thankfully the courts are upholding law and science, but it’s sad that President Biden is allowing his administration to undermine his promises to protect our health and our climate.”
The 21-page decision by Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana faults the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for failing to adequately consider the public health and climate impacts of its so-called resource management plans (RMPs) for Buffalo, Wyoming and Miles City, Montana.
The RMPs are designed to dictate the amount of publicly owned coal that can be legally burned within the designated areas of Wyoming and Montana. In those two states rests the Powder River Basin, the source of nearly 90% of all federal coal production in the U.S.
The new ruling, which orders BLM to conduct an environmental review, states that the agency also failed to consider “a reasonable range of alternatives” to burning coal, including the option of not leasing any coal at all.
The RMPs in question have been the subject of legal fights for years. In 2018, a federal court instructed the Trump administration to revise its plans in order to sufficiently analyze the potential environmental damage they could cause and weigh alternatives. Two years later, the Trump administration issued revised analyses that still fell short of what’s required under federal law, drawing legal action from environmental groups.
Originally published at Commondreams.org.