Appellate Court Blows Up Obama Moratorium On Coal Leasing

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A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday to essentially axe an Obama-era rule that prohibited new leasing for coal mining on federal lands.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a previous 2022 court decision that allowed for the reinstatement of an Obama-era regulation that banned new coal mining leases on federally-controlled lands. The 2022 decision overturned Wednesday found that the Trump administration did not conduct an adequate environmental review when it decided to axe the Obama regulation, but the appellate court determined that the case is now moot because the Biden administration revoked the Trump-era reversal at the heart of the case anyways.

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The Biden administration previously eliminated the Trump-era reversal, but it did not go so far as to reinstate the Obama administration’s moratorium, according to The Hill.

9th Circuit Decision by Nick Pope on Scribd

“This is a victory for American-mined energy,” Rich Nolan, the president and CEO of the National Mining Association, said in a statement. “With this ruling, important projects can once again advance and support the production of affordable, reliable power to the grid.”

The Department of the Interior, the federal agency that administers leasing on public lands, did not respond immediately to an inquiry seeking to ascertain whether it intends to hold coal mining leases in light of the ruling.

“Now that the court has ruled that the Trump administration decision to restart coal leasing was revoked, we need the Biden administration to step up and live up to its promises to protect our climate, conduct a long overdue review of the federal coal leasing program, and make thoughtful plans for the future of public lands,” Northern Cheyenne Tribal Administrator William Walksalong wrote in a statement responding to the ruling.

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