Judge Rejects Federal Plans For Fossil Fuel Mining In Powder River Basin

"A federal judge on Wednesday night threw out two resource management plans developed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), finding they failed to account for the risk of fossil fuel leasing on public lands in Montana and Wyoming.

The plans, developed during the Trump administration but defended in court by the Biden BLM, outline how much coal can be mined and burned on public lands in parts of the Powder River Basin, which covers parts of southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming. The basin is the source of more than 85 percent of federally-produced coal in the U.S. In 2018, Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, ruled that the BLM must redraw the plans to factor in the risks of climate change.  

The BLM, then still under former President Trump, finished a revised estimate in 2020, but was again ordered to redo it because Morris ruled it did not properly consider impacts like methane emissions and potential harms from fossil fuel combustion. On Wednesday, Morris again ruled the BLM had not properly complied with the earlier order to review the plans, and that it had not properly considered alternatives with limited or no new coal leasing in the region."

Zack Budryk reports for The Hill August 4, 2022.

Source: The Hill, 08/05/2022