BLM initiates court-ordered environmental review of existing coal lease moratorium
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In response to an order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana (Court), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today initiated preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement to analyze the potential environmental effects from maintaining or revoking former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell’s coal leasing moratorium. Then-Secretary Jewell established the leasing moratorium in January 2016 for thermal coal on federal lands, which was rescinded under the Trump Administration by Secretary Ryan Zinke. The coal leasing moratorium was reinstated by the Court in August 2022, and the Court directed the BLM to conduct a review that considers the full scope of the impacts for maintaining or lifting the coal moratorium.
The Notice of Intent is an initial step to seek public comment on the scope of the environmental review. Informed by this targeted review, the BLM will consider whether and to what extent to continue the coal leasing moratorium. The public is invited to provide comments from May 1 through June 15, 2023 at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2023-08960/environmental-impact-statements-availability-etc-potential-environmental-effects-from-maintaining.
The coal leasing moratorium impacts several pending lease applications. The moratorium exempts lease applications for metallurgical coal utilized in steelmaking, small lease modifications, and emergency leasing.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.