Judge: Nation’s top coal-producing area must consider reducing mining to fight climate change

Judge: Nation’s top coal-producing area must consider reducing mining to fight climate change
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Environmental groups scored a victory against coal mining companies when a judge ruled that U.S. officials must consider reducing mining in the nation's top coal-producing region to fight climate change.

The Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled Friday that the Bureau of Land Management officials in charge of the Powder River Basin mining area must consider alternatives that reduce mining in the area when updating resource management plans.

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Morris added in his ruling that green groups and coal mining companies must work together on future plans for the Powder River Basin, where coal that produces 13 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is mined, the news service added.

The Powder River Basin, which stretches between Wyoming and Montana, contains a number of massive mines and produces about 40 percent of America's coal.

Environmental groups praised the ruling despite pushing unsuccessfully for a total halt to coal mining in the region.

“For decades, the federal government has kept their head in the sand over the climate impacts of fossil fuel extraction on public land,” Sierra Club official Mike Scott said in a press release.

“This ruling is the latest example of courts forcing the federal government to be honest with the American public about how coal, oil and gas leasing is contributing to the growing impacts of climate change," he added.

The Wyoming Mining Association reacted to Friday's ruling by saying it was "reviewing" what steps it would be forced to take.

“We certainly have concerns and we are reviewing the decision and its implications,” an agency spokesperson told the AP.