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Trump administration resuming coal leasing on public lands
The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it will be resuming coal leasing on public lands, angering conservationists.
The Bureau of Land Management said in a statement Wednesday that it had completed an environmental assessment and found no significant impact from lifting the pause on processing applications for new coal leases.
"Under President Trump's leadership, the Department of the Interior has ended the war on American energy and coal, which allows local communities to prosper," said Casey Hammond, the acting assistant secretary for land and minerals management, in the statement.
"Coal is and will continue to be a critical part of our nation's energy portfolio and we are committed to the responsible development of our abundant resources and advancing American energy independence, jobs, and economic growth," Hammond added.
The administration first attempted to end an Obama-era ban on new coal leasing on public lands in 2017. A federal judge ruled last year that the Trump administration policy did not include sufficient assessments of mining's environmental impacts.
According to the administration, nearly 40 percent of the country's coal is produced on federal lands and coal produced on these lands supported more than 32,000 jobs in fiscal 2018.
Environmentalists criticized the review, implying it was not objective.
"The result of this environmental review was cooked from the start-the Trump administration tried to end the coal moratorium three years ago, but was so sloppy that a judge told them to try again," Jennifer Rokala, the executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, said in a statement.
"Instead of ensuring our public lands are part of the climate solution, the former oil lobbyist in charge of the Interior Department is trying to open even more places for drilling and mining," Rokala added.