Huge news today as the Obama Administration announced reforms to the way it manages our publicly owned coal, including a Secretarial Order that mandates a pause on new coal leasing. Lots more insight to come, but in the meantime, what does the moratorium really mean? In the American West, it means a lot.
Our analysis of pending coal leases before the U.S. Department of the Interior indicates at least 18 leases in Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming will be shelved (see the highlighted leases in the spreadsheet). These leases contain more than 1.8 billion tons of coal, which if burned would release more than 3.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Most of these leases are in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming, and include leases that the Interior Department is slated to start processing this month. This week, WildEarth Guardians and others called on the Administration to reject these new leases. Looks like they will be.