Federal appeals court kills Obama-era moratorium on coal leasing

A federal appeals panel vacated a lower court ruling on Wednesday, effectively killing an Obama-era action that placed a moratorium on new federal coal leasing.In a short six-page ruling, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit tossed an August 2022 decision from Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District of Montana reinstating the 2016 moratorium. The National Mining Association (NMA), which led the appeal of the 2022 lower court decision alongside the States of Montana and Wyoming, cheered the ruling Wednesday as a victory for American energy.”This is a victory for American-mined energy and we are pleased with the court’s recognition of the need to dismiss this irreparably flawed ruling,” NMA President and CEO Rich Nolan said in a statement.”With this ruling, important projects can once again advance and support the production of affordable, reliable power to the grid, while creating jobs and economic development across the country, helping federal, state and localities with necessary funding by contributing hundreds of millions each year in revenues to state and local governments,” he added.FEDERAL COURT JAMS BRAKES ON BIDEN ADMIN’S EFFORT TO SHUT DOWN MAJOR PETROCHEMICAL PLANTIn 2016, under the leadership of then-Secretary Sally Jewell, the Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a first-of-its-kind moratorium on all new coal leases on federal land. Then, one year later, former DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke rescinded that order shortly after being confirmed to the position by the Senate, stating “the public interest is not served by halting the federal coal program for an extended time.”TOP HOUSE COMMITTEE PROBES JOHN KERRY’S COORDINATION WITH ECO GROUPS PUSHING COAL POWER SHUTDOWNAlthough current DOI Secretary Deb Haaland revoked Zinke’s secretarial actions shortly after taking office in 2021, it stopped short of reinstating the coal leasing moratorium. But, at the same time, environmental groups continued litigating a challenge to the Zinke order, leading to the 2022 ruling which blocked that order despite the fact that the Biden administration had already rescinded it. Counsel for NMA and the States of Montana and Wyoming argued in court earlier this month that the Biden administration’s actions rendered the case moot and, therefore, the 2016 moratorium dead.”The Zinke order and its [environmental] analysis present no case or controversy and are moot because current Interior Secretary Haaland vacated them long before the district court purported to do so a second time and plaintiffs have not challenged that Haaland order,” NMA attorney James Auslander said in oral arguments before the Ninth Circuit on Feb. 6, Courthouse News Service reported.The panel’s ruling Wednesday sided with the arguments presented by NMA, Montana and Wyoming.REPUBLICAN STATE SUES BIDEN ADMIN OVER ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ACTIONS: ‘DYSTOPIAN NIGHTMARE'”The district court reasoned that the Haaland Order’s failure to reinstate the coal leasing moratorium from the Jewell Order meant that ‘the Zinke Order still remains in partial effect,’” the ruling states. “That is incorrect.””The Haaland Order definitively ‘revoked’ the Zinke Order,” it continues. “While appellees may be dissatisfied with the government’s position that the Haaland Order did not revive the Jewell Order’s moratorium, this does not provide a basis for concluding that a challenge to the defunct Zinke Order is live.”Following the ruling, environmental plaintiffs in the case — including activist groups Earthjustice, Montana Environmental Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians — lamented the decision’s implications and called for the Biden administration to take immediate action banning coal leasing.”This decision could throw the doors open to coal leasing on federal lands at the very same time that we need to be rapidly transitioning to clean energy,” said Taylor McKinnon, of the Center for Biological Diversity. “There’s no safe climate future with the federal coal program. It needs to end. The Interior Department must act now to make sure that happens.”
Go to Source

Scroll to Top